Honor roll: Romance films

Each of these Romance films has received at least one award nomination. They are ranked by honors received.

Film:Witness (1985)

Witness

Peter Weir

When Samuel (Lukas Haas), a young Amish boy traveling with his mother Rachel (Kelly McGillis), witnesses the murder of a police officer in a public restroom, he and his mother become the temporary wards of John Book (Harrison Ford), a detective who’s been assigned to solve the crime. After suspect lineups and mug-shot books yield nothing, Samuel, in the most memorable scene of the film, recognizes the murderer as a narcotics agent whose picture he sees in the precinct. Once Book realizes that the police chief is in on it, too, he whisks Samuel and Rachel back…

Film:A Room with a View

A Room with a View

James Ivory

The prestigious filmmaking trio of producer Ismail Merchant, director James Ivory, and screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala had made other critically acclaimed films before A Room with a View was released in 1985, but it was this popular film that made them art-house superstars. Splendidly adapted from the novel by E.M. Forster, it’s a comedy of the heart, a passionate romance and a study of repression within the British class system of manners and mores. It’s that system of rigid behavior that prevents young Lucy Honeychurch (Helena Bonham Carter) from…

Film:Out of Africa

Out of Africa

Sydney Pollack

Sydney Pollack’s 1985 multiple-Oscar winner is a sumptuous and emotionally satisfying film about the life of Danish writer Karen Blixen (Meryl Streep), better known as Isak Dinesen, who travels to Kenya to be with her German husband (Klaus Maria Brandauer) but falls for an English adventurer (Robert Redford). The film is slow in developing the relationship, but it is rich in beautiful images of Africa and in the romantic tone surrounding Blixen’s gradual discovery of her life and voice. One downside: while we may all love Redford, he is as convincingly British as…

Film:Terms of Endearment

Terms of Endearment

James L. Brooks

Larry McMurtry’s novel becomes a somewhat lumpy film as directed by James L. Brooks (As Good As It Gets). Nevertheless, it is entirely winning, with Shirley MacLaine and Debra Winger playing a combative mother and daughter who see each other through various ups and downs in love and loss, and most especially through a terminal illness endured by Winger’s character. Jack Nicholson deservedly won an Oscar for his supporting role as a free-spirited astronaut who backs away from a romance with MacLaine and then returns in the clutch. As he always does, Brooks…

Film:A Fish Called Wanda

A Fish Called Wanda

Charles Crichton

Kevin Kline took home an Oscar for his performance as a self-absorbed lothario who prepares for lovemaking by drinking in his own “manly” musk, but it would be hard to single him out as the best thing about the film. The fact is, the entire cast of this hilarious comedy is perfect: John Cleese as the conservative barrister defending a member of sexy Jamie Lee Curtis’s gang, Ms. Curtis as the conniving crook out to grab the haul for herself, and Michael Palin as the stuttering, animal-loving hit man whose attempts to murder a little old lady only decrease the size…

Film:Working Girl

Working Girl

Mike Nichols

Melanie Griffith had a fling with stardom in this Mike Nichols comedy about an executive secretary (Griffith) who can’t get her deserved shot at upward mobility in the brokerage industry. Hardly taken seriously by male bosses, things aren’t really any better for her once she starts working for a female exec (Sigourney Weaver, never more delightful), a narcissist with a boy-toy banker (Harrison Ford) and a tendency to steal the best ideas from her underlings. When Weaver’s character is laid up with a broken leg, Griffith poses as a replacement wheeler-dealer,…

Film:Prizzi's Honor

Prizzi's Honor

John Huston

It may not seem like the most obvious kind of Huston country, but this black Mafia comedy fits perfectly with the John Huston mindset. Adapted from Richard Condon’s novel, the film stars Nicholson as a none-too-bright hit man for a Mafia family who falls in love with an independent operator—a female killer played by Kathleen Turner. The two make a surprisingly funny couple, whether taking a fling at domesticity or comparing professional notes. But their romance is threatened by the woman Nicholson has jilted: the don’s daughter, played by Anjelica Huston in a…

Film:The Purple Rose of Cairo

The Purple Rose of Cairo

Woody Allen

One of the high points of Woody Allen’s career. Cecilia (Mia Farrow), a depression-era waitress married to a brutish husband (Danny Aiello), finds her only escape at the movies, her current favorite being a light comedy about an explorer among socialites, called The Purple Rose of Cairo. She sees it so many times that the main character, Tom Baxter (Jeff Daniels), falls in love with her and steps off the screen to woo her. When news of this gets back to the movie studio, the producers send the actor who played Baxter (also Daniels) to convince Baxter to…

Film:Coal Miner's Daughter

Coal Miner's Daughter

Michael Apted

Sissy Spacek won a much-deserved Oscar for her lead in this entertaining biography of country-music legend Loretta Lynn. British director Michael Apted (Gorillas in the Mist) brings fine texture to the Kentucky backwoods section of the film, where the teenage Loretta meets her future husband (Tommy Lee Jones), who ultimately pushes her into show business. Lynn’s adult life is well covered, from her spouse’s philandering to her own on-stage crackups; but between the chapter-and-verse recollections, the script by Thomas Rickman is layered with life and…

Film:Manhattan

Manhattan

Woody Allen

Manhattan, Woody Allen’s follow-up to Oscar-winning Annie Hall, is a film of many distinctions: its glorious all-Gershwin score, its breathtakingly elegant black-and-white, widescreen cinematography by Gordon Willis (best-known for shooting the Godfather movies); its deeply shaded performances; its witty screenplay that marked a new level in Allen’s artistic maturity; and its catalog of Things that Make Life Worth Living. But Manhattan is also distinguished in the realm of home video as the first motion picture to be released…

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