Honor roll: Romance films

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

Film:Titanic

Titanic

James Cameron

When the theatrical release of James Cameron’s Titanic was delayed from July to December of 1997, media pundits speculated that Cameron’s $200 million disaster epic would cause the director’s downfall, signal the end of the blockbuster era and sink Paramount Studios as quickly as the ill-fated luxury liner had sunk on that fateful night of April 14, 1912. Some studio executives were confident, others horrified, but the clarity of hindsight turned Cameron into an Oscar-winning genius, a shrewd businessman and one of the most successful directors in the…

Film:Shakespeare in Love

Shakespeare in Love

John Madden

One of the most endearing and intelligent romantic comedies of the ‘90s, the Oscar-winning Shakespeare in Love is filled with such good will, sunny romance, snappy one-liners, and devilish cleverness that it’s absolutely irresistible. With tongue placed firmly in cheek, at its outset the film tracks young Will Shakespeare’s overwrought battle with writer’s block and the efforts of theater owner Philip Henslowe (Geoffrey Rush, in rare form) to stage Will’s latest comedy, Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate’s Daughter. Jokey comedy, though, soon takes a…

Film:The English Patient

The English Patient

Anthony Minghella

Winner of nine Academy Awards and almost every critic’s heart, The English Patient (based on Michael Ondaatje’s prizewinning novel of love and loss during World War II) is one of the most acclaimed films of modern times. Hana, a nurse (Juliette Binoche), tends to an archaeologist (Ralph Fiennes) who has been burnt to a crisp in a plane crash. As their relationship intensifies, he flashes back to his overwhelming passion for a married woman (Kristin Scott Thomas). Meanwhile, Hana begins a new romance with a man who defuses bombs (Naveen Andrews) and Willem…

Film:The Piano

The Piano

Jane Campion

Jane Campion’s The Piano struck a deep chord (if you’ll excuse the expression) with audiences in 1993, who were mesmerized by the film’s rich, dreamlike imagery. It is the story of a Scottish woman named Ada (Holly Hunter), who has been mute since age 6 because she simply chose not to speak. Ada travels with her daughter Flora (Anna Paquin) and her beloved piano to a remote spot on the coast of New Zealand for an arranged marriage to a farmer (Sam Neill). She gives piano lessons to a gruff neighbor (Harvey Keitel) who has Maori tattoos on his face, and,…

Film:Ghost

Ghost

Jerry Zucker

Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze are the passionate lovers whose romance is undone when the latter is murdered during a bungled hit arranged by a rival. The clever concept by screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin (director of My Life) extends outward into comedy (Swayze’s character communicates through a sassy medium played by Whoopi Goldberg, who won an Oscar for this role), horror (the afterlife is populated by hell-bound demons and the like), and romantic complications (a handsome suitor, played by Tony Goldwyn, comes on to Moore while Swayze’s spirit is still…

Film:Howards End

Howards End

James Ivory

Margaret and Helen Schlegel (Oscar® winner Emma Thompson and Helena Bonham Carter) are sisters from a well-educated European family: intelligent, free-spirited, cultured, and highly emancipated by the standards of the time. A series of events brings them into a relationship with the Wilcox family: healthy, conservative, conventional, and very English, headed by the prosperous Henry (Anthony Hopkins) and his priggish son, Charles (James Wilby). Both families also come into contact with Leonard Bast (Samuel West) and his wife, a couple near the lowest tier of the rigid class system. Leonard’s desire for cultural and intellectual status attracts the attention of Helen, who must come to terms with her unexpected feelings toward him. At the same time, Margaret must reconcile her independent spirit with her desire for companionship and a comfortable place in Edwardian society; her moral strength is eventually able to resolve the tangle of opposites. First published in 1910, E.M. Forster’s Howards End remains one of the most important English novels of the twentieth century, and Merchant Ivory Productions’ tour-de-force adaptation was one of the most critically acclaimed films of the 1990s.

Film:Edward Scissorhands

Edward Scissorhands

Tim Burton

Edward Scissorhands achieves the nearly impossible feat of capturing the delicate flavor of a fable or fairy tale in a live-action movie. The story follows a young man named Edward (Johnny Depp), who was created by an inventor (Vincent Price, in one of his last roles) who died before he could give the poor creature a pair of human hands. Edward lives alone in a ruined Gothic castle that just happens to be perched above a pastel-colored suburb inhabited by breadwinning husbands and frustrated housewives straight out of the 1950s. One day, Peg (Dianne…

Film:Good Will Hunting

Good Will Hunting

Gus Van Sant

Robin Williams won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, and actors Matt Damon and Ben Affleck nabbed one for Best Original Screenplay, but the feel-good hit Good Will Hunting triumphs because of its gifted director, Gus Van Sant. The unconventional director (My Own Private Idaho, Drugstore Cowboy) saves a script marred by vanity and clunky character development by yanking soulful, touching performances out of his entire cast (amazingly, even one by Williams that’s relatively schtick-free). Van Sant pulls off the equivalent of what George…

Film:Breaking the Waves

Breaking the Waves

Lars von Trier

Set in an unmercifully rugged, coastal village in Scotland in the 1970s, this extraordinary film by Lars von Trier stars British actress Emily Watson as a barely contained naive named Bess, who holds regular conversations with God and whose pure and intensely personal faith is hardly tolerated by the gruesome Calvinist elders of her church. Bess marries an oil-rig worker (Stellan Skarsgard) and comes to believe that erotic discovery is a part of God’s grand plan. But after her spouse is hurt in an accident, she decides that divine instruction is leading her…

Film:The Mask of Zorro

The Mask of Zorro

Martin Campbell

In this day of movies in which one can’t tell whether the action was manufactured by computer generation or by a cookie cutter, The Mask of Zorro is a grand throwback. It recalls and celebrates the fantasy workshop that Hollywood was and can be at its best. It’s an audience pleaser in the best sense of the word, combining great-looking performers with gorgeous vistas and production design, a story that is familiar yet never insults the viewer’s intelligence, and plenty of eye-popping action.

Anthony Hopkins stars as the original Zorro, a masked…

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