Honor roll: Romance films

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

Film:Brokeback Mountain

Brokeback Mountain

Ang Lee

A sad, melancholy ache pervades Brokeback Mountain, Ang Lee’s haunting, moving film that, like his other movies, explores societal constraints and the passions that lurk underneath. This time, however, instead of taking on ancient China, 19th-century England, or ‘70s suburbia, Lee uses the tableau of the American West in the early ‘60s to show how two lovers are bound by their expected roles, how they rebel against them, and the repercussions for each of doing so—but the romance here is between two men. Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (Jake…

Film:Crash (Paul Haggis)

Crash

Paul Haggis

Movie studios, by and large, avoid controversial subjects like race the way you might avoid a hive of angry bees. So it’s remarkable that Crash even got made; that it’s a rich, intelligent, and moving exploration of the interlocking lives of a dozen Los Angeles residents—black, white, latino, Asian, and Persian—is downright amazing. A politically nervous district attorney (Brendan Fraser) and his high-strung wife (Sandra Bullock, biting into a welcome change of pace from Miss Congeniality) get car-jacked by an oddly sociological pair of young black…

Film:Finding Neverland

Finding Neverland

Marc Forster

Sweetness that doesn’t turn saccharine is hard to find these days; Finding Neverland hits the mark. Much credit is due to the actors: Johnny Depp applies his genius for sly whimsy in his portrayal of playwright J. M. Barrie, who finds inspiration for his greatest creation from four lively boys, the sons of widow Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (Kate Winslet, who miraculously fuses romantic yearning with common sense). Though the friendship threatens his already dwindling marriage, Barrie spends endless hours with the boys, pretending to be pirates or Indians—and…

Film:The End of the Affair

The End of the Affair

Neil Jordan

“This is a diary of hate,” pounds out novelist Maurice Bendrix (Ralph Fiennes) on his typewriter as he recounts the lost love of his life in this spiritual memoir (based on Graham Greene’s novel) with a startling twist. It’s London 1946, and Maurice runs into his achingly dull school friend Henry (Stephen Rea with a perpetually gloomy hangdog expression). Their meeting is brittle, all small talk and chilly, mannered civility beautifully captured by director-screenwriter Neil Jordan (The Crying Game), and it only barely thaws when Henry suggests that his…

Film:Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Woody Allen

Just as New York City was the backdrop in Woody Allen’s “Manhattan,” the stunning city of Barcelona is the setting for the romantic adventures of Vicky and Cristina. These two young Americans spend a summer in Spain and meet a flamboyant artist (Javier Bardem) and his beautiful but insane ex-wife (Penelope Cruz). Vicky (Rebecca Hall) is straight-laced and about to be married. Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) is a sexually adventurous free spirit. When they all become amorously entangled, the results can only be described as chaotic.

Film:Walk the Line

Walk the Line

James Mangold

A solid and entertaining biopic, Walk the Line works less as a movie than an actors’ showcase for its stars. Joaquin Phoenix’s total immersion into the skin of singer Johnny Cash is startling—watching it, you can’t believe this is the same guy who whined about being “vexed” in Gladiator. As he evolves from a farm boy to gospel croonin’ plunker to the Man in Black, Phoenix disappears into Cash’s deep baritone, his way of slinging the guitar onto his back, and his hunched-up style of strumming. But it’s more than just picking up mannerisms: Phoenix…

Film:Forty Shades of Blue

Forty Shades of Blue

Ira Sachs

“It’s just a moment in time that happened in Memphis that was pure magic…and I’m just so thankful that I was a part of it.” So says legendary record producer Alan James (Academy Award Nominee Rip Torn) of his heyday as a hitmaker in the city of soul. Those days have faded into the past, but the larger-than-life songsmith still continues to reap the benefits, including his Russian trophy-girlfriend, Laura (Independent Spirit Award Nominee Dina Korzun), a beautiful young woman he brought home with him from a trip to Moscow. Laura’s life in America is better than anything she’s ever known, but Alan’s carousing lifestyle tests her patience. When Michael (Darren Burrows, tv’s Northern Exposure) the handsome, estranged son of one of Alan’s previous marriages arrives on the scene, the delicate balance of this intriguing relationship changes forever.

Film:A Very Long Engagement

A Very Long Engagement

Jean-Pierre Jeunet

The film is set in France near the end of World War I in the deadly trenches of the Somme, in the gilded Parisien halls of power, and in the modest home of an indomitable provincial girl. It tells the story of this young woman’s relentless, moving and sometimes comic search for her fiancé, who has disappeared. He is one of five French soldiers believed to have been court-martialed under mysterious circumstances and pushed out of an allied trench into an almost-certain death in no-man’s land. What follows is an investigation into the arbitrary nature of secrecy, the absurdity of war, and the enduring passion, intuition and tenacity of the human heart.

Film:Personal Velocity

Personal Velocity

Rebecca Miller

Personal Velocity is actually three short digital films, a trio of superb character portraits: Delia (Kyra Sedgwick, Something to Talk About, Singles), a former bad girl who musters the will to leave her abusive husband; Greta (Parker Posey, Party Girl, Best in Show), a book editor who finds that success in her career leaves her dissatisfied with her unambitious husband; and Paula (Fairuza Balk, The Craft, Gas Food Lodging), a young woman whose narrow escape from a car accident makes her question her life. With…

Film:Two Family House

Two Family House

Raymond De Felitta

Raymond De Felitta’s Sundance 2000 Audience Winner is a sweet little romantic drama set in the insular Italian and Irish neighborhoods of 1956 Staten Island. Narrated with the conversational ease of a bar story, it stars Michael Rispoli as Buddy, blue-collar Italian American with big dreams, a golden voice, and a history of failed business schemes. His latest scheme involves turning a two-story firetrap into a bar with an upstairs apartment, but first he has to evict the squatters he inherited with the house: an abandoned young Irish mother (Kelly Macdonald) and…

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