Kiera Knightley and James McAvoy star in Joe Wright’s Atonement, a movie that follows a couple who must deal with the consequences when Knightley’s character’s younger sister accuses McAvoy of a crime he didn’t commit. Atonement is a total emotional knockout.
Richard Linklater is one of the greatest living American filmmakers in the game right now, so it’s surprising that his European-set romance Before Sunrise packs such a heavy punch. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy simply can’t be beat in this lost-love narrative.
One of the more recent entries here, Blue Is the Warmest Color is a three-hour romantic epic compiled from hundreds of hours of footage. The end result is something achingly beautiful and tremendously real, which is no surprise considering just how much time the lead actresses must have spent in each other’s presence.
Second only to Casablanca, David Lean’s Brief Encounter is an absolute all-timer. Not only is it one of the loveliest and most romantic movies ever made, it’s also one of the most heartbreaking. This is the movie people are talking about when they say they don’t make them like they used to.
Probably the most classic example of a movie about lost love, Casablanca just never gets old. Released in the midst of World War II (and heavily relying on that setting, as well), the film sees two old lovers reuniting at the man’s club in Morocco. It’s politically-tinged and as romantic as any other entry in this slideshow, but there’s just something about the chemistry between Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman that elevates this film above the rest.
The first of two Wong Kar-wai movies featured here, Chungking Express tells the story of a man and a woman’s playful romance. Kar-wai is an icon of the Korean New Wave, and deservedly so—Chungking Express is a modern classic.
An essential piece of Charlie Kaufman’s filmography, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind explores an idea that many of the most tumultuous couples have likely fantasized about: What if you could erase the memory of another person from your mind? The lead couple, played perfectly by Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet, will surely have you thinking about all of your lost loves by the time the credits roll.
The second Wong Kar-wai film in this slideshow, In the Mood for Love builds on Chungking Express’s “right place, wrong time” theme by following a man and a woman who can never seem to make things work. It’s just as beautiful as Chungking Express, too, if not more so.
Jacques Demy’s The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is unlike any other romance ever committed to film—not only does he film the entire thing like an opera, with every line sung or spoken lyrically, but the film’s esthetic is also something to behold. Despite being another romance that relies heavily on the prospect of war interrupting a relationship, Demy’s film is truly one-of-a-kind.
Not only is Vertigo Hitchcock’s best, but it’s the movie that easily ranks among the greatest ever made. There’s nothing that can be said about Vertigo that hasn’t already been said, but the film’s romance is more than deserving of a spot here.