When it comes to love and romance, Hollywood knows its stuff. Here are some films we think are just dreamy to start (or end) your Valentine's Day right.
Garden State (2004): Zack Braff wrote, directed and starred in this romantic comedy. Braff plays Andrew Largeman, a 20-something who returns to his hometown for his mother's funeral, comes to terms with his father, and romances Samantha, played by Natalie Portman.
50 First Dates (2004): Adam Sandler stars as a Hawaiian vet who falls in love with fellow islander Lucy (Drew Barrymore), who suffers from short-term memory loss. After having a romantic first date, he discovers the next day that to keep her, he has to woo her everyday and hope she falls for him.
Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind (2004): Ever hear of the saying "You never know what you have until it's gone?". That's exactly what a couple (Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet) finds out when both elect to undergo a strange procedure to erase each other from their memories after a sour relationship.
Love Actually (2003): Set almost entirely in London five weeks before Christmas, this movie follows the interrelated love lives (or lack thereof) of about a dozen people. Starring Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Alan Rickman, Liam Neeson, Keira Knightley, Lucia Moniz and Laura Linney.
Shakespeare In Love (1998): The chemistry is palpabale between Joseph Feinnes, playing a dashing young William Shakespeare, and Gwenyth Paltrow, playing the lovely Viola de Lessups. Playwright Will has writers block until he meets this beautiful rich girl, and then the famous story of Romeo and Juliet evolves as he falls for her.
Titantic (1997): The nation was swept into a romantic frenzy when this ship hit theaters in 1997. Women swooned over Leonard DiCaprio, who played low-class passenger Jack Dawson on board the Titanic. Jack falls in love with Rose DeWitt Bukater, a rich socialite who is engaged to someone else. The pair risk everything to be together, especially after the ship hits an iceberg.
Pretty Woman (1990): Julia Roberts' smile lights up the screen in this movie about a hooker with a heart of gold. Roberts plays Vivian, a smart prostitute who is hired by millionare businessman Edward Lewis (played by Richard Gere) to be his escort at a few fancy functions. Vivian melts Edward's cold heart and the two fall in love.
When Harry Met Sally (1989): Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan tackle the question, can two good friends be lovers? Harry (Crystal) and Sally (Ryan) meet on a drive to New York after their college graduation, discovering they have nothing in common and drive each other insane. However, over the years the two keep bumping into each other and slowly develop a friendship that eventually, to their surprise, buds into something more. The question then remains, what will they do about it?
Say Anything (1988): Classic John Cusack! An improbable couple meets after high school graduation and must deal with their friends, family and other pressures just to stay together. Lloyd Dobler is an average kickboxer with a good heart but limited ambition. Diane Court is an aloof genius who is very closely protected by her father. When Diane gets a scholarship to study in England, she has a weighty decision to make.
The Princess Bride (1987): When a lovely princess is kidnapped by a ghastly gang intent on instigating an international incident, they soon find themselves pursued by a pirate with a bad reputation. But Princess Buttercup figures out that this 'dread' pirate is actually her one true love. With a nasty prince (to whom Buttercup is betrothed) plotting and planning, the stage is set for swordfights, monsters, tortures and the "Cliffs of Insanity!" But will Grandpa be allowed to finish reading the story to his grandson (who doesn't like "the kissy bits")?
A Room with a View (1986): Should Lucy Honeychurch (Helena Bonham Carter) marry Cecil Vyse (Daniel Day-Lewis), the well-connected aesthete to whom she is engaged, or George Emerson (Julian Sands), the handsome, free-thinking young man whom she fervently loves and who also adores her? The decision may seem ridiculously obvious, but for Lucy, swept up in these events, it is painful. This delicate adaptation of E.M. Forster's novel is not at all painful, however.
Splendor in the Grass (1961): Though nothing can bring back the hour of splendor in the grass, of glory in the flower, watching this romantic drama comes pretty darn close. An emotionally overpowering tale of young love, it features the big-screen debut of Warren Beatty. He plays Bud, a Kansas teen-ager who falls madly in love with Wilma, portrayed by Natalie Wood. Wilma returns Bud's love, but their relationship can't be consummated due to their youth. William Inge won an Oscar for his screenplay; Elia Kazan directed.
An Affair to Remember (1957): A poignant fairy tale elevated above the typical studio tear-jerker. Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr are two lovers who meet aboard a ship and plan to meet again six months later. Little do they realize how tragedy will intervene. The debonair and witty Grant and the elegant and almost regal Kerr shine both in their moments of restrained comedy and in their moments of romance. The latter are never maudlin -- not even at the end. It's a wholly believable relationship between two people who find themselves irresistibly attracted to one another.
Casablanca (1942): The chemistry between Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman is a marvel in this classic about love and intrigue in wartime Casablanca. Bergman, with her expressive face and liquid eyes, lights the romantic passages of the film with a warm and genuine glow. She is the perfect example of the sacrificing woman torn between her love for nightclub owner Rick Blaine and her devotion toward her patriotic fugitive husband, Victor Lazlo. Bogart's chain-smoking, arrogant Rick is the classic American expatriate. But beneath the cynical, wise-guy manner is a core of sentiment, idealism and nobility that becomes evident when he is reunited with Ilsa.
Wuthering Heights (1939): An atmospheric production of Emily Bronte's brooding love story of the Yorkshire moors, with Laurence Olivier as the wild and passionate Heathcliff and Merle Oberon as his tragic love, Cathy Earnshaw. The pairing results in one of the screen's most persuasive and bittersweet romances. The tempestous Olivier dominates the film, and the fragile Oberon makes the perfect foil.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun