The Vore's Film staff selects the top best romance movies of 2016 in cinema or on DVD or Netfix. Are Angelina Jolie, Joe Swanberg & Lee Toland Krieger our new romance genre directors? One of the genres almost always requiring a suspension of good taste is the romantic film genre. Even great foreign romance films like French romantic classics, and most rom coms produced in Hollywood and the UK do not shy away from dreadful cliches or cheap sentiment. And then there are Sundance factory indie romantic films that attempt a level of sincerity but more often than not don’t hit home (The Spectacular Now is one of these films that carefully avoids rom com cliches but falls in the trap of typical indie sincerity cliches). Some films however, the films that will be discussed here, manage to give us fresh and playful reworkings of a genre that is both excruciating and enjoyable at the same time.
The Age of Adaline, By the Sea & Nobody Wants the Night
Amount of genre films per year from 2010 to 2017 536 romance movies scheduled for release this year. The classic romantic comedy is told to be dead. Looking at the statistics you might say the genre is growing, but it includes many movies that are for marketing purposes labeled as romantic, without actually having the traits of a real romance movie. Nonetheless, the typical genre films like 'You've got Mail' and 'When Harry met Sally' might be gone, but there is plenty more new stuff coming our way.
2010's best rated romance movies out on DVD, Bluray or streaming on VOD (Netflix, Amazon).
Before Midnight (14-06-2013, 109 minutes)
It won't come as a huge surprise that this film ended up on the list. For people in their thirties probably a film they can identify with very well. Before Midnight is the third in a series of films that have followed each other up with 9 years inbetween each. In this last one the couple is in their thirties, is married and they have children together. Nothing quite turned out as they expected, but even without the glamour and the adventurous lives, they have plenty to talk about. One of the best dialogue driven films out there. In 2014 Linklater is coming with a film about a boy who has filmed since he was a kid.
Blue Is The Warmest Colour (19-10-2013, 179 minutes)
The very best French film of 2013 and 2014, but also the best romantic film of the 10's. It is filled with lust, love, betrayal, but it is especially about what it means to grow up, experience love, and explore your sexuality. It is also a highly controversial film because of its explicit lesbian love scenes, and because of the alleged poor working conditions for the two beautiful French actresses. Nonetheless, it won the Palme d'Or at Cannes and it is an essential must-watch film.
By all means the most conventional romantic comedy on the list, but it is one reinforcing the British domination of the romantic comedy genre. It ties in perfectly with all those hugely enjoyable (yet sappy) British films like Love Actually, Nothing Hill etc. It comes as no surprise that it is directed by UK romance king Richard Curtis. About time is a sweet film that made this list because it does not take itself too seriously. The premise of the film (a man can travel back in time and relive all the days of his life, and undo his mistakes) is ridiculous, and the characters fortunately feel the same way.
A film clearly missing Charlie Kaufman's touch, and giving us 100% Spike Jonze. This means less clever writing, less irony, and overall less enjoyment. BUT a way more romantic film. The film is sweet, sincere and a definite romance movie. Joaquin Phoenix does a great job at playing a sensitive sappy writer who is dating his Operating System. As you might have guessed, the film is set in the future where people can have actual relationships with an OS, including romantic ones. A sweet, but especially scare notion if you ask me.
For everyone who has heard of Mumblecore, but felt that these kind of films could be intolerable pretentious hipster crap, this is a good film to actually get introduced to the Mumblecore movement. It is Joe Swanberg's most commercial film thus far, and has a great cast. It is light, funny and opens your eyes to things in the most subtle way. It shows us the complexity of friendships and love relationships. One of my favorite films of 2013. New Girl's Jake Johnson stays close to his character, but also goes beyond being just the goofball.
The amount of Asian romantic comedies flooding the market yearly is incredible. Especially South-Korea and Japan have a huge production capacity when it comes to romance. Unfortunately most of these flicks are even worse and more shallow than Hollywood rom coms. Our Sunhi is a whole different story. It is a film by the magnificent auteur filmmaker Hong-Sang Soo about a twenty-something girl who finds calm love with an old professor but still has to face her violent past boyfriend.
Already getting critical acclaim for his comedy The Vicious Kind with Adam Scott, director Lee Toland Krieger has now turned to romance. With Celeste and Jesse Forever he has made a terrifically delightful and honest film. For some odd reason the film has remained under most people's radar, while it has an incredible cast and great writing. If you are looking for a little feel-good film to lighten your mood, have a laugh, and actually learn somewhat of a lesson, then Celeste and Jesse Forever is your go-to film. In 2015 this director is returning with yet another more classic romance film about a woman in the 20th century who is rendered ageless after an accident.
An honest and charming little comedy starring James Gandolfini (The Sopranos) in one of his last roles. And he is great, you will see a whole different side to him. It shows us how difficult maintaining relationships can be and how special it is when you find someone you are simply comfortable with. Julia Dreyfuss finds the man of her dreams in this film, but makes a mess of things. She befriends his ex-wife, but fails to tell either of them that she knows their ex-partner, and that way finds out things about her new lover she was not supposed to know.
What If might very well be the first proper effort Daniel Radcliffe made as an actor after the Harry Potter series (or at all, for that matter). In this nice little romcom he plays Wallace, a young Brit disappointed-by-love living in Toronto. At a party he walks into the perfect girl. They have a wonderful night, exchange phone numbers but… she has a boyfriend already. For better or worse, they start a platonic relationship. But what if they both had been single?
The One I Love is a pretty original take on a well-known theme; a couple is looking for ways to revitalize their relationship and decides to go on a well-deserved holiday in a luxurious resort. All is well at first, but things start to get stranger and stranger as they encounter each other’s idealized doppelgangers. Writer Justin Lader truly reinvents the worn-out genre by adding a weird sci-fi touch to it while confronting the viewer with hard questions about the sustainability of love and relationships.
Irish director John Carney returns to familiar grounds after the renowned Once (2006) with yet another musical romance drama, even though Begin Again tends slightly more towards comedy. Central in the story is a young aspiring British singer/songwriter (Knightley) trying to make ends meet in New York City after she broke up with her boyfriend. Just as her wells seems dried up, she meets a once important record producer (Ruffalo) who helps her launching a career. Begin Again works as a joyful celebration of the comforting capacity of music.
Sure sure, I was badmouthing this film in the introduction, and I am sticking to my guns. But it cannot be denied that The Spectacular Now deserves a mention on a list like this. Many other websites are actually ranking it as the no. 1 film of 2013. And indeed, it has its enjoyable moments, and the overall tone of the film is not that bad, but the forced sincerity is too much too handle. It is always a dangerous balance to maintain, but when annoying insincere actors like Mike Teller are delivering the lines, the thin line is already crossed in the first few minutes. It is about the local party guy/clown who takes an interest in the invisible but genuine girl next door. It is good enough to go see. Chances are I am being to cynical.
I was going into this film with the worst of expectations. It may be noted that I am not the biggest fan of Bollywood cinema, or Indian cinema in general. And the trailer makes it seem like one of the most over the top Asian sentimental films of 2013. And sure it is sentimental, but the feel good factor and the surprising nuance make it into a pretty decent Indian romantic comedy. It is about a young housewife and an older men who communicate through letters in his lunchbox, a lunchbox that once was delivered to him by mistake.
There is no way that you have missed out on this one. The catchy trailer was everywhere. And the film itself also did not disappoint. The lesson to be learned was meager and a little bit too much forced upon the audience, but the film itself was funny, light and innovative. Moreover, it was long over due for a Hollywood film to address the topic of internet pornography, and it did so in a very fresh and recognizable manner. As the directorial debut of Joseph-Gordon Levitt, the film has set itself up to be a great start of his career besides acting. It wont achieve such romcom status as his 500 Days of Summer, but it is a great flick.
Chilean cinema is great. 2013 was no exception, and Gloria was together with No the most talked about film from Chile. It is a touching story about a 58-year old woman in Santiago who after a divorce and with the children leaving the nest is seeking for true love. She thinks she has found the right guy, but it turns out to be a little more complicated. A very recognizable film with exceptionally well shaped characters. One of the better foreign romantic drama comedies out there.
Love, Rosie, The Crocodiles & Vicky and the Treasure of the Gods
Blackbird by Benedict Andrews
Rooney Mara, Ben Mendelsohn & Indira Varma
National Theatre Live: A Streetcar Named Desire
Nobody Wants the Night (05-02-2015, 118 minutes))
Starring French power house actress Juliette Binoche, this upcoming adventure/romance film tells the story of a determined woman looking for her missing husband, the famous Arctic explorer Robert Peary. As she embarks on a dangerous search party in the remote part of northern Canada, she meets a young Inuit who appears to be Peary’s secret lover. The common goal to find their beloved unites their faith.
The renowned Thai director who rose to international fame after winning the Golden Palm at Cannes for his intriguing film Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives will return in 2015 with his first full length feature film in five years. According to Indiewire, the film is about a lonesome middle-age housewife tending a soldier with sleeping sickness who falls into a hallucination that triggers strange dreams, phantoms and romance. So besides romantic, expect it to be unconventional, to say the least.