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The 100 best romantic movies: quirky

Experts including Tom Hiddleston, Joan Collins and EL James vote for the best films about love and romance

Now we know which are the 100 best romantic movies of all time. But which are funny and which are heartbreaking? Which depict a dignified romance and which are saucy tales of lust? Which are strictly arthouse and which are simply cheesy? We’ve applied 19 handy labels to the 100 films in our list. Here you’ll find all the films we think deserve the label ‘quirky’.

Got something to add? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

RECOMMENDED: The 100 best romantic movies

Annie Hall (1977)

Director: Woody Allen

Cast: Diane Keaton, Woody Allen

Best quote: 'Don’t knock masturbation. It’s sex with someone I love.'

Defining moment: Call the lobster squad! Dinner has escaped.

Analyse this
Irrational, crazy and absurd. ‘Annie Hall’ gives us love in its all its messy glory. It’s the anatomy of break-up. ‘Where did it all go wrong?’ asks Woody Allen’s neurotic comedian Alvy Singer after his split from scatterbrain singer Annie (Diane Keaton, enjoying a killer fashion moment in boyish slacks and a fedora).

Allen has said that ‘Annie Hall’ was his first film to go ‘deeper’. And at its heart is the sad message that finding your soulmate doesn’t guarantee a happy ending. Or, as an old woman tells Alvy: ‘Love fades.’ But for all that, ‘Annie Hall’ is hands down the most hilarious film ever made about love, hysterically funny and packed with gags. CC

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Harold and Maude (1971)

Director: Hal Ashby

Cast: Ruth Gordon, Bud Cort

Best quote: 'Oh, Harold, that's wonderful. Go and love some more.'

Defining moment: In a field of daisies overlooking a vast military cemetery, Maude explains her philosophy of life.

Age shall not wither them
The hippy era was full of movies that attempted to confront square society, to shock viewers into some undefined form of action. How many of them are still effective today? But ‘Harold and Maude’, the gentle flipside of the revolutionary dream, is every bit as charming, affecting and surprising as it must have been on its first release.

Partly this is because none of its themes have gone out of date: we still live in a world of empty privilege and rigid hierarchy, petty authority and relentless conformism. So the idea of a teenage boy (Cort) shacking up with a batty old woman (Gordon) is still a challenge to social norms. Best of all, ‘Harold and Maude’ is also still devastatingly romantic: a story of soulmates, in the most literal sense. TH

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The Apartment (1960)

Director: Billy Wilder

Cast: Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine

Best quote: 'That's the way it crumbles... cookie-wise.'

Defining moment: C.C. Baxter decides to take the advice of his doctor and become a mensch.

When life gives you Lemmon...
Billy Wilder’s ‘The Apartment’ takes the long and winding route to true romance. The premise is anything but romantic: CC Baxter (Jack Lemmon) is a Manhattan office drone whose way to the heart of his bosses – and promotion – is to loan out his bachelor pad to married men having affairs or one-night-stands. Baxter’s neighbours are increasingly fed up with his apparent philandering, but the sad reality is that the four walls of his apartment witness no romance at all when it comes to their actual tenant.

When he starts a flirtation with Fran (Shirley MacLaine), a beautiful lift attendant who works in his faceless modern office block, little does Baxter know that she is actually caught up in an unhappy affair with his boss (Fred MacMurray). Wilder is unafraid to go down some dark alleys in ‘The Apartment’: there’s a strong streak of cynicism relating to modern office politics and even a suicide attempt. But that only makes the final resolution all the more rewarding and hard-won. DC

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Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Director: Michel Gondry

Cast: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet

Best quote: 'I've never felt that before. I'm just exactly where I want to be.'

Defining moment: That final conversation in the hallway, in which the repetition of the simple word ‘okay’ means so much more than just ‘I love you’.

Brainwashing for beginners
You might see this extraordinary film, a joint career peak for Michel Gondry, writer Charlie Kaufman and its improbably but perfectly matched leads, described in generic DVD catalogues as a romantic comedy. It’s a term that seems wholly unequal to its dizzying conceptual acrobatics, not to mention the profound sadness in its absurdist excavation of post-romantic trauma.

But a rich, tragedy-tinged comedy it is: Kaufman has essentially given a scruffy sci-fi makeover to a ‘Philadelphia Story’-style farce of second chances and destiny denied, without letting the film’s beating screwball heart get overly chilled by its wintry New York cool. No longer just the hipster’s choice, it’s become the go-to love story for an entire generation of, to paraphrase Kate Winslet’s Clementine, fucked-up girls – and guys – looking for their own peace of mind. GL

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Punch-Drunk Love (2002)

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson

Cast: Adam Sandler, Emily Watson

Best quote: 'I have a love in my life. It makes me stronger than anything you can imagine.'

Defining moment: When Barry tells Lena that he wants to smash her face with a sledgehammer – in the most charming way imaginable…

Love is strange
Remember that brief, golden period in the early 2000s when you could openly admit to your friends and family that you were looking forward to the new Adam Sandler movie? A time before ‘Grown Ups 2’ and ‘Blended’, when this still-promising comedy talent actually took risks with his career? It’s impossible to imagine the Sandler of today agreeing to ‘Punch-Drunk Love’ – then again, it’s pretty hard to imagine that he knew what he was getting himself into.

Paul Thomas Anderson’s film is without doubt the oddest romcom of all time, suspended in a hinterland between old-fashioned screwball antics, quirky indie romance and outright arthouse obliqueness. The tone is impossible to pin down, veering from rage to romance to ice-cold stillness. But somehow it works: the glassy LA photography is eye-ravishingly cool, the performances are just this side of too-far-out, and the love affair between Sandler and Emily Watson is simply, truly perfect. TH

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WALL-E (2008)

Director: Andrew Stanton

Cast: Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin

Best quote: 'Beep, beep, beep…'

Defining moment: When WALL-E falls in love with Eve, inspired by watching ‘Hello, Dolly!’

Leaves a metallic taste in the mouth
Can a near-silent portrait of a love between two robots, WALL-E and Eve, really be that romantic? Well, Pixar found a way with this daring story of a lonely robot on Earth in 2700, a time when the planet has been abandoned by life and WALL-E has only piles of junk and a copy of Gene Kelly’s ‘Hello, Dolly!’ for company. WALL-E is a creaky, awkward creature and when the more sleek, iPod-like Eve turns up in his life, he naturally falls head over heels for her.

The film’s great achievement (if we forget its more boisterous and less successful second half) is that its silence and calm draw us in and allows us to appreciate small gestures and the little things in life. It’s the most touching robot-on-robot relationship since the bickering bromance between C3PO and R2D2 in ‘Star Wars’. DC

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I Know Where I'm Going! (1945)

Directors: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger

Cast: Wendy Hillier, Roger Livesey

Best quote: 'Not poor, they just haven't got money.'

Defining moment: Joan tries to cross to the island and gets caught in a storm near a whirlpool.

The high road to romance
And she does know exactly where she’s going. She is Joan Webster (Wendy Hiller), a thoroughly modern independent woman in 1940s wartime London. Joan has bagged a big catch and is engaged to an industrial magnate twice her age. The wedding is set to take place on his private island in the Hebrides and nothing is going to stop her; nothing except the Scottish weather and perhaps a dashing naval officer (Roger Livesey), with whom Joan becomes stranded on the Isle of Mull during a storm.

‘I Know Where I’m Going!’ beautifully combines romance and comedy. And this is a romantic movie with friends in high places. Here’s Martin Scorsese: ‘I reached the point of thinking there were no more masterpieces to discover, until I saw “I Know Where I’m Going!”.’ CC

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Wild at Heart (1990)

Director: David Lynch

Cast: Nicolas Cage, Laura Dern

Best quote: 'The way your head works is God's own private mystery.'

Defining moment: After dancing like a maniac to speed-metal combo Powermad, Sailor Ripley busts into a swoonsome version of Elvis’s ‘Love Me’.

American dream
No one does romance quite like David Lynch: just think of Sandy and the robins in ‘Blue Velvet’, or Henry and the radiator lady in ‘Eraserhead’. There are those who write him off as an ironist, but this uniquely intense and unabashed worship of love as an otherworldly, all-consuming and dangerous state of higher consciousness is anything but detached.

Lynch loves love, and he loves lovers, none more so than Sailor and Lula, the star-crossed, whisky-fuelled, sex-crazed, emotionally scarred couple that are the wild heart of his madcap kaleidoscopic road movie. This is all-American love reimagined as a carnival show: brutal and beautiful and completely barmy. TH

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True Romance (1993)

Director: Tony Scott

Cast: Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette

Best quote: 'And all I could think was, you're so cool!'

Defining moment: To free his hooker wife from bondage, hero Clarence guns down her dreadful, dreadlocked pimp.

Geek cheek
We can’t help imagining that, when he came to write the script for ‘True Romance’, a before-he-was-famous Quentin Tarantino just jotted down his geekiest life goals and added dialogue. So the story follows a loveless comic-store clerk (Christian Slater) whose boss hires him the world’s foxiest and least experienced hooker (Patricia Arquette) for his birthday. She of course falls madly in love with him, he kills her pimp and they hit the road, bound for Hollywood and a major coke deal.

So yes, ‘True Romance’ is pretty shallow – but it’s also beautifully written, directed and acted, and simply impossible to dislike. The supporting cast is a dream – Dennis Hopper, Christopher Walken, Brad Pitt, Gary Oldman and James Gandolfini. But it’s Slater and Arquette who keep the film anchored, offering one of the most puppyishly lovable depictions of first love in modern cinema. TH

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L’Atalante (1934)

Director: Jean Vigo

Cast: Dita Parlo, Jean Dasté, Michel Simon

Best quote: 'Paris, Paris! Oh, infamous, marvellous city!'

Defining moment: Jean leaps into the river and sees a vision of Juliette dancing in the water.

Life is but a dream
The French are famed as a romantic nation, but for those of us raised in a more reserved culture, their occasional tendency towards sweaty-crotched Gitane-smoke-in-the-face Gainsbourg-isms can seem a little, well, aggressive. Not so ‘L’Atalante’: this is a love story with the lightest touch, managing to be spiritual, sensual, serious and strange all at the same time.

Its 29-year-old director famously died before his debut feature was completed, but there’s more in this one film than most directors manage in a lifetime: more meaning, more emotion, more intensity. Perhaps it’s the out-of-the-past setting – a narrowboat plying the canals of rural France – or the weirdly disconnected central couple, or even the presence of Simon’s crusty, irascible Pere Jules. But something in Vigo’s film is not quite of this earth, and to watch it is the closest we may ever come to experiencing someone else’s dreams. TH

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Up (2009)

Directors: Pete Docter, Bob Peterson

Cast: Ed Asner, Christopher Plummer

Best quote: 'You don't talk much. I like you!'

Defining moment: It’s all about the opening ten minutes, as we follow Carl and Ellie from childhood, through years of happy marriage ‘til death does them part.

The story of us
It’s remarkable that ‘Up’ has managed to sneak into the all-time top 25 romantic movies on the strength of a single 10-minute sequence, but it’s also testament to the extraordinary power this Pixar classic possesses.

It could’ve been so cutesy, so saccharine: a geeky kid with coke-bottle glasses dreams of being an explorer. The girl down the street wants the same thing. They grow up, fall in love, years pass, and we see the highs and lows of their life together: marriage, family, work, sickness, eventually death – a tapestry of honest emotion and meaning (and this, lest we forget, is a kids’ movie). The rest of ‘Up’ is ‘only’ hilarious and smart – but that opening is romance itself. TH

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Before Sunrise (1995)

Director: Richard Linklater

Cast: Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke

Best quote: 'Isn't everything we do in life a way to be loved a little more?'

Defining moment: It happens off-screen – Linklater purposely doesn’t show us the did-they-or-didn’t-they sexual encounter.

This means something to me
Proof that you don’t need a plot to fall in love, ‘Before Sunrise’ sees strangers on a train Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delphy) meet-cute, disembark in Vienna, and dance a verbal tango into the night as the deadline of Jesse’s flight home looms.

You’d say that Delphy and Hawke have never been better were it not for the 2004 sequel ‘Before Sunset’, which shows us what happens next, and the 2013 instalment ‘Before Midnight’, which revisits the pair as middle age encroaches. A classy antidote to the notion that passion is purely physical, it’s the sporadically articulate philosophising and spiky gender-focused sparring that glues these two chatterboxes together. CB

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Before Sunset (2004)

Director: Richard Linklater

Cast: Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke

Best quote: 'You can never replace anyone because everyone is made up of such beautiful specific details.'

Defining moment: Celine’s zero hour Nina Simone impression.

First world problems
These days, director Richard Linklater is known as a master of the long game, his 12-years-in-the-making ‘Boyhood’ (2014) reaping acclaim from all quarters. But the first taste of Linklater’s easygoing maturity came a decade earlier with this sequel to ‘Before Sunrise’, one that deepened college-age lusts into regret, nostalgia and a hopeful rebirth.

Again, we’re strolling with Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Céline (Julie Delpy), this time through a pink-hued Paris during the magic hour. Nine years later, they pick up their banter with ease, and even though life’s choices have drawn them in separate directions, the movie throbs with potential for romance. By the time we’re back in Céline’s apartment – Nina Simone cooing on the stereo – the outcome is all but inevitable. JR

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Breathless (1960)

Director: Jean-Luc Godard

Cast: Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Seberg

Best quote: 'Informers inform, burglars burgle, murderers murder, lovers love.'

Defining moment: The lovers’ ambiguous parting words in the final scene. What do they mean?

A girl and a gun
As love stories go, 'Breathless' ('À Bout de Souffle') is not one for the ages. Jean-Paul Belmondo, playing a Parisian wideboy on the run after shooting a cop, and Jean Seberg as the hipster American newspaper girl who unwittingly shelters him, look impossibly beautiful together, smoking Lucky Strikes and debating existentialist theory in bed. But they seem entirely too cool to be in love.

Yet Godard’s groundbreaking New Wave take on the Hollywood B-movie is romantic almost in spite of itself. Its still-youthful jazz rhythms, its fresh exploration of Paris at its most invitingly chic and its sexy bedroom talk are what so many of us want romance to look and feel like. So we’re more than happy to indulge it, like the cinematic equivalent of a dirty weekend. GL

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Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

Director: Wes Anderson

Cast: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bruce Willis, Bill Murray

Best quote: 'It's possible I may wet the bed, by the way.'

Defining moment: Sam and Suzy kiss an awkward kiss on the beach.

Children, behave
Romance isn't the first thing you expect from a Wes Anderson film, but in this delightful 1960s-set tale, the American auteur employs all his usual tricks – hip soundtrack, arch dialogue, super-careful production design – in the service of a story about the chaos and madness of young love.

Sam and Suzy are 12-year-olds on the run. Suzy is precocious and independent; Sam is nerdy and serious. They don't get very far, but a mile's a long way when you're 12, and danger is never far away. What's lovely is how seriously Anderson takes Sam and Suzy's adventure, while also laying on the humour and the irony. By the time the pair steal a smooch on a deserted beach, we're totally smitten. DC

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Bringing Up Baby (1938)

Director: Howard Hawks

Cast: Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn

Best quote: 'When a man is wrestling a leopard in the middle of a pond, he's in no position to run.'

Defining moment: The prison scene: enter Swingin’ Door Susie and Jerry the Nipper.

Romance, red in tooth and claw
Like its bumbling protagonist, Hawks’ archetypal screwball classic went from disaster to darling. The tale of a paleontologist (Grant), a society dame (Hepburn), a snappy terrier and a stray Brazilian leopard, ‘Bringing Up Baby’ ran seriously over budget and over schedule thanks to animal misbehaviour coupled with Grant and Hepburn’s inability to stop making each other laugh during takes.

It flopped disastrously on first release: Hawks’ contract with producers RKO was cut short and Hepburn was labeled ‘box office poison’ by a top exec. Two decades later, following a series of successful TV showings, the film was rightly recognised as the pinnacle of the screwball art: no film was ever so fast, so witty and so gorgeously irrational. TH

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Lost in Translation (2003)

Director: Sofia Coppola

Cast: Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson

Best quote: 'Can you keep a secret? I’m trying to organise a prison break. I’m looking for, like, an accomplice.'

Defining moment: Crooning Roxy’s ‘More Than This’ in a Tokyo karaoke bar.

Platonic bomb
Strangely polarising for such a wistful and modest little movie, some people struggle to see past the privilege that backgrounds Sofia Coppola’s story about the unique connection that develops between fading movie star Bob (Bill Murray, in his best and reportedly favourite role) and Charlotte, the married twentysomething he meets in the bar of a fancy Tokyo hotel.

The rest of us get to enjoy one of the most perfect films ever made about the indefinable bonds that can form between people who happen to find each other at just the right moment, with Coppola’s hazy direction focusing on the infinite meanings that live between words. We may never know what Bob whispers to Charlotte in the film’s final scene, but it’s a safe bet that neither one of them will ever forget. DE

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Edward Scissorhands (1990)

Director: Tim Burton

Cast: Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder

Best quote: Kim: 'Hold me.' Edward: 'I can’t.'

Defining moment: Kim dances in the ‘snow’ Edward makes from an ice sculpture in sunny California.

Cuts you up
The scariest thing about Burton’s gothic fairy tale is reading the list of actors who were considered for the part of Edward, the man with scissors for hands created by a scientist. The studio insisted Burton meet Tom Cruise (who believed the story needed a ‘happier ending’). Michael Jackson badly wanted the part. Tom Hanks turned it down.

Finally, Burton got his way and cast Johnny Depp, who, like a Camden goth Charlie Chaplin, plays Edward with a dash of slapstick and sad-eyed loneliness (watch Edward’s scissor fingers twitch when he’s nervous). It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship between Depp and Burton, who’ve made seven films together since. Not such a happy ending for Depp and his co-star and then-girlfriend, Ryder. They split in 1993. CC

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(500) Days Of Summer (2009)

Director: Marc Webb

Cast: Joseph Gordon Levitt, Zooey Deschanel

Best quote: 'This is a story of boy meets girl, but you should know upfront, this is not a love story.'

Defining moment: A post-coital Tom struts to work to Hall & Oates’s number ‘You Make My Dreams’.

Cynical attraction
A post-modern post-mortem of love – or something like it – ‘(500) Days Of Summer’ introduces us to Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Summer (Zooey Deschanel), a lady since invoked in countless discussions of that stock indie romcom character, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl.

A trainee architect working as a greetings card writer, Tom falls hard for the kooky charms of his boss’s new secretary, despite the advice of friends who warn him off and Summer herself, who tells him she doesn’t believe in love. Against all the odds, the couple bond over a shared affection for little-known balladeers The Smiths – and the rest is non-linear narrative history. CB

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Secretary (2002)

Director: Steven Shainberg

Cast: Maggie Gyllenhaal, James Spader

Best quote: 'Who's to say that love needs to be soft and gentle?'

Defining moment: Lee reads back a mistyped letter and gets spanked for the first time.

Taking down the particulars
Before there was ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’, there was E Edward Grey (James Spader), a boss who exercises a penchant for strict discipline on new hire Lee (Maggie Gyllenhaal). In contrast to ‘Fifty Shades…’, which metastasised out of ‘Twilight’ fan fiction, the literary origins of ‘Secretary’ are more respectable: a short story by Mary Gaitskill, whose writings about BDSM go a bit deeper than the recent bonkbusters.

The skewed romance at the heart of ‘Secretary’ is beautifully played; the characters never come off as dabblers trying to spice things up a bit with fluffy-cuffed role-play, but as submissive and dominant to the core of their sexual identities. CB

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Gregory's Girl (1981)

Director: Bill Forsyth

Cast: John Gordon Sinclair, Dee Hepburn, Clare Grogan

Best quote: 'Hard work being in love, eh?'

Defining moment: Gregory (Sinclair) realises that the women in his life have all ganged up to get him into the ‘wrong’ girl’s clutches.

The beautiful game
Figuring out who we’re in love with is, of course, a key part of the romantic process. Too many films feature lightning-bolt moments, where the rightness of a match is obvious and irrevocable – cue happy ending. So it’s nice that there are a few movies out there saying, well, hang on a minute. Love at first sight is all very well, but isn’t that a rather shallow and reckless way to select a mate?

‘Gregory’s Girl’ starts with the lightning bolt – gangly Glaswegian Gregory spots leggy keepy-uppy expert Dorothy (Hepburn) – then patiently explains why, for someone as irrational and irregular as Gregory, that kind of perfect love probably won’t work. So why not try someone a little closer to home? The result is pragmatic, sure, but that doesn’t make it any less romantic. TH

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The Graduate (1967)

Director: Mike Nichols

Cast: Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, Katharine Ross

Best quote: 'Would you like me to seduce you?'

Defining moment: Dustin Hoffman, Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel, a red Alfa Romeo Spider and the Southern California highway system.

We’d like to help you learn to help yourself
How romantic is ‘The Graduate’, really? Are we talking about the affair between Benjamin Braddock (Hoffman) and Mrs Robinson (Bancroft), in which he’s driven by adolescent lust and gnawing boredom, and she by a desperate desire to revisit her youth, to feel something, anything for a change? Or do we mean the engagement between Benjamin and Mrs Robinson’s daughter Elaine (Ross), in which both characters appear to be marching through some sort of societally mandated courtship routine, without ever really meeting in the middle?

And yet, despite the cynicism and the ironic distance, despite that frankly terrifying closing shot of Ben and Elaine on the bus, miles distant, there’s still something bracing and heartfelt about ‘The Graduate’. Perhaps in showing us all this tragic emptiness, Nichols is encouraging us to confront it. TH

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Moulin Rouge! (2001)

Director: Baz Luhrmann

Cast: Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor

Best quote: 'Come what may, I will love you until my dying day.'

Defining moment: David Bowie, Elton John, The Beatles and more are pressed into service in one mega-mixed Elephant Love Medley.

Nothing left toulouse
Baz Luhrmann takes the lavish staging of Bollywood, mashes up elements of the Greek myth of Orpheus together with Giuseppe Verdi's opera La Traviata, and throws it all into a kaleidoscopic blender along with some of the catchiest Western pop songs of the 20th century.

As with Luhrmann's inspirations, events are entirely passion-powered, as Ewan McGregor's ‘oh-so-talented, charmingly bohemian, tragically impoverished’ writer Christian conceives an amour fou for Nicole Kidman's courtesan Satine, serenading her with lines like ‘the greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return’. Of course, given the consumptive Satine is carrying more tuberculosis bacteria than your average badger colony, the greatest thing she's likely to have passed on to poor old Christian is a highly infectious lethal disease. CB

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Holiday (1938)

Director: George Cukor

Cast: Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Doris Nolan

Best quote: 'Compared to the life I lead, the last man in a chain gang thoroughly enjoys himself.'

Defining moment: Grant and Hepburn perform somersaults to announce their anti-establishment credentials.

Pack up your troubles
If you love ‘The Philadelphia Story’ then do catch Hepburn in this previous adaptation of a Philip Barry play as an independent-minded young woman stymied by her conservative family. She senses a kindred spirit in youthful Grant’s Johnny Case, who plans to leave his self-made career behind and travel the big, wide world. The complication is that he’s engaged to her alluring sister Nolan.

Yes, the theatrical origins are only too obvious, but glittering dialogue and sparkling star turns pave the way to a surprisingly affecting ending. Grant is unusually goofy, skillfully masking his character’s contradictions, while Hepburn’s trademark display of determined intelligence remains the key to a film that thrives on the notion of liberating elopement. TJ

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Amélie (2001)

Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Cast: Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz

Best quote: 'It’s better to help people than garden gnomes.'

Defining moment: Amélie’s heart pounds as she spots her true love or the first time.

Le femme excentrique
Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s whimsical romance arrived out of nowhere in 2001, a surprise international hit that made an overnight star of Audrey Tautou. She plays the elfin Montmartre waitress with an overactive imagination, continually conspiring to play cupid and meddling in other people’s lives. But when Amélie falls in love she can’t bring herself to confront the handsome object of her affections — the risk of making something real is too much for her to handle.

Instead, she lurks in the background, their relationship mediated by whatever cultural detritus she can use to keep a comfortable distance. But anyone who’s heard the rollicking accordion jam that closes Yann Tiersen’s soundtrack knows what it feels like when a little courage goes a long way. Almost impossible to resist. DE

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Juno (2007)

Director: Jason Reitman

Cast: Ellen Page, Michael Cera

Best quote: 'I still have your underwear.' 'I still have your virginity.'

Defining moment: Baby, schmaby: it’s all about Juno declaring her love for geeky Paulie Bleeker.

Que Cera, Cera
On release, first-time scriptwriter Diablo Cody’s Oscar-winning unplanned teen pregnancy comedy ‘Juno’ was all-but obscured by one debate: was it a pro-lifer tract deceptively gussied up in indie clothing?

The film’s abortion issues are still up for debate; leaving that aside for a moment, what’s left is a sweetly funny romantic comedy about relationships both teen- and middle-aged, and love of many kinds: parental, romantic and platonic. And sure, the teen-speak might bear about as much resemblance to real teenage slang as the actors in ‘Grease’ did to actual teenagers, but Ellen Page and Michael Cera’s performances remain pitch perfect. CB

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Say Anything (1989)

Director: Cameron Crowe

Cast: John Cusack, Ione Skye

Best quote: 'I gave her my heart, she gave me a pen.'

Defining moment: Come on, like you don’t know. Window. Trenchcoat. Boombox. Peter Gabriel. Iconic.

Rich and strange
Cameron Crowe’s directorial debut may be remembered for That Scene With the Ghettoblaster, but there’s so much more to it than moody John Cusack and his synth-scored adolescent angst.

For one, there’s Ione Skye as his posh-kid paramour, who may suffer from occasional dream-girl tendencies but shows enough spark to justify John’s obsession. There’s also a terrific supporting cast including Frasier’s Dad John Mahoney, Joan Cusack, Jeremy Piven and a magnificently brash and spiky Lili Taylor.

But it’s the sweet, thoughtful, zinger-studded script which explains why, for one brief moment, we actually believed that Crowe could be the next Woody Allen, only with more New Wave hair and classic rock references. Oh, what might have been… TH

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Tabu (2012)

Director: Miguel Gomes

Cast: Ana Moreira, Carloto Cotta

Best quote: 'It was from a dream...'

Defining moment: The heady strains of 'Be My Baby' filtered through colonial Africa.

Crocodile rock
Passionate exploration becomes possessive colonisation in both an African plantation and a series of romantic relationships in this playful two-act (plus prologue) tragicomedy from former film critic Gomes.

‘Tabu’ insures itself against the risk of coming across as insincere or twee via the cunning expedient of first showing us what will become of its gorgeous leads at the hands of that old inescapable: time. No amount of arch sound design, renegade crocodiles and fish-out-of-water doo-wop bands can offset the foreknowledge of the eventual destinies of steamy star-crossed couple Aurora and Ventura in contemporary Lisbon. CB

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Let the Right One In (2008)

Director: Tomas Alfredson

Cast: Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson

Best quote: 'If I wasn't a girl... would you like me anyway?'

Defining moment: Eli crosses the threshold to show Oskar why she needs an invite.

My bloody valentine
Just because a romance is between two twelve year olds, one of whom has been twelve for a really, really long time, doesn't mean it's not a romance. And so what if your new girlfriend a) isn't exactly a girl and b) feasts on the blood of innocents? At least you've got a girlfriend.

Oskar meets Eli at a difficult time in his young life, and quickly learns that the path of true love ne'er did run smooth, nor faint heart win fair maiden. This chilly Scandinavian take on vampire mythology is a pre-teen supernatural romance you can really get your teeth into – and there’s not a sparkly dreamboat in sight. CB

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Submarine (2010)

Director: Richard Ayoade

Cast: Craig Roberts, Yasmin Paige

Best quote: 'This is the moment where you leave him and come with me.'

Defining moment: A fortnight of atavistic lovemaking is turned into the Super-8 footage of memory.

Sperm Wales
15-year old Oliver Tate (Roberts) is desperate to lose his virginity to indifferent pyromaniac Jordana Bevan (Paige). He attempts to convince her with three good reasons: 1. You are fatally in love with me. 2. Best to do it before legal. 3. Bound to be disappointing, so why wait?

Writer-director Ayoade does a superb job of taking Joe Dunthorne's darkly comic debut novel and, rather than turning it into the Brit-com one might expect from somebody so integral to shows like ‘The IT Crowd’ and ‘Garth Marenghi's Dark Place’, he creates a lithe and oddly elegant deadpan romance that recalls the French New Wave at least as much as it does its other clear ancestor, the Adrian Mole books. CB

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The Fly (1986)

Director: David Cronenberg

Cast: Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis

Best quote: 'Help me be human.'

Defining moment: The climax. Is there anything more romantic than attempting to fuse on a genetic level with your intended?

2 become 1
Never underestimate the ability of gross-out director David Cronenberg to elbow his way onto any list, including one that ranks the most romantic movies of all time. His smart update of the 1950s sci-fi classic certainly brings the gore and Frankenstein-ish doom, but it also wins over our hearts.

Real-life couple Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis were expertly cast as a brainiac inventor and curious ace reporter. You never blink when they fall into bed together: ‘The Fly’ vibes on its actors’ obvious smarts and nuanced sense of attraction. The endgame is majestically tragic, as science and ego upend the headiest onscreen pairing since Diane Keaton and Woody Allen. JR

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Comments

1 comments
Steph D
Steph D

the randomers is a good one