Romantic comedies are all well and good, but who doesn’t love a movie that tears their heart out through their chest? Heartache is an integral part of romance, and 2013 provided movie-goers with a plethora of strange, sad, and beautiful relationships to emotionally bleed over.
These are my tentative romantic picks from films I have seen over the last 365 days. That is to say, I’m sure Blue is the Warmest Color would be present here if I had gotten a chance to see it. Everything is prone to change! Life is not a fixed path! Life is an inscrutable mystery! So, for now, take out those tissues, make yourself a drink, and resist the urge to call up that old flame from years gone by. Here are my Top 5 Movie Romances of 2013.
5. Gatsby and Daisy – The Great Gatsby
Few couples fit the doomed romance trope better than The Great Gatsby’s Daisy Buchanan and Jay Gatsby. From F. Scott Fitzgerald’s pages to Baz Luhrmann’s 2013 film, Daisy and Gatsby’s star-crossed love remains potent and all encompassing. One of The Great Gatsby’s greatest achievements is taking a romance penned in 1925 and successfully breathing new (and, eventually, horrifically depressing) life into it. Leonardo Dicaprio and Carey Mulligan have electric chemistry as Daisy and Gatsby. While watching, I found myself believing that their love might actually survive past the ending credits, despite my knowledge of the source material. Although Luhrmann’s Gatsby arguably becomes distracted at times by its own over-the-top directorial style, Daisy and Gatsby’s love remains pure and sad. If you’re a jonesing for heartache, definitely check this one out.
Read our review of The Great Gatsby here.
4. Luke and Romina – A Place Beyond the Pines
Luke and Romina’s love in A Place Beyond the Pines is short, passionate, and devastating (are you seeing a pattern?). Ryan Gosling’s performance as the bank-robbing, motorcycle stuntman Luke Glanton is thrilling and tense, much like his ill-fated romance with ex-girlfriend Romina (Eva Mendes). Although Romina and Luke’s relationship is mostly fizzled out by the time the movie begins, the aftershock of it vibrates through the film and helps build its foundation. You can feel their passion whenever they share a scene, whether they’re fighting, talking, or simply gazing sadly at one another. Their’s is a love that was doomed to fail, and it’s captivating to watch.
3. Katniss and Peeta – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Catching Fire, the second installment in The Hunger Games film series, continues to build upon Katniss and Peeta’s uncomfortable love affair. Peeta’s wide-eyed boyishness plays off of Katniss’ reservedness and stoicism well, making for some satisfying will-they-won’t-they tension. Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson have great on-screen chemistry, making both characters sympathetic as they navigate their strained relationship. Peeta, just wanting Katniss to let him in, and Katniss, too traumatized to love, is a powerful dynamic. Catching Fire might not be the most cerebral movie on this list, but the romance is there, and it is intense.
Read our review of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire here.
2. Alien and The Girls – Spring Breakers
I’m just going to come out and say it: Spring Breakers was the best theater experience I had in 2013. That isn’t to say that it’s the best film I saw last year, but sitting in a packed NYC theater, screaming, gasping, laughing, and staring in bewilderment at the saturated color show that was Spring Breakers is something that I won’t soon forget. Most of my enchantment, if not all of it, came from the debauched romance shared by gangster rapper “Alien” (James Franco) and spring breakers Faith (Selena Gomez), Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Brit (Ashley Benson), and Cotty (Rachel Korine).
Without giving too much away, the four girls commit some armed robbery, as teenagers are apt to do, and use the money to travel to St. Petersburg, Florida for Spring Break. There, they meet Alien, a gun slinging rapper with white-boy dreads and a grill. The four girls soon become Alien’s “soul mates,” as the five commit crimes together, sleep together, and even experience the majesty Britney Spears together. If that’s not love then I don’t know what is.
Read our review of Spring Breakers here.
1. Theodore and Samantha – Her
Spike Jonze’s Her is, without a doubt, one of 2013 crowning romanic achievements. Theodore’s romance with computer operating-system “Samantha” is complex, heartwarming, sad, and, most importantly, honest. Joaquin Phoenix stars as unlucky-in-love Theodore, a melancholy writer navigating the final stages of his divorce. When he downloads Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson), a bodiless computer operating system, the two begin an exciting and strange love affair. Her tests the boundaries of what makes love exist; how it is defined versus how it is experienced. Samantha is a computer program, but she has consciousness. Both she and Theodore grow and learn from one another, causing them to change while remaining deeply in love.
There are many relationships in Her, but Theodore and Samantha’s is captivating because it feels so normal. Even Samantha’s frustration over not having a physical body seems like a normal, human problem because of the film’s gentle and honest narrative. Her doesn’t give into cliches; Samantha never glitches out and Theodore never accidentally breaks her. Instead, it delivers a love story that is original and real. For me, Samantha and Theodore’s is easily the best movie romance of 2013.
Read our review of Her here.
There you have it, folks! My picks for the Top 5 Movie Romances of 2013! Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments below! And stay tuned for the next two weeks for other “Best of” lists here on Flixist!