Let me preface this list by saying that I am not a fan of Valentine’s Day, which is why I refer to it as V.D. It is similar to a social disease in that the feeling of “Oh crap, I gotta get something for my girlfriend/wife,” reaches pandemic proportions in the days before February 14. No one should ever feel pressured to be romantic or sentimental, if only because the gifts and platitudes born of guilt are never that satisfying to give, nor to receive. Love is a perennial verb, not a one-day-a-year emotion.
That being said, at this time of year I can’t help but think of some of my favorite romantic scenes from movies. Happy V.D., lovers.
10. Moulin Rouge – I don’t need to talk about how I obsessed over this movie for a very long time. What I do need to talk about is the scene near the end, where Satine (Nicole Kidman) starts singing the song “Come What May” as Christian (Ewan MacGregor) is walking away from the stage. Written as a way for the secret lovers to communicate with each other, the song and Satine’s pleading delivery stops Christian in his tracks and he rushes back to the stage, singing the entire time. A hot man singing to you? Lord have mercy.
9. 10 Things I Hate About You – We already know how I feel about a good-looking man that can sing, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that my favorite scene in this movie is when Patrick (Heath Ledger) gets on the PA system and sings “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” to Kat (Julia Stiles). It gets even better once the school marching band kicks in after the first verse. It totally won her over and it did for me, too.
8. Bridget Jones’ Diary – It’s the final scene where Darcy (Colin Firth) leaves Bridget’s (Renee Zellweger) apartment that gets me. Why? Because he’s gone to buy her a new diary. I love office supplies, so any scene that involves a man buying paper goods for his beloved is bound to make me weep with joy.
7. Say Anything – Yes, the scene where Lloyd (John Cusack) holds up the boom box playing their song “In Your Eyes” is very romantical. But I always remember the scene where his best girl buddy Corey (Lili Taylor) tells him, “The world is full of guys. Be a man.” Telling someone you care about to step up to the plate is a very loving thing to do.
6. The Wedding Singer – Again, my favorite scene involves a man singing. This is the one where Robbie (Adam Sandler) is singing “Grow Old with You” to Julia (Drew Barrymore) on the plane, with the help of Billy Idol and a couple flight attendants. Sing to me about your feelings for me and I’ll even forgive you for having bad 80’s hair.
5. Notting Hill – The scene where Anna (Julia Roberts) admits the depth of her feelings to William (Hugh Grant) is very real to me. Saying to someone, “I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her,” as she did, takes a lot of courage.
4. Monsoon Wedding – While the main story is about the arranged marriage, it’s the love story between the hired help, P.K. Dubey (Vijay Raaz) and Alice (Tilotama Shome), that is the most compelling and beautiful. My favorite scene is Dubey going to see Alice after he is embarrassed by his colleagues in front of her. He goes to her door, lingers a moment, then walks away. She comes outside and finds him kneeling on the grass with candles lit behind him and holding a heart made of marigolds, a traditional Indian wedding decoration. Makes me cry every time.
3. The Full Monty – Great film that shows that even men struggle with self-acceptance and body image issues. My favorite romantic scene is when Dave (Mark Addy) , the token fat guy, tells his wife Jean (Lesley Sharp) that he’s been working on a striptease routine with his mates. “Who would want to see someone like me strip?” he says, his voice full of pain. “Me, Dave,” she says. “I would.” That’s love, man.
2. When Harry Met Sally – Another all-time Moxie favorite. The most romantic is the scene where Harry (Billy Crystal) tracks down Sally (Meg Ryan) at a New Year’s Eve party and tells her he loves her: “I love that you get cold when it’s 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you’re looking at me like I’m nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it’s not because I’m lonely, and it’s not because it’s New Year’s Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”
1. Like Water for Chocolate – This is, by far, my all-time favorite romantic film. (I love the book, too.) As such, I can’t pick one scene. The heroine, Tita (Lumi Cavazos), can barely contain her love for Pedro (Marco Leonardi), but because he’s been forced to marry her older sister, she can only show her feelings through her cooking. Seeing the effects of her culinary masterpieces on her family and friends is humorous and fascinating. And the chemistry between Tita and Pedro is so intense, the screen just sizzles. Read the book, watch the movie, then go eat something fantastic with someone you love.