(credit: istockphoto)
(credit: istockphoto)

Staying in and watching a romantic movie is a perfect way to spend the holiday that celebrates love. Here are five must-see movies that offer hopeless romantics everywhere some swooning, unforgettable moments on Valentine’s Day.

Love Actually (2003)

British director-writer Richard Curtis could arguably be dubbed Rom-Com King. Nothing is more romantic than an intimate, intricate look at love, and that’s what Curtis brings in this Christmas-themed tale that tells 10 separate stories about people in various states of love or loss. The stellar ensemble cast includes Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Kiera Knightly, Alan Rickman, Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson and Bill Nighy. The individual stories intertwine in fun and fascinating ways and there are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments to counterbalance unavoidable tears in this gloriously romantic, feel-good film.

The Notebook (2004)

This emotionally intense film was adapted from Nicholas Sparks’ heart wrenching debut novel that was based on his wife’s grandparents’ 60-year relationship. It follows Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams as Noah and Allie, a young couple who falls in deeply in love during a passionate summer fling. Noah is from the wrong side of the tracks and Allie’s parents ban her from seeing him. Thus, they are forced to separate and their lives take them in different directions. Gosling and McAdams’ on-screen chemistry makes it impossible not to pine for Noah and Allie’s deep and ill-fated love. Their riveting story becomes a twisting tale of enduring love that overcomes incredible obstacles and the tear-jerking ending will stay with you long after the final credits roll.

An Affair to Remember (1957)

This 1957 classic love story starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr is hailed by many as one of the most romantic films of all time. In fact, it was No. 5 on AFI’s 100 Years … 100 Passions list and it even inspired Nora Ephron’s 1993 film “Sleepless in Seattle,” which is also on this list. This unforgettable, romantic tear-jerker is ultimately a tale of two people who meet at the wrong time and fall madly in love. A series of misunderstandings keeps them apart until fate reunites them and gives them a chance to beat the odds.

When Harry Met Sally (1989)

Nora Ephron was nominated for her first Best Original Screenplay Oscar for this film, which explores a thought-provoking question: Can a man and woman truly be just friends? Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan couldn’t be more perfectly cast as Harry and Sally in this witty and wonderful romantic comedy that follows the emotional evolution of an enduring 12-year friendship that begins after driving from Chicago to New York together after college. Endearing segments of long-time married couples telling stories of how they met are weaved into the film and the final scene in which Harry makes a sweeping, declaration to Sally is arguably one of the best Kleenex-ready moments in film history.

Sleepless in Seattle (1993)

This movie’s heartwarming premise is simply irresistible: A young boy tries to help his dad (Tom Hanks) find love again after his mom dies of cancer. Sniff, sniff … Nora Ephron directed and co-wrote this film that pairs romantic co-stars Hanks and Meg Ryan together for the second time; this time as Sam and Annie.  Sam is a handsome guy-next-door widower and Ryan plays Annie, a bubbly reporter who is engaged but not entirely happy. The 1957 classic love story “An Affair to Remember” is referenced in the film and served as creative inspiration for Ephron, who received her second Best Original Screenplay Oscar nomination (along with co-writers David S. Ward and Jeff Arch) for this film. Sam and Annie’s story offers a sweet, romantic take on what could happen if you take a risk on love.

Lori Melton is a freelance writer. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.