10. Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont (2005) NR
Really a bit more about friendship than romance, this film stars Joan Plowright who shines as the title character. As the recently widowed Mrs. Palfrey, Plowright moves into a London hotel to be closer to her grandson. At the hotel, she waits and waits for him to visit, but he never does. Quite by accident, she meets a young male writer who becomes, surprisingly, her closest friend. This is a sweet story about the difference between blood relatives and the family that we create for ourselves.
9. It’s Complicated (2009, NR)
It’s a love triangle between Meryl Streep, Steve Martin, and Alec Baldwin. What more do you really need to know? Streep and Baldwin play divorced spouses – he’s re-married and she has not — who find themselves having a fling, much to the chagrin of Martin, who’s smitten with Streep. See, it is complicated.
This film opens in theaters on December 25th.
8. Moonstruck (1987, PG)
Widowed Loretta thinks it’s time to remarry so she settles for sensible, safe Johnny. Loretta’s plan goes awry when she meets and falls for Johnny’s brother, Ronny.
Cher won an Oscar for her portrayal of lonely Loretta in this film, as did Olympia Dukakis as Best Supporting Actress, and a third Oscar when to screenwriter John Patrick Shanley.
7. Harold and Maude (1971, PG)
A teenager with a bizarre obsession with death meets a lively geriatric widow, at a funeral no less, and what ensues is, to say the least, an unconventional romance that’s more than fun to watch unfold.
The two leads, Ruth Gordon and Bud Cort, earned Golden Globe nominations as the title characters.
6. Last Chance Harvey (2008, PG-13)
Dustin Hoffman stars as Harvey, a jingle writer struggling to keep his job while traveling to his daughter’s wedding in London. Complicating matters, upon arrival at the ceremony, Harvey learns that he may not be welcome at the wedding. Drowning his sorrows in a bar, Harvey meets Emma Thompson’s lonely Kate. Both parties are unprepared for the romance that ensues.
Both Hoffman and Thompson earned Golden Globe nominations for their work in this film.
5. Away From Her (2006, PG-13)
This incredibly moving story is about a woman’s descent into Alzheimer’s disease and her husband’s difficulty in dealing with the loss of the woman he loves. Julie Christie plays the once glowing Fiona, now fading into an emotional void, hazy about the difference between reality and fantasy, with the perfect amount of sentiment. As her husband, actor Gordon Pinsent, is superb.
Julie Christie earned a well-deserved Oscar nomination for her work in “Away From Her.”
4. Terms of Endearment (1983, PG)
Widowed Aurora and her daughter Emma struggle to maintain a balanced relationship through the years in this layered film. But, just as interesting is the blossoming love affair between Shirley MacLaine’s Aurora and her self-centered playboy neighbor, played by Jack Nicholson. The growth of these two from the start of the film to the end is realistic and engaging.
This film won the Best Picture Oscar as well as statuettes for both MacLaine and Nicholson.
3. Something’s Gotta Give (2003) PG-13
Happily divorced Erica (Diane Keaton) has settled into a life she can handle. Enter Jack Nicholson as sixty-something swinger Harry. Fighting it will all her might, Erica still succumbs to her feelings for him. Chaos within Erica’s controlled existence sends her into a spiral of long forgotten feelings. As both Erica and Harry navigate the rough waters of a newfound, unexplainable relationship, we, the viewers, get to enjoy the journey of self-discovery and the quest for true intimacy.
Keaton received an Oscar nod for this film and both Keaton and Nicholson were nominated for Golden Globes.
2. Shadowlands (1993, PG)
This is the story of the ill-fated May-December romance between well-known children’s author CS Lewis and American Joy Gresham. The proper Brit, Lewis (Anthony Hopkins), and the spunky New Yorker, Gresham (Debra Winger), seem an extremely unlikely pair, but they form an unusual friendship that eventually becomes a beautiful romance. Learning to move beyond his restrained emotion, Lewis shows his true vulnerability when tragedy strikes the couple.
Winger earned an Oscar nominated and this film won the BAFTA® Award for Best British Film.
1. On Golden Pond (1981 PG)
In his final on-screen performance, Henry Fonda delivers as crotchety Norman Thayer, sharing the screen with the legendary Katharine Hepburn as his wife Ethel.
As they have for many years, the Thayers have come to Golden Pond to enjoy a summer of peace and tranquility. Their idealistic vision is interrupted by the arrival of their daughter (played by Fonda’s real life offspring, Jane), her new husband, and their son.
The relationships between husband and wife and father and daughter are so beautifully and realistically portrayed, warts and all, that the viewer can’t help but be drawn into this story whole-heartedly.
This is so much more than a simple family drama. It’s a humorous, charming, thought-provoking look at life, love, and the desire to hold onto those who matter most to us.
On Golden Pond was nominated for and won many, many awards, including a Golden Globe and an Oscar for Henry Fonda, and an Academy Award for Katharine Hepburn as well.