The American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences bestows awards in various categories every year on the most deserving films from Hollywood and the world. Popularly known as the Oscars, these awards often find their way to the most touching of romantic movies probably because of their concern with the universal emotions of love, passion, sacrifice and an enduring hope. So here is a list of 10 Oscar Award winning romantic movies which have been hailed as some of the greatest cinematic love stories.
It Happened One Night
Let’s start with this 1934 Frank Capra classic which was the first film to win all five major Oscars ranging from Best Picture and Director to Actor, Actress and Screenplay – a feat which would not be equaled till almost four decades later with One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975). It Happened One Night tells the tale of a spoiled heiress played by Claudette Colbert who leaves home to flee her overbearing father only to fall in love with a roguish reporter, played by Clark Gable, as the two launch on a cross-country trip marked by sparring wits and budding romance.
Gone with the Wind
One of cinema’s greatest epic of passion and adventure, this 1939 romantic saga based on the American Civil War won the Oscar for the Best Film that year. Vivian Leigh and Clark Gable immortalized the roles of Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler, the star-crossed lovers who can neither live with nor without each other.
This 1942 romantic film won three Academy Awards, including those for Best Picture, Director and Screenplay. Set amidst the intrigue of World War II, Casablanca is about a man torn between his love for a woman and his noble side which allows her to leave with her Czech resistance leader husband in a bid to escape from Nazi sympathizers. The film’s dialogues, characters and music have steadily increased in popularity over the years so as to become iconic while the movie itself consistently figures among the most loved films in cinematic history.
My Fair Lady
This 1964 musical was the film adaptation of the huge Lerner and Lowe Broadway hit of the same name with both being based on George Bernard Shaw play, Pygmalion. My Fair Lady won eight Oscars including those for Best Picture, Best Actor and Director. The musical is about an eccentric English professor played by Rex Harrison who takes up the challenge of turning a Cockney flower-seller into a high-society princess, without realizing that he is falling in love with her all the time.
One of the truest, most bitter-sweet romances on celluloid, Annie Hall went on to win four Oscars in 1977 including those for Best Picture, Actress in a leading role, Director and Screenplay. In the film Woody Allen plays Alvy Singer, a successful but slightly neurotic television comedian who meets Annie, a small time singer from the Midwest, fond of dabbling in photography. Despite all their initial caution, the two connect and the audiences are swept away in the flush of their new romance.
Out of Africa
Loosely based on the autobiographical book of the same name by Danish writer Karen Blixen, better known by her pseudonym Isak Dinesen, this 1985 film won seven Academy awards among which the major ones were for Best Picture and Director. Set in the sweeping locale of the African outdoors, the film explores Karens’ attempts to make sense of her marriage to a German Baron even as she finds herself increasingly drawn to Denys, an English big game hunter. After Denys dies in a plane crash and her own coffee plantation is destroyed in a fire, Karen returns home to Denmark but not without a treasure of memories and a lifetime of rich experiences.
The English Patient
Winner of nine Oscars in 1996, including those for Best Picture, Director and Actress in a Supporting Role, The English Patient is based on a novel of the same name by Sri Lankan-Canadian writer, Michael Ondaatje. Set in the tumultuous times of the Second World War, the film is a story of love and loss in which a young nurse tends to an English archeologist who has been badly burnt in a plane crash. As he begins to fall in love with her, he enters a maze of love and betrayal which is revealed n a series of flashbacks.
Shakespeare in Love
Set in Elizabethan times, this 1998 romantic comedy purports to tell the story of William Shakespeare as he struggles to overcome writer’s block by seeking inspiration in a love affair with Lady Viola who belongs to the Elizabethan nobility. The film won seven Academy Awards including those for Best Picture, Actress in a Leading as well as a Supporting Role. Despite being largely fictional, the film enthralled critics with references to lines from various Shakespearean plays as well as real personalities of the time.
Nominated for the highest number of Oscar awards – eight – in 2005, Brokeback Mountain eventually went on to win three of them for the Best Director, Adapted Screenplay and Original Score. The film is a romantic drama that depicts various layers of a complex relationship between two cowboys in the American West over a period of two decades. One of them is a ranch hand and the other a rodeo cowboy who meet on the fictional Brokeback Mountain and fall in love with tragic consequences for both of them.
Kate Winslet’s performance in this period romance drama is a revelation for which she won a bevy of awards including the Oscar for the Best Actress in a Leading Role. Set in post-World War II Germany, The Reader follows a young boy as he engages in a passionate but secretive affair with an older woman. Eight years after her disappearance, he is shocked to find her accused of Nazi war crimes. The film is about love and loss on various levels and how one generation comes to terms with the crimes of another.