Love, exciting and new…for our purposes ”new” is the last 25 years — when Hollywood shook off the prim conventions of standard movie romance (swoony heroine meets strong, silent suitor) and became, in a word, modern. These cinematic tales d’amour show love for what it really is — messy, hilarious, and always life’s biggest thrill. EW took a (slightly unscientific) staff poll to compile the top 25, and while narrowing the list was brutal (sorry, Edward Scissorhands), choosing No. 1 was a cinch: Say Anything…, Cameron Crowe’s film about kickboxing, mismatched lovers, and nursing-home fraud, says everything about modern romance. So that’s where we begin.
Say Anything…(1989) It all comes down to one scene: John Cusack, standing at dusk, boom box aloft, blaring Peter Gabriel’s ”In Your Eyes” outside Ione Skye’s window. This, friends, is what rapturous, heartrending, soul-spinning love is all about. As unlikely sweethearts Lloyd Dobler and Diane Court, Cusack and Skye navigate their way through the rituals of courtship Roses are red, violets are blue, here’s out list of the 25 best modern romances, with love, from us to you — the awkward first date, the backseat consummation, the pen-centric breakup — while uttering lines so believable against a musical backdrop so meticulously chosen it could only be the handiwork of rock reporter-turned-filmmaker Cameron Crowe. Though he’d further refine his style with 1992’s grunge ensemble Singles and 1996’s slickly romantic Jerry Maguire, Crowe’s genius for rendering modern love at its most vivid starts here. And like any screen gem, the back story is highlighted by now-famous names (including two possible 2002 Oscar contenders), Crowe’s first-time-directing jitters, and a near miss with one Billy Idol tune. Say Anything…, which debuts on DVD March 5, could have been anyone’s love story; here’s how it became everyone’s.
Cameron Crowe A mutual friend introduced me to [executive producer] James L. Brooks. We made plans to get together, partially as a way of exploring something that we could work on, and partially to do research for Broadcast News, because Jim was talking to a lot of journalists. We just started talking about life and love. These conversations went on for four years. And out of that came Say Anything….
Polly Platt (Producer) Jim Brooks saw Paul Mazursky in Central Park walking along in this intimate conversation with his daughter. He had this terrifying thought: What if a father had done something really terrible, committed a crime? He wanted to make a movie about that.
Crowe The missing piece was [the leading man]. I worked on a guy character. It was stilted and hadn’t really come to life yet. I live at this townhouse in Santa Monica and one of the condos became empty and into it moved this gangly guy from Alabama named Lowell Marchant. He was this friendly guy with a crew cut who just wanted to meet everybody he could. He knocked on the door and said, ”Hello, I’d like to introduce myself. I’m Lowell Marchant, I am a kickboxer, and I’ll be living here for a little bit. Are you aware of the sport kickboxing? It is now a major sport covered by ESPN.” I’d tell Jim, ”The character’s not coming, and there’s this f — -ing guy down the way who keeps knocking on the door and he’s a kickboxer.” And Jim’s looking at me like, ”And you’re wondering what to write?”