With St. Valentine’s Day looming, the usual topic of discussion is: what will we watch (or not watch, as most would hope to be the case) to celebrate our love for one another? Well, luckily for you, any debates regarding the choice of film has already been had … by us! Instead of enjoying our Valentine’s Day week, we’ve ranted and raved about the top 11 (there were too many to whittle down to only 10) choices for the happy couples among us. So, come with us on this journey of enjoyment and discovery (no innuendo intended, you dirty bastards) as we suggest 11 films from 11 different categories to give you the February 14th you and your partner have truly been hoping for.
11. The Indy Flick – Before Sunrise (1995)
“Before Sunrise” is perhaps best viewed as the first act of three within Richard Linklater’s timeless ‘Before’ trilogy and should therefore be considered in any St. Valentine’s Day marathon. Owing to its independent routes, “Before Sunrise” is centered entirely around an ongoing conversation between its two twenty something protagonists as they explore Vienna together. Witnessing the youthful French woman and US man develop feelings for one another as the night progresses is bound to bring feelings of warmth to otherwise cold hearts and if you need to be reminded of how important love can be, then watching the trilogy (that follows the couple from their 20s to their 40s) could catch you at any point in your life, and your relationship, to remind you of just how lovely life can be.
Other independent films to consider would be Bernardo Bertolucci’s “The Dreamers” and Sofia Coppola’s “Lost In Translation” as each film presents alternative ideas of love and romance that could be the perfect antidote to slowly dying flames.
10. If You Like Your Love in the 80s – Dirty Dancing (1987)
Having seen many of the classic 80’s love stories growing up, “Dirty Dancing” wins this category. Filled with a romance so unlikely because of how different Baby and Johnny are (one is rich, the other poor), it explores the hardship of continuing a forbidden romance and the consequences it has on their lives, all the while showing that love and stubbornness can break societies’ rules and allow their relationship to blossom.
While a number of John Hughes’ 80s teen romances, not least Sixteen Candles and Some Kind of Wonderful, could be equally as suitable Valentine’s Day viewing, Dirty Dancing is our suggestion because of the awesome dance moves that will inspire all sorts of adventurous things between you and your partner. Besides, it’s got a kick ass soundtrack and; who doesn’t love Patrick Swayze bellowing out his sweet melody?
9. If You Like Your Love Stories Drawn With Love – Up (2009)
When it comes to animation films, there is one clear winner – “Up”. This film beautifully captures the true essence of romance without the use of any dialogue whatsoever. Within the brief few minutes we are gifted Carl and Ellie’s lives together in montage, it is hard to not well-up at the sight of her passing.
Although both “Shrek” and “Ice Age 2” capture the unlikely yet comical coming together of people and animals who are so vastly different in character and therefore creating stories which have you cheering for their happiness by the end of the film, both movies focus more on the humour within relationships and not how serious and occasionally sad they can truly be. “Up” definitely takes the lead, even over classic Disney movies like “Beauty and the Beast”, showing that true love never really dies.
8. For Those Who Believe That Love Transcends Time: The Period Drama – Pride & Prejudice (1995)
Like most women, I enjoy a good Period Drama (which is unfortunate for most men, I must admit) and there are none which cause more emotional confusion than the hate-love relationship between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy who seem to be equally as confused about their feelings as the audience are throughout this Jane Austen adaptation. Even so, by the time they kiss for the first time and you feel that everything is going to work out for the best, you know you want their relationship to succeed so that everyone knows just how they feel about one another. It has such a classic and romantic setting which really contributes to the atmosphere of a great love tale; and let’s not forget the speech!
Other films such as “Emma”, “Mansfield Park” and, of course, “Sense and Sensibility” had also been considered, but “Pride and Prejudice” really is the archetypal period drama romance movie and there are none which encapsulate the elements of the genre in quite the same way.
7. Era Defining and Game Changing Movies – When Harry Met Sally (1989)
Some movies come to define that time in your life where you felt good, or at least better, and maybe even helped to define you as a person or your relationship with your loved one. Perhaps the best ‘of its time’ romance movie is the iconic (and lovely) When Harry Met Sally. Starring Mike Wazowski himself (known in reality as Billy Crystal) and a beautiful and youthful Meg Ryan, the film documents the development of a wonderful friendship into a life-changing relationship. Perhaps best remembered for its diner orgasm scene, When Harry Met Sally is a must-watch for any couple this Valentine’s Day, and while Pretty Woman, Sleepless In Seattle, You’ve Got Mail and As Good As It Gets may be suitable alternatives, this 1989 movie wins its place on this list for its overarching presentation of very human choices coming to define the movie’s protagonists and their relationships with one another.
6. LGBT – Brokeback Mountain (2005)
As sad as you may be after watching Brokeback Mountain this Valentine’s day, you will also be filled with an overwhelming sense of love and appreciation for your other half (or even long lost love…). This particular drama tells an incredible and intimate love story set against a prejudiced and discriminating world, and features some of the best acting you’ll get in any romance film… well… ever! If Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal don’t do it for you, then Anne Hathaway and Michelle Williams certainly ought to, making Brokeback Mountain perhaps the most tragically beautiful LGBT film you could choose this Valentine’s Day.
Another film to consider would be My Beautiful Laundrette which stars a young Daniel Day Lewis in a race and sexuality stereotype-shattering movie from Britain in the 1980s.
5. For Those Who Want Some Action In Their Lives – The Bodyguard (1992)
Two people highly unlikely to fall in love (or even act together) tell a heart-wrenching tale of love, lust and impossibilities in “The Bodyguard”. It seems unreal for a famous singer to fall in love with her bodyguard, yet somehow it is entirely plausible all because of Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner’s superb acting. We all know those couples who claim that they will ‘take a bullet’ for each other, and here this cliché is brought to life as Frank’s decision to almost sacrifice his life for Rachel suddenly becomes an act of pure love and not just a paycheck. Although the end is not the typical happy ending, it’s impossible to not feel the connection between these two people.
Honourable Mentions: Mr. and Mrs. Smith; Jumpin’ Jack Flash; Braveheart.
4. 21st Century Classics – Love Actually (2003)
This category is for those of you who really like to stick to modern films and specifically those released this century. Now, this choice may not feel entirely rational considering the season it’s so often associated with, but the absolute best modern day love film is definitely “Love Actually”. Although it’s set at Christmas time, this wonderful movie tells the tale of different people on their quest for love; whether they are married and holding on to the treads of their relationship, or single and have searched for a loved one all the way to America. Some of the relationships “Love Actually” follows are completely ridiculous (why would Hugh Grant ever be Prime Minister?) and yet some are so realistic (poor Emma Thompson). “Love Actually” shows us the reality of relationships, but sometimes how they can also be unexpected and very comical. Not all relationships end happily and they help to remind us that things will not always be simple, but supporting and loving one another is and always will be the best we can do.
Alternatives to this British ensemble include Silver Lining’s Playbook, The Holiday (another Christmas movie), He’s Just Not That Into You and That Awkward Moment.
3. For Those Who Like A Spring In Their Step – Grease (1978)
It is, of course, necessary to include a musical category – they can be romantic, too, we promise! And, if any film would reach the top of any such romantic musical list, it would be the iconic “Grease”. There is no film which captures all the elements of cheesy, romantic and sometimes comedic relationships better than “Grease”. It might be an old movie, but everyone knows the typical story of posh girl meets bad boy and falls in love hoping to win his heart (and we all know at least one of the songs). It is a fact that no film tells it quite as well as this oldie. The songs are perfectly timed and really help to create the right mood for the setting; sadness at how much Sandy loves Danny, her transformation and Danny’s lust for her or even the excitement when renovating their car. Ok, the ending is a little odd to say the least, but it’s a feel-good film which always cheers you up.
We did consider other films such as “Footloose” and the not so popular “Mamma Mia”, but “Footloose” has a far more serious undertone and “Mamma Mia” presents itself more as a family musical and is therefore not so ideal for that romantic night in. Although both have interesting love stories, they just weren’t quite on par with that of “Grease”.
2. True Classic Romance – Casablanca (1942)
“Here’s looking at you, kid” are words that not only defined romance for a generation, but also defined cinema forever. Casablanca, plain and simple, is the classic of Hollywood romance. Released in 1942, during the height of World War II, the movie’s romance is intertwined with the fate of the war that so obviously surrounds them, providing a beautiful (if not a little tragic) tale of true love that is performed with grace and class by its legendary stars Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart.
If you’re after the stereotypical Hollywood brand of love and Casablanca somehow doesn’t do it for you, we suggest Breakfast at Tiffany’s or Gone With the Wind, both of which are undisputed classics in their own right.
1. The Tragic Romance – Titanic (1997)
Perhaps the best and certainly the most emotional type of movie romance is the be-all-end-all type of romance presented in the likes of Slumdog Millionaire, The Notebook, Romeo & Juliet, and even movies like Stardust and The Fault In Our Stars, but no movie in cinema history quite presents the formula in such a wondrous and emotionally crippling way as Titanic. Set against the backdrop of one of the biggest tragedies of the early 20th century, a romance between Jack (DiCaprio) and Rose (Winslet) blossoms in such a way that transcends the physical and leaves you a dehydrated emotional wreck whose love for their partner has just been multiplied several million times courtesy of the empathy you’ve felt for this movie’s characters. Therefore, if there’s any one film that you and your partner should watch this Valentine’s Day, it is certainly Titanic, for you may not be on the cusp of a disaster but you may well come to feel like your love could survive one… even if you never go on boats (as is the case with me).
We wish each and every one of you happy viewing for this Valentine’s Day, but regardless of whether you take our advice or not, we hope that each of you takes the opportunity to show how much you love and appreciate those close to you. Have a great day!