Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and it’s the perfect occasion for a romantic night in with your special someone. Make it a night to remember by cooking dinner together and enjoying a quiet meal by candlelight or pop a squat on a blanket in your living room and have a romantic picnic. However you choose to dine, top the evening off with a cuddle fest on the couch and your favorite romantic movie. Anything by Nicholas Sparks should pretty much have you covered, but if you want a bit more variety, we’ve compiled 12 movies that perfectly capture the feeling of Cupid’s special day.
These love stories range from a woman who falls in love with her would be brother-in-law, to a couple fighting for their happily ever after through extreme social injustice. Love conquers all in these movies, whether unrequited, returned, or threatened by tragic circumstance, whichever movie you select is sure to get that oxytocin flowing. Here are a dozen romantic movies to watch with your partner on Valentine’s Day.
12 Saving Face (2004)
Based on Alice Wu’s novel of the same name, Saving Face is a touching and hilarious romantic comedy starring Michelle Krusiec as Wilhelmina, a New York City surgeon who is a closeted lesbian apprehensive about coming out to her traditional Chinese family. When Wilhelmina falls in love with Vivian (Lynn Chen), she must keep it a secret from her conservative mother. Complications arise when Wilhelmina learns that her mother is harboring a secret of her own.
11 It Happened One Night (1934)
Frank Capra directs this witty love story about a spoiled runaway heiress Ellie Andrews (Claudette Colbert) and the wayward newsman Peter Warne (Clark Gable) who cajoles her into giving him an exclusive interview. The pair travel to New York City together, where Ellie is headed to see her fiancé whom her father disapproves of. Ellie and Peter are polar opposites and butt heads every step of the way, but also learn they can’t live without each other. A critical success, It Happened One Night is one of 3 movies in history to sweep all 5 major categories at the Academy Awards.
10 Moonstruck (1987)
Moonstruck is a quirky romantic comedy that keeps you on your toes throughout. It stars Cher in an Oscar winning performance as Loretta Castorini, an Italian American widow who is set to walk down the aisle once more with new beau Johnny Camarerri (the late Danny Aiello). The plot thickens when Loretta meets her beau’s estranged brother Ronny Camarerri (Nicolas Cage), and the pair are inextricably drawn to one another.
9 Love Story (1970)
Based on Erich Segal’s best-selling novel of the same name, Love Story chronicles the whirlwind romance of Oliver Barrett IV (Ryan O’Neal) and Jenny Cavilleri (Ali MacGraw), two young lovers from very different worlds. Oliver is a wealthy Harvard Law student, while Jenny is a middle-class girl studying music at a local college. Despite their differences—and the disapproval of Oliver’s pretentious father—the couple exchange vows. Their happily-ever-after, however, comes crashing down when they learn Jenny has a terminal illness. Love story is a touching and heartbreaking movie that will stay with you long after the end credits roll.
8 The Best Man (1999)
The Best Man features an ensemble cast including Taye Diggs, Sanaa Lathan, Morris Chestnut, Nia Long, Terrence Howard, and Regina Hall. It chronicles the story of eternal bachelor Harper Stewart who pens a soon-to-be bestselling novel loosely based on the love lives of his close friends. When the group reunites at a friends wedding, Harper tries (to no avail) to keep the book hidden from scrutiny. As chaos ensues, Harper begins to question his life as a bachelor. The film spawned two sequels The Best Man Holiday, and The Best Man Wedding. According to Deadline, Peacock has ordered a 10-episode limited series based on the movie as well.
7 Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Best described as Science-Fiction Romance, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind tells the tale of Joel (Jim Carrey) and Clementine (Kate Winslet) an estranged couple who undergo a procedure to erase one another from their memories. Amidst the procedure however Joel begins having regrets and does everything in his power to save his memories. Charlie Kaufman directs this oddball love story that is funny, charming, thought-provoking and heartbreaking all at once, and reminds us that love can withstand anything.
6 Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Brokeback Mountain is a tragic love story that centers around Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Ennis Del Mar (the late Heath Ledger) a cowboy and ranch hand, that fall in love after spending the summer working together in Wyoming. Despite both men eventually marrying, the two keep up their love affair for two decades. The tragedy lies in the internalized oppression both men are victim too which ultimately keeps them from openly embracing one another’s love.
5 Love and Basketball (2000)
Love and Basketball stars Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps as Monica and Quincy respectively. Two childhood friends and aspiring professional basketball players. As they come of age, the pair falls in love. Their burgeoning basketball careers, however, strain their relationship. The movie is a must-watch for Valentine’s Day as it is emotionally perceptive and portrays love and sex in an honest and refreshing way. It is also a rare sports drama written from a women’s perspective.
4 The Notebook (2004)
Based on the Nicholas Sparks novel of the same name The Notebook jumps from past to present as it narrates the love story of Noah (Ryan Gosling) a meager lumber mill worker and Allie (Rachel McAdams) an upper-class girl from a wealthy family. After their brief summer romance is cut short, Allie and Noah move on with their lives. Years later when they are reunited the two quickly realize that their love for one another remains stronger than ever. The movie has a touching ending focusing on the couples undying love.
3 Before Sunrise (1995)
En route to Vienna, American traveler Jesse (Ethan Hawke) meets Celine (Julie Delpy), a French student heading home to Paris. Through conversations along the way the pair establish a connection and Jesse convinces Celine to join him in Vienna. With his flight departing the following day the newfound friends roam the city together, taking in their surroundings and each other. As the night goes on the pair form an undeniable connection and dread their inevitable departure. In true romantic flair akin to Love Affair or an Affair to Remember the pair promise to meet again in the same spot in 6 months time. Before Sunrise spawned two sequels: Before Sunset and Before Midnight. Julie Delpy turned down a fourth installment of the Before Franchise as she plans to retire.
2 If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)
Directed by Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk chronicles one woman’s struggle to clear the name of her fiancé Alonzo “Fonny” Hunt (Stephen James) who is charged with a crime he did not commit. Clementine “Tish” Rivers (Kiki Layne) enlists the support of her family to help free the father of her unborn child. The film takes the viewer on an emotional rollercoaster as it narrates a beautiful love story threatened by racism and injustice.
1 Once (2007)
Once is a classic guy (Glen Hansard) meets girl (Marketa Irglova) love story. It follows two aspiring singer-songwriters who bond over their shared love of music. The pair decide to collaborate and the songs they perform throughout the film reflect their love and admiration for one another. Once was acclaimed for both the movie itself and the soundtrack composed by its lead actors. Since the film, Hansaard and Irglova have been performing together as The Swell Season.
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