Ah, Valentine’s Day. For some, this marks a special day filled with champagne, flowers and fancy dinners out on the town. But for those of us not exactly itching to participate in all that fuss (which I lovingly nickname “amateur hour”), have we got a surprise treat for you! If you’re like us and just want to have a romantic night at home, may we present to you our top choices for romantic cinematic entertainment.
This list is a little different than those you’ve glanced at in the past. We’ve skipped over the obvious choices (like any title in Meg Ryan’s canon, THE NOTEBOOK, LOVE ACTUALLY and THE PRINCESS BRIDE) in order to bring you the deep cuts – the movies most frequently overlooked. We’ve got one for kids, a selection for lovers of independent films, a fantastic foreign flick, a bromance and a few black & white classics.
So stay in, dim the lights, snuggle up to your schmoopies and watch any one of the following films for a guaranteed good time.
- THE MUPPET MOVIE: This might sound like an odd entry on our countdown, but hear us out. There’s no one more romantic than a little green, web-footed dreamer named Kermit the Frog. Perfect for kids as well as adults fixing for a nostalgia trip, the caper-comedy features the ballad “Rainbow Connection,” a song guaranteed to make most grown-ups misty-eyed. In fact, the song was our site owner’s first dance song at her wedding. No matter how you look at it, this is a classic worth seeing any day – holiday notwithstanding.
- ROMAN HOLIDAY: When people want to watch an Audrey Hepburn movie, they tend to choose BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S. While that’s my favorite film of all time, a better film to celebrate romance (free of call girls, rent boys and Mickey Rooney’s racist caricature of Japanese people) is director William Wyler’s romcom. The film, which tells the tale of a sheltered princess (Hepburn) who escapes her confines to run around Rome with a newsman (Gregory Peck), is utterly delightful and swoonworthy. Despite the large age difference between Hepburn and Peck (oh, Hollywood), the film works marvelously, skating on charm and effervescence. My heart aches when the adventure ends so be sure to steel yourselves in advance.
- I LOVE YOU, MAN: I know what you’re thinking. “A bromance?” Yes! Though a little unconventional, this comedy about a guy (Paul Rudd) looking for a best man for his wedding can be cherished by both sexes. Best of all, it’s far less crass than WEDDING CRASHERS (which is the father of the cinematic subgenre, but paints women in a bad light). Heck, this even made me cry! Giving women key insight into male friendships, it’s smart, unique and hilarious. Plus, Rudd and Jason Segel are just adorable together.
- AMELIE: This fantastic French film about a painfully shy woman (played by the always adorable Audrey Tautou) who loves love couldn’t be more perfect for the day. Visionary director Jeane-Pierre Jeunet gives us a hyper-stylized look into the life of our titular heroine. While she’s busy playing God with the lives and relationships of her neighbors and co-workers, she hopes to find love with a potential beau of her own.. Seemingly inspired by Jane Austen’s Emma, this film is like mainlining romance. You’ll be left feeling invigorated, electrified and totally awe-struck by its wonderfulness. Make sure to have crème brulee on hand as it’ll make you hunger for it by film’s end.
- BEFORE SUNRISE/ BEFORE SUNSET/ BEFORE MIDNIGHT: Co-writer/ director Richard Linklater’s romance is one of the most successful independent film franchise of all time – and they didn’t even plan on making it a trilogy in the first place! The series chronicles Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine’s (Julie Delpy) romantic relationship over the period of 18 years as they talk and walk through three different European cities. You’ll want to write their names in cement after you experience their love affair. Celine and Jesse forever!
- IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT: This is the mother of all romantic comedies that many, many films have attempted (and failed) to imitate over the years. Luckily, there’s nothing like it. In the film, a spoiled heiress (Claudette Colbert) is on the run from her family when she takes up with a newspaper reporter (Clark Gable) on the hunt for a story. As the pair traverse the country and meet a handful of colorful characters, they fall in love. This screwball romcom of the highest order is funny, devilishly charming and oozing with director Frank Capra’s patented sweet sentimentality. If you’re ever gonna make this happen one night – make it Valentine’s Day.
(Better than) Acceptable Romantic Movie alternatives: OVERBOARD, IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU, ONLY YOU, MUSIC & LYRICS, LOVE ME IF YOU DARE, SAY ANYTHING, UP, WALL-E, TRUE ROMANCE, THE APARTMENT, BRIEF ENCOUNTER