Because everyone deserves a happy ending.
The convenience of movie dates makes them a classic go-to option on Valentine’s Day.
Even with occasional restrictions on cinemas, people can still enjoy a movie marathon together from home or virtually through remote watch party applications.
It’s the best-case scenario for the hopeless romantic: fade to black, roll the credits, cue the happy music.
The idea is if you both enjoy the movie, then maybe you’ll enjoy each other.
In fact, a 2014 University of Michigan study on the effects of movies and TV shows found that people’s romantic ideals often correlate with the types of media messages they are exposed to.
“It is possible that frequent exposure to romance and courtship in this idealized form could lead viewers to adopt equally idealized notions about relationships in the real world,” the study’s lead author, Julia Lippman, said.
Here are film suggestions to get your Valentine’s Day movie date in the mood for love.
Synopsis: “Georges and Anne are an octogenarian couple. They are cultivated, retired music teachers. Their daughter, also a musician, lives in Britain with her family. One day, Anne has a stroke, and the couple’s bond of love is severely tested.”
Michael Haneke won the Palme d’Or at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival and Best Foreign Language Film at the 2013 Oscars for Amour. It defines what it means to honor one’s wedding vows—in sickness and in health, until death do us part.
Synopsis: “This celebrated three-part romance captures a relationship as it begins, begins again, deepens, and strains over the course of almost two decades. It chronicles the love of Celine and Jesse, from their first meeting as idealistic twentysomethings, to the disillusionment they face together in middle age.”
Richard Linklater filmed his trilogy of Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight in nine-year intervals with the same actors. Although it’s mostly a conversation between two characters, the film explores changing perspectives on life and love as we age.
Synopsis: “Ennis and Jack are two shepherds who develop a sexual and emotional relationship. Their relationship becomes complicated when both of them get married to their respective girlfriends.”
The film won Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Original Score at the 2006 Oscars. The LGBTQIA community considers it a landmark in changing attitudes to homosexuality on screen.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Synopsis: “When their relationship turns sour, a couple undergoes a medical procedure to have each other erased from their memories.”
Charlie Kaufman won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for writing this romantic science-fiction film. It demonstrates how love, at its strongest, can just be saying, “Okay.”
In the Mood for Love
Synopsis: “Two neighbors form a strong bond after both suspect extramarital activities of their spouses. However, they agree to keep their bond platonic so as not to commit similar wrongs.”
Wong Kar Wai’s magnum opus is a major work of Asian and world cinema, listed among the greatest films of all time. The unconventional romance situates love from a societal perspective. This means sometimes ignoring the heart’s desire and following what is deemed righteous.
La La Land
Synopsis: “While navigating their careers in Los Angeles, a pianist and an actress fall in love while attempting to reconcile their aspirations for the future.”
Damien Chazelle’s musical romance film won six Oscars including Best Director and, for a moment, Best Picture. From “City of Stars” to “Audition (The Fools Who Dream),” La La Land is full of eye-catching musical numbers. But what takes the cake is its epilogue that captures how even the best relationships can remain a what if.
One More Chance
Synopsis: “Longtime couple Basha and Popoy are practically inseparable, so when they split up, it’s not surprising how heartbroken each feels. But Basha, stifled by the relationship, wants to spread her wings, and Popoy loves her too much to stand in her way. Struggling to build their lives anew, the one time lovers face daily reminders of their happier times together even as they try to chart their own paths.”
The Star Cinema flick is full of iconic one-liners cemented into local memory: “She loved me at my worst. You had me at my best… And you chose to break my heart.”
Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Synopsis: “On an isolated island in Brittany at the end of the eighteenth century, a female painter is obliged to paint a wedding portrait of a young woman.”
Céline Sciamma won the Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Screenplay in this rare sapphic tale directed by a woman. Audiences have applauded it for using a female gaze to subvert the trope of exploiting a woman’s sexuality for men.
Synopsis: “A poor yet passionate young man falls in love with a rich young woman, giving her a sense of freedom, but they are soon separated because of their social differences.”
Romance doesn’t get any more classic than a Nicholas Sparks film adaptation. The most popular of all is The Notebook, whose cult following is matched by eight Teen Choice Awards and an MTV Movie Award.
Synopsis: “Two strangers find themselves linked in a bizarre way. When a connection forms, will distance be the only thing to keep them apart?”
Critics praised Makoto Shinkai’s romantic fantasy film for its animation, music, and storyline. Lighthearted in presentation but emotionally heavy, prepare your kokoro (heart) for this visual spectacle.
Banner Photo by La La Land via Instagram