It’s always that bit more romantic when February 14 falls on a weekend, because it means you don’t have to plan time together around the demands of an ordinary weekday. So take advantage of it and curl up on the couch with your partner and a great movie that puts romance front and centre. Here are 10 very modern suggestions of romantic flicks you can’t go wrong with…
PS: For a ‘classic’ list of romantic Valentine’s Day movies, see the bottom of the story
This film had a stellar cast centred on Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz, and its sweet and tenderhearted tone makes it a perfect Valentine view. The basic premise sees two unlucky-in-love women decide on a spur-of-the-moment house swap between their homes in the UK and the US. In real life, of course, this could go very, very wrong, but courtesy of Hollywood, their impulsive globetrotting lands them in the company of Mr Rights. There’s no bad boys to be tamed, no wild childs to be gentled – just likable characters who have earned their shot at happiness.
Pride and Prejudice
When this movie came out, plenty of romantics were gutted by the ending. All that brooding and no kiss at the end! Luckily, the situation was remedied on DVD. But we’d already forgiven the oversight, since it’s such a beautiful showcase of opposites attracting. Mr Darcy is considered a ‘catch’ for his rank and his wealth, but neither endear him to Elizabeth Bennett, who wants to marry for love. So what does he do? He opens his mind, throws off society’s shackles and embraces the vulnerability of love. Plus, he wears a set of breeches with sexy style. A true winning combination. Oh, and you can’t go wrong, of course, with the 1995 BBC version featuring Colin Firth.
Yes, this is far from a stereotypical romantic tale with happy endings all around. But we believe that’s what gives it such beautiful poignancy – and romance. After all, set in a world and an era that tragically – and fatally – frowns on homosexuality, it narrows the focus of the story to two men who, alone on a mountain with only each other for company, somehow find the bravery to be honest to their hearts and desires, if not for long enough. The film deservedly won a deserved Best Director Oscar for Ang Lee.
No Strings Attached
This colourful and character-driven film came out in the same year as Friends With Benefits, and shares much of the same concept. Boy meets girl, they sleep together with no promise of commitment and ultimately fall in love. But it’s the special touches in this one we adore. When she tells him no flowers, he buys her a bunch of carrots instead. And when it’s that time of the month, he pays her a visit with cupcakes and a themed mixed tape. He’s all about putting in the effort and the unique touches so she knows how important she is to him. And that gets a big thumbs up.
50 First Dates
Adam Sandler may not have the matinee-idol looks of someone like Ryan Gosling or Channing Tatum, but as they say in the classics, it’s what inside that counts. The premise of this quirky and charming film sees him fall for Drew Barrymore’s character Lucy, who’s amnesia after a car accident has robbed her of the ability to store short-term memories – and thus, any recollection of their blooming love. Does he let that deter him from wooing her? Absolutely not. It just gives him a new chance to make her fall in love every day. And as Lucy herself says: “Nothing beats a first kiss.”
Pitch Perfect 2
Some may say this is a film about the love of a capella singing. But we say it’s really the romantic story of Bumper and Fat Amy. The two comic leads didn’t actually get it on in the first film, but their chemistry was so strong it was always going to happen in the sequel. And so it does. In cheesy, laugh out loud and even wince-worthy form, as the man last seen heading off to John Mayer’s house to sing back-up – and now reduced to security guarding – manages to convince his girlfriend that, in the words of Pat Benatar, We Belong Together.
Bridget Jones Diary
Helen Fielding’s book of the same name inspired Hollywood to bring to life the greatest love story of our time – that between Hugh Grant and, err, Hugh Grant. OK, that’s not true – he’s just in absolutely glorious form as a roguish yet charming book publisher who stomps all over Bridget’s tender heart. But waiting in the wings is none other than Mark Darcy, the unfortunately-Christmas-themed-sweater wearing human rights lawyer who learns to enjoy life and the chaos and colour that come with a girl he likes “Just as you are”. Can’t wait for the third movie to come out this year!
Silver Linings Playbook
Jennifer Lawrence won her Best Actress Oscar for this film, and it’s no wonder as she brings complexity and depth to the part of Tiffany, a young widow with depression and other problems on her plate. Enter frequent collaborator Bradley Cooper as Pat, who has just been released from a mental health facility for bipolar disorder, and agrees to be her dance partner for an upcoming contest if she helps him win back his ex-wife. Of course fate has other plans in store for them. And while it doesn’t sound like a classic setting for love to unfold, we say that’s the best bit.
Amy Schumer’s semi-autobiographical tale may have played it for laughs, but underneath the raunch it’s also incredibly romantic. Why? Because it’s real. Unlike other Hollywood offerings, this movie’s heroine – also called Amy – is not pristine and perfect. Instead she’s black, white and every shade in between, making for an unmissable journey from commitment phobe to a cheerleader – quite literally – for love. And the best bet is the message she has to share: This is me, love me as I am and I’ll do the same for you. What could be more romantic than that?
Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds both give good romance and sass, so it was inevitable they’d end up on screen together. In this outing, she’s the boss from hell who needs a quickie marriage to stay in the US, while he’s her long-suffering secretary, who has almost no say when she decides they’re getting engaged. But when they take off to Alaska to see his family, and their guards come down, it’s soon clear that swallow tattoos and all, she’s one working girl who could do with a little love in her life. And he’s just the right person to provide it.
And a few more where it goes without saying…
An Affair to Remember
Life is Beautiful
10 Things I Hate About You
Under the Tuscan Sun
Maid in Manhattan
Gone with the Wind
The Lake House
My Fair Lady
The Princess Bride
The Way We Were
Sleepless in Seattle/You’ve Got Mail/When Harry Met Sally (the Meg Ryan trilogy)
Titanic (although, as Kate Winslet herself recently admitted, there was room for Jack on the raft)
Four Weddings & A Funeral