Valentine’s Day is a pretty divisive holiday, isn’t it? It seems you either love it or find it to be a bunch of sappy, Hallmark-manufactured, cringe-worthy bullshit. I happen to reside in the first camp, and not just because I’ve got a partner. I love the nostalgia of exchanging valentines in class when I was little and the element of surprise and excitement it would bring. I enjoy putting more love out into the universe and having an excuse to have more chocolate (like I really need one). Plus, I’m a sucker for themes. So in the spirit of this odd, love-filled holiday, I’m sharing some of my favorite movies about love. They run the gamut – awkward, funny, heartbreaking, and romantic.
Before Sunrise/Before Sunset
These movies. Oy, they just get me. I love how director Richard Linklater explores time in this trilogy which spans almost 20 years (I didn’t include Before Midnight because I’m not as much of a fan of that one). He has a knack for allowing actors to improvise and have authentic moments, resulting in films that often don’t feel like films, rather intimate voyeuristic glimpses into the lives of others. There isn’t a lot of action in these two movies, but the brilliant dialogue, effortless acting and chemistry, and the gorgeous scenery compensates for that. I adore Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke and it’s so fun to watch them meander the streets of Europe together. It’s pretty dreamy.
When Harry Met Sally
From “Baby fish mouth” to “I’ll have what she’s having,” this might be the most quotable movie I know. It’s a classic and one I’ve seen upwards of 20 times. Fortunately I married a man who appreciates it just as much as I do and who references and quotes it on a pretty equal basis. It’s funny and sweet and features Meg Ryan at her peak – totally high maintenance-neurotic in the most lovable way. It’s quintessential Nora Ephron and her finest moment in my opinion.
La La Land
This charming film is a whimsical love letter to LA and pays homage to some of the best musicals in cinematic history. I’m not a huge musical fan, so the fact that I loved this so much really speaks volumes. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone have fantastic chemistry and the music’s pretty great too.
Band Aid is an intimate and brutally honest look at a couple who’s struggling in their marriage. Instead of continuing to bicker, they decide to form a band and channel their respective frustrations into songs. It’s got so much heart, and humor, and it’s brilliantly written, and Zoe Lister Jones is such a badass goddess, and Fred Armisen is in it and will make you snort-laugh. I absolutely love it.
While You Were Sleeping
Who doesn’t love 90s/mid 2000s Sandra Bullock? And can we talk about how unassumingly sexy Bill Pullman is in this movie? Don’t even get me started on how funny Peter Gallagher is (do I like Jell-O?). I like to watch this movie around Christmas time (it takes place during the holidays, so I regard it as a Christmas movie), but I’ll totally watch it any day I need my Sandy fix and some good 90s nostalgia (which, let’s be honest, is always).
Conversations with Other Women
The majority of this film is shot with a split screen and it’s beautifully done. This one’s what my husband refers to as a “talky movie.” Sure, it’s more heavy on the dialogue than the action (similar to the Before Sunrise trilogy), but the writing’s so good you guys, and it has such a lovely intimacy about it.
Walk the Line
Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon star in this biopic about Johnny Cash but it’s really a love story and such a beautiful one. These two give their all in these performances, totally getting lost in their characters and it’s really amazing to watch. Plus, I happen to think Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash’s love story is one of the best love stories.
10 Things I Hate About You
Next to Clueless, this is my favorite high school movie. Heath Ledger’s 1,000 watt smile is the only real reason you need to watch this re-telling of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, but if you want some more, it’s hilarious, full of 90s stars for good nostalgia, and Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger simply have the best chemistry together. I’ve probably seen it 30 times.
Silver Linings Playbook
This is just such an all around good movie. It’s a bit of an emotional rollercoaster but has a fair amount of humor interwoven with the drama (Jennifer Lawrence trying to teach Bradley Cooper to dance). Plus, it has the best ending!
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Who says all love stories have to be happy ones? This one will kick you in the stomach a few times, but damn it’s so good. It’s my favorite thing Jim Carrey has ever done. He and Kate Winslet deliver such raw and beautiful performances and the plot is genius and gorgeously inventive. Every time I see it it’s a new experience for me. This isn’t just one of my favorite movies about love, it’s one of my favorite movies. Meet me in Montauk, k?