Most people looking for the perfect movie to watch on Valentine’s Day are probably seeking out films that utilize the classic romantic formula of two people falling in love and living happily ever after. If that’s what you’re looking for, this article might not be for you. But stick around, and we’ll give you the perfect blend of heartbreak and bizarreness to make your Valentine’s Day as unconventional as possible from a movie-watching perspective.
The Twilight Saga
Lots of people don’t think Twilight is actually all that romantic. Lots of people are wrong! Twilight‘s awkwardness, the target for the derision of many, is what actually makes it a great teen romance. No one is smooth – everyone is painfully awkward in this exploration of first love. Also, Twilight is pretty weird (in a good way). If you take a step back, it’s a story about a girl who falls madly in love with a 100-year-old virgin AND a boy who turns into a giant wolf. She chooses the former, and they make a monster baby. THEN, the wolf-guy falls in love with the baby.
The Princess and the Frog
Sure, this Disney princess movie isn’t exactly unconventional. But- BUT!- how often do the romantic leads fall in love in frog form? The Princess and the Frog is one of the best and most underrated Disney flicks, and it’s something that can be enjoyed with the whole family. It’s also the last time Disney used this particular animation style, as their recent releases are pretty much all Disney-Pixar productions.
Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Lobster takes place in a fictional society where single people have 45 days to find love in a controlled environment before they’re turned into an animal of their choosing. In this society, compatibility is thought to lie in physical similarities, an idea that comes back around in a rather disturbing way towards the end of the film. Colin Farrel stars as a man who is quickly disillusioned by the system and strikes off to join a sort of anti-romantic group of forest-dwellers who also quit the program. There, he meets Rachel Weisz and falls in love, but when tragedy strikes he’s forced to consider stabbing himself in the eyes with a steak knife. If that sounds weird, just wait. It’s much weirder.
Only Lovers Left Alive
Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive follows two married vampires, Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton). The two live separately with Adam becoming increasingly suicidal and depressed. Eve comes to visit him in an effort to cheer him up. The two are worried about human blood becoming more and more contaminated, limiting their food source. The film is about a long-married couple contemplating the end of all things good in their lives. Great first date material.
Blue Valentine is a great choice for those having a less-than romantic Valentine’s Day this year. If you’ve recently gone through a breakup, this might just be perfect for you. On the other hand, it could be totally depressing, but wallowing is totally okay sometimes. Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams star as a couple who are remembering the earlier, happier days of their relationship as their marriage is falling apart.
Crazy, Stupid, Love
Crazy, Stupid, Love is becoming an unconventional Valentine’s Day classic. The movie follows three couples of a sort and deals with unrequited love, new love, and love that isn’t working anymore. Steve Carell, Julianne Moore, Ryan Gosling, and Emma Stone star in this charming, funny romantic comedy. Each character’s life is more closely connected than any of them thought, leading to a very funny confrontation at the end of the movie (Ryan Gosling really does need to do more comedies, he’s always great in them).
Wes Anderson brings his signature quirky style to Moonrise Kingdom, a story about two kids who fall for each other and decide to run away. What follows is sincere, hilarious, sweet, and very, very on brand for the director. Easily our favorite movie about young love, but just different enough to stand apart from other films in the romance genre. As per usual, Anderson brings in some big names to play the adults, including Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Bruce Willis, and Tilda Swinton.
Another Jim Jarmusch joint, Paterson isn’t technically a romance, but it certainly is romantic. Adam Driver plays a bus driver who writes poetry in his spare time. The subjects of his poems are largely very ordinary things in life, which he finds beauty in and then makes beautiful with his words. One poem in particular that he writes about his wife (Golshifteh Farahani) is so romantic it’s practically puke-inducing. We love it.
This one’s for the psychos. When Amy (Rosamund Pike) goes missing, her husband Nick (Ben Affleck) is immediately placed under suspicion from everyone in town. He’s not a killer, though, just an asshole. He chose the wrong woman to be a lousy husband to. Watch this with a date, and it might kill the romance, or it might spark something. That’s none of our business.
Another Yorgos Lanthimos flick with his particular brand of non-conventional romance. In The Favourite, Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) has a complicated relationship with her lover and advisor Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz). The two share a sexual relationship, but the power dynamics make it so Sarah is always working Anne to her benefit. Enter Abigail (Emma Stone). Abigail is cunning and quickly figures out that Sarah’s arrangement would be beneficial for her. The two enter into a competition to see who can be Anne’s favorite. Lanthimos and writer Tony McNamara (The Great) deliver a darkly comedic tale about love, friendship, and power.
This entry is for people who think Christmas has more potential for romance than Valentine’s Day. Kristen Stewart stars as a young woman going to meet her girlfriend’s family for the first time during the holidays. The catch, which she becomes aware of on her way to their home, is that they don’t know their daughter is gay. Happiest Season proves that Stewart can really do anything, including have fantastic chemistry with Aubrey Plaza.
Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story is about the dissolution of a marriage. Charlie (Adam Driver) and Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) are having problems when Nicole takes a job across the country, taking their son with her. The two begin divorce proceedings, which is all the more painful due to the involvement of their child. There’s one scene in particular where Driver simultaneously earned an Oscar nomination and spawned one of the most viral memes of 2019. Watch this on Valentine’s Day and think about how all things can end!
The Matrix Resurrections
The Matrix Resurrections is many things: an action-heavy sci-fi blockbuster, a meditative film that contemplates its own existence as well as the current state of big-budget cinema, and a completely earnest romance that wears its heart on its leather sleeve. Resurrections acknowledges what Neo has always known: he can’t do it on his own. It’s Trinity that was always his strength, and so the film becomes an attempt to rescue her from her machine imprisonment.
And now for a classic. No, not Casablanca or Bringing Up Baby (though, if you want traditional romance, check those out). Double Indemnity is a film noir classic that features a twisted romance at its center. Walter (Fred MacNamurray) and Phyllis (Barbara Stanwyck) dance around each other as each tries to play the other to their advantage, but the attraction is sincere. They’re both pretty bad people who aren’t going to sacrifice everything for love, but it’s a fun ride to watch them outsmart each other at every turn.
Looking for the perfect film for a romantic night in? We’ve got more than a few suggestions.
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