5 Great Romance Films on Netflix

Today is Valentine’s Day, and what better way to celebrate than by watching romantic films? Even if you aren’t going to spending your Valentine’s Day with someone you love, you can celebrate by appreciating the great love stories from cinema. These are some of my favorites that are available on Netflix instant for you to watch tonight (I also just realized that four of the six films I chose deal heavily with death. I don’t know what that says about my relationship with romantic movies, but these are all really excellent, regardless).

The Apartment, 1960, dir. Billy Wilder

I developed a small crush on Jack Lemmon after watching this film for the first time. I say small because he is and always will be John Gustafson, the grumpy old man, to me, but he is so darn charming in this movie it’s impossible to not fall a little bit in love with him. Shirley Maclaine is equally as charming, and you spend the entire film rooting for them and detesting Fred MacMurray. The story is smart and quick- a young man works his way up the business ladder by letting his superiors use his apartment for evenings with their mistresses. This leads to a romantic complication.  When Jack Lemmon’s character comes to the realization of said complication, the look on his face is heartbreaking. A great film, with one of the best endings to a romantic comedy of all time.

Amélie, 2001, dir. Jean-Pierre Jeunet

I can confidently make the claim that there isn’t a single movie in the world more charming than Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Amélie. Amélie is a young Parisian girl doing her best to help those around her, and in doing so she finds herself falling in love with a photograph of a man she finds in a photo booth.

SWAYZE DOUBLE FEATURE: Dirty Dancing, 1987, dir. Emile Ardolino/Ghost, 1990, dir. Jerry Zucker

I couldn’t make a decision, so here’s two Swayze features, both are modern classics. I, ashamedly, didn’t see Ghost until last year, but I cried like a baby. That final scene really is as romantic as it’s given credit for. I’ve seen Dirty Dancing numerous times, but I just recently watched it again and remembered how great it really is (and Patrick Swayze is REMARKABLY sexy in that movie, I mean, it’ll make you weak in the knees).

Sabrina, 1954, dir. Billy Wilder

Bogart, Hepburn, Holden- it’s star-studded! My favorite Hepburn film that I’ve seen. It’s still bizarre to me that Audrey Hepburn was often put in the role of awkward, gangly brunette who isn’t immediately seen as beautiful. She’s one of the most iconic American beauties. This is a great film, though. I haven’t seen the remake with Harrison Ford and I don’t need to- this one is perfect. Isn’t it romantic?

Rent, 2005, dir. Chris Columbus

Rent is indubitably my favorite musical. I’ve never cried so hard at a musical (the I’ll Cover You reprise? I was a human waterfall). It’s full of love stories, Mimi & Roger, Collins & Angel, Maureen & Joanne, Mark & his film, it’s a perfect musical. Jonathan Larson was a genius, and his story is heartbreaking. He died unexpectedly of an aortic dissection the morning of Rent‘s first performance Off Broadway. Larson was a straight man who wrote such a touching story of addicts, homosexuals, and struggling artists in 1989 at the height of the AIDS epidemic. The fight for gay rights is, unfortunately, still an issue today. Here’s hoping that soon equal rights will actually mean equal rights and love will mean love and anyone can marry whoever they want regardless of gender.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Annie Hall (one of my favorite films of all time, the story of a break up), Love Story (sad sad sad sad sad), Big Fish (just the scenes between Ewan McGregor and Alison Lohman), Frances Ha (I would definitely include this in a Galentine’s Day list- seriously the best friendship story)

GOLDEN GLOBE NOMINATIONS

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I woke up this morning to news that the nominees for this year’s Golden Globes had been announced. The Golden Globes are great; they’re probably my favorite awards show. Most likely because Tina Fey and Amy Poehler have hosted for the past few years and nothing in the whole world could top that (the only thing that has ever come close is Neil Patrick Harris). I’m sad that this is their final year hosting, but the list of nominees is tremendous and I just want to spend some time talking about that.

Best motion picture — drama

“Boyhood”
“Foxcatcher”
“The Imitation Game”
“Selma”
“The Theory of Everything”

Being from a small town in Alabama, we don’t get the limited release features that come around. So, sadly, the only film on this list I’ve seen as of yet is Boyhood, and my God, it was brilliant. I’ve wanted to see Foxcatcher for a few years now, and I think it will be nothing short of a vision. The Imitation Game has been on high buzz since it was released, and I’m highly intrigued by it. I am personally interested in Selma because it was filmed in my home state and takes place in my home state and all of that. Every time I see a commercial for The Theory of Everything I cry, and I love Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne and I just think it will completely destroy my emotions. So, as you can tell, I’m not very qualified to be making picks, but I’m going to do it anyway because I love awards season. And, honestly, the only movie on this list that I think I could even possibly like more than Boyhood is Foxcatcher. So.

Best motion picture — musical or comedy

“Birdman”
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“Into the Woods”
“Pride”
“St. Vincent”

OBVIOUSLY I’M GOING TO PICK THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL because Wes Anderson is my all-time favorite and I’m so proud of all the awards he’s been nominated for in this year’s Globes. Could this lead to his first Best Picture nom? Let’s hope so. Birdman has been at the top of my must-see list all year, but it hasn’t made it’s way to podunk Alabama yet. As a musical theater nerd, I’m super excited/nervous about Into The Woods. I fear it won’t be as upsetting/depressing as the original stage play, which is the best part about the stage play. The trailer for Pride looked decent enough (though it was a little heavy on the emotional resolve that inevitably comes in the end) and St. Vincent looks good. Birdman is the likely winner. Again, I’ll make another post when I see more of these films.

Best actress in a motion picture — drama

Jennifer Aniston, “Cake”
Felicity Jones, “The Theory of Everything”
Julianne Moore, “Still Alice”
Rosamund Pike, “Gone Girl”
Reese Witherspoon, “Wild”

I have only seen Gone Girl as Rosamund Pike was the perfect Amy Dunne. I’m not even going to go into the others because I haven’t seen them, but I will! You have my word.

Best actor in a motion picture — drama

Steve Carell, “Foxcatcher”
Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Imitation Game”
David Oyelowo, “Selma”
Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything”
Jake Gyllenhaal, “Nightcrawler”

I have no comment on any of these because I, unfortunately, haven’t seen any of these. However, I’m shocked that Jack O’Connell didn’t receive a nomination for his performance in Unbroken, which has been heavily talked about. WHERE IS COOK’S NOM, GLOBES?!

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Best actor in a motion picture — musical or comedy

Ralph Fiennes, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Michael Keaton, “Birdman”
Bill Murray, “St. Vincent”
Joaquin Phoenix, “Inherent Vice”
Christoph Waltz, “Big Eyes”

The resurgence of Michael Keaton makes me happy all over, but man, oh, man I want Ralph Fiennes to win for The Grand Budapest Hotel. I am in favor of all things Wes Anderson, yes, but Fiennes was so hilarious and charming in TGBH and he deserves it.

Best actress in a motion picture — musical or comedy

Amy Adams, “Big Eyes”
Emily Blunt, “Into the Woods”
Helen Mirren, “The Hundred-Foot Journey”
Julianne Moore, “Maps to the Stars”
Quvenzhane Wallis, “Annie”

Sorry, this new Annie looks awful and I can’t understand why Quvenzhane Wallis was nominated. I cringe at all the television teasers for the movie, and I have nothing against Quvenzhane Wallis! I just have things against unnecessary remakes and… I feel like there had to have been a better candidate for this category. Actually, I KNOW there’s a better candidate for this category and it’s JENNY SLATE FOR OBVIOUS CHILD. I was really crossing my fingers for this nomination, either for her or for director Gillian Robespierre (Obvious Child was her directorial debut! And it was so good! SO GOOD). Jenny Slate is one of my favorite people, and she deserved this.

Best supporting actor in a motion picture

Robert Duvall, “The Judge”
Ethan Hawke, “Boyhood”
Edward Norton, “Birdman”
Mark Ruffalo, “Foxcatcher”
J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”

I normally don’t like Ethan Hawke (with the exception of Reality Bites) but I loved him in Boyhood. He was perfect! He didn’t get a whole lot of screen time, but he lit it up whenever he was on screen. Moving on.

Best supporting actress in a motion picture

Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”
Jessica Chastain, “A Most Violent Year”
Emma Stone, “Birdman”
Meryl Streep, “Into the Woods”
Keira Knightley, “The Imitation Game”

Okay, Meryl Streep. This is getting out of hand. You know in football when a team gets so far ahead of their opponent that they start to play terribly just so the other team doesn’t feel so bad? I think it’s about time Meryl Streep started doing the same. Like, maybe Meryl should be the next lead in Transformers. Or maybe she could be the romantic lead in the next Adam Sandler film? Y’know what, screw that, those films would probably get Oscar nominations if she was in them. It’s a lose-lose.
The only film I’ve seen in this category, again, is Boyhood, and Patricia Arquette was my favorite part of Boyhood. That scene where she breaks down crying at the kitchen table affected me more than any scene in any movie from this year. So excellent and emotional.

Best animated feature film

“Big Hero 6”
“The Book of Life”
“The Boxtrolls”
“How to Train Your Dragon 2”
“The Lego Movie”

The Lego Movie. No question. One of the best and most funny movies I’ve seen all year.

Best director

Wes Anderson, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Ava DuVernay, “Selma”
David Fincher, “Gone Girl”
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, “Birdman”
Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”

Oh, Wes Anderson, how I hope you’ll win this! You deserve it! You’re the best, most uniquely original director ever and I love you so much. The hard part here is that a couple of my other favorite directors are nominated- David Fincher and Richard Linklater. But I don’t care, I’m sticking with Wes.

Best screenplay 

Wes Anderson, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Gillian Flynn, “Gone Girl”
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, “Birdman”
Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”
Graham Moore, “The Imitation Game”

Do I even have to say who I want to win? WES.

Best original score 

Alexandre Desplat, “The Imitation Game”
Johann Johannsson, “The Theory of Everything”
Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, “Gone Girl”
Antonio Sanchez, “Birdman”
Hans Zimmer, “Interstellar”

I’m such a huge fan of Reznor and Ross’s collaboration with Fincher, and their score so perfectly summed up the terror of Gone Girl.

Best original song 

“Big Eyes,” from “Big Eyes”
“Glory,” from “Selma”
“Mercy Is,” from “Noah”
“Opportunity,” from “Annie”
“Yellow Flicker Beat,” from “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part I”

I have no input on this category. I love Sia, but I’m torn because she sings that damn song from Annie, a film that I can’t understand why is nominated for anything (I know, I haven’t seen it yet, but I have a strong gut reaction when it comes to these kinda things).

Best foreign language film 

“Force Majeure Turist” (Sweden)
“Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem Gett” (Israel)
“Ida” (Poland/Denmark)
“Leviathan” (Russia)
“Tangerines Mandariinid” (Estonia)

I want to see Ida so bad, and I just saw that it’s on Netflix so I’ll watch it here soon.

TV

Best TV series — drama

“The Affair”
“Downton Abbey”
“Game of Thrones”
“The Good Wife”
“House of Cards”

~I don’t watch any of these shows but I know I should~

Best actor in a TV series — drama

Clive Owen, “The Knick”
Liev Schreiber, “Ray Donovan”
Kevin Spacey, “House of Cards”
James Spader, “The Blacklist”
Dominic West, “The Affair”

~Same thing I said before~

Best actress in a TV series — drama

Claire Danes, “Homeland”
Viola Davis, “How to Get Away With Murder”
Julianna Margulies, “The Good Wife”
Ruth Wilson, “The Affair”
Robin Wright, “House of Cards”

~I guess I should note that these squiggly lines mean that I’m saying this in a sing song voice~

Best TV series — comedy

“Girls”
“Jane the Virgin”
“Orange is the New Black”
“Silicon Valley”
“Transparent”

I’m just so happy that Modern Family and The Big Bang Theory weren’t nominated! Modern Family is the Meryl Streep of television comedy, and The Big Bang Theory is the dog shit that Meryl Streep stepped in. Anyway, Girls is one of my favorites, I’m such a huge, huge fan, and I always root for it. I desperately need to watch Jane the Virgin because I’ve only heard great things about it. OITNB is also one of my favorites, but it doesn’t compare to Girls, and I wasn’t as impressed with Season 2 as I was with Season 1 (I did love it! Just not as much). I’ve watched a few episodes of Silicon Valley and thought it was funny (I love Martin Starr), and Transparent is another need-to-see. Anyway, WHERE IS VEEP?

Best actor in a TV series — comedy

Louis C.K., “Louie”
Don Cheadle, “House of Lies”
Ricky Gervais, “Derek”
William H. Macy, “Shameless”
Jeffrey Tambor, “Transparent”

LOUIE LOUIE LOUIE LOUIEEEEEE.

Best actress in a TV series — comedy

Lena Dunham, “Girls”
Edie Falco, “Nurse Jackie”
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep”
Gina Rodriguez, “Jane the Virgin”
Taylor Schilling, “Orange is the New Black”

Queen JLD deserves this one. Selina Meyer is such a great character and she plays it perfectly. Veep is one of the best!

Best TV movie or mini-series

“Fargo”
“The Missing”
“The Normal Heart”
“Olive Kitteridge”
“True Detective”

True Detective, because there was nothing on television in 2014 that I loved more than True Detective. It’s brilliant.

Best actor in a mini-series or TV movie 

Martin Freeman, “Fargo”
Woody Harrelson, “True Detective”
Matthew McConaughey, “True Detective”
Mark Ruffalo, “The Normal Heart”
Billy Bob Thornton, “Fargo”

I am ALWAYS rooting for McConaughey. And, subsequently, True Detective.

Best actress in a mini-series or TV movie

Maggie Gyllenhaal, “The Honorable Woman”
Jessica Lange, “American Horror Story: Freak Show”
Frances McDormand, “Olive Kitteridge”
Frances O’Connor, “The Missing”
Allison Tolman, “Fargo”

Jessica Lange is THE head bitch in charge, and if she doesn’t win this the world is off its axis or something.

Best supporting actor in a series, mini-series or TV movie

Matt Bomer, “The Normal Heart”
Alan Cumming, “The Good Wife”
Colin Hanks, “Fargo”
Bill Murray, “Olive Kitteridge”
Jon Voight, “Ray Donovan”

~no comment, ugh, I need to get to watchin’ this stuff~

Best supporting actress in a series, mini-series or TV movie

Uzo Aduba, “Orange is the New Black”
Kathy Bates, “American Horror Story: Freak Show”
Allison Janney, “Mom”
Michelle Monaghan, “True Detective”
Joanne Froggatt, “Downton Abbey”

I know I said I’m always rooting for True Detective, but Uzo Aduba is who deserves this. Crazy Eyes is a much better character than Monaghan’s Maggie.

I feel very under-qualified to post my opinions about the Globes, but I have these opinions and I wanted to post them and it’s my blog! So. I will update this once I see more of the films and whatnot.

What are your opinions on the Globes this year? Who do you think got snubbed? Jenny Slate did!!!!!

Let’s talk about it.

THE BRILLIANCE OF BOYHOOD

Boyhood is extraordinary. It’s heartwarming (that scene where Patricia Arquette says, “I just thought it would be better!” made me teary eyed in a major way), sometimes painful to watch (Marco Perella’s Professor Bill Welbrock is quite possibly the baddest movie villain of the year), and perfectly timed (the 12 years isn’t overwhelming or boring, it’s a perfect portrait of a life). It’s the most beautiful cinematic adventure I’ve ever taken, and I just want to talk about how great it is.

First of all, Richard Linklater (Dazed and ConfusedA Scanner DarklySlacker, The “Before” Trilogy) filmed the same people for twelve years. That’s the line that’s used to captivate you. It works, I mean, c’mon, no one has ever done that (I hear your “BUT WHAT ABOUT THE 7-UP DOCUMENTARIES! Those don’t count, y’all, he checks back in with those people every seven years, which is what Linklater did with his Before Trilogy, so shut your pie holes, that’s not the same thing). It was a twelve year long process. They would film for intervals of time every year for twelve years. It’s a film that shows the actual timeline of one family’s life: son Mason Jr. (Ellar Coltrane), daughter Samantha (Lorelai Linklater), mother Olivia (Patricia Arquette), & father Mason Sr. (Ethan Hawke). Something that is absolutely brilliant, in my opinion, is that Linklater would mold the story around certain aspects of Ellar Coltrane’s life at the present time. So, I’ve hypothesized that Mason’s interests in arrowheads and photography and the like really stem from Ellar Coltrane’s interests at the moments when they were filming. It’s extremely honest and true to the times, as is evidenced by the absolutely terrific soundtrack. The film opens with Coldplay’s ultra-2000s song “Yellow”, and then shortly thereafter, the character of Samantha is singing Britney Spears’ “Oops… I Did It Again”. Brilliant. I can’t get over how much I loved it. There’s a scene early on where Olivia is reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets to Mason and Samantha, and later on in the film you see them attend a book release party for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Little things like that warmed my heart like no other movie ever has.

I have some questions though, and these are what I’m really here to get down to business about:

01. Does anyone else find it absolutely bonkers that Ellar Coltrane and Ethan Hawke look so eerily similar? It’s NUTS. Because 5 year old Coltrane only looks slightly like Hawke, but the older he gets, ESPECIALLY 18 year old Coltrane, the more he looks like Hawke. It blew my mind before I even went to see the movie (this film has been on my radar for a long time. I’m so happy that I was finally able to see it tonight).

02. POTENTIAL SPOILER: When 8 year old Mason gets his haircut and goes to school, a girl named Nicole passes him a note that says, “I think your hair looks kewl”. When he moves into his dorm in college, he meets a girl named Nicole who, to me, looked similar to that girl that passed him the note! I could be wildly off, and the idea that she looked like the girl from before could just be my brain playing tricks on me hoping for a connection, but does anyone else know if this is a proven theory? There’s only one person credited as Nicole. Help! I’m so curious about this.

03. SPOILER?: An interesting tidbit from an interview with Simon Crook of Empire Film: “Still, we can’t resist asking… Sequel, then? ‘What, if we just kept going?’ Linklater looks horrified, puffs out his cheeks. ‘Well, he’s gonna be in his freshman year of college now, so I know what Mason’s life will be for the next few years. But after that?’ He pauses, has a little Linkthink and starts laughing. ‘You know, I was just thinking: wouldn’t it be great if Mason left college, got on a train, and met this girl in Europe…'” Did Mason grow up to be Jesse, Ethan Hawke’s character in Linklater’s Before Trilogy?? That’s what Linklater muses could happen.

I truly don’t have anything left to say about this film, and this is a very jumbled and unorganized blog post because I’m just so excited about this movie. It’s excellent, plain and simple. Just go see it immediately.

Boyhood is in theaters now, and is expected to be released on blu-ray and DVD in November of 2014.

It is also rumored to be released through the Criterion Collection (as it should be).

WATCH THIS NOW: SHORT TERM 12

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About 30 minutes into Short Term 12, I started crying. I don’t mean “tears welled up in my eyes”. I mean “tears welled up in my eyes and then they started dropping until I had to get a tissue”. This happened because of a particularly poignant scene (that we’ll talk about in a bit), though Short Term 12 is full of them due to the top-notch acting done by lead Brie Larson. Larson is Grace, the supervisor of Short Term 12, a residential treatment facility. Grace is “secretly” dating her co-worker Mason, the goofy and charming John Gallagher Jr. It’s alluded to relatively early on that Grace is harboring some demons of her own, but the focus of the movie doesn’t shift to that until later on. In the beginning, we’re lead to focus on the demons that the kids in the facility face, most notably, Marcus, played by Keith Stanfield with so much heart and believability that you’d think that the character of Marcus’s truth is Stanfield’s truth. Marcus, approaching 18, is set to be released from Short Term 12, which has become his home. This would-be cause for celebration is anything but for Marcus, due to his fear and hatred of his mother. In a heavily emotional and touching scene (the poignant one I mentioned earlier), Marcus runs some new rhymes by Mason. This scene is when I cried. This is the moment I knew this movie was going to be powerful and really affect me.

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Short Term 12 is written and directed by Destin Cretten, who also wrote and directed the short film that inspired the full-length feature. Cretten has few directorial credits, including the lesser-known I Am Not A Hipster, but Short Term 12 is definitely his breakout piece. I anticipate great things from Cretten, though he has no upcoming credits listed on IMDb.

Short Term 12 has an 8.0 on IMDb, a 99% on RottenTomatoes.com and a MetaScore of 82. It won the Audience and Grand Jury awards for best narrative feature at SXSW, and the Audience Award at the LA Film Fest. Short Term 12 is available on blu-ray and DVD, and on Netflix Instant.