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.
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)