After the dozen red roses, candle-lit dinner, and box of fancy chocolates, what could be better than to plop down on the sofa and watch a romantic movie with someone you love—even if that person is just you. Since cameras first caught The Kiss in 1896, we have swooned and sighed to people falling in love on the big screen. And while love is universal, every love story is different—and beautiful—in its own way.
For Valentine’s Day, we have assembled a heart-shaped sampler of love stories for your enjoyment. From passionate adaptations of classic novels to a poignant dramatization of a real-life couple, these movies demonstrate why the heart is our strongest muscle. Enjoy one or savor the many-splendored pleasure of all of them.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind | For those who can’t get love out their heads
It is no accident that Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind opens on February 14. On that wintery day, Joel (Jim Carrey) sets off for Montauk, muttering, “Valentine's Day is a holiday invented by greeting card companies to make people feel like crap.” Then he meets (again) Clementine (Kate Winslet), the love of his life whom he can't remember because he had her erased from his memory. Named Bustle’s “Best Valentine’s Movie to Watch” and “Truly The Love Story of Our Time” by Huffington Post, Eternal Sunshine weaves a heartbreaking Möbius strip tale about the persistence of love.
Brokeback Mountain | For those who never stop loving
“I wish I knew how quit you," Jack Twist's (Jake Gyllenhaal) celebrated response to Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) in Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain, captures perfectly the giddy addiction called love. A landmark of LGBT filmmaking, this monumental story of two sheepherders who find each other one summer reminds everyone of the undeniable pang of true love. Time Magazine made it one its “Top 10 Most Romantic Movies” of all time for being simply “unsentimental, unforgettable.”
Pride & Prejudice | For those who believe in the perfect match
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a film lover looking for a Valentine’s Day movie should watch Joe Wright’s Pride & Prejudice. This sparkling adaptation of Jane Austen’s masterpiece with Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet and Matthew Macfadyen as the dashing Mr. Darcy has bewitched viewers, body and soul, for many years now. What makes it perfect for Valentine’s Day is, as The New York Times explains, “it makes you believe in true love, the union of soul mates, happily-ever-after and all the other stuff a romantic comedy promises but so seldom delivers.”
Loving | For those who feel love changes everything
Jeff Nichols’ Loving shows exactly what love can accomplish. Going beyond the details of the landmark 1967 Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia (that struck down laws prohibiting interracial marriage), the film focuses on the couple behind the ruling, Richard (Joel Edgerton) and Mildred (Ruth Negga) Loving. Wanting simply to raise their family in the land they grew up in, they changed history. It is, as The New York Times exclaims, “the absolute ordinariness of their love that defined them, and that made the fight for it into an indelible story of this country.”
One Day | For those in it to the very end
The One Day in the title of Lone Scherfig’s romance is not February 14, but July 15. Going from 1988 to 2011, the film returns on that date to see how Emma (Anne Hathaway) and Dexter (Jim Sturgess), a couple that met the day before their graduation, are holding up. Adapted by David Nichols from his international bestseller, the film follows them as they go from friends to enemies to confidants to a couple strengthened by their experiences. It is for The San Francisco Chronicle “one of the rare romantic films in which we know why the central characters are or should be in love.”