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Is there any holiday more controversial than Valentine’s Day? Whether you celebrate the annual day of love or consider it to be the biggest corporate money suck around, you can’t deny that Hollywood has definitely bought into the concept. That’s why there are so many romantic movies out there.
Luckily, that also means there’s pretty much something for every single mood. Feeling anti-Valentine’s Day? No problem. Want to go all-in with the champagne and chocolate-covered roses? You do you. Looking for an old-fashioned laugh with your fellow single buds? We’ve got you.
Read on for 15 of the best Valentine’s Day movies to catch this February.
1. Valentine’s Day, 2010
BEST CELEB CAST
This Garry Marshall-directed flick is the most on-the-nose pick on our list, but it’s impossible not to include it. The star-studded cast includes everyone from Julia Roberts and Anne Hathaway to Jamie Foxx and Bradley Cooper. Essentially it’s an intertwining story of couples and singles living their best (and worst) lives in Los Angeles while dealing with the pressures of Valentine’s Day. In other words, almost everyone can relate to something in this movie.
2. Always Be My Maybe, 2019
BEST HIGH SCHOOL SWEETHEARTS
Anyone who has ever had a high school bud of the opposite sex will totally relate to this Nahnatchka Khan-directed Netflix film, which stars co-writers Ali Wong and Randall Park. It follows lifelong friends who reconnect after 15 years apart, as they ask themselves what might have happened if they just went for it back in the day. It’s an easy and lighthearted watch to be sure, but one of the main reasons to tune in is the cameo by Keanu Reeves as a heightened version of himself.
3. Isn’t It Romantic, 2019
BEST FOR ANTI-ROMANCE COUPLES
Rebel Wilson stars in this anti-romantic comedy from director Todd Strauss-Schulson, which calls out every single trope from the genre and in the process turns them on their heads. It’s another fun entry with strong performances from co-stars Liam Hemsworth, Adam Devine and Priyanka Chopra, and it could be just the thing if you’re done with this whole romance and unrealistic expectations business.
4. Swingers, 1996
BEST FOR SINGLES
Avoiding the day of love altogether while basking in your own awesomeness? We say good for you. We also suggest taking in this early Jon Favreau flick co-starring Vince Vaughn and Heather Graham. It’s all about an aspiring actor who has a hard time moving on from a breakup, but like all good male leads he’s got some misguided buddies to help him get over it.
5. The Notebook, 2004
BEST TRUE LOVE
If you’re all-in this Valentine’s Day and believe in the power of soul mates, this Nick Cassavetes-directed movie crushed the concept back when it debuted. (To this day some fans still ship co-stars Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling as a thing.) It’s romantic, idealistic and a total love story from beginning to end, which could be the sweeping mood you happen to be in this month.
6. La La Land, 2016
Want a side of music and dancing with your romantic dinner for two this V-Day? This Oscar-contender from director Damien Chazelle is your ticket. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling team as an actress and pianist who fall in love while trying to make a name for themselves in Los Angeles. Sure, it’s unrelatable as heck, but it’s still tons of fun.
7. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, 2004
BEST FOR BREAKUPS
If you’re grieving heading into this Valentine’s Day, you’re not alone. The positive side is that this dark movie from director Michel Gondry may be the very thing you need to feel a little less alone. Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet star as a couple whose relationship goes south, so they both erase their memories of each other. At the center of it all is the philosophical question, is it better to have loved and lost rather than to have never loved at all? You be the judge, but this flick may help you make up your mind.
8. Sylvie’s Love, 2020
BEST PERIOD PIECE
This made-for-TV movie was an Emmy contender at last year’s show and for good reason: director-writer Eugene Ashe totally captured romance in 1960s Harlem. Tessa Thompson and Nnamdi Asomugha star as a young couple whose romance transcends changing times and social climate, and while it is set against the backdrop of the civil war, refreshingly, it’s the characters and their everlasting love that takes center stage.
9. Mr. and Mrs. Smith, 2005
Was this the best movie to hit theatres in 2005? Not by a long shot. But director Doug Liman had a front row seat to the red-hot chemistry between Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie (when Pitt blew up his marriage to Jennifer Aniston). Well, the Jolie-Pitt marriage may not have survived, but to this day if you want to watch two hot people physically go at each other with guns (and in the bedroom), this movie is it.
10. Titanic, 1997
James Cameron went all-out for this three-plus-hour film about the famed luxury passenger liner, which at its heart was the love story between an upper class woman who felt trapped in her life and the poor chap who liberated her from such notions. Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio may not have won any individual awards for the movie, but the film still took home 11 statues at the Oscars that year. It also sparked many (many) debates about how many people could fit on a stray door in the ocean.
11. Love and Basketball, 2000
If it’s romance with a side of sports you seek, cue up this take from writer-director Gina Prince-Blythewood. The movie stars Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps as two lovers and basketball players who tackle it all from childhood to adulthood, a.k.a. it’s exactly what the title suggests.
12. (500) Days of Summer, 2009
BEST MODERN LOVE
If rom-coms that uncomfortably push boundaries into stalker territory bother you, this movie from director Marc Webb may be a breath of fresh air. When a guy (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is dumped by the love of his life (Zooey Deschanel), he takes a good hard look at their relationship in order to figure out how he can win her back. It’s one of the most realistic romantic movies out there, one that asks you to re-evaluate everything other rom-coms have taught you over the years.
13. Her, 2013
BEST HUMAN CONNECTION
If you’ve been accused of spending maybe just a little too much time on your phone and of not paying attention to actual reality, this high-concept movie about human connection and the art of communicating may hit home. Writer-director Spike Jonze unravels the story of a guy (Joaquin Phoenix) who falls for his operating system (voiced by Scarlett Johansson), and it leaves you wondering just how far is too far when it comes to this new-age, techie world.
14. About Time, 2013
BEST TIME TRAVEL
Ever wished you could travel back in time to set things right? Enter the concept behind this movie from writer-director Richard Curtis. It’s all about a 21-year-old (Domhnall Gleeson) who goes back in time to get the girl (Rachel McAdams). But of course, getting her isn’t quite as easy as you’d think.
15. Ghost, 1990
Losing the person you love is beyond devastating, and something you hope never happens. If it does, however, there’s something comforting about the idea that they’re always with you — even in ghost form. Okay, so maybe you’re not totally into a pottery experience like the one Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze shared on-screen for this Jerry Zucker-directed film, but this movie is mood, if nothing else.