14 Valentine's Day movies to stream
Between the winter weather forecast and the lingering COVID-19 pandemic, there might never be a better Valentine's Day than this one for cozying up and streaming a sweetheart of a movie.
Since every pair of lovebirds has its own unique feathers, this list covers all types of cinematic love stories, from romantic comedies and bittersweet dramas to family-friendly fairy tales and steamy action flicks.
1. ‘Emma.’ (2020)
Before she wowed in her breakout role as a troubled chess prodigy in Netflix's smash series "The Queen's Gambit," Anya Taylor-Joy turned in a stellar titular performance as the spoiled but well-meaning Regency Era matchmaker Emma Woodhouse in the latest cinematic take on Jane Austen's oft-adapted novel, which made it on my list of top 10 films of 2020.
Working from a screenplay by Eleanor Catton, Autumn de Wilde, who makes her feature film directorial debut after helming music videos for Beck, The Raconteurs and Florence + the Machine, manages to craft a version of Austen's familiar story that is fresh, funny and faithful, which is no easy feat.
2. ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ (2018)
When a Chinese-American economics professor Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) accompanies her boyfriend and fellow prof Nick Young (Henry Golding) to a family wedding in Singapore, she is startled to learn that he is the scion to one of the most affluent families in Southeast Asia. And Nick’s prickly mother Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh), the family matriarch, is among those displeased that he’s dating an American.
3. ‘Ladyhawke’ (1985)
A knight (Rutger Hauer) and his lady fair (Michelle Pfeiffer) must
break the curse set on them by an evil bishop (John Wood), with the help of a cunning thief (Matthew Broderick).
This one's a personal favorite of mine, but try to ignore the dated '80s soundtrack from The Alan Parsons Project collaborator Andrew Powell. (I'm pretty sure music in the 12th century didn't use quite so many synthesizers.)
4. ‘Yesterday’ (2019)
The latest modern-day fable from director Danny Boyle ("Slumdog Millionaire") and Richard Curtis ("Love Actually") boasts a life-affirming uplift that’s almost as big as the Beatles. Himesh Patel stars as Jack Malik, a struggling small-town English singer-songwriter who is hit by a bus at the same moment that an inexplicable global blackout plunges the world into darkness for 12 seconds. When he wakes up, Jack comes to the astounding conclusion that the Beatles and their groundbreaking music have somehow been lost in the blackout and he is apparently the only person on the planet who remembers them or their songs.
Once he adds some of their songs to his set and shoots to superstardom, two questions linger: Will Jack get caught passing off someone else songs as his own? And will Jack ever grab a clue that his best friend and ever-encouraging manager Ellie (Lily James) is in love with him?
5. ‘The Philadelphia Story’ (1940)
Katharine Hepburn, Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant get entangled in a love pentagon in this classic screwball comedy, which happens to be one of my all-time favorite movies.
6. ‘While You Were Sleeping’ (1995)
Lucy (Sandra Bullock) forms a crush on a rich and handsome businessman (Peter Gallagher), saves his life, is mistaken for his fiancee and falls for his charming brother (Bill Pullman).
7. ‘The Shape of Water’ (2017)
“Pan’s Labyrinth” and “Hellboy” helmer Guillermo del Toro made a stunning addition to his canon of fantastical fairy tales for grown-ups with this four-time Oscar winner. The 1960s period drama stars Academy Award nominee Sally Hawkins as a lonely mute night janitor shadowy government research facility who falls in love with the enigmatic and powerful Amphibian Man (Doug Jones) who has been plucked from the Amazon River, where the locals worshiped him as a god.
8. ‘Casablanca’ (1942)
Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman give up their passionate love affair to save the world from the Nazis. Sigh.
This classic will turn 80 years old in 2022, and it’s lost none of its potency over the past eight decades.
9. ‘The Big Sick’ (2017)
This romantic dramedy is inspired by the real-life love story of husband-and-wife co-writers Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon. Nanjiani stars as a struggling Chicago stand-up comic who spends his time off stage running the gauntlet of Pakistani and Muslim potential wives his strict Pakistani and Muslim family keep inviting to dinner. Knowing that his family hasn’t hesitated in the past to exile kinsmen who have pursued relationships with non-Pakistani women doesn’t stop Nanjiani from falling in love with enchanting blonde Emily (Zoe Kazan, playing Gordon’s part).
Their poignant and uproarious culture clash takes a startling turn when, as in real life, Emily is hospitalized with a life-threatening mystery illness that brings Kumail to her side alongside her protective parents (Holly Hunter and Ray Romano).
10. ‘The Sound of Music’ (1965)
If you've got a free three-hour time slot in your Valentine's Day schedule, you can pay homage to the late, great Christopher Plummer and find "Something Good" watching Maria (Julie Andrews) win the heart of Captain Von Trapp (Plummer).
11. ‘WALL-E’ (2008)
A lonely and adorable trash-compacting robot finds a hand to hold with a sleek probe droid in one of Pixar's Oscar winners for best animated film.
12. ‘The Terminator’ (1984)
Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) travels across time to save Sarah Conner (Linda Hamilton) from the Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger).
To reiterate: He travels across time for her. Now that's romance.
13. ‘Penelope’ (2006)
Christina Ricci stars as an aristocratic young heiress who is born with a pig snout due to an ancient family curse. She has the chance for romance with a handsome ne'er-do-well musician (James McAvoy) but first must learn an important lesson about loving herself in this modern-day fairy tale co-starring Reese Witherspoon, Catherine O'Hara, Peter Dinklage and Richard E. Grant.
14. ‘Desperado’ (1995)
Watch Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek fall in love while dodging lots of bullets.