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The 50 Best Movies to Watch on Valentine’s Day

valentines day movies
The 50 Best Movies to Watch on Valentine’s DayCourtesy


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It’s almost that time of the year again, folks: Valentine’s Day. Roses and heart-shaped chocolates are overflowing in every corner store. Jewelry ads flooding your TV at every commercial break! You couldn’t run and hide from this holiday, even if you tried. Valentine’s Day is here to stay. So why not embrace it?

No matter what your love life looks like, it’s always a good time to watch a romantic movie. Head over heels in the honeymoon phase? Turn on something sentimental, like The Notebook or Titanic. Unrequited love? Find some solidarity with The Half of It or Call Me By Your Name. Single and living your best life? Pop on Someone Great or Bridget Jones’s Diary. Soothe your inner cynic with Palm Springs, or celebrate your non-monogamous lifestyle with She’s Gotta Have It. Just dumped? Find solace and a good cry in Eternal Sunshine of Spotless Mind or Brokeback Mountain.

The point is: there are plenty of fish in the sea. And we’ve made it easier by gathering 50 catches that are sure to warm your heart, tickle your funny bone, or cue the waterworks.

Fire Island

This queer-written and led romantic comedy is a fresh and hilarious take on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. A group of queer friends travel to Fire Island for their yearly vacation to let loose and bond, only to find out that it's their last time together at the vacation house. Fire Island is a fun and heartfelt story about the bonds of a chosen family—and falling in love outside your comfort zone.

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Mr. Malcolm's List

Mr. Malcolm's List is another period romance with swoony leads, with Freida Pinto and Sope Dirisu playing two very different people who fall in love in London's upper-class society. Dirisu plays Mr. Malcolm, whose high standards for finding a wife alienate young women and leave them humiliated in public, when he rejects them so quickly. Pinto plays Selina Dalton, who is recruited by her childhood friend to get revenge on the arrogant Mr. Malcolm. A sweet and delightful tale of love ensues.

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Emma

I bet Jane Austen would love this 2020 adaptation of her novel, Emma. The chemistry of the leads shines in this regency-era romantic comedy. Anya Taylor-Joy plays Emma, who loves to play matchmaker, but her arrogance gets in the way of her ability to see what's best for other people. Emma is gorgeously filmed, with lavish costumes and backdrops that fully immerse you in its fanciful world.

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The Shape of Water

This Best Picture-winning film is an unlikely fairytale for a new generation. The whimsical, yet starkly realistic tale follows a mute woman played by Sally Hawkins, who works as a cleaning lady at a laboratory in 1960s Baltimore. The Shape of Water features fantastic performances from characters who represent people who often go unseen in our society. Hawkins falls in love with an underwater creature, and the two prove that love can conquer almost anything—and save us from the darkest moments in life.

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Bridget Jones's Diary

Almost anyone who has been single in their life can find something to laugh about in Bridget Jones's Diary. Renee Zellweger plays the charming, yet wonderfully average single woman in her thirties—who is on a journey of self-improvement. A twist on the classic Pride and Prejudice story, Zellweger is caught between two men who are not who they seem to be. Cue adorable shenanigans.

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Obvious Child

Jenny Slate leads this romantic comedy that took on the sensitive subject of abortion in a sweet and relatable way. In Obvious Child, Slate plays a young woman who is going through a rough patch in her personal life. Once our hero's ex dumps her for her friend, she decides to have a one-night stand that results in an unexpected pregnancy. If that wasn't stressful enough, the abortion she schedules is on Valentine's Day. These circumstances don't seem traditionally romantic, but Obvious Child reminds us that life loves to throw unexpected curveballs at us.

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The Apartment

The Apartment may have lighthearted moments, but it doesn't shy away from dealing with very serious consequences of complex relationships. Jack Lemmon plays a man who allows his bosses to use his apartment for their affairs in order to get further at work. However, after learning a secret, things get much more complicated.

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In The Mood For Love

This sumptuous Wong Kar-Wai film drips with romantic tension and unspoken desires. Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung play lovers who can never be together in 1960s Hong Kong. In The Mood For Love sees the two strut around in gorgeous costuming with a sweeping soundtrack. If you want to be overwhelmed by romantic longing, press play on this one.

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Breakfast at Tiffany's

A much more romantic departure from Truman Capote's novel of the same name, Breakfast at Tiffany's has become a hallmark movie about falling in love. It also made Audrey Hepburn's Holly Golightly a style icon for generations of young girls. The legendary actress plays a fiercely independent young woman who is set on securing her financial future rather than following her heart. When she crosses paths with her new neighbor, a burgeoning young writer— who's also strapped for cash—the two fall for each other.

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13 Going on 30

This classic romcom will warm up the heart of any stone-cold cynic. In 13 Going on 30, Jennifer Garner and Mark Ruffalo play two childhood friends who grow up to be two very different people—but are still, somehow, drawn to each other. Would 13-year-old you like who you are as an adult? We may never be as true to ourselves as we were when we were kids, sure. But 13 Going on 30
will help you discover your inner silliness, optimism, and romanticism. And give you a hankering for Razzles.

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Always Be My Maybe

Something that is often left out of the “high school sweetheart” narrative is the fact that most couples who have been together since their youth likely witnessed each other in peak adolescent awkwardness. And sticking by someone’s side after that might be the greatest testament of true love. Always Be My Maybe leans head-first into this awkwardness, as two former childhood friends rekindle in adulthood for the first time since their extremely cumbersome coupling in their youth. If your partner puts you in stitches as much as they give you butterflies, you’re sure to fall for the comedic and romantic chemistry between Ali Wong and Randall Park.

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If Beale Street Could Talk

Based on the 1974 novel of the same name by James Baldwin, and directed by Moonlight's Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk recounts the beautiful love story of Tish and Fonny, two childhood friends who grow up to become lovers, fiancés and, eventually, parents. Their trajectory takes a turn, though, when Fonny is falsely accused of a crime and sent to jail. Determined to free the name of her soon-to-be husband before the birth of their child, Tish sets out to prove Fonny’s innocence as she recounts their story from the beginning. With moving performances from Kiki Layna, Stephan James, Regina King, and Colman Domingo, and a remarkable score by Nicholas Brittell, If Beale Street Could Talk is an urgent story of love persevering in the face of injustice.

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The Half of It

Alice Wu’s The Half of It fills a void in the coming-of-age rom-com canon that is long overdue. In a Cyrano de Bergerac-esque love triangle, a young book worm named Ellie Chu helps a high school jock court his crush by writing her love letters on his behalf. However, Ellie soon realizes that she is also pining for the same girl—making for a heart-warming journey of love, self-acceptance, and growing up.

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Sylvie's Love

If you’re a sucker for bittersweet, “Right place, wrong time,” love stories, you’ll find yourself swooning over this beautiful love story set in 1960s Harlem. When Sylvie, played by Tessa Thompson, meets Robert, played by Nnamdi Asomugha, she is married to a man serving in the Korean War and Robert is pursuing a career as a world-traveling musician. However, their paths cross again years later, they’re finally given a second chance explore the feelings for one another that never went away.

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Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Nothing says Valentine’s Day quite like yearning. And Portrait of a Lady on Fire is a masterclass on the depiction of restrained romance. Sure, the whole forbidden love period film has become a bit of a tired trope in queer cinema. But, what the film lacks in outward romance it makes up for in beautiful cinematography and dialogue. You’ll find yourself waxing poetic about your partner by the end of your movie night. Or, of course, crying alone. But maybe that’s the vibe you’re going for this holiday. We don’t judge.

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She's Gotta Have It

This is one of Spike Lee's greatest (and the one that put him on the map). The 1986 film follows one woman who manages to date three different men at the same time, refusing to settle for just one. A woman's got to live her life, you know? This is a perfect Valentine's Day film because it scratches the itch of the romantics out there, but let's say this: it also gives a big nod to those who prefer to live an untethered life.

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Palm Springs

This one is for the people in the back who are over love. Sometimes, the best love stories are the one that come from the cynical perspective. Andy Samberg stars in this time loop movie (we love time loop movies!) about a guy who can't escape one fateful wedding day, stuck in an existence of isolation... until someone else gets stuck in the loop with him.

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Sleepless in Seattle

After Sam Baldwin’s wife, Maggie, dies, he and his son, Jonah, move from Chicago to Seattle for a change of pace. But once Jonah sees that Sam (Tom Hanks) is still lonely, he takes his father’s love life into his own 8-year-old hands. On Christmas Eve, he calls Dr. Marcia, a popular radio host, and tells her that his dad needs to find a woman. Soon, the letters start pouring in from all over the country, and Annie Reed, an engaged reporter in Baltimore, sends one of them. She proposes they meet at the top of the Empire State Building on Valentine’s Day, just like in the movie An Affair to Remember (1957). This movie also features Tom Hanks’s real-life wife, Rita Wilson.

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Someone Great

Someone Great flew under the radar when it first came out, but the almost anti-romantic comedy starring Gina Rodriguez ends up being as much about friendship as it does about love.

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Love Simon

A rom-com in its own field, Love, Simon tells the story of Simon, a high schooler who struggles to come out of the closet after falling for an online suitor who is struggling with his own sexuality.

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Hitch

Hitch is a Will Smith classic, where the actor plays a matchmaker who could really take a dose of his own advice.

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The Bridges of Madison County

This 1995 movie starring Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood will get the even the toughest nut crying by the end. The film, about Francesca Johnson, a 1960s Italian-immigrant housewife in Iowa who meets and falls in love with a drifter photographer for National Geographic, is adapted from the 1992 book of the same name. The film was also directed by Clint Eastwood, who cast himself in the lead role of the dashing mysterious Robert Kincaid from Washington state. Streep does an Italian accent with a slight Iowan lilt that will make you just want to quit trying anything, because she’s already mastered it.

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My Best Friend's Wedding

Julianne Potter (Julia Roberts) and her best friend, Michael O’Neal (Dermot Mulroney), had a deal that if they were both single by the time they were 28, they would marry each other. Four days before Julianne turns 28, she finds out that Michael is engaged to be married to a 20-year-old woman named Kimberly (Cameron Diaz). Julianne realizes that she doesn’t want Michael to marry anyone but her, so she plots a way to break up the wedding. This movie includes a very enthusiastic rendition of “I Say a Little Prayer” that is just begging to be emulated at actual weddings or rehearsal dinners as much as possible.

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The Big Sick

In 2017, comedian Kumail Nanjiani and his wife, writer Emily V. Gordon, brought their real-life story to the screen, via this romantic comedy based on how they really fell in love. The movie stars Nanjiani as himself, and Zoe Kazan plays Emily, who in the film and in real life, fell mysteriously very ill right after she and Kumail called it quits. Emily’s parents, played by Ray Romano and Holly Hunter, fly in to care for their daughter while she is in a coma in the hospital. Meanwhile, Kumail tries to prove that he is the person for Emily, with whom he’s still very much in love.

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Notting Hill

Julia Roberts is a bit of a romance movie master. In this other beloved 1990s rom-com, Roberts plays a famous actress, Anna Scott, who just wants a normal life. In London’s charming neighborhood, Notting Hill, she meets awkward British bookshop owner, Will Thacker (Hugh Grant). Will and Anna fall in love, but their lives prove very different, which is a major roadblock for their quirky relationship.

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10 Things I Hate About You

Based on William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew and set in Seattle in the late 1990s, this movie takes 16th-century comedy to the Pacific Northwest grunge scene. Kat Stratford (Julia Stiles) is a highly intellectual teen who doesn’t have any interest in the irresponsible lifestyles of normal teenagers. She’s nicknamed “the shrew,” but her younger sister, Bianca (Larisa Oleynik), wants to date, go out, and be a normal high schooler. The only problem? Their father won’t let Bianca date unless Kat does. Cameron (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a new student at the school, pays school bad boy Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger) to take out Kat so he can have a shot with Bianca. Nothing could go wrong with a deal like that, right?

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Crazy, Stupid, Love

At the beginning of this movie, Emily Weaver (Julianne Moore) tells her former high school sweetheart and husband, Cal Weaver (Steve Carrell), that she wants a divorce. Then, Cal pulls a full Ladybird and jumps out of the car, signaling how he feels about the whole thing. Enter Jacob (Ryan Gosling), who finds Cal wallowing at a bar and teaches him how to be a suave man of the 21st century. And y’all: that’s only about the first 15 minutes of the film.

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The Last Five Years

Are you in the best years of your relationship to date? Wow, this film is for you. Are you in the worst years of your relationship, or dare I ask, completely out of it? Wow, this film is for you. All that you really need for this film is a love for Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan’s singing voices, as well as a light understanding of the concept of “love.” The rest is the journey of two people who tell the musical story of their relationship. One begins at the beginning and moves forward. One begins at the end and moves back.

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While You Were Sleeping

This is technically a Christmas movie, but it does just fine at Valentine’s Day, too. It’s set in the cold Chicago winter, when transit worker Lucy Moderatz (Sandra Bullock) pulls her crush, Peter (Peter Gallagher) off the train tracks after he falls and hits his head. Peter ends up in a coma, and his whole family is under the impression that he and Lucy are engaged. Knowing that Peter doesn’t even know her name, Lucy decides to go along with it, and while he’s asleep in the hospital, she spends the holidays with Peter’s family. While Peter is sleeping, she also falls in love with Peter’s brother, Jack (Bill Pullman). This sounds like a lot to happen in one movie, but just trust that it’s a good one.

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Moonstruck

This plot is not unlike While You Were Sleeping in that it’s about a woman who falls in love with the brother of the man she’s supposed to be with. Widow Loretta (Cher) accepts a marriage proposal from her boyfriend, Johnny (Danny Aiello), but she falls for his younger brother, Ronny (Nicolas Cage). But this isn’t the only secret romance going on in this family. Cher won an Oscar for this one in 1988, and that was also the year of that famous Bob Mackie dress.

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When Harry Met Sally...

Even the biggest rom-com defector cannot help but fall for Rob Reiner's modern classic. With a script by the great Nora Ephron, and infectious and incredible chemistry between Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan, the film is arguably the greatest romantic comedy in movie history.

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You've Got Mail

Nora Ephron's remake of The Shop Around the Corner for the digital age stars Meg Ryan as a Manhattan bookseller whose business falters when a big-box bookstore run by a devious Tom Hanks moves into the neighborhood. But little do these enemies know, they have fallen in love with each other while communicating anonymously via email.

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Love & Basketball

Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan play childhood sweethearts who simultaneously aspire to become basketball stars. While they fall in love on and off the court, they must balance their ambitions and their emotions in this romantic drama written and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood.

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The Notebook

Based on the bestselling novel by Nicholas Sparks, this romantic tear-jerker stars Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams as two young lovers who are kept apart by their social circles—but still find a way to express their true love (particularly by kissing a lot in the pouring rain).

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Casablanca

The classic drama is one of the greatest romantic movies ever made. Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman star as two former lovers who unexpectedly reunite in Morocco during WWII, and their reunion is disrupted when the woman needs her old flame's help to escape—along with her new husband—to America.

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Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet play two lovers, both distraught over the end of their relationship, who undergo a procedure to erase each other from their memories—which only reignites their passion for each other in this inventive and emotional film from Michel Gondry.

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Crazy Rich Asians

Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) has no idea that her boyfriend Nick (Henry Golding) comes from one of the wealthiest families in Asia. But she's in for a rude awakening when she travels to Singapore to meet them—and butts heads with his impressive and intense mother (Michelle Yeoh).

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Blue Is the Warmest Color

Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos star as two French teenagers who fall in (and out) of love in this hot and intense coming-of-age drama that picked up the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival—and will put you through the emotional ringer.

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Titanic

James Cameron's Oscar-winning masterpiece is one of the great technical feats in the modern Hollywood era, but it also features the compelling love story between a poor artist (Leonardo DiCaprio) and a upper-class debutante (Kate Winslet) who have an affair aboard the infamously doomed RMS Titanic.

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Love Story

Erich Segal's bestselling novel became a Hollywood classic, with Ryan O'Neal playing a young Harvard man who meets—and falls in love with—a working-class Radcliffe student played by Ali MacGraw. Their relationship is tested, in classic weepy fashion, when she's stricken with a terminal illness.

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Brokeback Mountain

Heath Ledger's shy Ennis del Mar falls in what he cannot articulate as love with Jake Gyllenhaal's Jack Twist over a long, lonely winter. Their lives bounce off each other's for years afterward—but their clandestine, undefined romance becomes emotionally tumultuous for both of them.

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To All the Boys I've Loved Before

Lara Jean (Lana Condor) is your typical lovelorn teenage girl who drafts love letters to her former crushes for her eyes only. But when the letters wind up being mailed to the former objects of her affection, her life is turned upside-down—and she finds unexpected romance in this comedy based on Jenny Han's novel.

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The Princess Bride

Rob Reiner's swashbuckling fairy tale send-up, based on William Goldman's novel, tells the tall tale of a farmhand named Wesley, his true love Buttercup, and the many wild and wacky individuals they meet on their long journey to live happily ever after.

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Romeo + Juliet

The seminal love story about a pair of doomed, star-crossed lovers got the Gen-X treatment with Baz Luhrmann's brash and inventive reimagining of William Shakespeare's most famous play. Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes star as the teenage lovebirds, whose feuding families keep them apart—and whose love story meets a tragically romantic end.

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Ghost

This 1990 tearjerker proves that death isn't the end of true love. When Sam (Patrick Swayze) is murdered during a mugging, his soul is trapped on Earth—which is how he discovers that his best friend is behind his death, and is already making moves on his girlfriend, Molly (Demi Moore). Sam soon enlists a psychic (Oscar-winner Whoopi Goldberg) to help him safe Molly from peril.

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Call Me by Your Name

Timothée Chalamet plays the precocious Elio, a teenager living in Italy who becomes infatuated with an older American student, Oliver (Armie Hammer), who is staying with his family for the summer. What begins as a contentious friendship turns into a full-blown love affair as the two young men spend their idle summer days in the lush Mediterranean locale, bracing themselves for an inevitable heartbreak.

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The Wedding Singer

Adam Sandler plays the titular character in this '80s-set rom-com, a beaten-down wedding singer who falls for Drew Barrymore's Julia, a similarly down-on-her-luck waitress who's engaged to a womanizing meathead. As far as dumb Adam Sandler movies go, this one is one of the sharpest.

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Four Weddings and a Funeral

This Best Picture-nominated film is almost the platonic ideal of a British comedy. Charles (Hugh Grant) meets Carrie, a flirty American woman played by Andie MacDowell, who quickly becomes the object of his romantic pursuit over the course of a several weddings (and, yes, a funeral).

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Pretty Woman

The Pygmalion story gets another contemporary twist in this rom-com from Garry Marshall, in which Richard Gere plays a high-powered L.A. businessman who hires a beautiful young escort (Julia Roberts) to be his companion—and, naturally, he falls head over heels in love with her.

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A Star Is Born

The classic Hollywood love story gets yet another modern musical spin, this time with first-time director Bradley Cooper starring as washed-up country singer Jackson Maine, whose life is given a boost when he falls for an aspiring pop singer, Ally (Lady Gaga). But as Ally's star rises and Jackson's falls, their rocky relationship is put to the test.

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