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11 films for Valentine's Day

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The candles are lit, the wine is poured and you're all snuggled up on the sofa with your loved one. There's only one problem: you can't decide what film to watch.

Candle and flowers

 

There's little that can kill the mood more than a row over what to watch. A study in 2016 suggested we spend 18 minutes a day deciding which shows to stream, and that 40% of couples bicker over what to watch. This is absolutely not how you want to spend Valentine's Day.

We've gathered together some of our favourite date-night movies which might help to make that decision a bit easier. Whilst we can't guarantee complete satisfaction, it might help to make Valentine's Day a bit less Netflix and Kill, and a bit more Netflix and Chill.

1. Midnight in Paris, 2011

Midnight in Paris film poster

Traditionalists might opt for the tragic love of The Great Gatsby, but this 2011 film offers an alternative narrative set in the opulence of 1920s France. Gil Pender (Owen Wilson) finds himself travelling back in time, brushing shoulders with Ernest Hemingway, Cole Porter, Gertrude Stein and F Scott Fitzgerald himself. In a tale reminiscent of 90s sitcom Goodnight Sweet Heart, Gil works out what he really wants from life, amidst the romance of Paris - which really is most beautiful in the rain.

2. La-La Land, 2016

La La Land dance sequence

On the off-chance that you haven't see this almost-Oscar-winning-Best-Picture yet, tonight would be a good opportunity. It being a musical puts some people off, but there's something magical about the sweeping romance at its centre, whilst its vibe is more Fred and Ginger than Troy and Gabriella. Ryan Gosling's dancing is, at times, a bit of a distraction, but Emma Stone is a delight. Definitely a feel-good film to celebrate love.

3. Brokeback Mountain, 2005

Brokeback Mountain still

A bit of a change of pace here. This takes the classic forbidden love story and makes it both modern and classic. Cowboys Ennis and Jack embark on a passionate love affair whilst driving sheep one summer, and it changes both of their lives. Despite marriages, children and affairs, the two are unable to ever forget each other or move on. This portrayal of a homosexual relationship in the 1960s makes you really understand how far we've come and how far we have left to go, but the politics never override the raw reality of the relationship at the centre of it.

4. (500) Days of Summer, 2006

So, Summer is awful, but if you already know that, you'll find this film much more palatable. A wry look at the reality of being smitten with the elfin kooky girl in the office, this feels fresh and indie even now, nine years after it was released. The non-linear structure gives it a USP in the over-saturated rom-com market, but is still easy to follow. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanal are worth watching in anything, so give this one a chance.

5. About Time, 2013

Given that this film is about a man whose family harbours a secret male-only gene which enables him to travel back through his own timeline whenever he wishes, the most surprising thing about About Time is how delightfully ordinary it feels. Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) bumbles his way to a relationship with Mary (Rachel McAdams) and their life together is a treat to watch. They argue over childcare, hold hands at funerals - it even rains on their wedding day. And then there's the devastating twist to the story which should make you hold your SO even closer and remind yourself how good it feels to have a partner-in-crime.

6. Before Sunrise, 1995

Probably the most intellectual offering on our list, this is one to watch if you haven't drunk too much of that wine - or maybe, if you have, and you've moved into the philosophising stage of the evening. Follow Ethan Hawke and Julie Delphy as they find themselves together for just one night in Vienna. With nowhere in particular to go, they walk and talk about life, love and everything in between until the early hours. If you're expecting action and adventure, this is not the film for you. But if you want something a bit more thoughtful and slow, give this one a try.

7. Silver Linings Playbook, 2012

Silver Linings Playbook poster

This film is all about the fact that nobody is perfect. Bradley Cooper's character is freshly discharged from a psychiatric hospital. Jennifer Lawrence's is trying to get over her husband's death. Robert deNiro's is far too obsessed with baseball. But this isn't a self-help kind of film. It's actually very funny and uplifting, with the kind of cute understated romance which cuts through the standard saccharine Valentine's fare. You'll also potentially learn a lot about American football, which makes this both fun and educational: win-win.

8. Love, Actually, 2003

Love, Actually still

People call this a Christmas film, but to us, this is perfect all year round. Love, after all, is for life, not just for the festive season, and you can never see Hugh Grant's dancing or Colin Firth's roll-necks too often. The plethora of storylines means that there's at least one each of you can root for, and you've probably seen it so many times that you don't have to fully concentrate, which has to be a bonus on Valentine's Day.

9. The Aristocats, 1970

Disney films are a winner every time, and theres a film to suit everybody. Lady and the Tramp is often cited as the most romantic one, largely due to the spaghetti and meatballs scene. But our choice is the lesser-known feline equivalent, for several reasons. Like Tramp, Thomas O'Malley is a cat with a past and a home very much on the wrong-side of the tracks. Like Lady, Duchess is a damsel in distress who finds herself very far away from home. The beauty of this film, though, is the music. By the time you finish this, both of you really will want to be cats!

10. Definitely, Maybe, 2008

A sort of cross between a romance and a detective film, this is all about working out who Maya's mother is. In a great twist on the who's-the-daddy plot, divorcee Will Hayes tells his daughter the story of his love-life to date, introducing her to the women he has loved and lost so she can understand how they got to this place. This is packed with box-office favourites such as Ryan Reynolds, Isla Fisher, Rachel Weisz and Elizabeth Banks. The unusual narrative-style makes this a cut-above many rom-coms, and Abigail Breslin delivers ten-year-old Maya's lines with such sass and humour that you'll definitely find something to laugh at. Definitely, not maybe.

11. Begin Again, 2013

A criminally-underrated film, this stars Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo. Alongside Adam Levine, Knightley sings several songs in the film which tells the story of Gretta, a struggling singer-songwriter, and her interactions with Dan, a music producer. Although the major romance in the film is over by the time it starts, with Gretta having broken up with Levine's character Dave, there is a delightful kindness to this which explores the true meaning of music.

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