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Ah, the scent of roses, the gleam of an engagement ring, the sounds of ardor declared from the lips of men and women all across the globe! It’s almost here! Valentine’s—that red-tinted, chocolate-covered, warm-fuzzy Day of Love! And, what better way to get smitten than to take part in the tradition of watching movies for Valentine’s Day?
A poet once wrote:
Loving is not just looking at each other, it’s looking in the same direction.”Antoine De Saint-Exupéry
I don’t know about you, ladies, but that sounds a lot like a Valentine’s Day movie date night! So, snuggle up with the one you love and set your gaze upon the whimsical and the amorous. I present to you my list of the best romantic movies!”
Movies for Valentine’s Day
Since the dawning of the age of cinema, nearly every film has an element of romance or, at the very least, intimate entanglements. There are plenty of movies that people claim are about love, when, in reality, they’re really quite tragic or the characters treat love like something casual and replaceable. I’m a big fan of romantic comedies, for example, but it’s a real treat when you encounter a romantic film that has the very grit of humanity intertwined all throughout the story. It just isn’t enough that the woman is “hot” and “independent,” and the man is “rich” and “driven,” and they “hated each other at first” and then “fell madly in love” because they realized how “sexy” the other is. Boring. Empty. Overplayed.
What I look for in a romantic film is believable characters with believable feelings and believable personalities. I want to see not just attraction between them, but substance. In this list of my top romantic movies, there’s going to be a little bit of everything, but my hope is that I’m sharing with you movies for Valentine’s Day that not only honor the holiday, but also reveal a small glimpse into the very marrow of authentic love.
Top Romantic Movies for Valentine’s Day (in alphabetical order)
1. About Time
(Image copyright of Universal Studios.)
“After turning 21, Tim has a discussion with his father and learns that he has the ability to travel through time to any point in his own life. He spends a summer learning to use his gift and fails to win his summer crush, a pretty blonde houseguest. One night, however, he meets Mary and falls in love. Unfortunately, he learns that by changing other events that happened that night, he hasn’t actually met her yet.” (Movie synopsis for About Time provided by Jeffrey M. Anderson from Common Sense Media.)
Where can you watch About Time?
(Image copyright of Miramax studios.)
“Amélie grows up the lonely child of parents who do not know how to show their love for her. She becomes a thoughtful, quiet, observant girl who decides to change the lives of those around her, opening hearts to the adventure that is waiting for them, taking revenge on a cruel grocer, bringing together a couple who are afraid to show their longing for each other, and bringing the outside world to a reclusive painter and to her own father. But will she do for herself what she has done for others?” Will she also find love? (Movie synopsis for Amélie provided by review by Nell Minow from Common Sense Media.)
Where can you watch Amélie?
3. Bright Star
(Image copyright of Apparition Films.)
True story alert!
“Opposites attract in Bright Star, the affecting portrait of the enduring love that develops between 19th-century Romantic poet John Keats, and his Hampstead neighbor, Fanny Brawne. Keats, then 23, was a struggling writer, while 18-year-old Fanny was a fashionable flirt with a gift for sewing and no interest in the art of words. But you can’t choose who you fall in love with.” (Movie synopsis for Bright Star provided by S. Jhoanna Robledo from Common Sense Media.)
Where can you watch Bright Star?
4. Dan in Real Life
(Image copyright of Buena Vista.)
“Four years after his beloved wife’s death, newspaper columnist Dan is devoted to their three daughters, but the teen girls are quickly moving out of his control. Cara is in love for the first time and lies to her father about it, sneaking off to smooch her new fella. Parent-ified Jane is 17 and ready to drive, and Lilly is sick of being coddled. As Dan’s father aptly remarks when Dan says his children hate him, ‘You must be doing something right.’ After arriving at his parents’ home for a mythically happy family reunion, Dan meets and falls for Marie. The problem? She’s already spoken for—by his brother!” (Movie synopsis for Dan in Real Life provided by Heather Boerner of Common Sense Media.)
Where can you watch Dan in Real Life?
5. The Family Man
(Image copyright of Universal Pictures.)
“Wall Street playboy, Jack Campbell is at the top of his professional game with little time for anything else. Jack’s lavish, fast-paced lifestyle drastically changes one snowy Christmas night when he unwittingly stumbles into the middle of a grocery store holdup and in a bold display of self-preservation disarms the gunman. The next morning he wakes up in a suburban New Jersey bedroom lying next to Kate, his college sweetheart who he left in order to pursue his career, and to the horrifying discovery that his former life no longer exists. As he stumbles through this alternate suburban universe, Jack begins to feel strangely comfortable in this new role of loving husband and father to two children. Jack finds himself at a crossroad, where he must choose between his high-powered career and the woman he loves.” (Movie synopsis for The Family Man provided by Rotten Tomatoes.)
Where can you watch The Family Man?
6. Far from the Madding Crowd
(Image copyright of 20th Century Fox.)
“Based on the literary classic by Thomas Hardy, Far From The Madding Crowd is the story of independent, beautiful and headstrong Bathsheba Everdene, who attracts three very different suitors: Gabriel Oak, a sheep farmer, captivated by her fetching willfulness; Frank Troy, a handsome and reckless Sergeant; and William Boldwood, a prosperous and mature bachelor. This timeless story of Bathsheba’s choices and passions explores the nature of relationships and love – as well as the human ability to overcome hardships through resilience and perseverance.” (Movie synopsis for Far From the Madding Crowd provided by Rotten Tomatoes.)
Where can you watch Far from the Madding Crowd?
(Image copyright of Warner Bros. Pictures.)
“When second-graders Bryce and Juli first meet, Juli knows it’s love. Bryce isn’t so sure. Beginning that day, and for the next six years, young Bryce (Callan McAuliffe) does everything he can to keep his outspoken wannabe girlfriend at arm’s length…which isn’t easy since they go to the same school and live across the street from each other.” (Movie synopsis for Flipped provided by Rotten Tomatoes.)
Where can you watch Flipped?
8. French Kiss
(Image copyright of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.)
“What a terrible blow neurotic Kate has been dealt! Her beloved Canadian fiancée Charlie has jetted off to Paris and fallen madly in love with a French woman. Determined to talk some sense into him, she follows suit, but the trip takes a bumpy turn after she meets Luc, a boorish French con man who ropes her into his mess by planting contraband on her. Can he undo the damage before they’re caught and, more importantly, will Kate win Charlie back?” (Movie synopsis for French Kiss provided by S. Jhoanna Robledo from Common Sense Media.)
Where can you watch French Kiss? Go to your local video store, Wal-Mart, eBay, or buy a copy on Amazon. It shouldn’t be more than $5–$7 and it’s truly one of the best Valentine’s Day movies, so it’s well-worth the purchase! Otherwise, this amazing gem of a film is not digitally-available anywhere!
9. Labor Day
(Image copyright of Paramount Pictures.)
Meet downhearted single mother Adele and her growing-up-too-fast son Henry. Their lackluster life suddenly becomes a whirlwind of second chances when they encounter a wounded and fierce man in need of some help. Don’t miss this surprising love story.
Where can you watch Labor Day?
10. Leap Year
(Image copyright of Universal Pictures and Spyglass.)
“When her longtime boyfriend, Jeremy, fails to propose before flying off to a medical conference in Dublin, Anna decides to take matters into her own hands. Leap Day (the 29th of February) is imminent, and the Irish apparently have a custom in which women can ask their boyfriends for their hand in marriage on that particular day. But a storm undoes her best-laid plans, and a detour lands her in beautiful but far-off Dingle. She hopes to get to the city in time by enlisting a broody local named Declan as her guide,” but she soon discovers that this handsome cynic just might be another wrench thrown into her plans. (Movie synopsis for Leap Year provided by S. Jhoanna Robledo from Common Sense Media.)
Where can you watch Leap Year?
11. The Mirror Has Two Faces
(Image copyright of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.)
A man whose weakness is women. A woman who’s never thought much of herself. A marriage for the purpose of sexless companionship. What could go wrong?
Where can you watch The Mirror Has Two Faces?
12. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
(Image copyright of Focus Features.)
“Guinevere Pettigrew is no Mary Poppins, which may explain why she keeps losing one governess job after another. And when her agency won’t give her any more work, she’s left penniless and homeless. Luckily, she manages to finagle her way into a job as a social secretary for Delysia Lafosse, a kind-hearted but fiercely ambitious starlet who needs all the help she can get to keep her engagements—professional and personal (she’s juggling three beaus)—in check. In just 24 hours, Miss Pettigrew does, indeed, make a difference in Delysia’s life. And, much to her surprise,” Delysia introduces her to a life she never could have imagined for herself. (Movie synopsis for Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day provided by S. Jhoanna Robledo from Common Sense Media.)
Where can you watch Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day?
13. Mostly Martha
(Image copyright of Paramount Classics.)
Martha is a brilliant chef who relates better to food than to people. So obsessed is she with food that her entire life revolves around it and she doesn’t even have anything else to talk about with her therapist. When a sudden tragedy changes Martha’s life forever, she finds herself playing the foreign role of mother to her recently orphaned niece. As the two struggle to come to terms with their grief and get to know one another, Martha is also having to tolerate a new chef at her restaurant—one whose zest for life just might rub off on her. If you can handle the subtitles, this is definitely one of the best romantic movies you’ve yet to see!
Where can you watch Mostly Martha?
(Image copyright of Fox Searchlight.)
Two soulmates meet on the streets of Dublin. One—Glen Hansard—is a street musician who plays Van Morrison by day but, at night, he shares his own compositions with great passion. The other—an impoverished but well-accomplished pianist—is a Czech immigrant who sells flowers and cleans houses to make ends meet. Theirs is a story of the combined transformative power of love and music.
Where can you watch Once?
(Image copyright of Summit Entertainment.)
Penelope Wilhern is cursed. Born to wealthy socialites, she’s afflicted by a “pig nose”—the secret family curse that can only be broken when she is loved by “one of her own kind.” To protect the family name (as well as Penelope’s feelings), she is hidden away in the family’s mansion and subjected to a barrage of blue-blood suitors who are not yet permitted to see her face. Each suitor is instantly enamored with her (and her sizable dowry). That is, until her secret is revealed. Will Penelope ever find a love that can break the curse?
Where can you watch Penelope?
16. Pride & Prejudice
(Image copyright of Focus Features.)
“The Bennets are the parents of five daughters near the close of the 18th century. Comfortable within their means but well short of rich, Mr. and Mrs. Bennet are looking for suitable husbands for their girls, and they are encouraged to learn that an eligible young bachelor from a wealthy family, Charles Bingley, has moved into a nearby estate. Eager to see if a match can be made, the Bennets bring their daughters Elizabeth and Jane to a ball thrown by their new neighbor to see if sparks will fly. Jane seems to like Charles, and he appears to feel the same, but Elizabeth takes an immediate dislike to Darcy, Charles’ egocentric best friend. While Elizabeth is infatuated with military man Lt. Wickham and finds herself courted by William Collins, a well-meaning but drab man of the cloth, fate causes Elizabeth and Darcy to frequently cross paths, and while they don’t care for one another, they can’t stop thinking about each other, either.” (Movie synopsis for Pride and Prejudice provided by Rotten Tomatoes.) This very-well could be the most prized of the top romantic movies of all time.
Where can you watch Pride and Prejudice?
17. The Quiet Man
(Image copyright of Republic Pictures.)
“Tall American Sean Thornton arrives in Innisfree, Ireland, where he was born, to buy back his family home and settle there. Over the objections of “Squire” Will Danaher, a huge fiery man, Sean buys the cottage, called White O’Morning, from the wealthy Widow Tillane. Sean sees Will’s sister, Mary Kate Danaher out in a field and is immediately struck by her. He approaches her as he would an American girl, but customs are different in Ireland and if he wants to court Mary Kate, he must do it according to the rules and with the permission from her brother. Thus begins Sean’s troublesome courtship of Mary, in which her pride—and her dowry—come into play.” (Movie synopsis for The Quiet Man provided by Nell minnow from Common Sense Media.)
Where can you watch The Quiet Man?
(Image copyright of Paramount.)
A chauffeur’s daughter named Sabrina has grown up above the garage at the Larrabee estate, worshiping the family’s youngest son David from afar. Worried for her, her father sends her to Paris where she transforms into a confident and beautiful swan. Upon returning, she nearly has her chance with David when his brother Linus intervenes. Linus sees Sabrina as a threat to the family business and he intends to send her packing. This is one of the best movies for Valentine’s Day and I highly suggest it!
Where can you watch Sabrina?
19. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
(Image copyright of Focus Features.)
“A few weeks before the end of the world, Dodge finds himself alone; his wife has abruptly left him. Drifting through his final days, Dodge runs into a neighbor, Penny, whom he has never spoken to before. A lost letter ties their fate together, and they hit the road, Dodge intent on finding his first love and Penny hoping to locate a private plane to get back to her parents in England. While on the road, they encounter all kinds of different people, each choosing to spend the world’s final days in his or her own way. Also along the way, Dodge and Penny begin to discover that what’s most important may actually be right in front of them.” (Movie synopsis for Seeking a Friend for the End of the World provided by Jeffrey M. Anderson from Common Sense Media.)
Where can you watch Seeking a Friend for the End of the World?
(Image copyright of Miramax Films.)
“On a bustling shopping day in the winter of 1990, Jonathon Trager meets Sara Thomas. Two strangers amid the masses in NYC, their paths collide in the mad holiday rush as they fall victim to a mutual attraction. Despite the fact that each is involved in another relationship, Jonathon and Sara spend the evening wandering Manhattan. But when the night reaches it’s inevitable end, the two are forced into determining some kind of next step. When the smitten Jonathon suggests an exchange of phone numbers, Sara balks and proposes an idea that will allow fate to take control of their future. If they are meant to be together, she tells him, they will find their way back into one another’s life.” (Movie synopsis for Serendipity provided by Rotten Tomatoes.)
Where can you watch Serendipity?
21. Sleeping with Other People
(Image copyright of IFC Films.)
“Jake and Lainey have each destroyed every relationship they’ve ever had because they have trouble with monogamy—he sleeps with just about anyone, while she’s been having an affair for years with an affianced doctor. When the two meet (at a meeting for sex addicts), it’s clear they’re attracted to each other, but they decide not to fall into bed so they can instead try to form a healthy platonic friendship. Soon they become best friends, even while sleeping with other people. It’s clear their attraction is still growing, but it’s less clear whether they’ll ever act on those feelings. Or if they should.” (Movie synopsis for Sleeping with Other People provided by S. Jhoanna Robledo from Common Sense Media.)
Where can you watch Sleeping with Other People?
(Image copyright of Paramount Pictures.)
Tristran is a good-natured lad raised by his father who has kept his origins a secret. Their sleepy little village is on the England-side of a wall that mysteriously divides humanity from a magical kingdom called Faerie—a place only Tristran’s father and the guard at the wall know about. One evening, while trying to convince a local beauty of his undying love for her, Tristran promises to retrieve a fallen star they both witnessed in the night sky. The self-important beauty agrees to marry him if he good with his promise. So, Tristran makes the arduous journey, only to discover that his beloved’s prized star is a beautiful and enchanting woman. If you’re in the mood for some magic, romance, and humor, this is truly one of the top romantic movies you could pick for Valentine’s Day!
Where can you watch Stardust?
23. The Truth About Cats & Dogs
(Image copyright of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.)
An oldie, but a goody. This is one the best romantic movies. If you’ve ever read or watched Cyrano de Bergerac, then you’re going to love this gender-reversed version. When radio pet-talk host and veterinarian, Abby, takes a call from dog owner Brian, she instantly connects to him. Brian is equally intrigued. When he asks what she looks like (with the intention of meeting her in person) Abby lies about her appearance because she is too self-conscious. Instead of describing herself, she describes her rail-thin, gorgeous neighbor, Noelle. When Ben and Abby decide to meet, Abby miraculously convinces Noelle to stand in for her. Brian’s a little confused by the woman who claims to be “Abby” because she doesn’t seem to have the same personality as she did over the phone. Still, he’s enamored with her looks and willing to ignore her sudden change in personality. Things get even more complicated when Noelle—err “Abby”—finds herself attracted to Brian, too. What’s worse, the real Abby is stuck in the middle and falls even harder for Brian. What a mess!
Where can you watch The Truth About Cats & Dogs?
(Image copyright of Echo Films.)
“Hannah writes for the local paper in her small New England town. But her biggest job, it seems, is being the keeper of the flame for her late husband, a gifted composer whose life was cut short just at the moment when his genius was starting to be recognized. Enter Andrew McDonnell, a college professor writing a book that includes information on Hannah’s husband. He’s seeking to prove himself as an academic, but Hannah isn’t sold on his vision. Instead, she hires him to help her write a biography of her husband — but doing so might require confronting some hard truths for both her and Andrew.” (Movie synopsis for Tumbledown provided by S. Jhoanna Robledo from Common Sense Media.)
Where can you watch Tumbledown?
25. Two Weeks Notice
(Image copyright of Warner Bros.)
Lucy’s a woman of conviction. She cares deeply for her hometown and wants to help it keep its charm, which is why she frequently protests the greedy construction of eye-sore businesses. By pure dumb luck (and the help of her extensive résumé), she lands a job with a man she once considered the enemy. The pay and the opportunities to make a difference in her city are hard to pass up, but there is just one significant drawback. The man who hired her—George Wade—is the eccentric and remarkably self-centered head of the firm. He is almost entirely incapable of making a decision without her advice, whether it involves legal matters or which tie he should wear. Lucy’s had enough of being at his beck and call. In a moment of anger, she turns in her two weeks notice to the reluctance of George. But, as her last two weeks come to a close, Lucy begins to see George in a new light.
Where can you watch Two Weeks Notice?
26. Under the Greenwood Tree
(Image copyright of PBS/Masterpiece Theatre.)
“Fancy Day is a woman of striking beauty who comes from a wealthy family background. Dick Dewey is an honest working man who longs to win the heart of the lovely newcomer. Though his sincere efforts to win Fancy over are received with encouraging grace by the kind-hearted schoolteacher, Dick soon finds that he’s not the only man in town attempting to win her hand in marriage.” (Movie synopsis for Under the Greenwood Tree provided by Jason Buchanan of Rovi on Rotten Tomatoes.)
Where can you watch Under the Greenwood Tree?
27. The Vow
(Image copyright of Sony Pictures.)
True story alert!
“Paige and Leo lead an enchanted life, falling in love beautifully and quickly. But in a literal and figurative ‘moment of impact,’ as Leo describes it, their world shifts. A truck rear-ends them, sending Paige through the front window, the glass breaking into bits, taking her memories of Leo with them. When she awakes from a coma, Paige no longer can remember being married. In fact, she has forgotten years before they even met, he’s a total stranger to her, and she’s not sure she can fall in love with him again. What happens to them now?” (Movie synopsis for The Vow provided by S. Jhoanna Robledo from Common Sense Media.)
Where can you watch The Vow?
28. When Harry Met Sally
(Image copyright of Columbia Pictures.)
Harry and Sally meet for the first time while sharing a ride from Chicago to New York City. Sally is an uptight but optimistic and intelligent woman, while Harry is a thought-provoking, yet sex-crazed chauvinist. Once in New York City, they part ways for several years, only to randomly meet again at an airport, part ways again, and then meet once more many years after that encounter in a bookstore. Over a period of 10 years, they bicker, become best friends, and eventually make a mess of things. Has Harry’s prediction come true or can a man and a woman be friends without sex getting in the way?
29. While You Were Sleeping
(Image copyright of Buena Vista Pictures.)
Lucy is a lonely Chicago El train token collector who has a crush on a strikingly handsome and obviously rich man who takes the train every day but doesn’t even take notice of her. On the day before Christmas, he finally speaks to her, wishing her a Merry Christmas, as he pays his token. This shocks Lucy and she watches him through her collection window. Suddenly, she sees him being mugged and pushed onto the tracks where he is knocked unconscious. Without hesitation, she jumps on the tracks and rescues him. She goes with him to the hospital, where a series of complex misunderstandings occur and she is mistaken for his fiancée. Soon, Lucy finds herself too caught up in the affectionate madness of his dysfunctional, but endearing, family to tell the truth. This is quite possibly one of the best romantic movies of all time—or at least the ‘90s!
Where can you watch While You Were Sleeping?
30. You’ve Got Mail
(Image copyright of Warner Bros. Pictures.)
I’ve saved one of the best movies for Valentine’s Day for last. This film is loosely adapted from a very old classic called The Shop Around the Corner, which I highly suggest you find and watch also.
Joe Fox is opening a brand-name bookstore branch on the Upper West Side, a neighborhood accustomed to its small, privately-owned shops. Little does he know that the woman he’s been chatting with online is Kathleen Kelly, the famous proprietor of a small children’s bookstore that will likely be decimated once his mega-store opens its doors. When he discovers the identity of his beloved pen pal, he is faced with the dilemma of wooing a woman who thinks he’s the enemy. Can love triumph in spite of commerce?
Where can you watch You’ve Got Mail?
In the off-chance that these weren’t your cup of tea movies for Valentine’s Day, try the following links:
When I was putting this list together, I wanted to be sure I avoided the more obvious choices, such as The Notebook or Love, Actually. I was hoping to share some of the best movies for Valentine’s Day that generally fly over everyone’s radar, but I also wanted to include some of the classics. Which movies would you rate “best” from this list? And, do you think there is a romantic movie I should have added? I’d love to receive your feedback!
Check out other Valentine’s Day posts at Inspired Housewife:
What are your favorite movies for Valentine’s Day? If you’ve found a new favorite among my own, please let me know in the comments below and don’t forget to share this post with your friends and family.