By Simon Miraudo
February 12, 2014
Valentine’s Day is coming, and with it, the annual amount of punishing pressure, nervous anticipation, and flop sweat. “It’s too hard! What do I buy? Where do we go?” Look, I sympathise, which is why I’ve gone ahead and selected twenty safe movies (all sub-categorised) to help the decision-making process easier. “But Simon,” you’re wondering, “you’re suggesting we spend Valentine’s night at home with our long-term spouse/recent datee/prospective partner! That could seem lazy/presumptive/wildly inappropriate!” Well, to that I say: No, no, and only maybe.
Should you decide correctly from these twenty features, you may be able to prove just how well you know your significant other and impress them with your mad movie-choosing skills (that last thing is essential in all serious relationships; I cannot stress this enough). So, if they love to laugh, opt for one of the comedies. If they’re a softy, try out a tear-jerker. If they’re not really into this whole Valentine’s Day scam, a sceptic selection should work best. I’ve even set aside five for those who are a little left-of-center. As Tracy Morgan once cautioned the world, “Freaky-deakies need love too.” NB: If you watch the title-appropriate yet quality-absent Valentine’s Day over any of these 20, I truly cannot help you.
The 40-Year-Old Virgin: The, erm, uninitiated Steve Carell receives a romantic education from Catherine Keener (and a scarily sexual one from Elizabeth Banks). Judd Apatow’s directorial debut remains his best, sweetest, and, of course, dirtiest.
Groundhog Day: Bill Murray is inexplicably forced to relive the same terrible day over and over again until he stops trying to kill himself, becomes a better man, and successfully woos Andie MacDowell. Much like Murray, this picture only gets better with time.
Much Ado About Nothing: Joss Whedon, on break from editing The Avengers, invited his buddies over for this black-and-white, wine-soaked restaging of Shakespeare’s spunky play. They get it just right.
Some Like It Hot: Tough to top this Billy Wilder favourite. Tony Curtis poses as a female jazz musician to hide from the mob, and falls for the “jell-o on springs” singer Marilyn Monroe. An in-disguise Jack Lemmon also scores a suitor in Joe E. Brown, and the two of them share one of the best-ever final scenes.
The Wedding Singer: Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, drowning in 80s references (and haircuts), make for an appealing duo in this cute flick. Best of all is Steve Buscemi, who steals the show as history’s worst Best Man.
The Bodyguard: “Aaand I……” Yep, the tears are coming already.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Legendary warriors (played by Chow Yun-Fat and Michelle Yeoh) who’ve long stifled their feelings for one another reunite in this martial-arts spectacular.
Laurence Anyways: A nearly three hour opus detailing one man’s efforts to be recognised as a lady. Laurence is a transgender woman living a lie in her masculine body, and her girlfriend, Fred, tries to come to terms with their newly transformed relationship.
The Red Shoes: The best movie ever? Personally, I’d say it’s between this and Die Hard. And in a similar way that I refuse to choose between them, this Powell and Pressburger flick concerns a talented ballerina who must choose between her craft and her love.
West Side Story: Another Shakespeare adaptation, except this one transplants the tale of Romeo and Juliet to New York, where gang rivalries rule (and dance is king). Yeah, you can guess how this one ends.
Amour: An octogenarian couple must deal with the aftermath of one partner’s debilitating stroke in Michael Haneke’s challenging, devastating Oscar winner.
Annie Hall: Woody Allen’s masterpiece details the eternally-in-flux relationship between nervy, neurotic TV writer (played by him, obviously) and the flighty lounge singer Annie Hall (Diane Keaton). Though, true sceptics may not be super in the mood for Woody Allen these days…
Before Sunrise/Before Sunset/Before Midnight: Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke star in Richard Linklater’s epic trilogy, playing star-crossed lovers over 18 tumultuous years. They also co-wrote the last two flicks, earning Oscar nominations for their troubles. Maybe the finest trilogy of all time?
Blue Valentine: Don’t be fooled by the title. In this, Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling show the dissolution of a married couple in super-intense-and-invasive slow motion.
Celeste and Jesse Forever: Another divorce, though this one is funnier, and features Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg as a separated couple who still hang out all the time.
Blue Velvet: David Lynch throws some psycho-sexual obstacles in the way of the budding romance between muses Kyle MacLachlan and Laura Dern: a severed ear, a femme fatale (Isabella Rossellini), and a gas-huffing deviant (Dennis Hopper). Love is weird.
Eyes Wide Shut: Back when they were married, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman got emotionally and literally naked for Stanley Kubrick. She tells her husband about her sexual fantasy, and he falls into an erotic pit of despair, at the bottom of which lies a masquerade orgy. As mentioned above, love is weird.
Out of Sight: Bank-robber George Clooney breaks out of jail and kidnaps the U.S. Marshal on his tail, Jennifer Lopez. That’s great news for us, who get to see the two of them share a particularly saucy car-trunk ride where they grind up against one another, talk about their favourite films, and … ooh (*fans self*) other stuff.
Tabloid: Errol Morris’ unbelievable documentary all about the exploits of a former beauty pageant contestant who either kidnapped her Mormon boyfriend and tortured him for a week or simply ran away with him for a sexcapade. She claims its the former. She is not a reliable source.
Upstream Color: A man and woman are inexplicably drawn to one another following their respective, traumatic abductions by experimental scientists. Shane Carruth’s brain-melter is not for everyone, but hey, if you’re a fan (like me), hopefully you’ll find a special someone who feels the same.