The most romantic day of the year calls for the most romantic films of all time, so naturally, we’ve put together a list of dramas and romcoms that are perfect for Valentine’s Day.

There are new releases from last year to 90s favourites and Hollywood classics, so whether you’re desperate to find something to watch with your SO or just want to indulge in some warm and fuzzy fun, there’s plenty to pick from.  Here’s what to watch tonight (or anytime you fancy a cheesy flick moment).

Past Lives

Beginning our list is Past Lives, which was released last year and quickly became one of the most critically praised films of 2023. Celine Song directs this semi-autobiographical film, that focuses on the friendship between two friends who’ve not seen each other since childhood.

Greta Lee plays Nora Moon, a woman living in New York City having moved there from South Korea, who has lost contact with her old friend Hae Sung but discovers him on Facebook. She reaches out to him to reconnect, with Hae Sung having finished his military service back in Korea and both start chatting over long-distance video calls. Eventually, he travels to New York to meet her, with Nora now married and the two enjoy their company but both have a melancholy nostalgia for their old life together and what could have been. It’s been nominated for Best Picture and makes for an emotional, heart-pulling watch this Valentine’s.

Available on: Amazon Prime

Amélie

Amelie

French is the language of love, and Paris is the city of romance, so what better for Valentine’s Day than the most French film in existence, Amélie? Audrey Tautou stars as the titular waitress in this whimsical romantic comedy, which depicts an almost fantastical version of Parisian life. She decides to help other people in her world find happiness and orchestrates their lives to spread joy. She eventually finds herself on a journey to her own love and fulfilment. It’s a charming feel-good film, that scored several Oscar nominations upon release. 23 years after it came out, it’s lost none of its appeal.

Available on: Amazon Prime

Notting Hill

Notting Hill

In the 1990s, Julia Roberts was the undisputed queen of romcoms: if she was attached, it was pretty much guaranteed to be a sure-fire hit. One of the best-loved and most enduring these is Notting Hill, and it’s probably her most popular film here in the UK- ‘cos it’s set in Britain.

It tells the story of a London bookseller, played by Hugh Grant at his most Hugh Grant-esque period, and a famous American actress (Roberts), who happens to walk into his shop. The pair, as you might guess, start a romance. It may be pretty fantastical and twee, but it’s popular for a reason: it’s very charming, and it’s pure romcom fun.

Available on: Netflix

Maestro

Maestro

One of the newest films on this list, Maestro is first and foremost a biopic, but romance and the relationship between its two main characters is crucial to the plot. Bradley Cooper (who spent six years learning to conduct) plays Leonard Bernstein, one of the most popular conductors and composers of the 20th century. The film takes a look at his life from the early beginnings of his career in the 1940s and continues through the decades as his fame grows and secures his place in history as a musical genius.

Opposite him is Carey Mulligan, playing Bernstein’s wife Felicia Montealegre- and while most musical biopics are all about artists and their greatest performances, Maestro at its core is about the trials and tribulations between a husband and wife, and the lead performances truly are winners. In addition to being nominated for Best Picture this year, Cooper and Mulligan are both vying for acting awards.

Watch it on: Netflix

When Harry Met Sally…

When Harry Met Sally

Another brilliant rom-com, this perennially popular film of the late 80s stars Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan in the title roles, and tries to deal with the age-old question of “Can men and women ever just be friends?”

Directed by Rob Reiner, When Harry Met Sally… follows the two leads across 12 years of chance encounters, and it’s the relationship and interplay between the two that makes it great. It’s a great rom-com story, and of course, there’s the famous “I’ll have what’s she having” scene at a diner, which has become an iconic comedy scene. A contender for the best romcom of all time? We definitely think so.

Available on: Amazon Prime

Casablanca

Casablanca

Perhaps the definition of a classic: Casablanca is one of the most influential and imitated Hollywood movies ever made, and also a great romance to sink into, no matter how many decades pass.

Made and set during WWII, it stars Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in a story about an American expatriate who must choose between love and helping a resistance leader escape the city of Casablanca to fight the Nazis. With its iconic lines and characters, it’s one of the best films of all time and tells a great romantic story. It’s one of those films that everyone says you have to watch at least once- and you should!

Available on: Amazon Prime, Apple TV

Brief Encounter

Brief Encounter

You could make Brief Encounter a back-to-back with Casablanca if you love old-fashioned romances. It’s one that also stands the test of time with its enchanting story. Set during the war, it centres on an intense and passionate affair between Laura, a married mother, and Alec, also married and a total stranger to her. The two meet by chance on a platform at a railway station and begin to fall for each other, despite their married lives. It received three nominations at the Oscars and is directed by David Lean, known for epics like Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago, with a script from legendary playwright Noël Coward.

Available on: Amazon Prime

A Star Is Born

A star is born

Another Bradley Cooper addition to our list, A Star Is Born became a hit when it was released back in 2018, mostly for its soundtrack and for helping to launch Lady Gaga’s acting career. Nominated for a plethora of Oscars and Grammy awards (particularly for the song Shallow), the film tells the story of a musician, Jack, (Cooper) struggling with alcoholism and other demons, who hides them with his fame as a country singer. Enter Ally (Gaga), who arrives into his life when he spots her performing a tribute song and quickly becomes entranced with her.

Ally works as a waitress, with aspirations of becoming a full-time songwriter and performer, and the smitten Jack encourages her to follow her dreams with his help. It’s perfect Valentine’s fare, with a much-lauded supporting turn from Sam Elliot as Jack’s manager Bobby alongside Andrew Dice Clay, Dave Chapelle, and Anthony Ramos.

Available on: Apple TV, Amazon Prime or Player

Pretty Woman

Pretty Woman

Before the previously mentioned Notting Hill, Erin Brockovich, Ocean’s Eleven, and Eat Pray Love, Julia Roberts first shot to fame with 1990’s Pretty Woman. The film pairs her with leading man Richard Gere and tells the story of a Hollywood prostitute who becomes the escort for a rich businessman and begins to develop a relationship with him. It became a smash hit and a rom-com classic, kickstarting not only Robert’s career but also the 90s rom-com genre. With the current West End musical version currently performing, there’s no better time to revisit it- if nothing else, it’ll have you humming along to Roy Orbison for days.

Available on: Amazon Prime, Disney+

Call Me By Your Name

Call me by your name

Another career-making romantic movie, Call Me By Your Name made Timothée Chalamet a household name and one of the most sought-after actors in Hollywood. Directed by Italian director Luca Guadagnino, the story of 17-year-old Elio and 24-year-old Oliver in 1980s Italy was lauded by critics and scored several Oscar nominations. Its performances were widely praised, particularly Chalamet’s, and its central gay love story was seen as a new stepping stone for LGBTQ representation. Its often melancholy portrayal of first love and the heartbreak it can bring will stay with you long after the credits roll.

Watch on: Netflix, Amazon Prime

Bridget Jones’s Diary

Bridget Jones's Diary

As the years pass, trends come and go, but it seems Bridget Joness Diary will always remain fashionable. Based on the 1996 novel of the same name, the film brought together an all-out super team of the best British talents in Colin Firth, Hugh Grant, and Richard Curtis, and combined them with Jerry Maguire star Renée Zellweger to create the iconic story of a binge-drinking thirty-something who keeps a diary about her often difficult love life.

The Christmas jumpers, the quotes, the (at times literal) fight between Mark and Daniel for Bridget’s affection- it all makes Bridget Jones one of those relatable yet still a bit fantastical rom-com that you watch so many times you can recite it backwards. Two sequels followed in the years after (with a fourth likely on its way!), but the original Bridget Jones remains the best.

Watch on: Netflix, Amazon Prime

Queen & Slim

Queen and Slim

Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith lead this romantic crime drama, which sees a young couple on the run from the police. Criminal defence attorney Queen goes on an awkward dinner date with Slim, and the two are on the way back when they’re stopped by a white police officer who searches Slim without any apparent reason. The two confront the officer and get into a fight, and Slim ends up shooting him- and the two are forced to leave Ohio and go on the run. Their experience leads them to begin to develop a relationship, as they become wanted fugitives. Contrasting themes of love and police brutality and stylish direction from Melina Matsoukas elevate this above other love-on-the-run stories and result in a powerful watch.

Available on: Netflix, Amazon Prime

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind

A Kate Winslet film, and one of Jim Carrey’s more serious roles, Eternal Sunshine blends elements of sci-fi to explore love and memories. When Joel (Carrey) finds out that his girlfriend Clementine (Winslet) has erased all of her memories of him after a fight, he sets out to do the same. However, while the procedure is going on, he relives his memories from the two-year-long relationship and realises that he doesn’t want to forget her even as the memories are slowly fading.

Though something of an anti-Valentine’s film, the smartly funny but still melancholy story can feel all too relatable, with its commentary on how trying to forget and block out sad memories can sometimes end up making things even harder to move on from.

Available on: Amazon Prime

Brokeback Mountain

Brokeback Mountain

A real milestone of a film, Brokeback Mountain was released in 2005 and became a turning point for LGBT representation in film. Powered by the lead performances of Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal alongside Anne Hathaway, Michelle Williams, and Linda Cardellini, Brokeback centres on the developing and complex relationship between two cowboys in the American West across 20 years.

Though the two men fall in love, things become difficult when they both marry their respective girlfriends, resulting in tension not only with their wives but with each other. The film faced legal and censorship issues in the US and other countries- but it overcame these troubles to win the Best Director (for Ang Lee) and Adapted Screenplay Oscar, along with several BAFTAS including Best Film, and is remembered as a breakthrough for queer cinema.

Available on: Amazon Prime, Apple TV

Romeo + Juliet

Romeo & Juliet

Well of course the most famous love story of all time would find a place on this list, and Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet has become a cult favourite.

The modernised version, now with guns and a Los Angeles-esque setting, features Leonardo DiCaprio before he set sail on the Titanic and Claire Danes as the two star-crossed lovers. Luhrmann’s direction and the overall feel of the film feel very 90s, and yet still very much watchable and relevant over 25 years later. Also starring Brian Dennehy, John Leguizamo, Pete Postlethwaite and Miriam Margolyes, the film’s creativity and use of timeless Shakespearean dialogue make this not only one of the best ways to experience the story but also one of the best romantic films around.

Watch on: Amazon Prime, Disney+

Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice

This modernisation of Pride and Prejudice would probably be the most iconic version of Austen’s literary classic, if not for the TV version 10 years earlier with Colin Firth jumping in a lake. That doesn’t make this 2005 incarnation of the novel any less good, with Keira Knightley and Succession’s Matthew MacFadyen playing a worthy Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy.

A quick synopsis for those who don’t know the book: Elizabeth, daughter of a country landowner, and Mr Darcy, rich aristocrat, fall into a turbulent relationship with each other, as they both try to move past feelings of pride and prejudice. This version was directed by Joe Wright, who was also behind the camera on Atonement and Anna Karenina and saw Knightley nominated for a Best Actress Oscar.

Available on: Apple TV, Amazon Prime

Crazy Rich Asians

Crazy Rich Asians

Something of a modern classic, Crazy Rich Asians became a breakout hit upon release. Based on the novel of the same name by Kevin Kwan, it tells the story of a Chinese-American professor (Rachel Chu) as she travels from New York to Singapore to meet her boyfriend’s (Henry Golding) family for the first time, and finds that they’re one of the richest families in the country. What follows is a hilarious rom-com about cultural barriers and expectations, brought to life by a fab cast that includes Gemma Chan, Awkwafina, Ken Jeong, Lisa Lu, Michelle Yeoh and Ronny Chieng. It ended up being the highest-grossing rom-com of the 2010s- deservedly so.

Available on: Apple TV, Amazon Prime

The Notebook

The Notebook

2004’s The Notebook is almost a cliché for an archetypal Valentine’s movie, telling the tried and true tale of a poor but determined man falling for a rich young woman. Both become infatuated and soon passionately in love with each other- but find themselves separated due to their difference in social status.

The plot flips between the youthful couple beginning in the late 30s, and an elderly man in the present day reading to a patient from his notebook. Everything here revolves around Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams’s chemistry- evident in emotional argument scenes as much as when they’re kissing in the rain. It might be best described as a guilty pleasure- but that’s what Valentine’s is for, right?

Available on: Amazon Prime, Apple TV

Moonlight

Moonlight

Both a coming-of-age movie and a romantic movie, Moonlight does away with much of the usual tired cliches and sappy tropes of other love stories and instead is a very frank and at times unflinchingly gritty exploration of masculinity and sexuality.

Directed by Barry Jenkins, it focuses on protagonist Chiron (Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and Trevante Rhodes), a Black man, in three stages of his life: childhood, teenage years, and being a young adult. It begins in the late 80s at the height of the war on drugs, with Chiron struggling with his identity and his mother’s drug addiction. Dealing with bullying for being gay and his relationship with classmate Kevin, as well as feelings of self-hate, Chiron’s tale is told in dream sequences and visually striking imagery that made it worthy to be Best Picture.

Available on: iPlayer, Amazon Prime

Emma

Emma

Before becoming the face of shows like The Queen’s Gambit and films like The Menu, Anya Taylor-Joy starred in this 2020 adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel Emma. She of course plays the titular Miss Emma Woodhouse, a young woman who comes from a world of wealth and landed gentry in the late 1700s, Recency England. She lives on a beautiful estate with her father Mr Woodhouse (Bill Nighy), and has made friends with the younger Harriet (Mia Goth), an orphan who attends a local school. With her elegance and intelligent views of the world, Emma makes her fun in life by intervening in other people’s romantic lives, navigating her own matchmaking, and moving into adulthood.

The acclaimed adaptation also stars Johnny Flynn as George Knightley, Miranda Hart as Miss Bates, along with Josh O’Connor, Callum Turner, Amber Anderson, and Rupert Graves.

Available on: Amazon Prime, Apple TV

A Room With A View

Room with a view

Classic romantic novels seem to always make great films, and A Room with a View is no exception- it’s still worth watching nearly 40 years after its release. Starring Helena Bonham Carter in her very first film role, it’s set in the early 20th century in Edwardian England and follows the young Lucy Honeychurch in the repressed society that tells her not to embrace her quest for self-liberation. Lucy goes on a trip to the highly romantic city of Florence, accompanied by her cousin Charlotte (played brilliantly by Maggie Smith), who also acts as her chaperone and keeps an eye on her.

Our heroine falls for a young but quiet man Geroge (Julian Sands), whose free-spirited nature encourages her to remove herself from the shackles of Edwardian culture. Daniel Day-Lewis, before becoming a three-time Oscar winner, features here in a quite low-key and funny role as uptight and pretentious Cecil Vyse, and if you love period romances, this one is for you.

Available on: Apple TV


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