Seven V-Day movies for seven V-Day moods
1) If you’re in love with your best friend...
“Love, Rosie” is a rom-com that I literally cannot stop watching, one that I queue up again the second it ends. It is a stunning and uniquely hilarious film following the lives of Rosie (Lily Collins, “To the Bone”) and Alex (Sam Claflin, “Me Before You”), best friends who are obviously deeply in love but who seem to keep missing each other. The chemistry between Collins and Claflin is insane — both are sincere, quirky and beautiful people, whose love comes from a place of genuine affection that withstands time and space. Their lifelong love is a specific kind of touching unreality that is perfect fodder for romcom obsessives. The progression of their relationship is long and gradual, but the film is fast-paced and incredibly sharp, keeping you hooked to the winding hesitations and near-misses of the characters. “Love, Rosie” leans into the tropes of romantic comedies without being sticky, and uses an unexpected brand of weird comedy that makes cliché scenes fun and hilarious — there is a surprising number of different wet sounds in this movie and I love it. The movie’s bright colors, punchy music and tight editing create a tone of bubbly effervescence characteristic of great contemporary rom-coms. The meandering feel of unrequited love is never boring or frustrating — rather, you can’t help but love two characters who are genuinely good people and wait through heartwrenching obstacles for them to find their way to each other. Not to mention both Claflin and Collins are literally too beautiful to look at, and Claflin really knows how to wear a chunky sweater. This movie falls perfectly into the subgenre of addicting movies that make you floatingly happy and crushingly depressed at the same time.
—Sydney Cohen, Daily Arts Writer
2) If you’re feeling logical about love...
For fans of “The Office” or “The Mindy Project,” “The Giant Mechanical Man” provides a humorous, tender collision of these two beloved shows. Chris Messina (“Alex of Venice”) stars as Tim opposite Jenna Fischer (“Hall Pass”) as Janice in “The Giant Mechanical Man,” which was shot at the Detroit Zoo and premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2012. Tim considers himself a true artist, performing on the streets on stilts as the titular Giant Mechanical Man. When hard times hit, he takes a job at the zoo as a janitor. Janice feels purposeless in the world and even gets fired from the temp agency for her absentmindedness. She also starts to work at the zoo, where she and Tim form a friendship. Their supportive relationship and deep connection help these two lost souls figure out how to pursue their dreams and find meaning in their lives. Janice’s sister Jill (Malin Akerman, “Couples Retreat”) and Doug (Topher Grace, “Spider-Man 3”), a self-absorbed self-help writer, offset the melancholy with funny caricatures of annoying hipsters. The chemistry between the leads and the witty script make for a great movie to watch on Valentine’s Day. Plus, the film did not get much commercial exposure, so hopefully here’s a new treat for rom-com lovers.
—Meghan Chou, Daily Arts Writer
3) If you think love is a fairy tale...
“The Princess Bride” is one of the great love stories of the 20th century. No, it’s not a romance in the tradition of “Romeo and Juliet” or other more standard love stories. It’s a grand adventure filled with action, fighting, escapes, chases, true love and miracles. It’s a film that focuses on the power of love in all of its forms, from the grandfather reading the story to his grandson in the same way he was read the story when he was young, to the love that Inigo Montoya has for his big friend Fezzik, “The Princess Bride” is the perfect film to watch on Valentine’s Day — or really any other day.
Who can argue with Westley the farm boy (Cary Elwes, “The Art of More”) when he tells Princess Buttercup (Robin Wright, “House of Cards”) they will survive because “this is true love. You think this happens every day?” Buttercup believed Westley was dead for years and never stopped loving him. Westley spent the better part of three years at sea with pirates working to get back to Buttercup. And of course, when Westley is rendered (mostly) dead, it is, in the words of Miracle Max (Billy Crystal, “The Comedians”), “what he’s got that’s worth living for,” that brings him back to the land of the living. The answer: To love, not to “blave,” which as everyone knows means to bluff. Kill someone’s father in a duel? Watch out if you’ve got six fingers on your right hand, because the power of love is going to compel that man’s son to come looking for you. Is there a film that better encompasses our ideal of love than “The Princess Bride”? Inconceivable! If a friend, lover, enemy, or rodent of unusual size comes to you this Valentine’s Day asking to watch “The Princess Bride,” there is but one proper response. “As you wish.”
—Ian Harris, Managing Video Editor
4) If you agree that Robert Pattinson is underrated...
There’s a lot that goes unsaid in “Twilight.” Bella (Kristen Stewart, “Personal Shopper) and Edward’s (Robert Pattinson, “Good Time”) relationship grows mostly out of stolen moments: hands brushing under the table, glances across the hall, a quick conversation here and there. It’s what happens in the spaces between those moments that turn an interest into an infatuation, infatuation into obsession, obsession into love. A lot of people joke about “Twilight” not having a plot until the last 20 minutes when the evil vampires come in, but I’d argue that the story of “Twilight” isn’t based in anything happening per se, but instead in a clear emotional arc. We’re following an obsession as it percolates in every sigh, every stutter and every moment of overly intense eye contact. All it takes is a look across a crowded cafeteria, and she’s a goner.
There’s a lot about “Twilight” that’s silly and light. No comedy in the past 10 years can match up to the beautiful genius moment that is Kellan Lutz climbing up a tree as Muse’s “Supermassive Black Hole” plays in the background, but there’s something undeniably brilliant about the way this film captures the essence of teenage romance. There’s a reason “Twilight” hit teenage girls around the world like a freight train in the mid-aughts, and it’s because there’s a certain kind of recognition there. We identified with Bella, not just because she was written to be something of a cipher (though that’s definitely part of it), but because “Twilight” captures with near perfect clarity what it feels like to be a teenager who is obsessed. It’s been 10 years since the first “Twilight” was released, but it’s unlikely that its resonance will fade over time. Like its protagonists, “Twilight” will live forever.
—Asif Becher, Daily Books Editor
5) If you’re experiencing growing pains...
I know it’s cliché, OK? I know that it starts and ends with a holiday, that it features Bright Eyes on its soundtrack and frequents melancholic monologues. I also know that I love this movie with everything that I am, because Rusty (Nat Wolff, “Home Again”) snuck a swig from the wine bottle in the closing scene and “The Calendar Hung Itself” makes me want to cry in a closet and Sam (Lily Collins, “Okja”) will never not confuse boys with the piercing unwaveringness of her cruel teenage heart. Writers are notoriously emo, and “Stuck in Love” lets us peer into a whole family of them. We get to watch an adolescent boy lose his innocence as his older sister finds hers. Turkey is made, books are written and tea is spilled. Most importantly, we have the distinct pleasure of seeing Greg Kinnear (“Same Kind of Different as Me”) break someone’s nose.
The Borgens family is an absolute mess, and they’re all the more endearing for it. So what if they’re self-obsessed rom-com tropes? They blunder through their lives, and they learn to repent for it. William Borgens (Kinnear) stalks his ex-wife (Jennifer Connelly, “Only the Brave”), while his kids make his same mistakes and then some. Still, every time I see the credits roll, I’m compelled to press replay and watch their stories unravel all over again. “Stuck in Love” is an honest look at love through the eyes of deeply flawed people. It’s heartbreaking and candid, and it’s solid gold.
—Arya Naidu, Senior Arts Editor
6) If you’re crushing pretty hard...
“Sixteen Candles” is the quintessential crush-comedy — think romantic comedy, but more crushing and less romance. Starring the queen of ‘80s cinema, Molly Ringwald (“Riverdale”), as the fresh-faced, newly 16 Samantha “Sam” Baker, the John Hughes classic delves into the embarrassing and frustrating reality of teenage girlhood. Sam’s family forgets her birthday in the disorder sprung from her older sister Ginny’s approaching wedding. Meanwhile, Sam’s crush, the high school heartthrob, Jake Ryan (Michael Schoeffling, “Mermaids”) roams the halls, crushing her with every step he takes. And who can forget Sam’s dad’s iconic line: “That’s why they’re called crushes. If they didn’t hurt, they’d be called something else.”
We love Sam because she is all of us. She is quirky and adorable and relatable and perfect. So why the hell doesn’t Jake Ryan notice her? Well, good news folks, he does. Alas, they don’t get together until the last minute of the movie. But that anticipation keeps you going. Jake wants Sam and Sam wants Jake but Sam thinks Jake is too good for her and Jake thinks Sam doesn’t even want him. Meanwhile, Sam’s underpants were on full view for the entire freshman class, Ginny is high on muscle relaxers, Farmer Ted (Anthony Michael Hall, “Foxcatcher”) is driving a Rolls Royce with a hammered prom queen in the front seat and Long Duck Dong, the exchange student, is stuck in a tree. But yes, sadly, the film promotes disastrous racial and gender stereotypes and implies all kinds of terrible connotations about date rape, so take the classic with a heavy grain of salt.
Jake and Sam keep missing each other and it leaves you on the edge of your seat begging, pleading, hoping Jake ends the confusion with some large romantic gesture that leaves you Lloyd-Dobler-level shook, Ferris-Bueller-level stunned and Judd-Nelson-fist-in-air-level destroyed and boy does he deliver, in all his gorgeous glory. “Sixteen Candles” is the perfect dose of ‘80s nostalgia, so if you want to be literally crushed this Valentine’s Day, grab your finest acid-washed jeans, tease those locks and relive an era you never even knew.
—Becky Portman, Senior Arts Editor
7) If you’re looking to cry...
Caution: If your belief in love is fragile, don’t watch “Blue Valentine” this V-Day. This self proclaimed “love story” is known, by both those who have and haven’t seen it, for chewing up hopeless romantics and spitting them out on the other side with a new meaning of “hopeless.” The film follows two lovers, Cindy (Michelle Williams, “My Week with Marilyn”) and Dean (Ryan Gosling, “La La Land”), through the rise of their courtship and the dissolution of their marriage — intercutting between the respective periods throughout. The movie thrives on the painfully realistic and intimate moments it paints between the two leads. When Cindy and Dean first meet, their love seems plucked from the pages of a Nicholas Sparks romance without the cloying sappiness. In contrast, the jumps forward in time to the worn-down shells of the married couple show the other side of the spectrum, portraying in painstaking detail what lost love looks like. What sets “Blue Valentine” apart from other sad love stories like it is the total lack of idealization — even in the honeymoon phase, Cindy and Dean encounter hiccups that are present in real relationships, but would be left out in other films. With its authentic dialogue and compelling storyline — with the bonus of a stellar soundtrack — “Blue Valentine” is a knockout, both cinematically and emotionally speaking.
—Sofia Lynch, Daily TV/New Media Editor