What to Watch on Netflix This Valentine’s Day
For most people, Valentine’s Day means flowers, chocolate, and romantic dinners. For cinephiles (or people too cheap or lazy to leave the house), Valentine’s Day means snuggling on the couch and watching a romantic movie. But if you’re planning a Netflix night this weekend, picking the right film is key. There’s nothing worse than inviting that special someone over for a private screening, lighting a few candles, pouring a glass of wine, and then killing the mood with In the Ream of the Senses.
If you’re in the mood for love this Valentine’s Day (but not in the mood for In the Mood for Love, which isn’t currently streaming on Netflix), here are some can’t-miss picks. I generally stayed away from obvious choices — do you really need another person to tell you about Sleepless in Seattle? — but if you are in the mood to re-watch an old favorite (like Sleepless in Seattle, which is currently streaming on Netflix), you’ll find 15 more Valentine’s-friendly recommendations at the bottom of this post. Happy viewing and happy Valentine’s Day.
2 Days in New York (2012)
Directed by Julie Delpy
If you want to watch a movie about falling in love, there’s no shortage of options on streaming. But if you’re interested in something about a couple that’s already in love, and dealing with the day-to-day realities of a committed relationship, the pickings are a lot slimmer. One of the best recent films on the subject is 2 Days in New York, directed, co-written, and starring Julie Delpy from the Before Sunrise series. Delpy’s Marion is a Parisian transplant to New York, where she lives with her boyfriend Mingus (Chris Rock) and their respective children. They’re both relatively happy and comfortable until Delpy’s family (and an ex-boyfriend) come from France for a weekend visit, stirring up tension between the partners. 2 Days in New York has its share of plot twists, but mostly it’s about the mundane issues all couples face, like finding the right balance between work and family, and trying to keep a relationship fresh after years of familiarity, and it manages to make those struggles funny without sugar-coating them.
Directed by Mike Mills
This tender drama came straight from writer/director Mike Mills’ heart — and his own experiences with his father, who finally came out of the closet at the age of 75. In the film, the father character, played by Christopher Plummer, has died after a battle with cancer, and the Mills stand-in, played by Ewan McGregor, flashes back to various points in their relationship while he falls for a French actress (Inglourious Basterds’ Mélanie Laurent). The lessons McGregor’s Oliver learned from his father’s belated exploration of his homosexuality informs his own decisions, just as they inspired Mills’ beautiful meditation on love, family, and embracing your true self. Plummer won a well-deserved Oscar for his performance, and his character’s dog, a sensitive Jack Russell terrier named Arthur that talks in Snoopy-esque subtitles, is maybe the cutest creature that has ever graced the silver screen.
Directed by Stanley Donen
This thriller stars Audrey Hepburn as the widow of a recently murdered man accused of stealing $250,000. While several of her husband’s former associates (including James Coburn and George Kennedy) chase her over the missing fortune, she gets mixed up with a handsome stranger (Cary Grant) who might actually be another of her spouse’s scheming underworld pals. Director Stanley Donen’s was a brilliant director of musicals (Singin’ in the Rain, It’s Always Fair Weather), but Charade proves his gifts extended far beyond his preferred genre; the film’s often referred to as the best Hitchcock movie that wasn’t actually directed by Hitchcock, and rightfully so. Grant was 25 years older than Hepburn at the time of filming, but they look great together, and have comic and sexual chemistry to burn. This one’s a favorite in my house; my wife and I watch it together every couple years.
Directed by Andrew Haigh
Before he became one of the directors and executive producers of HBO’s Looking, Andrew Haigh made Weekend, a terrific romance about two British men, Russell and Glen (Tom Cullen and Chris New), who hook up after a chance meeting at a bar. What started as a one-night stand quickly blossoms into something more, but the potential relationship faces a serious deadline; at the end of the weekend, Glen’s moving to Portland for art school and he won’t be back for two years. The ticking clock lends this thoughtful drama an added layer of tension that builds to a surprisingly powerful climax. The ending is perfect, but I wouldn’t mind a Before Sunset-style sequel to Weekend, catching up with Russell and Glen years later to see where their lives have taken them.
The Quiet Man (1952)
Directed by John Wayne
John Wayne and John Ford are best remembered for their action-packed Westerns, but one of their best collaborations was this comic romance set in the Irish countryside. Wayne plays Sean Thornton, an Irish-American who returns to his family’s home in Inisfree. He falls for a local (Maureen O’Hara) but feuds with her disapproving brother Red (Victor McLaglen) over the marriage and then the all-important dowry. Wayne’s chops as a romantic lead are surprisingly strong, and even on a television screen, the colorful Oscar-winning cinematography is gorgeous; O’Hara’s fiery red hair in Technicolor is one of the best special effects in film history.
Other Netflix Streaming Options For Valentine’s Day:
An Affair to Remember, Annie Hall, The Apartment, Chasing Amy, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Ghost, Greenberg, His Girl Friday, Jerry Maguire, Moonstruck, Notting Hill, Punch-Drunk Love, Romancing the Stone, Sleepless in Seattle