Five Great Movies for Valentine’s Day
Unlike so many others, these classic films celebrate the positive and empowering nature of love
It is difficult not to mourn the death of the romantic film and movies that once celebrated love.
Remember when Meg Ryan and Valentine’s Day were synonymous? Sandra Bullock? Kate Hudson?
Maybe the days of rom-coms and true love stories on or around February 14 are over. Maybe the future will simply give us more films like the “Fifty Shades” platform — that works only as a platform for shock value.
In those films, love almost seems negative rather than positive and empowering.
To top it all off, they’re just not good. They’re glossy Hollywood productions with little to say.
Let’s revisit five movies that far more effectively celebrate love — and are a much better fit for Valentine’s Day viewing.
1.) “An Officer and A Gentleman.” The Richard Gere/Debra Winger love story that came many years before “Pretty Woman” is far superior as it pertains to love — and how it conquers all. It’s also ripe for a remake. Gere’s inner demons best what the guy from “Shades” deals with handily. Plus, that final scene where Gere scoops up Winger off her feet — cue: “Love Lifts Us Up Where We Belong.”
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2.) “Titanic.” Speaking of love themes, Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” was about as close as things got to Leonardo DiCaprio’s being upstaged in this James Cameron-directed opus. What other love story, in which DiCaprio and Kate Winslet shined, could pack more of a punch than the sight of the once-mighty Titanic going down in icy waters during its maiden voyage?
3.) “Say Anything”/”Serendipity.” John Cusack — once the rom-com Valentine’s Day male du jour — has many films that can fit neatly on this list (“High Fidelity,” anyone?). But these two are musts. “Say Anything” gave us that iconic image that has lasted to this day: a lovestruck Cusack holding a boombox under his true love’s window, blasting Peter Gabriel. And “Serendipity,” with Kate Beckinsale as the woman Cusack takes his sweet time tracking down — while en route to the altar with another woman, no less — beautifully illustrates “that thing called love.” It’s a film that shows fate will never keep true love apart for very long.
4.) “Jerry Maguire.” Both “Say Anything” and this Tom Cruise entry owe a large debt to writer/director Cameron Crowe, whose knowledge of the onscreen love story is surpassed only by his knowledge of music. Music is actually a character in most of his films, and while some might argue that “Jerry Maguire” is about chasing one’s dreams, the twist was that Jerry Maguire (Cruise) didn’t know his was love.
The film gave us classic lines fans have no doubt reused in their own lives, including, “You complete me” and “You had me at hello.”
5.) “Love Actually.” This film tops many Valentine’s Day movie lists and rightly so — despite the fact that it is so sprawling as to encapsulate a few storylines that seem more about shocking the viewer than illustrating how many shapes and sizes love can come in.
Consider a best man’s unrequited, and unspoken, love for the bride; a prime minister’s need for normalcy in the form of his sweet and caring assistant; a boy who just got his first crush; and so much more. Because love stories are about … love, actually.
This piece originally appeared in LifeZette last year and has been updated.