It’s that special time of the year when everything is pink and red and you get a lot more “You awake?” texts than usual. It’s St. Valentine’s Day! A fourteenth century saint who was associated with the classical tradition of courtly love, we celebrate him each and every year by buying our loved ones shiny things and getting awkward with our crushes. This Valentine’s Day we’re here to help you with a selection of the best romance-centric movies that are streaming on Hulu, Amazon, and Netflix this saccharine season. From erotic thrillers, to corny classics, to indie gems, to blockbuster smashes, we have you covered with our top Valentine’s picks!
The Duke of Burgundy (2014)
This underground erotic smash from Peter Strickland hit wide release around the same time as Fifty Shades of Grey, and this queer period piece gets everything that film got wrong absolutely right. A sumptuous story about two women engaging in a dom/sub relationship that subverts your ideas of who’s in control, The Duke of Burgundy is a loving exploration of sexuality and balance that’s sexy as hell and happens to also be a really fantastic film.
Heartbreaking, sombre, and somehow still utterly uplifting–that describes Gloria. This contemporary Chilean classic by Sebastian Lelio is driven by an incredible central performance from Paulina Garcia and tells the story of Gloria, a free spirited 58-year-old woman who’s determined to be happy, to love, and to dance no matter what. The dramedy follows her as she pursues a whirlwind romance with a younger man. Gloria is a great choice for a romantics who want to venture away from the typical Hollywood romcom.
Warning, Colossal is not a romantic movie. It’s an incredibly powerful and beautiful meditation on toxic relationships with kaiju thrown in. Yup. Nacho Vigalondo’s astounding sophomore effort is a monster movie with a message. Though it might not seem like the first pick for a V-day movie, if you’re having a night in with some close friends and want a story that’ll take you on a journey and ultimately leave you uplifted, then Colossal is the choice for you. It’s an intense experience, but Colossal is one of the most incredible movies about abuse and survival we’ve encountered.
The Handmaiden (2016)
Park Chan-wook’s simmering erotic thriller is an unmissable mystery loosely adapted from Sarah Waters’ queer Victorian-set masterpiece Fingersmith. Chan-wook transports the story to 1930s Korea where we enter the lives of a young thief, a con man, and a rich heiress. It’s better to go into The Handmaiden with as little information as possible, but if you want a romantic, twisty, and queer AF erotic gothic chiller to while away the long Valentine’s night, then The Handmaiden is a must.
If you love a classic romantic drama, Cher and Nicolas Cage have a treat for you. Moonstruck throws us into Brooklyn, where Loretta Castorini is a widowed bookkeeper who accepts a rushed proposal from her boyfriend, but then falls in love with his brother. This is a classic romcom drama which saw Cher win an Oscar for her portrayal of Loretta and features Nic Cage in a peak early Nic Cage role.
Dirty Dancing (1987)
This corny classic has a killer ’60s R&B soundtrack and features a young Patrick Swayze as a sexy, young lothario who seduces a teenage girl at a fancy holiday camp. If you haven’t seen this ’80s film, know it’s the perfect bit of cheesy entertainment, especially if you love an outrageous dance number.
Todd Hayne’s stylish lesbian drama is nothing short of a modern classic. Starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, the film tells the story two women in 1952 New York who become romantically entangled after a chance encounter in a department store. The central relationship is beautiful and authentic, as the two women attempt to live real lives whilst avoiding the recriminations of the oppressive culture around them. It’s a gorgeous and painful but hopeful look at bigotry, oppression, and love.
Never Let Me Go (2010)
Based on Kazuo Ishiguro’s spellbinding dystopian science fiction novel of the same name, Never Let Me Go is a haunting story about a group of youths at an illustrious boarding school in England who deal with life, love, and loss as they grow over the years. We won’t spoil Never Let Me Go’s big reveal as it’s one of the most impactful twists in sci-fi history, but this eerily romantic adaptation is wonderful and a great spin on your classic romance.
Adapted from Neil Gaiman‘s beloved fantasy novel, Stardust is a splendid fairy tale about a young man who finds himself in love with a fallen star. You’ll likely recognize the film’s sullen protagonist Tristan Thorn, as actor Charlie Cox is now better known as Daredevil. With an all-star cast including Michelle Pfeiffer (Catwoman!), Henry Cavill (Superman!), and Claire Danes (umm), Stardust is a fun fantasy frolic made for watching with the ones that you love.
Gaspar Noe is the unquestioned enfant terrible of contemporary French cinema, and those of you who have seen his other movies like Enter the Void and Irreversible are probably wondering what on Earth he’s doing on this list. But not everyone wants a saccharine sweet Valentine’s. For those of you who prefer getting wild and watching the world burn, Noe’s explicit and experimental movie Love is made for you.
Eagle Versus Shark (2007)
Directed by Thor: Ragnarok’s Taika Waititi, this semi-sweet romcom is about two socially awkward people who fall for each other at a costume party. Flight of the Conchords‘ Jemaine Clement stars as the unlikeable Jarrod who never sees the wonder of the woman in front of him, and Loren Horsley is the heart of the movie as the sweet and persistent woman of his dreams. Like all of Waititi’s movies, this is a lovely, sombre, and thoughtful film with an incredible creative flair and a wonderful cast.
Here’s where you can find these films on streaming:
The Duke of Burgundy
Never Let Me Go
Eagle Versus Shark
What movies do you plan on watching today? Share your picks in the comments.
Images: Fabula, Artificial Eye, Voltage Pictures, CJ Entertainment, MGM, Vestron Pictures, Film 4, Marv Films, Wild Bunch, New Zealand Film Commission
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