Everyone experiences Valentine’s Day differently. Some swoon at the chance to shower their beloved with tokens of their affections. Some cower in fear that they will screw it up with a bad gift or wilted flowers. And others lock their doors hoping to get to February 15 as quickly as possible. The one thing we can all agree on is that we all love movies. This Valentine’s Day choose a film that best expresses your feelings about this amorous holiday and snuggle in with your dearly beloved (or just a lovely pint of Häagen-Dazs) for a night everyone can love in their own way.
Here are just a few films for lovers of all types, from the matchmaker to the married couple. Of course, if you have another film that speaks to your heart, tell us all about it with the hashtag #BeMineFocusFeatures.
The Matchmaker | EMMA.
For those who love playing cupid as much as being struck by one of love’s arrows, EMMA. is the perfect movie for you. In theaters on February 21, Autumn de Wilde’s new adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic romance recreates the giddy, glamorous romantic comedy with high fashion. Emma Woodhouse (Anya Taylor-Joy) may be, as Ms. Austen describes her, “handsome, clever, and rich,” but she is also more interested in rearranging the lives of others than she is in sorting out her own complicated emotions—especially when it comes to the ever-so annoying, yet oddly compelling George Knightley (Johnny Flynn). Although EMMA. won't be in theaters until a week after Valentine’s Day, the movie, like true love itself, is well worth the wait.
The Anti-Valentine | Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind begins on February 14 with Joel (Jim Carrey) taking the train to Montauk and thinking to himself, “Random thoughts for Valentine’s Day, 2004. Today is a holiday invented by greeting card companies to make people feel like crap.” In trying to flee the mawkish sentiments of the day, Joel finds himself running into the very woman, Clementine (Kate Winslet), he’d tried to erase from his memory. The story's mobius-strip narrative treats love, as The New York Times explains, “as a subject for extended philosophical inquiry.” If you are heady—and not just head-over-heels—Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind might just be the anti-valentine with your name on it.
True Love | Pride & Prejudice
For The New York Times, the final minutes of Joe Wright’s Pride & Prejudice “makes you believe in true love, the union of soul mates, happily-ever-after and all the other stuff a romantic comedy promises but so seldom delivers.” After an hour and a half of missed opportunities and misread signals, Darcy (Matthew Macfadyen) is ready to say—and Elizabeth Bennet (Keira Knightley) is ready to hear—the classic Valentine admission, “You have bewitched me, body and soul, and I love, I love, I love you.” If you wish to send this sentiment to your beloved, Movieclips has a video Valentine of the scene.
Crazy Love | Phantom Thread
In Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread, fashion designer Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) believes that he can control his muse Alma (Vicky Krieps), not understanding how much our obsessions actually control us. But by the film’s end, the unlikely pair find “a bond that works because it sometimes breaks, because it’s dramatic and odd and makes a bizarre kind of sense only to them.” The shocking twist that made Phantom Thread for Vanity Fair “the Most Surprising Love Story of the Year” proves once again just how strange love really is. To celebrate this, Vulture issued a series of Phantom Thread-inspired Valentines, which offer up such lines as “Kiss me, my girl, before I’m sick.”
Married Love | The Kids Are All Right
Lisa Cholodenko’s Academy Award®-nominated The Kids Are All Right deals with the most perilous and challenging Valentine of all—married love. Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Julianne Moore) are a long married couple with two kids—Laser (Josh Hutcherson) and Joni (Mia Wasikowska)—a lovely home, and seemingly perfect life. That is until the kids contact their sperm-donor dad (Mark Ruffalo) and all hell breaks loose. Inspired by her own marriage and having a son, Cholodenko understood, “No matter what kind of family you have … we all go through the human comedy.” For Slate, the film serves as a Valentine to “the simple yet incomprehensibly fraught act of moving through time with the person you love.”
First Love | Moonrise Kingdom
In Moonrise Kingdom, Wes Anderson spins a magical yarn that “makes you nostalgic for the pangs of young love,” writes The Christian Science Monitor. Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward) may be from opposite sides of New Penzance island, but the two 12-years-olds find true love when they meet and hatch a plan to runaway to the cove of Moonrise Kingdom. While the island’s adults (played by Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, and others) drag them apart, nothing can erase the memory of first love. Fans enchanted by two lovers have made Sam’s declaration, “I love you, but you don’t know what you’re talking about,” into a favorite Valentine sentiment.