Valentine’s Day is around the corner and with it the promise of blankets, popcorn, and romantic movie nights. Are you looking for something noteworthy to take your movie nights to the next level? Let’s revisit a few titles dedicated to the ups and downs of relationships.
Each month, I pick a short-list of under-the-radar titles waiting to be unearthed from the algorithms of Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and the like. Because movie nights are important and life’s too short to watch the wrong stuff.
Here are a few wonderful movies that will upgrade your “To-Watch” list in true 2020 fashion this February.
Okay, so it’s not a “relationship movie” but it is entirely underrated and utterly brilliant. What starts as a misfit mockumentary of sorts transforms into a murderous character study in small-town Texas. Darkly comic in scope yet endearing through every quirky frame, Richard Linklater carries his unique eye for capturing entertaining aspects of the unremarkable. Not to mention Jack Black’s career-best performance of which I’m still baffled it didn’t earn an Oscar nomination.
If you’re on the prowl for a methodical and funny exploration of a funeral chaplain and his unhealthy relationship with an angry widow Bernie is your best bet. Also, we’ve got this flick to thank for giving us the definitive Texas map.
PLATFORM: YouTube Movies (Free)
FOR FANS OF: Boyhood, High Fidelity, & School of Rock
The Big Sick (2017)
The ballots are in; the votes counted. It’s official: The Big Sick is the 21st Century’s BEST Rom-Com. (Sorry Punch Drunk Love, as much as it pains me to say, you’ve been dethroned.)
How could so much be said without losing its consistent voice? How could such a tragedy be so humorous? How could such randomness be true? How could a Rom-Com make a cultural impact of this magnitude? I’m not sure, but Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani’s screenplay flirts with perfection. And low-key Ray Romano was kind of brilliant. If you’re living under a rock and haven’t caught this one yet — hop on Amazon and stream it now. It’s socially relevant, wonderfully written, and memorable for all the right reasons. The Big Sick delivers the goods and feels.
PLATFORM: Amazon Prime
FOR FANS OF: 50/50, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, & Lady Bird
The Birdcage (1996)
The greatest comedy of the modern era?
Mike Nicols re-imagining a relationship romp dripping with social commentary; delivered on the shoulders of a revolutionary Nathan Lane and impeccable Robin Williams; fabulous drag; a few Sondheim numbers; and the most outrageous case of mistaken identity set to screen. Yes, it’s the best comedy. And let’s not forget the iconic scream, “I pierced the toast!”. All that said, The Birdcage is as hysterical as it is surprisingly poignant boasting a fantastic rewatchability. Through all the hi-jinx the heart of the narrative rests in the tender relationship of Armand and Albert; true relationship goals if there ever were any.
Flashy and memorable films like these don’t come around very often. And thanks to the glories of 21st Century streaming, we can dive back into the “We Are Family” conga line with jovial glee.
PLATFORM: YouTube Movies (Free)
FOR FANS OF: In & Out, Meet the Parents, & Mrs. Doubtfire
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)
Let’s be real, is there anything more romantic than Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio making out with Kevin Costner next to Alan Rickman’s freshly slain corpse while Bryan Adams’ “Everything I Do, I Do It For You” plays? There’s certainly nothing more epic than Sean Connery as King Richard and The Morgan Freeman as the ultimate sword-wielding wingman. I honestly cannot think of a more 90s way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than with this timeless adventure. Almost 30 years and countless re-watches later, I still can’t figure out if Prince of Thieves is awesome bad or just plain awesome, but I know this–as soon as that horn-heavy score kicks-off I’m all-in every time.
FOR FANS OF: Dances with Wolves, First Knight, & Mask of Zorro
When Harry Met Sally… (1989)
The quintessential rom-com, and a damn-near perfect watch for commemorating this month’s festivities. Ramona has already done a great job of breaking down what makes this classic next-level great, but it’s impossible to mention this one without recognizing the droves of perfect lines like, “I’ll have what she’s having.” and “You look like a normal person, but actually you are the angel of death.” or “Six years later, you find yourself Surrey with a Fringe on Top in front of Ira!” God bless Nora Ephron for this wonderful gift. And admit it, there’s no couple better to watch fall in love than Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan.
FOR FANS OF: Notting Hill, Sleepless in Seattle, & You’ve Got Mail
Bloated queue? Who cares! Add some of these hidden gems to your list and save your next movie night. If nothing else, no excuses on finding something to watch when drag queen Nathan Lane is right there. Go watch something!
What’s the best hidden gem you’ve streamed recently? Share in the comments and help me expand the list!