Valentine’s Day can be a mixed bag. For some, an excuse to act out their wildest romantic fantasies in the name of love; for others, an excuse to rail against crass sentimentality. For another group it’s an excuse to curate – for your friends, your lover(s), your family, or most satisfyingly just for yourself a movie marathon that speaks to love in all its forms.
We asked British film producer and lecturer at the world famous MetFilm School Anna Mohr-Pietsch for her top ten film picks for enjoying this Valentine’s day in lockdown.
1. Platonic Love: STAND BY ME (d. Rob Reiner, w/ Raynold Gideon/Bruce A. Evans, 1986)
Wonderfully nostalgic, endlessly quotable (“I lost the comb”), and the definitive ode to friendship, loyalty and the heartbreaking beauty of River Phoenix.
2. First Love: CALL ME BY YOUR NAME (d. Luca Guadagnino, w. James Ivory, 2017)
With all the makings of a modern classic, Call Me By Your Name conjures so evocatively the unbearably painful joy of first love. And the peach is a Valentines poem all of its own.
3. Doomed Love: PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE (d/w. Céline Sciamma, 2019)
A breathtakingly poetic study of explosive, unforgettable, star-crossed love; and a searingly honest exploration of the many crosses women have had to bear for the patriarchy, and the strength they find from and with each other.
4. Parental Love: MRS DOUBTFIRE (d. Chris Columbus, w. Randi Mayen Singer/Leslie Dixon, 1993)
Who doesn’t sometimes wish their dad was Robin Williams, in a full skirt and heels, taking Pierce Brosnan down a peg or two and charming us all in the meantime? A joy and a delight, for all ages, and a reminder of all our parents do for us, both seen and unseen.
5. Love and the In-Laws: GET OUT (d/w. Jordan Peele, 2017)
No one ever said meeting the in-laws was going to be easy, but there’s nothing like watching Get Out to set the palms sweating before the big event. But it’s not just a cautionary tale for Valentines – it’s also a brilliantly layered, provocative and timely study of racism in all its forms.
6. Obsessive Love: REBECCA (d. Alfred Hitchcock, w. Robert E. Sherwood/Joan Harrison, 1940)
If the name Mrs Danvers doesn’t immediately make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, while simultaneously making you weep nostalgically for all she’s lost, then you haven’t watched (the original) Rebecca enough times! The sexual tension, the layers of suspense, that house. Unforgettable.
7. The End of Love: MARRIAGE STORY (d/w. Noah Baumbach, 2019)
Not all love stories end in happily ever after, but somehow Marriage Story manages to bring out the romance in divorce. It’s elegiac, beautifully composed and honest. It’s also tortuous – but in a good way.
8. In Sickness and in Health: THE BIG SICK (d. Michael Showalter, w. Emily V. Gordon/Kumail Nanjiani, 2017)
Let’s hear it for a truly modern rom-com that shows us how love can grow even in the messiest of circumstances. A delightful script and first-rate acting – Kumail Nanjiani can do no wrong in my book – make this a genuinely Valentine-friendly choice.
9. Till Death Us Do Part: TRULY MADLY DEEPLY (d/w. Anthony Minghella, 1990)
It’s got Alan Rickman serenading Juliet Stevenson on the cello. What more do you need? Michael Maloney hopping madly along the South Bank, that’s what. Anthony Minghella’s first film was quite possibly his best – and definitely his most romantic. Dead people can be really sexy too.
10. Perfect Love: WHEN HARRY MET SALLY (d. Rob Reiner, w. Nora Ephron, 1989)
After all the highs and lows, tears and fears, we thought we’d end with quite simply the perfect romantic comedy. The perfect script, the perfect setting, the perfect cast, the perfect score. It’s a masterclass in comedy and, more importantly, in romance. For the perfect Valentines, nothing else will do.