When you think of Valentine’s Day, the first images that come to mind might be of beautiful bouquets of red roses, decadent chocolates, shades of pink and cherubs galore, or maybe those chalky hearts that somehow still end up stocked on shelves year after year. Romantic relationships are the most targeted audience for the holiday, and while they also are the most frequently depicted on screen, romantic love is far from the only form that love can take. Platonic love and other loving relationship dynamics are just as important both on the big screen, and in our daily lives. The love shared between friends, family, pets, or even just between you and yourself should be cherished, and truly are worth opening your heart for. And not that there’s anything wrong with watching The Notebook for the twenty-fifth time, sometimes you just need to shake it up! Without further ado, let’s celebrate love in all its forms this Valentine’s Day!
10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
It’s a classic that dates back all the way to the 16th century. In this modern-day retelling of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, the house rules of the Stratford sisters state that the popular Bianca (Larisa Oleynik), who has several boys striving for her attention, isn’t allowed to date until her older sister Kat (Julia Stiles) starts dating. The only problem? Kat, in all her antisocial and anti-establishment glory, has absolutely no desire for any sort of romantic life. The solution? Pay the carefree, handsome, troublesome bad boy Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger) $500 to take her out. While pulling out all the stops to woo Kat – including seeing one of her favorite bands – Patrick has to be careful to not actually fall for her. Though we definitely fell for that charming smile of his. And Kat can’t let her abrasive nature slip away, for fear of being vulnerable with someone for the first time. What could possibly go wrong?
Legally Blonde (2001)
Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) has it all. She’s a preppy, beautiful, wealthy sorority girl with a handsome boyfriend to go along with her 4.0 GPA in her fashion merchandising program. Everything is perfect…right until her Harvard-bound boyfriend dumps her for not being “serious” enough just as she is expecting a proposal. With everyone doubting her academic ability, Elle attempts to win him back by studying endlessly to achieve a near-perfect score on the LSAT, and an acceptance into Harvard Law along with it. But not even that is good enough for Warner (Matthew Davis). This isn’t a story about finding romantic love, but discovering one’s own potential and learning to love every aspect of yourself. So, Elle moves on, set on proving her own worth through hard work and determination to succeed in Harvard’s prestigious programs, and in doing so, discovers that she’s just as capable as anyone else. What, like it’s hard?
Lilo & Stitch (2002)
An animated movie for Valentine’s Day? That doesn’t even revolve around traditional romance. You bet! Love can come in all shapes and sizes, and the Hawaiian concept of ‘ohana that is featured heavily in this movie showcases just that. Sometimes a family can be two sisters that have lost their parents, their extraterrestrial dog, a mad scientist from another planet and the eccentric galactic agent that accompanies him, a former CIA agent turned social worker, oh, and a surfer who will do anything to lift their spirits while also trying to win over the older sister’s heart. It’s unconventional, but it’s a found family that works – well, not without a few bumps in the road, of course – and there’s plenty of familial love and classic Elvis hits to go around for all of them. Because ‘ohana means family, and family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten. And even if they make you want to scream into a pillow sometimes, that’s what love is all about.
Saving Face (2004)
A loving relationship between a parent and a child can be complicated. It can be made even more complicated for a lesbian daughter that hasn’t yet come out to their mother. And it can be made more complicated even still when the mother, rather than the child, is pregnant out of wedlock and the father of the baby is unknown, being shunned by her own parents then. Throw in a budding, secret relationship between the daughter and another girl, and love is sure to be tested in all its forms. That’s the dilemma that Wil (Michelle Krusiec) finds herself in with her mother, Gao (Joan Chen), as she struggles with making her affection for Vivian (Lynn Chen) public, rather than keeping their love hidden in shadows. Wil’s sexuality, and her subsequent struggles with being proud of her own identity, will put strain on every relationship in her life, and she will have to learn how to balance the love that she has for both her mother and her partner.
From Pixar Animation Studios comes the most loving, tear-jerking, heartbreaking romance that the world has ever seen. And it’s all told in ten minutes with hardly any dialogue. Carl (Ed Asner) and Ellie’s love story is full of one tragedy after the next – from continually having to use their vacation fund on emergencies, to discovering they’re unable to carry a child – but there is never a shortage of pure, unconditional love in their relationship. But the love showcased in Up goes beyond that of Carl and Ellie’s. After all, there is nothing quite like the love and companionship that man’s best friend can give. Following the loss of his wife, Carl’s grumpy old man demeanor gets shaken up by an overly energetic, talking Golden Retriever named Dug. And in typical dog fashion, Dug’s instant love of Carl is unmatched. Add in an eager eight-year-old Wilderness Explorer trying to earn his last merit badge, and Carl’s life is rich with love in new ways he never even imagined.
The Proposal (2009)
Honestly, you can’t go wrong with this one. In fact, if you ever find someone that doesn’t like this movie, they’re just incorrect. This spin on the fake dating and fake engagement trope comes with big stakes: if successful, though pushy, editor-in-chief Margaret (Sandra Bullock) can’t convince the government that she’s engaged to her assistant Andrew (Ryan Reynolds), she risks being deported to Canada. Oh, and they also have to convince Andrew’s family in Alaska that they’re engaged, all while being forced to share a room. After all, they’re in a loving relationship and should want a little bit of privacy, right? Better hope they don’t actually fall in love during their scheme. Plus, any movie with Betty White is an automatic yes please, and who could ever forget Margaret getting down to none other than Lil Jon’s “Get Low” in the middle of the woods. Mark this as not only one of our favorite Valentine’s Day movies, but one of our favorite movies of all time.
Just Wright (2010)
Believe it or not, even sports can be romantic – and we’re not talking about getting caught on the kiss cam! Plus, this movie is full of actual NBA players to keep your eyes peeled for! Sparks fly when physical therapist Leslie (Queen Latifah) and New Jersey Nets player Scott (Common) meet during a chance encounter after a game, hitting it off over their shared love of basketball and jazz music. Yes, jazz. Though Scott pursues a relationship with another woman, Leslie is brought back to his life to help nurse him back to health when he suffers a career-threatening injury. Scott will have to make the difficult choice of which woman to spend the rest of his life with, while Leslie, now thrown into the spotlight, is getting job offers from teams all over the country. There’s more back-and-forth between the romances here than in any game, and the stakes feel just as high as the impending playoffs.
Crazy Rich Asians (2018)
Elaborate, over-the-top, and extravagant in every way, Crazy Rich Asians touches on a variety of relationships and dynamics. While there are several romantic relationships at play – including a gigantic, vibrant wedding – the central story revolves around the humble Rachel (Constance Wu) and the affluent Nick (Henry Golding). Only, Rachel has no idea about Nick’s wealthy, practically royal status until the two visit his family in Singapore, who are anything but approving of her and seem to make it their mission to make Rachel feel as unwanted as possible. Particularly unhappy about the arrangement is Nick’s mother, Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh), who gives her son the ultimatum: Rachel or his family.
Love isn’t just about romance. It can be about friendship too! In fact, the love shared between two friends – platonic soulmates, if you will – can be one of the strongest bonds. After all, they’re the ones that are there for you after a bad breakup, waiting judgment-free with a bucket of ice cream. Booksmart gives us just that in high school seniors and longtime best friends Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein). They’re both teacher’s pets, having spent all their time in high school studying hard rather than relaxing and enjoying their youth. But who better to shake things up with than the person that has been by your side and knows all your secrets, including your secret crush? Molly and Amy are the perfect pair of best friends. They trust each other and support each other unconditionally in everything, doing anything and everything that they can together – including one wild night. But just as arguments and tensions can rise in romantic relationships, friendships can also be just as tested. One can only ever hope that a relationship of any kind comes out stronger on the other side.