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Valentine's Day this year may not be one of romantic candlelit dinners at your favourite restaurant, sharing popcorn in the dark of the multiplex while watching a romcom, or grand, public displays of affection – but that doesn’t mean your 14th of February has to be entirely devoid of romance.
No matter whether you’re single, loved-up, or hopelessly crushing on the neighbour you only see when they take the bins out, everyone deserves a little love this season.
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Best romantic films on Now TV
Save The Last Dance (2001)
While it’s easy to get distracted by Julia Stiles’s infamous, climactic dance audition scene – why so much arm thrusting? – this teen romance is a nostalgic treat. An aspiring ballerina (Stiles) moves to Chicago and sees her world changed by the hip-hop scene and the charms of a boy (Sean Patrick Thomas).
Funny Girl (1968)
Barbra Streisand won an Oscar for her role as Fanny Brice, the 30s comedian who started out in the slums of New York’s Lower East Side and ended up performing in Broadway’s elaborate Ziegfeld Follies. But the film also leaves plenty of room for Brice’s love affair with the suave and notorious con artist Nick Arnstein (Omar Sharif).
Roman Holiday (1953)
Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck have the trip of a lifetime in William Wyler’s gorgeous, utterly charming tribute to all the pleasures of Italy – there’s royalty on the run, excursions on a Vespa, and lashings of ice cream.
Time to spark up the debate about whether there really was room on that floating door for both Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose (Kate Winslet) – James Cameron’s Oscar-winning blockbuster crafts an oceanic love story for the ages.
Love Story (1970)
"Love means never having to say you're sorry" – and watching Love Story means overlooking the schmaltzy dialogue and embracing Ali MacGraw and Ryan O'Neal’s phenomenal performances for what they are. The two play lovers faced insurmountable odds when death comes knocking at their door.
Best romantic films on Netflix
Pride & Prejudice (2005)
Joe Wright’s adaptation of the Austen classic, starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen, has already earned its place in the annals of romantic film thanks to a single shot: that of Mr Darcy flexing his hand after helping Elizabeth into a carriage. It’s the first time they’ve touched. Prepare to watch and swoon.
A United Kingdom (2016)
Amma Asante’s beautiful film tells the story of a love that changed history. In 1948, Seretse Khama (here played by David Oyelowo), the King of Bechuanaland, married London office worker Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike). In turn, they faced fierce opposition from both the British and South African governments. Their resistance would play a crucial part in Bechuanaland’s liberation and transformation into modern-day Botswana.
Notting Hill (1999)
Roger Michell’s 90s classic, written by Richard Curtis, plays out a little like fan fiction. A London bookstore owner, whose life is fairly devoid of excitement, catches the attention of an American movie star. But with Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts at the helm, you can’t help but root for the rascals.
Only You (2018)
Not all romances can take the easy road. Harry Wootliff’s Glasgow-set drama charts the ups and downs of a couple struggling to conceive, as outside forces do battle with their fragile, but constant love. The power here is in Laia Costa and Josh O'Connor’s performances.
Your Name (2016)
Makoto Shinkai’s dreamy anime offers up a wistful romance with a body-swapping twist. Two teens living completely different lives find themselves randomly waking up in each other’s bodies, piecing together small clues about the other’s existence. It’s startlingly original.
Best romantic movies on Amazon Prime Video
If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)
“Love brought you here. If you trusted love this far, don't panic.” The words of author James Baldwin resonate through this stunning, masterful adaptation of one of his most famous works – courtesy of director Barry Jenkins. When her fiance (Stephan James) is arrested for a crime he didn’t commit, Tish (Kiki Layne) sets out to clear his name.
Todd Haynes delivered us a lesbian romance that both haunts and enchants the viewer, without resorting to a cliched, tragic ending. In 50s New York, a young department-store clerk (Rooney Mara) falls for an older woman in the midst of a tumultuous divorce (Cate Blanchett).
A Star is Born (2018)
This may be the third remake of 1937’s A Star is Born – a love story between a washed-up, alcoholic entertainer and a sparkling ingenue – but director Bradley Cooper still mines its themes of addiction and dedication to powerful effect. Lady Gaga shines where Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand have shined before.
Crazy Rich Asians (2018)
Not only did this adaptation of the bestselling novel mark a promising step forward for representation in front of and behind the camera – it’s also a frothy, luxurious delight. Watching Constance Wu and Henry Golding’s characters fall in love is like taking a long, satisfying bubble bath.
William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet (1996)
It might have become a staple of English classrooms everywhere, but Baz Luhrmann’s film is still a masterclass in how to update a classic work. Verona becomes Verona Beach, the lovers meet through a decorative fish tank, and Shakespeare’s monologues are now delivered by teen heartthrobs Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes.
Best romantic movies on Disney+
While You Were Sleeping (1995)
Sandra Bullock shines in a sweet rom-com with a somewhat implausible premise: a lonely woman becomes trapped in a web of lies when, in the aftermath of an accident, the family of a man left in a coma believes she’s his fiance. Matters become even more complicated when she falls for his brother.
Never Been Kissed (1999)
Anyone feeling like a bit of a loveless loser on Valentine’s Day can take comfort in the adventures of Josie Geller (Drew Barrymore), aka Josie Grossie. A 25-year-old copy editor who’s never had a real relationship, she soon finds herself back at high school with an assignment to investigate teen culture. Eventually, she learns to make peace with those most painful years of her life.
Lady and the Tramp (1955)
Disney’s animated classic made two dogs tucking into a plate of spaghetti and meatballs in a trash-filled alleyway seems like the ultimate relationship goal. Enough said.
10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
Gil Junger’s clever twist on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew will always be remembered for the moment Heath Ledger swanned down a set of school bleachers while belting Frankie Valli’s “Can't Take My Eyes Off You”. How could Kat (Julia Stiles) not fall for him after that?
A man-mermaid romance starring Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah, Splash is exactly as silly as it sounds. But that’s the fun of it. Hank’s Allen Bauer is a successful businessman still caught up in the memory of a strange, underwater encounter he had with a girl in his youth. It seems they’re destined to meet again.
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