Society tends to place a lot of value on romantic love. This is demonstrated by so many people (including us), who watch romantic movies all year round, but feel they hit differently as we approach Valentine’s Day. Plus, these movies are advertised way more during this time of year. However, it’s important to remember that love comes in many shapes and sizes, from friendship to romance to self-love. To celebrate this, here is a list of recommended movies compiled by myself, Aakanksha, and Jocelyn, just in time for Valentine’s Day:

Vania’s Picks

She’s All That (1999)

She’s All That is so rooted in teen movie culture that I love it. It’s chock-full of clichés and (really) bad jokes, yet I can’t help but adore this movie so much that my heart can’t take it. This movie truly gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “guilty pleasure”. 

The Half of It (2020)

The Half of It is a beautiful story about love, friendship, and healing. This movie undoubtedly makes you think. It is wrapped with details that connect the characters together, making the process of discovering love and what comes with it very relatable. Love is complicated and it’s not perfect, but it’s worth looking for. 

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2005)

All you need is four girls and a pair of magical jeans for a great story. This movie about friendship is an ode to self-love and a reminder that even when everything feels wrong, all is not lost. I recommend this very underrated movie! 

10 Things I Hate About You (1999)

With its enemies-to-lovers plot, high school drama, and iconic characters, 10 Things I Hate About You is amazing. This is a movie I always come back to, and it will forever be one of my all-time favorites. 

About Time (2013)

This is a non-typical romantic comedy centered on time traveling. About Time is a rare example of a movie made in a fresh, memorable way. The entire cast is so talented, but it’s the chemistry between Rachel McAdams and Domhnall that grounds the entire premise of the film. About Time reminds us that time is fleeting and we should try to make the most of it. I valued my family even more after watching this, and I highly recommend it. 

Saving Face (2004)

Saving Face is a delicate and charming romance that explores the cultures of different generations within a Chinese American community in New York City. The acting, cinematography, and music are beautiful. I highly recommend this funny, warm, and sincere movie!

Pride and Prejudice (2005)

Pride and Prejudice is one of the best movies I have ever seen. The visuals, soundtrack, costumes, and cast all combine perfectly to make us feel the love between the two leads, leading us to wish for an identical romance. As a huge fan of the “I hate everyone but you” trope, this movie felt like a well-fitting glove. In addition to Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen being the best leads, the entire cast has been perfectly chosen in this adaptation. Pride and Prejudice (2005) never gets old!

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2018)

An old-fashioned, romantic, and entertaining drama, Guernsey deserves a lot of love. I know the title is a mouthful, but I assure you, this movie is such a beautiful concept that is executed equally well. Guernsey has great performances, especially from Penelope Wilton’s character Amelia, whose powerful lines stick in your mind. The movie has gorgeous cinematography and top-notch costume design that perfectly fits the setting.

13 Going on 30 (2004)

Ah, where to start? Some actors are simply born to play certain roles. Jennifer Garner did such a perfect job embodying Jenna Rink that it was easy to believe she was an unsure thirteen-year-old trapped in the body of a woman. What I love about the premise is how creative and thought-provoking it is—it uses humor to encourage us to question what it means to be adults and why we choose the company we keep. 

Imagine Me and You (2005)

It is everything a romantic comedy should be: charming, funny, and delightful. Imagine Me & You is definitely a movie to watch at least once in your life. It is such a fun take on the love-at-first-sight trope (which I know isn’t everyone’s cup of tea) and the even funnier meeting-someone-at-a-wedding trope, which isn’t as common but can still be found in some great movies.  

The Proposal (2009)
The Proposal is hard not to enjoy. The story does its own take on the “fake dating” trope many of us enjoy in books, and I really love that. The always-in-control woman finds herself in one comedic fish-out-of-water situation after another, and it’s so chaotic! This awesome romantic comedy also touches on many crucial themes, such as the realities of immigration, letting yourself be vulnerable, and accepting that you are deserving of love. I recommend watching it!

Jocelyn’s Picks

I do not have many picks to add to this list, but the ones I do have are worth the watch!

Love and Leashes (2022)

This movie was such a fun twist on the classic romcom genre! Jung Ji-Hoo (Joon-Young Lee) is forced to open up to Jung Ji-Woo (Seohyun), at the time merely his co-worker, after she accidentally opens his mail and discovers that he’s into BDSM. The true plot twist comes when it turns out that Jung Ji-Hoo is the submissive one! I loved watching Jung Ji-Woo and Jung Ji-Hoo both come into themselves as people and a couple.

Noor & Layla (2021)

This 13-minute film is the perfect choice if you’re looking for a bittersweet queer romance. The short—starring two queer Muslim women going through a breakup—uses time jumps, color, and music to lead us through the story of their relationship.

A Secret Love (2020)

It’s so rare for a documentary to make me fully break down sobbing while sitting on my couch at 2pm on a Sunday afternoon, but that’s exactly where I found myself the first time I watched A Secret Love. This movie tells the decade-spanning love story of Pat Henschel and Terry Donahue, lesbian women who managed to make a life together before many people knew it was possible.

Aakanksha’s Picks

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2005)

I grew up watching this sweet movie with my best friend, who I’ve now known for nearly fourteen years. SOTP taught us the importance of found family, an idea we welcomed because of how revolutionary it felt in comparison with our own lives. Though it took us years to learn how to do this in a healthy way, the four fictional characters showed us the importance of doing our best to always let each other in, especially when we’re at odds. I think this coming-of-age film stayed with us so strongly because we learned something from each character—from Carmen, how to stand up for ourselves; from Lena, to embrace being soft; from Bridget, to be open to new experiences; and from Tibby, to look beneath the surface and give people chances.

Having not seen my best friend in person since 2019, I can more than empathize with the disappointment of being separated from a friend when you were once used to living near them (a struggle that the 2008 SOTP sequel beautifully delves into more). To quote two of the characters, “We know now that no matter how far we traveled on our own separate paths… Somehow we would always find our way back to each other.” 

Mr. Malcolm’s List (2022) 

When I was a closed-off teenager, I thought that Regency-era dramas were stuffy and boring, an opinion even my favorite English teacher couldn’t change. But a few years later, I watched movies like Becoming Jane and Pride and Prejudice, which resonated with me more due to the chemistry between the cast and the clever, well-written dialogue (plus, my mind opened to the brilliance of Jane Austen). However, thanks to my focus shifting back to the fantasy and dystopian genres, I lost interest for a bit—until shows like Bridgerton (2020–) and Sanditon (2019–) entered the scene. Since then, I’ve been on the lookout for similarly interesting stories. 

When I heard about Mr. Malcolm’s List, I was immediately intrigued by the premise: A wealthy and picky bachelor (Sope Dirisu) has a list of qualifications that apparently no one can measure up to. Julia Thistlewaite (Zawe Ashton), the most recent woman to be spurned by Mr. Malcolm, decides to give him a taste of his own medicine by concocting a fake-dating scheme with the help of her reluctant, more humble friend, Selina Dalton (Freida Pinto). This movie ended up surpassing my expectations and more! Each character is unique and hilarious, thanks to some fantastic acting and screenwriting, and the story keeps you on the edge of your seat even when it gets a little predictable. 

Much to my delight, unlike conventional period dramas, Mr. Malcolm’s List’s leads are both people of color. As I personally hadn’t seen this before*, I was thrilled that two phenomenal actors were given the chance to break into the Regency era on-screen! I wish this hadn’t been so surprising, but though the genre has seen good intentions and attempts at interracial couples, showrunners still end up centering whiteness and not developing characters of color enough (see: Bridgerton). I think Bridgerton’s second season did a slightly better job exploring different cultures, so I’m hopeful stories like that and Mr. Malcolm’s List set the stage for a more permanent change in this genre.

*Readers, if you have any other recommendations, please leave them in the comments!

Set It Up (2018) 

This was the movie that reminded me, after way too many years, how good romantic comedies can be. To echo Jocelyn’s dream for romcoms to return to the cinema, I hope that we get more films like this one! Harper (Zoey Deutsch) and Charlie (Glen Powell) are the perfect leads: The banter is funny, and the story is endearing and relatable. Though this movie is focused on Harper and Charlie trying to Parent Trap their bosses into being together, it is more about their new, unexpected friendship with each other. Also, Lucy Liu and Taye Diggs—even though they don’t get enough screen time—are incredibly funny and charismatic. 

The part of the movie that doesn’t focus on relationships at all is one of my favorite things about it: The struggles with creative blocks and feeling stuck in one’s career are all too real. I have a soft spot for Harper, her passion, and her tendency to avoid her dream due to the fear of failing. Speaking of, I will never forget that this movie gave me the best anti-perfectionism writing advice I’ve ever received (thanks to Harper’s wonderful best friend):

“Of course, your first draft is gonna be bad. It’s gonna be terrible! Then you know what you do, Harper? You go back and you make it better! But you can’t make it better until you actually do it! You’re not a bad writer yet. You need to stop feeling sorry for yourself and just write something bad!” 

P.S. Upon rewatching Set It Up, I couldn’t not think of Taylor Swift’s “Mastermind” so I made an edit!

I have less to say about these last two movies, but I love them all the same:

Queen (2013)
This cozy Bollywood movie explores heartbreak, class differences, gender norms, friendship, and self-exploration. The acting is great, the songs are a blast, and the messages are poignant. The story strikes a beautiful balance between moments that are vulnerable, awkward, cheeky, empowering, and just good fun. Though I can only speak to this from a distance and with less related lived experiences, this movie was undoubtedly a cultural reset, especially for Indian women who hail from smaller towns. 

My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)
One early 2000s romcom to rule them all… Nah, I’m kidding (mostly). This is a timeless, funny, and ridiculously sweet story about love, self-worth, family, and the celebration (despite the clashes) of different cultures. If you haven’t already seen it, what are you still doing reading this post? If you have, then pardon my dramatics, but I think it’s time for a rewatch!

What are your go-to Valentine’s Day movies? Let us know in the comments below!