It’s Valentine’s Day today, if you hadn’t noticed — a day of red hearts and romantic evenings and loneliness and jaded bitterness, depending where one falls on the spectrum.
For me, it’s Sunday.
Seeing as I am in the middle of a month-long blog series called “Love Month,” however, I thought it pertinent to share at least something on the subject. Sorry it’s a little late, as I’ve been under the weather, but hey… nighttime is a great time to watch a movie, anyways! I mean, what else would you possibly be doing with a romantic partner late on a Valentine’s night?? Besides reading MarkMushakian.com, that is.
I cherish movies, possibly (probably) even more than I cherish women, and some of my absolute favorites revolve around the idea of love and romance and all of that gooey stuff, so I thought I’d take a moment to share some of my favorite movies that just so happen to be great little love stories, too:
Considering the plot of this movie is a man facing malignant cancer, it is not without its rough moments, but one of the things I really appreciate about it is that the love story blossoms very naturally… and through a place of compassion (rather than more surface attraction or wacky situational romance).
Recommended for: Anyone who is in the mood for a story about dealing with the downside of life, but with a lot of heart and humor
Before Sunrise / Before Sunset
These two movies come as a package deal; the first in the series skews more towards the dreamy fancies of youth, and might even be the better movie, but the sequel is definitely my favorite, as it approaches a similar situation from a more grown-up point-of-view. Regardless, both movies are basically just a series of conversations between a couple, but I’ll be darned if they aren’t interesting and very genuine.
Recommended for: Anyone with youthful angst / anyone who has grown past that angst
It’s a silent movie, it’s black and white and old, but I’ll be darned if Charlie Chaplin didn’t craft one of the sweetest love stories on this list… especially with that ending.
Recommended for: Anyone who loves the underdog and doesn’t blank out just because a movie isn’t in color
Most romantic movies tend to focus on budding love, because once a couple is already together and the suspense is over, that’s just boring. What makes this picture so great is that these two really do feel like a married couple. Obviously this is a comedy, and it’s a genuinely fun one, but a big part of that fun is that this is a well-established, married couple… and our two leading actors sell that relationship perfectly.
Recommended for: Anyone in need of a laugh or who would like to see the comedy-movie-version of Relationship Goals
This movie actually really surprised me when I first saw it (an on-the-whim free rental when I worked at Blockbuster). It’s smartly written, it’s a fun concept, and it actually plays it all very real. The relationship between father and daughter is sweet and adorable, and the movie isn’t afraid to let things be a little sad. The movie spans a long period of time, too, which really affords a great look at how one matures and changes throughout life.. all through the lens of romantic endeavors.
Recommended for: Anyone interested in a sweet mystery story and a good look at growing up
When this hit theaters, I was trying to make my own movie called The Soundtrack to Life, and to say that it did most of what I was aspiring to (and better) is an understatement. Take a slice of life from a period when you weren’t sure about much, add a poignant score, and you have a movie featuring a love story that is one I’d like to just curl right up into like a cozy blanket.
Recommended for: Anyone who loves slow-motion, music, finding their soul
It Could Happen to You
I loves me a good fairytale, and this is one of the most saccharine on the list… but in the best way :). It’s almost Hallmark-Christmas-movie level sweet, but ultimately it’s just a great little story about some very lovely people.
Recommended for: Anyone who likes to dream and see the nice ones getting ahead
It’s Kind of a Funny Story
The best part of this movie isn’t the romantic angle, but ultimately it has some great things to say and the love story is a part of that. Its focus is a younger love than most of my selections here, but there ain’t nothing wrong with that, and on top of everything it’s just a really great tale.
Recommended for: Anyone who needs some perspective
Lars and the Real Girl
One of the more “Mark” choices on this list, I know, but I’ll be darned if its not also one of the best movies here. In what could be a very gross and creepy premise, the story of an odd guy who pretty much loses his mind and buys a love-doll, pretending she’s his girlfriend, has so much heart that it doesn’t even have time to enter into that darker area.
Recommended for: Anyone who has ever felt lonely and scared of relationship
It’s a modern classic, and the setting of the movie definitely marks it as a Christmas movie, but the variety of love that this movie portrays through its different stories means it’s a great watch for any time of year. Not every love story presented is perfect or happy, and I think we all have our own personal favorites (mine is “just in cases”), but one of the opening lines, which gives us our title, sums up exactly why it’s so great: “If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.”
Recommended for: Anyone, really… there’s bound to be something in there you’ll be drawn to
This movie lifted me up, tore me down, and filled my heart with some really wonderful tunes in the process. Another in the “realistic” category, this great little movie tells a somewhat non-traditional love story that may not end up going where you expect, but it dutifully earns its place on a list of great romantic movies.
Recommended for: Anyone who appreciates a small, soft story told simply
Another entry in the “Mark/oddball” category, while the story is the fairly traditional “boy meets girl” tale, how it’s told and the details are anything BUT traditional. Of course, it’s also one of my favorite movies of all time, and I can’t help but walk away from it with a light skip in my step.
Recommended for: Anyone who appreciates curious, artsy filmmakers and/or who is a genuine oddball themselves
You don’t need me to explain this one, I hope, but for one of the most influential movies that’s ever come into my life, the tale of Rocky and Adrian is also one of the greatest little love stories of two half-losers making each other whole in the very best of ways.
Recommended for: Anyone who just wants to go the distance in life
Seeking A Friend For the End of the World
One of the funniest movies on this list quickly turns into one of the most heartfelt and sincere. Everything you need to know is in the title: two lost souls come together to find friendship on the eve of the world’s end.
Recommended for: Anyone who’s felt lost, outcast, or forgotten and hoped to find companionship when it was most needed
Stranger Than Fiction
Ah, the movie that was a turning point in my life in ways that I just might have to discuss one day. Our lead, Harold, is a great guy, and watching his journey in this movie is hilarious and tragic all at once. It also just happens to feature one of the best scenes with a guitar I’ve seen in a movie :).
Recommended for: Anyone who loves clever story concepts and a hero one can’t help but root for
The Truman Show
While is is one of my favorite movies, in general, it’s not necessarily a romantic story in the normal sense. Of course, romantic love is also the entire impetus for our lead character’s journey, so it’s also maybe the most romantic tale on this list!
Recommended for: Anyone who is interested in the hope that love can inspire
WALL-E, the character, is one of the pluckiest heroes you’ll ever meet, and his sincerity and romantic soul enable his pursuit of love to be filled with humor and real heart. Also, it’s an animated movie starring robots, and ya know what… that won’t matter to you at all :).
Recommended for: Anyone whose life has been turned upside down (in a good way) by love… and who would traverse the universe for it
When Harry Met Sally…
Definitely the most quotable movie from this group and maybe one of the funniest. It’s often at the top of “best romantic comedy” lists, and with good reason. This movie certainly skews more towards the comedy than the romantic, but if you aren’t wrapped up in our character’s story by the end (and between the laughter), then I don’t even know why you’re reading this list!
Recommended for: Anyone who wants to remember why Meg Ryan was America’s sweetheart or who wants a great look at the male/female relationship
While You Were Sleeping
Not what you might expect as a “Mark” choice, but that’s because you don’t know me at all, maaaan! First of all, I love Bill Pullman. Second of all, madcap characters are my favorite and the family in this movie is full of ’em. It’s lighthearted fair, for sure, but after a list of romantic movies that revolve around cancer and sex-dolls… maybe that’s okay :).
Recommended for: Anyone who wants a sweet romantic comedy that doesn’t involve cancer or sex-dolls
So, there we go. My favorites tend to dodge the generic, light fair and often have some weight to them, including a healthy dose of focus on the oddball outcasts, but that’s me. Did I miss some greats? Probably. Let me know which ones are on YOUR list…