The Atlantic Daily: Valentine’s Day Movies for Every Mood

No matter your taste, and whether you’re observing it alone, with a special someone, or with pals, we’ve got an option for you to curl up with.

Owen Wilson and Jennifer Lopez in "Marry Me"
Barry Wetcher / Universal

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This weekend, we celebrate love and its cinematic expression, the rom-com. Two out today, Marry Me and I Want You Back, are testaments to the genre’s resilience amid the modern onslaught of sequels and superhero movies, David Sims argues.

No matter your taste in movies, and whether you’re observing Valentine’s weekend alone, with a special someone, or with pals, we’ve got an option for you to curl up with. I asked my colleague Shirley Li to select five films that’ll make your heart flutter, regardless of what mood you’re in ahead of the holiday.

1. The modern classic: Before Sunrise

“The best romantic movies understand that the potency of love needs no embellishing, and Richard Linklater’s seminal drama, the first in his indelible trilogy, keeps things as simple as they come,” Shirley told me. The film, which follows two strangers who meet on a train and decide to disembark together, is “sweet and earnest—and quietly compelling.”

Where to watch: On Tubi

2. The new release for the person who’s already seen everything: Marry Me

This is Notting Hill, “if Notting Hill were set Stateside and the celebrity in question was a pop star left heartbroken moments before her livestreamed publicity stunt of a wedding,” Shirley explained. “Sure, it’s predictably absurd and absurdly predictable, but Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson exude an old-school appeal.”

Where to watch: In theaters and on Peacock

3. The salty choice that’s ambivalent about love: The Worst Person in the World

Hot off the prestige-film-festival circuit, Worst Person skewers the idea of a soul mate. What unfolds instead is “a devastatingly resonant portrait of an unsettled generation” that defies genre, our critic David Sims writes. It “swerves from bustling comedy to erotically charged romance to bittersweet drama, executing each tonal shift seamlessly even as plot twists seem to come out of nowhere.”

Where to watch: In theaters

4. The perfect “Palentine’s Day” pick: Someone Great

February 13, also known as Galentine’s Day, has recently become popular as the date to celebrate the friendships that help us get by. This 2019 breakup film “isn’t so much a story about losing one’s boyfriend as it is about growing up and entering the scary territory of your 30s,” David wrote in his 2019 review.

Where to watch: On Netflix

5. The Die Hard–style option that’s only debatably on-theme: Venom

What’s more romantic than a movie about an alien parasite? Venom “is, at its heart, a will-they-won’t-they story—a grisly meet-cute between a down-on-his-luck reporter and a grumpy, gloppy little extraterrestrial with a really big appetite,” David argued in 2018. The dynamic between this untraditional pair is the reason to watch this otherwise clunky film. (David also reviewed last year’s so-bad-it’s-good sequel, Venom: Let There Be Carnage.)

Where to watch: On Starz, or pay to rent online

Have a movie you plan to watch this weekend? Tell us.

Eric Rebiere falls while riding a wave in Praia do Norte, Nazare, Portugal
Pedro Nunes / Reuters

Explore the week that was. Our senior editor Alan Taylor compiles photos from around the world.

Read. Pick one of eight southern travelogues recommended by Imani Perry. Or try one of our staff picks for the winter season.

Watch. Get ready for the Oscars by streaming a Best Picture nominee, such as Dune or The Power of the Dog.

Or try a new release:

Jumping to the small screen … Skip Shonda Rhimes’s new Netflix show on the grifter Anna Delvey; it’s a letdown. Instead, try HBO Max’s new miniseries The Girl Before, which offers a modern twist on a haunted house.

Listen. Episode two of The Experiment’s new series on SPAM explores how the canned meat built a town—and tore it apart.

Watch some sports. The Olympics are on (see what’s scheduled). So is the Super Bowl (although sports betting might ruin it).

Embrace being tardy. “I choose lateness,” James Parker writes in his latest Ode. “It gives me velocity. I veer through crowds; I hurdle over interference.


Every weekday evening, our editors guide you through the biggest stories of the day, help you discover new ideas, and surprise you with moments of delight. Subscribe to get this delivered to your inbox.