Valentine’s Day is around the corner, so if you’re like a lot of people in the U.S., you’re probably in the mood to watch some romantic films. Even I, someone who doesn’t always go for romantic plots, have a couple of romantic films that I either love or are on my list of to view in the future. Here’s 10 of those films that you might want to select for your Valentine’s Day viewing.
Mira Nair’s 1991 film stars Denzel Washington and Sarita Choudhury as Demetrius, a Black Mississippian, and Meena, the daughter of an Indian South African immigrant family. The two fall in love despite the prejudice they face from their families.
Waiting to Exhale
The classic 1995 film by Forest Whitaker features a star-studded cast led by Whitney Houston. But while Houston might be the star, the best love story was given to Loretta Devine’s Gloria, who falls in love with her new neighbor, Marvin (Gregory Hines).
Dil Chahta Hai
One of my favorite Bollywood films, Dil Chahta Hai, directed by Farhan Akhtar in 2001, follows several friends from college to their adult lives. Of course, the film follows each friend’s love life, and my favorite love story involves Aamir Khan’s Akash. He grows up from being a playboy who doesn’t believe in love to realizing that a single woman, Shalini (Preity Zinta) can change his life forever.
Nanci Rossov’s 1999 historical romance Unbowed is a movie that you can not watch in front of your parents, which makes this film a no-go or a must-watch depending on your situation. Jay Tavare plays Waka Mani, a Native American man in the 1800s who is forced by the government to go take Westernized school courses. His teacher, Cleola (Tembi Locke) tries to teach Waka Mani him the basics, but she’s too distracted by his hunkiness.
Fair warning about this film, though. In my opinion, it could be read as turning a Native man in an exotic, hypersexualized tropey character. Also, there’s the fact that some people contest Tavare’s heritage in the first place. Also, Cleola is a little bit of a fool, ingesting what the government taught her about Western civilization, the same civilization that enslaved her family generations before. BUT, the film does give us a love story we don’t see everyday. I think this film is the epitome of the idea that progress is a series of mistakes with successes in between. This film is successful in that it gives us a unique love story with two races of people who aren’t usually showcased in romance films, especially in the same movie. But it’s also probably very problematic, depending on the viewer. So with that said, have fun with this one.
Fakin Da’ Funk
In this 1997 film by Timothy A. Chey, fandom icon Dante Basco plays Julian, a Chinese teen who was adopted as a baby by Black parents. When his family faces a tragedy, they move to Atlanta to restart their lives. It’s there that Julian meets Karyn (Tatyana Ali), and does his best to woo her.
In the Mood for Love
Wong Kar-wai’s classic 2000 film stars Maggie Cheung and Tony Chiu-Wai Leung as Su Li-zhen and Chow Mo-wan, two people in an intense emotional affair because both suspect their spouses of infidelity. The sexual tension arises not just because they are in love with each other, but because they don’t want to be unfaithful to their respective partners. However, the insinuation is that if they weren’t committed to their partners and were single, they probably would be better suited for each other. It’s the epitome of Erykah Badu’s song “See You Next Lifetime.”
A film that showcases how love can cross all boundaries and heal more wounds than we think, Mani Ratnam’s 1995 drama is set when escalating tensions between Muslims and Hindus reached a violent peak. Shaila (Manisha Koirala), a Muslim woman, falls in love with Shekhar (Arvind Swamy), a Hindu man, causing them to be estranged from both of their families. They go on to create a good life for themselves and their children until the Bombay riots strike, causing the family become separated amidst the turmoil. Don’t worry—everything ends up all right in the end for our resilient family.
I’ve mentioned this 1999 Wonderful World of Disney classic starring Brandy and Paolo Montalban over and over again on my site because it’s one of those films that left a lasting imprint on me in my younger years. I’ve written all about why at SyFy, but the jist of the matter is that it made me realize that if Cinderella, a neurotic young woman with some personal baggage, could be seen as princess deserving of true love, then so could I. For that reason, Cinderella has become a bit of a personal hero to me, since I, too, am quite a neurotic person who believed that I had to be “perfect” in order to find love.
Believe it or not, I actually quite like this film, the first in the series of Garry Marshall films revolving around holidays. There are several romances to watch in this cheesy 2010 film, but my favorite one might be the one involving Holden (Bradley Cooper), an NFL player who wants to give the love of his life the grand-scale attention they deserve. But he feels like he can’t because it could cause too much scandal. As it turns out, he throws caution to the wind and does it anyway, declaring his love for his longtime boyfriend. The twist was kept as a secret, so…belated spoiler alert. But I felt it was pertinent to spell out that the twist was a secret to explain why there is no official picture on IMDB of Holden with his boyfriend.
Sanaa Lathan stars in Sanaa Hamri’s 2006 film as Kenya, an uptight member of Atlanta’s Black elite. She’s been a debutante in her teen years and is expected to make the “right” decisions for someone of her stature—marry a rich Black man worthy of her circle, uphold the family name, and carry on the legacy of her family’s status. But all of her plans are thrown for a loop when she falls in love with her white, devil-may-care gardener Brian (Simon Baker). The two of them have a whirlwind romance where they must come to terms with each other, different racial perspectives, and Kenya’s overbearing mother (Lynn Whitfield).
What do you think of these films? Which one are you going to cozy up with on Valentine’s Day?