Call us predictable, but we at NextMovie can't think of a better thing to do on Valentine's Day than snuggle up to your loved one (or teddy bear, if you're single) and pop in a film to tug at your heart strings.
So to make your Valentine's Day a stress-free affair, we've been thoughtful enough to compile a list of our top 20 Valentine's Day film picks from the new millennium to make the picking that much easier for you.
Pop open that bubbly, pour that bath, gorge on some chocolate-covered strawberries... and enjoy.
20. 'Twilight' (2008)
Like you haven't heard of this one. The global phenomenon that keeps on giving, "Twilight" was the film that launched Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart into the stratosphere as the hottest on-screen (and off?) couple to come along in quite some time. As the resident high school vampire Edward, Pattinson broods and poses his way through class, attracting the attention of Bella (Stewart), a shy teen who quickly takes a liking to the pale-skinned looker. Together, the two embark on a passionate (albeit chaste) romance. Edward doesn't have blood running through his veins; Lucky for us, the same can't be said of this hormonally-charged film.
19. 'Bridget Jones' Diary' (2001)
Leave it to the Brits (and one Yank playing a Brit) to craft one of the best romantic comedies of the past decade. Based on Helen Fielding's popular novel of the same name, "Bridget Jones" stars a charming Renee Zellweger as the titular weight-obsessed, single, thirty-something heroine. Hooked on her hunky, womanizing boss (Hugh Grant, playing against type as a total cad... ha), Bridget seems oblivious to Mr. Right: her family friend Mark Darcy (Colin Firth at his most dashing). Thankfully, she eventually comes to her senses.
18. 'Brown Sugar' (2002)
Attractive leads, banging hip-hop beats and one hot romance make "Brown Sugar" one of our sweetest picks. The film concerns two childhood friends, each with high-powered jobs in the recording industry, who fall for each other despite being involved with significant others. Co-starring Queen Latifah and Mos Def, this old-school Big Apple set romantic comedy delivers the good with a welcome musical twist.
17. 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall' (2008)
"Forgetting Sarah Marshall" opens with Jason Segel in the buff and only gets raunchier from there on in. Segel plays Peter, a down-and-out dumped schmuck who jets off to Hawaii to get some alone time, only to run into his ex (Kristin Bell) and her new rock star boyfriend, Aldous Snow (Russell Brand, who revisited the role in last year's "Get Him to the Greek"). Luckily for Peter, he meets a beauty in the form of Mila Kunis, who helps him move on. Laughs, sex, beautiful people and palm tress – what's not to love?
16. 'Atonement' (2007)
Not the cheeriest of romances, "Atonement" stars Brit beauties Keira Knightley and James McAvoy as a doomed couple that fight to keep their love alive in the middle of a war that threatens to keep them apart. Directed by Joe Wright (whose "Pride & Prejudice" also made our list), the film nabbed seven Oscar nominations back in 2007, and drew comparisons to another popular war love story, "The English Patient." The praise is warranted.
15. 'Garden State' (2004)
Boasting a Grammy-winning hipster soundtrack to rival that of "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist," "Garden State" marks Zach Braff's ("Scrubs") directorial debut. In this endearingly offbeat romance, Braff, who also penned the screenplay, plays Andrew, a 26-year-old aspiring actor who returns home after his mother dies. There, he becomes smitten with Sam (Natalie Portman), a pathological liar -- Portman has never been sweeter and is perfectly matched with Braff, who proves to be a perceptive indie filmmaking talent. Speaking of which – when's your follow-up coming, Braff?
14. 'Moulin Rouge' (2001)
Baz Lurzman's audacious reinvention of the Hollywood musical brought the genre back to resounding life for the millennium by infusing old school Tinsletown pizazz with rapid-fire editing and a medley of hits from the likes of Elton John and The Police. Nicole Kidman, looking as glam as ever, plays a doomed courtesan, who falls for a handsome, albeit penniless poet (Ewan McGregor). Together the winsome twosome wail, drink and dance their way through the ultimate city of love – Paris. Save yourself the flight costs and take a trip with these two songbirds.
13. 'Crazy, Stupid, Love.' (2011)
Want proof that not all romantic comedies have to follow a tired formula? Then check out "Crazy, Stupid, Love.," an altogether winning confection that follows its own set of zany rules, 'cause after all all, love is crazy ... and stupid. For the ladies, there's Ryan Gosling looking his dapper best as a womanizing playboy trying to help Steve Carell get his wife (Julianne Moore) back. And for the men, It Girl Emma Stone lays on the charm as the wise gal who gives Gosling's character a run for his money. What's not to love?
12. '(500) Days of Summer' (2009)
This indie gem should hold the record for the most upbeat breakup movie ever. In this cheery and offbeat romantic comedy, indie darlings Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel play Tom and Summer, a pair that seem almost too perfect for each other. Problem is, Tom believes in true love, while Summer doesn't. So over the course of one long summer, the two embark on a relationship, even though their eventual demise is never in question. What makes this a winner in the Valentine's department is the fun-loving nature of the set-up and the irresistible chemistry between the film's two hip leads.
11. 'WALL-E' (2008)
Leave it to the geniuses over at Pixar to make us cry over a couple of robots in love. Set far in the future, when Earth has been reduced to one big garbage dump and humans live on space vessels, the computer-animated yard follows a small trash cleaning robot named WALL-E, who embarks on the adventure of a lifetime after encountering the more advanced robot, EVE. They may not talk a lot, but the chemistry between these two machines is enough to make any Valentine's heart melt into mush.
10. 'The Artist' (2011)
What's more romantic than watching a silent, black-and-white love story play out on the big screen? Um, nothing. That probably accounts for the unabashed love this mega-charming ode to the past has found among Academy members, who have blessed "The Artist" with a whopping 10 Academy Award nominations. Adding to the romantic factor is the fact that the film's a French production, starring two of the most good-looking Gallic stars to come along in quite some time: Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo. Vive la France, indeed!
9. 'High Fidelity' (2000)
Not all romantic comedies have to be schmaltzy affairs. This filmed adaptation of Nick Hornby's popular novel definitely isn't. Set in Chicago, "High Fidelity" centers on Rob (John Cusack), a man who knows everything about the recording industry, but nothing about women. After getting dumped by his current flame, Rob sets out to make contact with his previous girlfriends to figure out what he keeps doing wrong. Boasting a rocking soundtrack packed with carefully selected picks, and a hilarious supporting cast that includes the likes of Jack Black, Tim Robbins and Joan Cusack, this is a Valentine flick guys can handle.
8. 'Amelie' (2001)
What's more swoon-inducing than Paris as seen through the eyes of Amelie Poulain (Audrey Tatou)? Not much. In "Amelie," visionary French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet ("Delicatessen") crafts a whimsical tale centered around a young, sweet and shy waitress in Paris, who takes it upon herself to improve the lives of those around her. When a potential love interest enters her life, the ever-giving Amelie struggles with the notion of making herself happy. Get lost in Tatou's big doe eyes, Jeunet's fanciful vision and a love story as rewarding as they come. Did we mention it's in French?
7. 'Juno' (2007)
Guess we're predisposed to films where the geek gets the girl (in this case, the pregnant girl). In "Juno," the second Michael Cera starrer to make the list, Cera plays an adorable dweeb who impregnates his longtime friend Juno (Ellen Page). When Juno decides to have the baby and put it up for adoption, their budding relationship is thrown for a loop. Nominated for a slew of Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actress for Page, "Juno" is one of the wittiest and most heartfelt teen comedies to feature an impregnated teenager.
6. 'Once' (2006)
Not your traditional musical, the Irish charmer "Once" tells the simple story of a struggling musician who falls for a pretty Czech immigrant on the streets of Dublin. Over the course of one week, the two write, rehearse and record songs, enacting their own love story in the process. Shot on a measly budget, "Once" is a passion project through and through, featuring songs composed and performed by the film's two talented leads. The music and scenery coupled with the lovebirds' heart melding chemistry are enough to make you want to pick up a guitar and write your own love song.
5. 'The Notebook' (2004)
Boasting one of the most heated makeout sessions ever to grace the silver screen - in the rain no less - the old-fashioned weepie "The Notebook" garnered a loyal fan base among the ladies as soon as it hit theaters. It's not hard to see why. Based on the novel of the same name by romance writer Nicholas Sparks, "The Notebook" pairs the hunky Ryan Gosling with the perky Rachel McAdams for a 1940s-set star-crossed love story. Told in flashbacks, McAdams plays a young high society girl who is forced to choose between her childhood sweetheart (Gosling) and a much wealthier solider (James Marsden). Try to guess who she picks.
4. 'Brokeback Mountain' (2005)
"Brokeback Mountain" was the first gay love story to cross over to the mainstream in a big way, garnering eight Academy Award nominations and making big stars out of Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal. Based on a short story by Annie Proulx, the Ang Lee ("Sense & Sensibility") directed film tracks the long-spanning romance between a ranch hand and rodeo cowboy in the American West. An epic tale like Hollywood used to make them, this one is primed to make you bawl. Kleenex should come with the DVD.
3. 'Love Actually' (2003)
What's better than one sweeping one love story? Why, eight, of course! Romantic comedy writing veteran Richard Curtis ("Notting Hill," "Bridget Jones's Diary") made his directorial debut with this British picture that charts the lives of eight good-looking couples falling in and out of love during one hectic month before Christmas. Curtis is ably supported by one of the starriest ensembles on film --Colin Firth, Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Laura Linney, Keira Knightley... the list goes on and on.
2. 'Slumdog Millionaire' (2008)
This Mumbai-set epic love story charmed the pants off audiences the world over back when it cleaned up at the Oscars, winning eight trophies, including one for Best Picture. Directed by Danny Boyle ("127 Hours"), the faced-paced "Slumdog" kicks off at an Indian version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" where Jamal (Dev Patel) is on a roll, arousing the suspicions of the game show host and the law. Through frenetic flashbacks, Boyle reveals how a quest to track down his childhood sweetheart (Freida Pinto) lead Jamal to the game show.
1. 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' (2004)
Leave it to one of the oddest love stories (penned by "Being John Malkovich" scribe Charlie Kaufman) of the past decade to take our top spot. The story of a couple that undergoes a procedure to erase each other from their memories to get over a bad breakup doesn't scream Romance of the Decade. But anyone who's seen this brazenly original and undeniably affecting drama, starring an against-type Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet, will likely attest that this is one love story for the ages. Directed by music video icon Michael Gondry, "Eternal Sunshine" is a non-stop visual treat that hops from past to present, sure to make you laugh, cry and want to hold onto your loved one tight.
Originally published February 11, 2011.