With Valentine's Day falling on Tuesday this year, a night out on the town may not be the most practical plan for couples determined to celebrate on the official day of love.
Of course, film fans know that you can always find romance with a good DVD, Blu-ray or Netflix stream.
Way back on Feb. 14, 2008, I posted my first entry on my new blog, BAM's Blog: a list of my favorite films appropriate for Valentine's Day home viewing, conveniently categorized so that lovebirds of every feather could find the ideal cinematic treat for Valentine's Day.
Some traditions are worth keeping, so here is a preview of the 2012 edition of the BAM's Blog recommended Valentine's Day DVDs. On Tuesday, look for the full, official fifth annual list, which has been updated since last year to include a few more films that I've recently fallen for, at blog.newsok.com/bamsblog.
The films in this category must be both uproariously funny and awe-inspiringly romantic. For all the rom-coms coming out of Hollywood, it's telling that this part of the list gets updated the least:
• “It Happened One Night” (1934): An out-of-work reporter (Clark Gable) and rebellious heiress (Claudette Colbert) take a bumpy road trip in Frank Capra's Oscar-winner.
“The Philadelphia Story” (1940): Katharine Hepburn, Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant get entangled in a love pentagon in this classic screwball comedy, which happens to be one of my all-time favorite movies.
• “When Harry Met Sally” (1989): Hilarity ensues as Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan) move from loathing to friendship to love.
• “Bridget Jones's Diary” (2001): Brit Bridget Jones (Renee Zellweger) tries to improve her life and find real love in this chick flick.
Happily ever after
Fairy tales and other fantasies appear here; in this category, the path to true love may be perilous, but love eventually wins the day:
• “Breakfast at Tiffany's” (1961): True love develops between professional escort Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) and kept man Paul “Fred” Varjak (George Peppard) in the iconic film from the late, great director Blake Edwards, a Tulsa native.
• “Ladyhawke” (1985): A knight (Rutger Hauer) and his lady fair (Michelle Pfeiffer) must break the curse set on them by an evil bishop (John Wood). Just try to ignore the dated '80s soundtrack from The Alan Parsons Project collaborator Andrew Powell. (I'm just sure music in the 12th century didn't use quite so many synthesizers.)
• “Serendipity” (2001): Suspend your disbelief and enjoy Jonathan (John Cusack) and Sara's (Kate Beckinsale) efforts to find one another after their magical first meeting. The film recently was released on Blu-ray, for extra lovely viewing.
“Jane Eyre” (2011): Director Cary Fukunaga (“Sin Nombre”) and his talented young cast, including Mia Wasikowska, Michael Fassbender and Jamie Bell, bring fresh energy to the often-adapted Gothic tale. Every aspect of the narrative is heightened: The mystery crackles with suspense, the romance smolders with sensuality, and the coming-of-age story flares with intensity.
If you need or enjoy a good weep, one of these films just might be for you. Some of the endings are kind of happy, others are a bit tragic, but love is what makes the world go 'round in these tales:
• “Casablanca” (1942): Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman give up their passionate love affair to save the world from the Nazis. Sigh. A classic.
• “Like Water for Chocolate” (1992): Tita (Lumi Cavazos) and Pedro (Marco Leonardi) are desperately in love, but tradition prohibits Tita, the youngest daughter in her family, from marrying, instead condemning her to a lifetime of caring for her tyrannical mother (Regina Torne). The Mexican movie was nominated for a 1993 Golden Globe for best foreign language film.
• “Once” (2007): A Dublin, Ireland, street musician (Glen Hansard) and talented Eastern European immigrant (Marketa Irglova) make beautiful music together, but she has a husband and he has a girlfriend. Will they become a duet or go their separate ways? The movie, which won a best original song Oscar for the gorgeous theme “Falling Slowly,” has been adapted for the stage and is set to debut soon on Broadway.
• “(500) Days of Summer” (2009): In his feature film debut, Marc Webb, director of the upcoming reboot “The Amazing Super-Man,” cast off the wretched conventions of modern- day romantic comedies, telling an emotionally resonant love story with a nonlinear plot line, amazing soundtrack and strong performances from Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel.
So what if you have a couple of tykes snuggled between you and your sweetie on the couch? You can still enjoy a romantic movie that's appropriate for the whole clan:
• Any of the Disney “princess” movies: The ones with my favorite heroines include “Mulan,” “Aladdin” and “Tangled,” along with “Beauty and the Beast,” which is still showing in 3-D in some movie theaters.
• “The Princess Bride” (1987): Westley (Cary Elwes) refuses to let pirates, a prince or even death come between him and his Princess Buttercup (Robin Wright).
• “Shrek” (2001) and “Shrek 2” (2004): Grumpy ogre Shrek (voice of Mike Myers) and his Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz) discover that their love isn't based on society's rules of beauty. And that's OK.
• “WALL-E” (2008): A lonely trash-compacting robot finds a hand to hold with a sleek probe droid in another of Pixar's winners for best animated film.
Say you enjoy your romance mixed with plenty of action, maybe even some cinematic gunplay. Consider yourself locked and loaded with these films:
• “The Terminator” (1984): Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) travels across time to save Sarah Conner (Linda Hamilton) from the Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger). He travels across time for her! Now that's romantic.
• “Desperado” (1995): It's got Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek falling in love between all the flying bullets, so this actioner offers everyone someone quite nice to look at.
• “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” (2005): Shawnee-born Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have smokin' chemistry as assassins on opposite sides.
• “300” (2006): Sure, most of this pumped-up Greek legend is focused on big battle sequences and impressive pectorals, but King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) and Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey) make one hot power couple.