Valentine’s Day is upon us once again. However, if you’re not in the mood for love, don’t worry – you can buy yourself some flowers and/or chocolates and work your way through our picks of the best anti-Valentine’s Day movies.
But what makes a movie “anti-Valentine’s”? Well, we’ve decided that it’s any movie that makes you feel better about being on your own, so these movies fall into the following categories: empowering stories in which the protagonist embraces being single, odes to platonic love over romantic love, or films about couples who make you wonder whether relationships might be more trouble than they’re worth.
If you’d rather indulge in something a little more sentimental, however, we’ve got you covered on that front, too – you can check out our list of the best romantic comedies of all time for a little more traditional viewing this February 14. But if your vibe is more on the “bah humbug” side of things, scroll on to check out our picks of the best anti-Valentine’s Day movies.
Frances Ha is a movie about learning to be okay on your own. Greta Gerwig plays the title character, a young woman living in New York City who suddenly finds herself in the need of new roommates when her best friend Sophie (Mickey Sumner) decides to move in with her boyfriend.
Struggling with money, friendships, and navigating being single, Frances spends a lot of the movie grappling with loneliness. It’s a common feeling for a lot of 20-somethings, especially if you’re living in a big city far from home – and especially now, in the middle of a pandemic. Over the course of the movie, Frances learns to cope with this and, crucially, how to be alone without feeling lonely.
I’m Your Woman
Set in the ’70s, I’m Your Woman follows Jean (Rachel Brosnahan), a housewife who suddenly has to strike out on her own without her husband. Not by choice, sure – her husband, Eddie (Bill Heck) is involved with some, uh, less-than-legal business, and one day he goes missing. Jean’s life is now in danger and, with no idea what’s going on, she has to drop everything and run – with a baby in tow, too.
The movie shows that sometimes you’re better off on your own – ultimately, it’s not Jean’s husband that keeps her going, it’s the friends she makes along the way, the love for her son, and her own courage and determination.
Alien is a study of what one woman can achieve on her own (albeit with the help of Jonesy, the cat). Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is part of the crew of a commercial spaceship that encounters a distress signal from a planet on its way back to Earth. While the ship lands and the crew attempts to locate the source of the signal, the titular alien, a deadly xenomorph, gets aboard the ship.
As the rest of the crew fail to heed her advice, Ripley faces a crisis in isolation. But – 41-year-old spoiler, sorry – she comes out of it alive. She’s a testament to what can be achieved alone (especially if you’ve got a cat by your side).
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure
If any movie characters encapsulate the power of friendship, it’s best pals Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves), everyone’s favorite slackers. And what better way to cement the bond of friendship than with an adventure? Extra points if it’s excellent. This particular excellent adventure involves time travel – if Bill and Ted don’t pass their high school history class, the course of world history will change forever, so someone from the future is sent back in time to help them.
With a loaned time machine, the pair rally together a motley crew of historical figures to aid them with their school project and save life as we know it. It’s 90 minutes of silly, harmless fun.
20th Century Women
20th Century Women is a movie about choosing your own family. Set in ’70s California, Dorothea (Annette Bening) is worried that she cannot connect with her son Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann) and enlists the help of their 17-year-old neighbor Julie (Elle Fanning) and their tenant Abbie (Greta Gerwig), a photographer undergoing cervical cancer treatment, to help her raise him.
The four of them become a rag-tag family unit of sorts – things aren’t always easy, with each person facing their own struggles, but together they just about get by. It’s a movie about love, but it’s not romantic, and it’s about building a family out of platonic partnerships – it’s a perfect anti-Valentine’s Day watch.
The central relationship in Phantom Thread isn’t exactly traditional. Set in ’50s London, fashion designer Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) takes in Alma (Vicky Krieps), a young waitress, as his muse. Reynolds has an unpredictable personality, aloof and hard to please, but the pair’s tumultuous, uneasy relationship eventually blossoms into romance – if you can call it that. When a sudden bout of illness brings them closer together, Alma realises the lengths she must go to in order to keep their spark alive.
Their relationship is a toxic power struggle that’s fascinating to watch – and enough to make even the most loved-up viewer wonder if romantic relationships are all they’re cracked up to be.
The titular character of Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut (Saoirse Ronan) may end Lady Bird alone, but she ends it at peace with herself – or, at least, on the way to being at peace with herself. Before that, the coming of age movie deals with Lady Bird’s ill-fated high school relationships – one boyfriend, Danny (Lucas Hedges), is… not interested, shall we say, while the other, Kyle (Timothée Chalamet), is just plain obnoxious. The most important element of the movie, though, is Lady Bird’s relationship with her mother, and the process of picking up the pieces of that relationship as she grows up and moves away to college. It’s a movie that reminds you which relationships matter most.
If Okja shows us anything, it’s that there’s nothing more important in life than the love between a girl and her giant, genetically modified pig. Who needs romance? In Bong Joon-ho’s 2017 movie, Mija (Ahn Seo-hyun), a young South Korean girl, is living with her grandfather and their ‘superpig’, Okja, when the American corporation that created him decides it wants him back. Mija is devastated, and she only has one goal for the rest of the movie – reunite with Okja and bring him home. She has run-ins with the corporation’s CEO and members of the Animal Liberation Front who all claim to want to help Okja, too, but it’s only Mija who’s driven by selfless love.
Marriage Story did for marriage what Jaws did for sharks. Based on director Noah Baumbach’s own divorce, the movie follows Charlie (Adam Driver), a theater director, and Nicole (Scarlett Johansson), an actor, whose marriage is on the rocks. After Nicole is offered a job in Los Angeles, she leaves Charlie in New York as his play is about to move to Broadway, and the couple decide to get divorced.
For a movie about divorce, it’s not all doom and gloom – Laura Dern has a great comic turn as Nicole’s divorce lawyer. But still, definitely one for the “couples who makes you wonder whether relationships might be more trouble than they’re worth” category.
Thelma & Louise
Thelma & Louise is, quite simply, anti-man propaganda. Just kidding. But, also, if you need a movie to convince you that you’re better off without one, this might be a good choice – there isn’t a single good one in Ridley Scott’s movie.
Thelma (Geena Davis) and Louise (Susan Sarandon) are best friends who go on a weekend road trip to escape their mundane lives in Arkansas – Thelma is a housewife with a controlling husband and Louise is a waitress in a diner. However, their weekend getaway has disastrous consequences, mostly because of the men they meet along the way. One of those men is early-’90s Brad Pitt, though, so it’s worth it, right?
Dani (Florence Pugh) and Christian (Jack Reynor) are not a great couple. No spoilers, but things don’t exactly end amicably between the two of them in Midsommar. The movie follows the couple and two of Christian’s friends as they travel to northern Sweden for a research project. Christian was on the verge of breaking up with Dani before their trip, and only changed his mind (and invited her along) because he felt guilty after she suffered a terrible family tragedy. As it becomes increasingly obvious that the commune they’re staying at is actually a cult, things take a turn for the worse and relationships are put to the test. Another one for the “more trouble than it’s worth” pile.
This is a rom-com without a happy ending – at least, not in the traditional sense. Jenny (Gina Rodriguez) is a music journalist living in New York City who’s just landed her dream job in San Francisco. The only problem is, her long-term boyfriend Nate (Lakeith Stanfield) doesn’t want to move across the country with her, and he doesn’t want a long distance relationship, either. He breaks up with her, and Jenny starts to spiral. However, this movie is still a love story – a platonic love story, because it’s Jenny’s friends (played by DeWanda Wise and Brittany Snow) who pick her back up again and make sure she still has one last great night in NYC before she moves.
Actually, you would rather watch something that’s romantic? Then check out our list of the best rom-coms to enjoy this Valentine’s Day.