10 Offbeat Movies to Watch if You’re Single & Quarantined on Valentine’s Day
Usually, if I don’t have a date on Valentine’s Day (cue wink), I get margaritas with my friends. This is something I look forward to, not only because tequila is a form of therapy (JOKING) but also because Valentine’s Day is a weird holiday that more-or-less makes single people feel like they’re lacking. During cuffing season, no less.
But because, like all of you hopefully are, I’m staying home this V-Day, it’s a great year for a movie marathon. And I’m not about to spend my evening watching a sad romance (no Romeo and Juliet — not even the Baz Luhrmann version) or a romantic movie that makes me pine for a relationship (none of that Nicholas Sparks shit, thanks).
For these reasons, I decided to make a list of offbeat Valentine’s Day movies that fit the following criteria:
- They must involve romantic love in some capacity. ’Tis the season, after all.
- They must be funny/weird/offbeat. Something that doesn’t make me feel sad or lonely or otherwise unpleasant.
So here they are! Enjoy with a margarita or three.
1. Punch-Drunk Love (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2002)
It’s no secret that I love Paul Thomas Anderson’s work, but this movie is genius. After the release of Magnolia (1999), Anderson notoriously told the press at Cannes that his next film would feature Adam Sandler and they thought he was kidding. He was not.
If you liked Uncut Gems (2019) and/or were pleasantly surprised by Sandler’s dramatic acting chops, you’ll love Punch-Drunk Love. It’s hilarious, violent, and incredibly honest, with a feel-good love story to boot.
2. Buffalo ’66 (Vincent Gallo, 1998)
In addition to being remarkably relatable in the above still, Buffalo ’66 charms audiences with its artsy color palette and bizarre storyline. In the film, Gallo’s character kidnaps Ricci’s, telling her that he needs her to pretend to be his girlfriend for just one visit to his parents’ house.
This is an unconventional film, but it’s also filled with entertaining little surprises for that same reason. The most memorable of these surprises is an almost 2-minute tap dance sequence that Ricci performs in a bowling alley.
If this movie doesn’t weird you out too much with its dialogue or its concept, you’ll appreciate it for its visuals and creativity. You’ll even find yourself rooting for our socially awkward protagonists — though trust me, you won’t envy them at all.
3. Lars and the Real Girl (Craig Gillespie, 2007)
I was floored by how much I enjoyed this movie. Ryan Gosling really demonstrates his talent in his role as Lars, an emotionally fragile man who falls in love with a sex doll.
Of course, I thought this movie was going to be funny — and it often is — but it’s more so a heartwarming story about how a community rallies around someone who needs an unconventional form of support. Wonderfully wholesome, and I usually don’t like wholesome things.
4. Obvious Child (Gillian Robespierre, 2014)
An A24 film starring Jenny Slate (of Parks and Recreation, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, and Big Mouth fame). How much more Millennial can I get?
Obvious Child is about a woman named Donna (Slate) who seeks out an abortion after getting pregnant from a one-night stand. This sounds like it would be a harrowing feminist epic, but in reality it’s a hilarious (and still feminist!) story based on Robespierre’s real-life experiences. Her goal in making the film was to flip the narrative about abortions: Not only is Donna confident and pleased with her decision, but her partner (Paul Briganti) is present and supportive.
So, in short, it’s a feel-good comedy about abortion. My kind of Valentine’s Day film.
5. Belle de Jour (Luis Buñuel, 1967)
Alright, this one might be a stretch, but I have to honor the film snob in me and throw this on here.
In the 1960s, Catherine Deneuve decided to shatter her good-girl image (earned in Jacques Demy films like The Umbrellas of Cherbourg in 1964 and The Young Girls of Rochefort in 1967) by starring in this Buñuel piece in which she plays a married woman who won’t have sex with her husband and becomes a prostitute instead. If you know Buñuel’s work, you’ll anticipate the twisted nature of this movie but also the incredible artistry. It will also leave you in a pensive, creeped-out, and decidedly not-romantic mood.
6. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (Ana Lily Amirpour, 2014)
I adore this movie. It’s an Iranian feminist vampire film shot Western-style and entirely in black and white. And somehow this hodgepodge of styles works.
Sheila Vand plays our blood-sucking main character — a vampire who defends women by descending upon the men who try to prey on them. She has an understandably bleak view on relationships and men in general until she meets Arash (Arash Marandi), whose innocence and infatuation with her throw her entire worldview into question.
It also has one of the best soundtracks I’ve ever heard. If anything, watch it just for that.
7. Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig, 2017)
Saoirse Ronan and Timothée Chalamet’s characters reminding me of how insanely awkward it is to have sex for the first time, when you have no idea what you’re doing? Amazing Valentine’s Day material.
8. Énorme (Sophie Letourneur, 2020)
Despite the husband in this film being unbelievably annoying (I can’t stress this enough), Énorme is a hilarious, role-reversing depiction of a married couple that becomes infinitely funnier when the wife gets pregnant. I haven’t laughed this hard during a sex scene since I watched The Room (2003) for the first time.
Speaking of which…
9. The Room (Tommy Wiseau, 2003)
The ultimate so-bad-it’s-good film. It’s rife with hysterical, uncomfortably long sex scenes and a ridiculous love triangle that makes it the best film to watch if you’re trying to cheer yourself up or get your mind off your own love life.
10. 500 Days of Summer (Marc Webb, 2009)
This is an easy one and a near-universal favorite. There’s nothing like a movie about the full relationship-breakup-moving on cycle to make you think big picture and realize that the current chaotic, lonely state of things is destined to pass.