- By Rose Kennedy For the AJC
Not everyone's a Hallmark, Lifetime and Nicholas Sparks kind of Valentine's viewer.
But even the cynical and bored can get in on a little screen romance. These movies, from a wide range of cinema history, have an unusual (sometimes downright odd) take on the old boy-meets-girl formula.
"Shape of Water" (2017)
Recipient of the Best Director Golden Globe, this mythical tale is set in a Cold War American government lab. Elisa (Sally Hawkins) and Zelda (Octavia Spencer) find a classified experiment that involves an amphibious creature held in captivity. Lots of watery sex, charm and points to ponder in this instant classic.
Look for movie times and tickets to "The Shape of Water" on Fandango.
"The Graduate" (1967)
A Mike Nichols-directed classic starring Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft and Katharine Ross, "The Graduate" made its way to No. 7 on the American Film Institute's 1998 list of the 100 Greatest Movies of All Time with sharp humor and awkward scenes. The college graduate is someone we can all relate to these 50 years later: Disillusioned that his degree doesn't mean much, Dustin Hoffman's character thinks his parents are a hassle and he's in love with one woman and sleeping with the woman who gave birth to her. Part of the package is a great score from Simon and Garfunkel.
Rent "The Graduate" on Amazon or other streaming services.
"Harold and Maude" (1971)
A filthy rich youngster obsessed with death, Harold (Bud Cort) hooks up with septuagenarian Maude (Ruth Gordon) at a funeral, and a cult classic ensues.
Rent "Harold and Maude" on Google Play or other streaming services.
Zany, maybe a little obnoxious, "Ceremony" takes up the tale of a young children's book author (Michael Angarano) who writes letters to an older woman (Uma Thurman) and ends up crashing her wedding weekend. This flick is listed on Vulture's great indie romantic comedies list that didn't make more than $15 million.
Rent "Ceremony" on Amazon or other services.
"Bringing Up Baby" (1938)
An oldie but very goodie, with eccentric heiress Katharine Hepburn getting hilariously entwined with shy paleontologist Cary Grant as they try to correct a misunderstanding involving pet leopards. Great dialogue and great hats, too.
View "Bringing Up Baby" on Watch TCM or rent it on Fandango Now or other services.
"Poetic Justice" (1993)
For real, this stars Janet Jackson and Tupac Shakur as a poetic hair stylist and a postal clerk who hit the road with some quirky buddies for an overnight delivery run.
Watch "Poetic Justice" on Starz or rent it on Playstation, Amazon or other streaming services.
"Breaking Away" (1979)
Uplifting and all 70s (yeah, that's a young Dennis Quaid in there wearing cutoffs), this is the story of a small-town Midwestern kid who somehow develops a fascination for the Italian cycling team. Will biking help him win the college girl?
Rent "Breaking Away" on Google Play, Amazon or iTunes.
Sure, this was the first and far-away best Rocky Balboa film. But along with the boxing, Sylvester Stallone wrote a simple, sweet and sorta unusual romance in there, between the aspiring boxer and his favorite spinster, a pet shop clerk. "Adrian!"
Rent or buy "Rocky" on Amazon.
"Raising Arizona" (1987)
An early Coen brothers film lights up the screen with a quirky childless couple who helps themselves to another family's quintuplets. It stars Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter.
Rent "Raising Arizona" on Amazon, iTunes or other streaming services.
"Lars and the Real Girl" (2007)
In Ryan Gosling's truest acting job to date, he plays a troubled man who starts dating an, ah, doll. His relationship alters all around him and creates some great dialogue and black humor.
Watch "Lars and the Real Girl" on Starz or rent it on numerous streaming services.
"Baby Driver" (2017)
You can have action and offbeat romance, too. The proof is in this hot Edgar Wright heist movie, with its pulsing soundtrack that's almost a character, a fine turn by Jamie Foxx as a villain and lots of getaway driving. Our hero is the getaway driver and improbable charmer of a local waitress.
Rent "Baby Driver" at Fandango Now or other streaming services.
"Fried Green Tomatoes" (1991)
A tangle of Southern drama, 60s girl power and a crafty murder scene, "Fried Green Tomatoes" also teases out an unlikely (for the times) romance by the end. Novelist Fannie Flagg wrote the book and the screenplay, and the show stars Kathy Bates, Jessica Tandy and Mary Stuart Masterson, with Cicely Tyson as Sipsy.
Rent "Fried Green Tomatoes" on Amazon or from other services.
"The African Queen" (1951)
An oddball couple who start out as a prim missionary (Katharine Hepburn) and an unwilling hero of a riverboat captain (Humphrey Bogart) end up fighting Nazis. For a different take on the ending, check out the C.S. Forester novel that James Agee adapted for the screen.
Watch "The African Queen" on Netflix.
In this Western that's loosely based on history, heartthrobs Paul Newman and Robert Redford play the namesake anti-hero robbers. The offbeat romance enters with Katharine Ross playing Etta Place, the 26-year-old school teacher who follows them on the lam and loves them both. Her lovely line: "I won't watch you die. I'll miss that scene if you don't mind."
Watch "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" on Cinemax or rent it on various streaming services.