Recommendations for a Unique Valentine’s Day

Everyone knows the romantic movie staples like Gone With the Wind, Sleepless In Seattle and Casablanca, but when it comes to choosing extraordinary, hidden gems that your date probably hasn't seen eight thousand times before, it can get a little tougher. Even if you are dateless in Seattle--or wherever you may be-- here's a list of some of my favorite romantic (and even two anti-romantic) movies for those looking for something unique. I've tried to create a list that would appeal to all and hopefully you'll agree that there's something for everyone.

1) If you dug Richard Linklater's chatty romances Before Sunrise & Before Sunset, check out Dream for an Insomniac or The Tao of Steve.

2) More interested in Science Fiction or Fantasy? How about the best time traveling Generation X indie Happy Accidents or, for the magic lover in all of us, France's Girl on the Bridge or the new Edward Norton film The Illusionist.

3) Do you prefer big splashy, ensemble romances like Love Actually? Track down Playing By Heart, the funny, touching, sad and beautiful sleeper starring Angelina Jolie, Gena Rowlands, Jon Stewart, Dennis Quaid and more. While I'm warning you that it begins on a tragic note, stay with the film as it's well worth the rewards.

4) And for female workaholics who’ve worn out their copies of Working Girl and The Devil Wears Prada? Try Something New starring Sanaa Lathan.

5) Tired of My Big Fat Greek Wedding? Try Mira Nair’s sumptuous Monsoon Wedding.

6) Have you seen Pride and Prejudice so much that you know all the lines? Pick up the superior BBC miniseries starring the true Mr. Darcy, Colin Firth. Note: recently the prices for the DVD set have been lowered so much that it's nearly cheaper than renting all six parts.

7) Looking for an Amelie for the middle-aged set? Live La Dolce Vita with Bread and Roses.

8) Chocolat doesn’t tempt anymore? Check out the director’s more recent film Casanova.

9) Looking for a more authentic Bollywood styled love story than Bride and Prejudice? Check out the Oscar nominated Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India.

10) Love Lost in Translation? Try one of the films that inspired it, Wong Kar-Wai’s hypnotic and sensual In The Mood for Love.

11) Looking to explore unknown foreign territory? Visit Film Movement's website (in links at left) and check out Ginger and Cinnamon and The Republic of Love. Or for those wanting to travel to another country in a more accessible way, check out the gorgeous new DVD version of The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

12) Seaching for a single girl’s ode to love that may not always work out a la Under the Tuscan Sun? Go to England with I Capture The Castle or to the inviting American south where stories abound with Rich In Love.

13) How about forgotten classics starring the two Miss Hepburns? See Katherine dazzle Cary Grant in Holiday (now restored and available on DVD) and Audrey bewitch Gary Cooper in Billy Wilder's Love in the Afternoon.

14) Or for something brand new, check out Sofia Coppola's gorgeous Marie Antoinette (coming to DVD on February 13) and make sure you pick up the two-disc soundtrack while you're at it as it's the best one of last year.

15) Seen too much Bollywood? Try the classic French musical The Umbrellas of Cherbourg and just try to get the main title tune out of your head.

16) Suffering from Garden State overload? Check out Cameron Crowe's underrated and similarly themed Elizabethtown (again with such an amazing soundtrack that it had to be released as two volumes). Or for a cult classic that probably inspired both of these modern tales, there's nothing better than Harold and Maude.

17) Trying to find an epic action romance other than Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon—check out The House of Flying Daggers. Or if you're in the mood for non-martial arts action and have seen Titanic and Gladiator way too much, search for newer epics Tristan and Isolde or The New World.

18) Seen baby put in the corner too many times in Dirty Dancing? Look for 90's sports romance The Cutting Edge or the American version of Nick Hornby's Fever Pitch, a modern-day romantic comedy starring Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon.

19) More interested in hip neo-noir? Check out the best onscreen adaptation of an Elmore Leonard novel yet, Steven Soderbergh's excellent Out of Sight.

20) And no, I didn't forget those without a date or still reeling from a really bad breakup. Check out the best anti-romantic dark comedy-- Martin Scorsese's 80's cult classic After Hours-- because no matter what pain you're going through, chances are Griffin Dunne's character is going through a night that's at least one hundred times worse; therefore it makes cathartic viewing for the rest of us! And, for a total change of pace, make it a Marty double feature by renting The Departed (new to DVD next week).

All films should be available via Amazon, Netflix or Film Movement.