Have we ever needed escapist entertainment more than we do right now, in February 2021? We don’t think so. Whether you’re single and unattached or in a couple/thruple/an it’s-complicated situationship, these fun movies about romance and relationships will transport you to a less complicated world, where only one thing really matters – love.
New releases you might have missed
Put this generation-crossing romance movie at the top of your To Watch list this Valentine’s month. Golden Globe and Emmy nominee Issa Rae (Insecure) was nominated for a 2020 People’s Choice Award for her performance here as gallery curator Mae, who falls for Michael (BAFTA nominee and Black Reel winner Lakeith Stanfield from Atlanta and Knives Out), a journalist documenting the life of Mae’s famous late mother, who was better at photographing people than loving them.
Golden Globe nominee Courtney B Vance (Lovecraft Country, American Crime Story); Black Reel winner Rob Morgan (This Is Us, Mudbound); Sundance Film Festival Breakthrough Performance winner Chanté Adams (Roxanne Roxanne, Monsters and Men); and Chelsea Peretti (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) co-star.
Rotten Tomatoes’ critics consensus praises its “gorgeous visuals”, “affecting love story, and simmering chemistry between Issa Rae and Lakeith Stanfield.”
Romantic comedy Can You Keep a Secret? kicks off with a bad work trip turned worse when junior marketing rep Emma Corrigan finds herself on a plane that seems to be going down. Thinking they’re about to crash, Emma spills her innermost secrets to the handsome stranger seated next to her, only to discover later that he’s her company’s young CEO, who now knows every humiliating detail about her.
Based on the New York Times bestseller by Sophie Kinsella, Can You Keep a Secret? stars three-time Teen Choice nominee Alexandra Daddario (Why Women Kill, the Percy Jackson films), Teen Choice winner Tyler Hoechlin (Superman in Supergirl and the upcoming Superman and Lois), four-time Emmy nominee Laverne Cox and Kimiko Glenn from Orange is the New Black, and Sunita Mani (GLOW).
Variety calls Can You Keep A Secret? a “breezy romantic comedy… buoyed by two great leads.”
The Wedding Year follows LA photographer and self-confessed commitment-phobe Mara, who is ju-ust about pulling off a real relationship, until she and her new boyfriend suddenly find themselves invited to one wedding after another in the same year.
The romantic comedy stars Sarah Hyland (a five-time Teen Choice nominee for her role as Hayley in Modern Family) and Tyler James Williams (a Teen Choice nominee for his starring role in Everybody Hates Chris, and Black Reel Award winner for Dear White People).
Teen Choice winner and People’s Choice nominee Jenna Dewan (Supergirl’s Lucy Lane, Step Up) and Anna Camp (Pitch Perfect, True Blood) co-star, and you can also look out for Laci Mosley (Florida Girls), and Emmy winners Wanda Sykes (Jexi, Black-ish, The New Adventures of Old Christine) and Keith David (Greenleaf, Jackie Robinson).
Based on the true-life love story of Grammy-nominated Christian music star Jeremy Camp, the moving romantic drama I Still Believe traces a journey of love, loss and devotion to prove there is always hope.
Saturn award winner and Teen Choice nominee K.J. Apa (Riverdale’s Archie Andrews) was nominated for a 2020 People’s Choice Award for his portrayal of Camp. Teen Choice nominee Britt Robertson (Tomorrowland, The Space Between Us) co-stars, along with Oscar nominee Gary Sinese (Forrest Gump, 13 Reasons Why) and Grammy winner and country pop queen Shania Twain.
The film has a 98% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes and a four-star rating on Common Sense Media, where it’s recommended for ages 10 and up.
“This love story has the heart swells of The Notebook, the unexpected twists of a Nicholas Sparks novel, and the anguish of The Fault in Our Stars: The proof is your depleted tissue box,” Common Sense says, calling it “a victory for the Christian creative community,” and praising its cinematography and the central characters, who they say are “just the kind of people most parents would like their kids to spend time with.”
Named Best Non-US release by the Online Film Critics’ Society Awards, the romantic comedy directed by Woody Allen follows a young couple arriving in New York for a weekend, where they are met with bad weather and a series of romantic misadventures.
Oscar nominee Timothée Chalamet (Ladybird, Call Me by Your Name), and Teen Choice and Saturn Award nominee Elle Fanning (Galveston, Maleficent) star alongside Oscar nominee Jude Law (The Young Pope), six-time Golden Globe nominee Liev Schreiber (Ray Donovan), Saturn Award and Teen Choice nominee Diego Luna (Rogue One), and People’s Choice, Teen Choice and Kids’ Choice award winner Selena Gomez (Wizards of Waverly Place).
South African love stories
Boy meets girl, again, in The Day We Didn’t Meet, which follows one-time lovers Alex and Sam, whose reunion could be total coincidence, or fate giving them one last shot at love. In a game of ‘let’s pretend’ that spirals out of control, the two find themselves pretending they’re an old married couple, but reality keeps knocking at the door until they are unable to seek refuge in their fabricated fantasy.
The local romance stars Silwerskerm Best Actress winner Lea Vivier (DAM, Wonderlus, Fynskrif) and Steven John Ward (Inconceivable, Vagrant Queen), as well as the likes of aKing frontman Laudo Liebenberg (DAM, Black Sails, Die Byl), SAFTA nominee Jennifer Steyn (DAM, Goodbye Bafana), Cedwyn Joel (Suidooster, Generations) and Francis Chouler (DAM, Eye in the Sky).
Directed by Lizé Vosloo (screenwriter on Raaiselkind, Alles Malan and Nul Is Nie Niks Nie), Home Affairs: Love Story brings back the cast of Home Affairs: A Christmas Tale: rising stars Hilton Pelser (The Kissing Booth 1 and 2, Moffie), David Viviers (Rage, Tali’s Baby Diary), Bronté Snell (Sara Se Geheim), Shamilla Miller (The Girl From St Agnes, Blood & Water, Tali’s Baby Diary), Fleur du Cap winner Rehane Abrahams (Arendsvlei, Vimeo Staff Pick short film Buitenkant) and Celeste Loots, alongside industry veterans like SAFTA winner Deon Lotz (Skoonheid, Tali’s Baby Diary) and Elsabé Daneel (Alles Malan).
No Hiding Here is a gay romcom set in a small South African town, where a beloved drama teacher accidentally plays gay porn over the biggest school event of the year, forcing him, and the event’s guest and featured artist – a closeted big city celebrity – into hiding from the outraged community. Off to a rough start, the two are propelled out of their ‘normal lives’ for an unpredictable weekend at the teacher’s house, hiding from their problems, from themselves, and from an outraged community on the hunt for answers to the tantalizing scandal…
Written and directed by actor Gabe Gabriel, No Hiding Here stars 2020 Fleur du Cap winner Earl Gregory (the stage production of Kinky Boots), David Viviers (Kanarie, Rage, Tali’s Baby Diary), SAFTA winner Tiffany Barbuzano (Still Breathing), and multi-award-winning theatre legend Antoinette Kellerman (Mad Max: Fury Road), with a rare local appearance from rising international star Phumzile Sitole (Star Trek: Discovery, Orange is the New Black, The Good Fight).
Henk and Sofia fell in love too soon, got married too soon, and now they’re getting divorced too soon. As soon as their divorce is over, they end up in bed together – for the first time in over a year. They couldn’t make the marriage work, but maybe a new type of relationship could? As long as they follow the rules…
From SAFTA- and Silwerskerm-winning writer-director Johan Cronjé (Wonderlus), Meisies Wat Fluit stars SAFTA winner Stiaan Smith (Hotel, Wonderlus and Vuil Wasgoed) as Henk and Leandie du Randt (Vuil Wasgoed, Jagveld and Thys en Trix) as Sofia. SAFTA and Silwerskerm winner Bennie Fourie (Vuil Wasgoed, Hotel) also features.
An acclaimed African love story
Wanuri Kahiu’s Rafiki was named Outstanding Film – Limited Release at the 2020 GLAAD Media Awards, which recognise and honour media for their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community and the issues that affect their lives. Rafiki beat out the likes of Pedro Almodóvar’s Pain and Glory, nominated for both Oscars and Golden Globes this year; 2020 Golden Globe and BAFTA nominee Portrait of A Lady On Fire; Sundance audience award winner Brittany Runs a Marathon; and South African favourite Kanarie, starring Schalk Bezuidenhout.
“Good Kenyan girls become good Kenyan wives,” but Kena (Samantha Mugatsia, who won Best Actress at Carthage 2018 and FESPACO 2019 for the role) and Ziki (Sheila Munyiva) long for something more. When love blossoms between them, the two girls are forced to choose between happiness and safety.
The Kenyan film has a 93% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with Variety calling it “impossible not to celebrate”; RogerEbert.com “a lyrical ode to finding a kindred spirit amidst an uncaring majority”; AV Club “bursting with life”; and Washington Post “a small revelation, not least because it marks the breakthrough of a filmmaker of such exhilarating, cheerfully courageous vision.”
Valentine’s just wouldn’t be complete without the BAFTA-winning, Golden Globe-nominated classic romcom Notting Hill, starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant, and penned by Oscar-nominated Love Actually writer Richard Curtis. Another old favourite coming to Showmax is The Vow, which earned Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams a People’s Choice nomination for Favourite On-screen Chemistry.
When a sports agent has a moral epiphany and is fired for expressing it, he decides to put his new philosophy to the test as an independent agent with the only athlete who stays with him and his former colleague.
Tom Cruise won the Best Actor Golden Globe; Cuba Gooding Jnr won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar; Renee Zellweger was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award; and Jerry Maguire won the People’s Choice award for Favourite Dramatic Movie.
Goaded by his buddies, a nerdy guy who’s never “done the deed” only finds the pressure mounting when he meets a single mother.
Steve Carell won the MTV Movie Award for Best Comedic Performance and The 40-Year-Old Virgin won a Critics Choice Award for Best Comedy and Movie of the Year from the American Film Institute.
The best romcoms of the 2010s
Pakistan-born comedian Kumail (Emmy nominee Kumail Nanjiani from The Twilight Zone and Silicon Valley) and grad student Emily (Emmy nominee Zoe Kazan from Olive Kitteridge) fall in love but struggle as their cultures clash. When Emily contracts a mysterious illness, Kumail finds himself forced to face her feisty parents, his family’s expectations, and his true feelings.
Nanjiani wrote this classic with his real-life wife Emily V Gordon, based on their own love story. “A classic boy-meets-girl, girl-falls-into-coma, boy-and-girl-write-Oscar-nominated-movie-about-it rom-com, in other words,” according to Rolling Stone, who included this “true tale of true love” in their roundup of the 50 best romantic comedies of all time.
Native New Yorker Rachel Chu, an economics professor, travels to Singapore to meet her boyfriend Nick’s family, but soon discovers they’re preposterously wealthy, with strong opinions about the ’class’ of person they’d like to see Nick dating.
Based on the bestselling 2013 novel by Kevin Kwan, this fairy tale romcom stars Constance Wu (Hustlers) in a Golden Globe-nominated role alongside Henry Golding (A Simple Favour) and Awkwafina (Ocean’s 8), who were both nominated for Teen Choice Awards for this film. BAFTA nominee Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and Jemma Chan (Captain Marvel) co-star.
Rolling Stone included Crazy Rich Asians in their roundup of the 50 best romantic comedies of all time, hailing it as “a funny, fluffy fantasy filled with palpable chemistry… a potent reminder of just how powerful the rom-com can be.”
Jack Malik (Himesh Patel in a 2019 Teen Choice-nominated performance) is a small-time singer-songwriter in an English coastal town who’s rapidly facing the reality that his dream probably isn’t going anywhere, in spite of the fanatical support of his best friend, manager and biggest fan, Ellie (People’s Choice, Teen Choice and Kid’s Choice nominee Lily James from Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, Baby Driver, Cinderella). Then there’s a mysterious global blackout, Jack gets hit by a bus, and wakes up to find that The Beatles never existed…
Yesterday was nominated for a People’s Choice Award for Favourite Comedy Movie, a Teen Choice Award for Choice Summer Movie, and a Saturn Award for Best Fantasy Movie, as voted by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films.
At the age of 21, Tim discovers he can travel in time and change what happens and has happened in his own life. His decision to make his world a better place by getting a girlfriend turns out not to be as easy as you might think.
Written and directed by Richard Curtis (Love Actually, Four Weddings and A Funeral), About Time stars Domhnall Gleeson (Run) and Oscar nominee Rachel McAdams (The Notebook).
About Time won Best European Film at San Sebastian, among other prizes. As Rotten Tomatoes critics consensus puts it, “Beautifully filmed and unabashedly sincere, About Time finds director Richard Curtis at his most sentimental.”
Two teen picks
You know that time you messed up in a relationship and got your heart broken, maybe let the one that could have been The One slip through your fingers? Well, what if you could go back and fix it ? What if, like teen genius Stillman, you had a time machine, that would give you all the do-overs you needed to get it right?
Expanded from director Andrew Bowler’s Oscar-nominated short film, this comedy drama with a sci-fi twist was nominated for a 2019 Saturn Award, as voted by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films. Critics Choice and Teen Choice nominee Asa Butterfield (Sex Education) stars opposite Emmy nominee Sophie Turner (Game of Thrones’ Sansa Stark, Dark Phoenix); and Skylar Gisondo (The Righteous Gemstones, Santa Clarita Diet).
Los Angeles Times calls it “a whimsical rom-com that’s a little bit Hot Tub Time Machine, and a little bit Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.”
High school student Nick O’Leary, member of the Queercore band The Jerk Offs, meets college-bound Norah Silverberg when she asks him to be her boyfriend for five minutes.
Kat Dennings was nominated for a MTV Movie + TV Award for Best Breakthrough Performance and a Best Actress: Music/Dance award at the Teen Choice awards, where Michael Cera was also up for Best Actor and the film was up for Choice Movie: Music/Dance.