There’s no better date night than one spent with a bowl of popcorn and a film. Although watching a movie may seem like an easy, fool-proof date idea, there’s actually a lot of planning that goes into picking the right title to suit the mood.
It’s important to take all genres, vibes, and even Letterboxd reviews into account when picking the perfect flick for a date. What if you’re a fan of arthouse cinema, but they prefer big-budget romantic comedies? Finding a date night movie that satisfies both tastes is a science.
If you two have been together for ten years and bicker like an old married couple, then there’s less of a risk in choosing a movie that’s a little out of the box. But if you’re meeting in-person for the first time after strictly speaking online or on the phone, it’s probably best to stick with a safe, crowd-pleasing favourite.
This Rob Reiner film is a classic date night movie. It has everything you could possibly want from a cinematic experience: cable-knit sweaters, New York City in the autumn, a public orgasm scene, and Carrie Fisher. Plus, the movie’s culminating New Year’s Eve party is the cherry on top of this enemies-to-lovers arc. Did we mention Carrie Fisher?
Before Sunrise (1995)
Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise is a cult classic. A young Ethan Hawke plays an American student abroad who meets a Celine, a young French woman (played by Julie Delpy) during a layover in Vienna. The two take on the city in one magical night, with such honest and natural dialogue you’re sure it was improvised (it wasn’t). It’s a bonus that the Before trilogy is the rare occasion where the second and third movies are on the par with the first.
Gone Girl (2014)
Introducing the Gone Girl test: the ultimate way to decide whether your date is worth seeing again. In this David Fincher film, Amy Dunne (played by Rosamund Pike) stages her own disappearance after finding out that her husband Nick (Ben Affleck) is cheating on her, leading Nick to become the number one suspect in her missing person case. And Iff your date thinks that Amy Dunne is the villain in the movie, they’re wrong. Head for the exit.
Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
It’s difficult to choose a Wes Anderson film that doesn’t make you want to strum a ukulele and listen to a Belle and Sebastian record with your significant other. Moonrise Kingdom is a heartwarming story about young love, as two tweens run away together – or as far as they can get on this New England island before the adults find them.
Pride & Prejudice (2005)
Who doesn’t love a period drama? Especially one with as much sexual tension and yearning as this. Pride & Prejudice is a top-tier Jane Austen adaptation. Kiera Knightley stuns as Elizabeth Bennet, but the best moment in the film arrives when Matthew Macfadyen – who plays Mr Darcy – flexes his hand after helping Elizabeth into the carriage. You need to see it to understand.
The Lobster (2016)
Yorgos Lanthimos’s dystopian drama may not be for the faint of heart, but its open-ending will have you two swapping theories all night long. In The Lobster, single people must enter into a romantic relationship within a strict time limit or else they’ll be turned into an animal of their choice. Essentially, the film is a commentary on the pressures society places on relationships. How fitting.
The Princess Bride (1987)
The Princess Bride is another classic choice, filled with sword fighting, satire, and true love. This Rob Reiner movie – he truly has perfected the date night movie genre – will have you both reciting its most quotable lines to one other all night (“Mawage is wot bwings us togeder today”). But fair warning: Your date may want to leave you for the smoke show that is Mandy Patinkin.
Shiva Baby (2020)
This indie comedy follows a young college student who faces a series of awkward encounters when she unexpectedly bumps into her married sugar daddy and her ex-girlfriend at a shiva. Shiva Baby is funny, cringey, anxiety-inducing, and definitely a quirky choice for a date night movie. Think Uncut Gems but for people who majored in women’s and gender studies in university.
Some men love nothing more than explaining movies. While Christopher Nolan’s two-and-a-half hour epic about bending time and space is certainly a head-scratcher, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to piece together the plot of this movie. And by the time your date says, “I’d like to see you again,” you would’ve mentally moved on to someone who won’t mansplain movies to you.
While this list only features nine of our favourite date night films, we can’t forget some of these honourable movie mentions that hold their own:
- All 11 hours of the Lord of the Rings: Extended Edition series to turn one date into a long, binge-able weekend!
- Twilight, but only the first movie because the blue tint is so nostalgic and comforting.
- For the singles who want to impress their dates with a foreign film, Jean-Luc Godard’s Maculin Feminin is quirky and fun. Plus, it makes you look cool when you know things about French new wave.
- Or, you can be like me and watch Robert Eggers’ The Lighthouse on a first date (PSA: Don’t be like me).