Who needs romance, am I right? While couples are buying into Valentine’s Day marketing, satisfied singles can enjoy a self-date however they want. “Singles Awareness Day” may have started as a punchline, but it’s time to reclaim it — whether you want to celebrate it on its official day, Feb. 15, or any other time of the year. You don’t have to wait for anyone to text you back to pour yourself a romantic glass of wine, order your favorite meal, and settle in with one of these movies that are absolutely, 100 percent not romances.
I’ve included a range of options for however you might be feeling when Cupid Day rolls around, with some involving relationships and others having nothing to do with love at all. Whether they’re wholesome, escapist, or even vengeful, the following films refuse to bow to the media’s over-glorification of romantic relationships. Here are some great options available on major streaming services to watch on Singles Awareness Day.
Not in the mood to read? Watch our video instead:
‘Bo Burnham: Inside’ (2021)
The incredibly insightful comedy-drama special “Bo: Burnham: Inside” was written, directed, filmed, edited, and performed as a one-man show during the isolation measures of the COVID-19 pandemic. Bo Burnham performs a variety of original songs that cleverly critique the digital age, online content creation, and the societal pressures intensified by the pandemic.
The film ranges from light and humorous to deeply personal and poignant, interspersed with behind-the-scenes moments of his work, self-doubt, and mental health struggles. An innovative departure from traditional stand-up comedy, Burnham’s documentary-style narrative creates a unique experience that’s both very funny and very real.
‘David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet’ (2020)
There are lots of ways to experience love and connection besides romantic relationships, and one of them is by remembering we’re part of a beautifully diverse, interconnected world. Sir David Attenborough, the legendary British biologist, has spent a career spanning six decades reminding us of this by recording and documenting the secrets of the animal world, which has been greatly impacted by human development.
“A Life on Our Planet” takes us through Attenborough's extraordinary life and work, looking at the evolutionary history of life on Earth while reminding us about the devastating impact of humanity's footprint on the natural world. With breathtaking footage of the world’s most extraordinary wildlife and landscapes, we’re made to feel small, remembering that our daily struggles for survival and reproduction are largely the same as any other creature’s.
‘Inside Out’ (2015)
Inside the mind of a young girl named Riley (Kaitlyn Dias), personified emotions Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Bill Hader), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling) guide her through life. Riley’s world is upended when her family moves from the Midwest to San Francisco, causing a tumult of emotions. Joy spends all her time trying to keep Sadness in check, but when an accident causes the pair to be swept to the far reaches of Riley’s mind, Anger, Fear, and Disgust are left in control of Riley’s feelings, leading to escalating problems.
Joy and Sadness take a journey through Long-Term Memory, Imagination Land, and the Subconscious, where they encounter various facets of Riley's personality and long-lost friends, learning along the way that they have to work together for Riley’s sake. Imaginative, insightful, and incredibly heartwarming, “Inside Out” will give you all the feels (literally all of them) as you learn to appreciate the complexity inside you, too.
‘When Marnie Was There’ (2014)
Studio Ghibli films, in general, are a great escape on Valentine’s Day, as very few of them focus on romantic love. “When Marnie Was There” is a hauntingly beautiful story of friendship, self-discovery, and familial connection. Socially withdrawn foster kid Anna Sasaki (Sara Takatsuki) is sent to spend the summer with relatives in a rural seaside town and becomes fascinated with an abandoned mansion across a marsh. Finally reaching it, she meets a mysterious, ethereal girl named Marnie (Kasumi Arimura).
As she learns more about Marnie’s life, Anna is left wondering who and what she is. A slow and wholesome supernatural mystery that deals with loneliness, identity, and belonging, this lesser-known Ghibli masterpiece will get you thinking about connection and your sense of self in ways that have nothing to do with romance.
‘Pan's Labyrinth’ (2006)
Also dealing with escape and blurring the lines between fantasy and reality is Guillermo del Toro’s celebrated dark fantasy, “Pan’s Labyrinth.” In 1944, under authoritarian dictator Franco’s rule of Spain, young Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) moves to the countryside. Her pregnant mother has recently married a ruthless army officer who rules the women’s lives with an iron fist. While exploring the woods near the mill where they live, Ofelia discovers an ancient labyrinth and encounters a mysterious faun who tells her she’s the reincarnation of a princess of the underworld.
Ofelia is given three tasks to prove her royalty and return to her kingdom. Clever use of magical realism and a hero’s journey with a female protagonist make “Pan’s Labyrinth” stand out as a film going against the notion that the only thing young girls should aspire to is romance.
‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ (2004)
Although it’s a tiny bit about romance, the genre-defying “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” has been called an “anti-rom-com.” When reserved and introverted Joel Barish (Jim Carrey) meets free-spirited and quirky Clementine Kruczynski (Kate Winslet), they spend a day together only to realize they were once in a relationship. The nonlinear narrative reveals their painful breakup and the medical procedure each of them had to erase all memories of one another from their minds.
“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” illustrates that while not every relationship is meant to last, the lessons, experiences, and good times we’ve had are precious in the moment and not memories we should throw away. In other words, it’s perfect for a Singles Awareness Day celebration in which you reminisce on the relationships that made you who you are today.
‘Kill Bill: Volume 1’ (2003)
If feeling like a total baddie is how you want to roll on Singles Awareness Day, there’s no better viewing choice than Quentin Tarantino’s iconic “Kill Bill: Volume 1.” Beaten and bloodied at the hands of her ex-lover and boss, former assassin The Bride (Uma Thurman) wakes up from a four-year coma to discover that the baby she was carrying is gone. Setting out on a vengeful vendetta, she tracks down and picks off each of her former associates, intending to ultimately get to her ex, Bill (David Carradine).
With Tarantino’s stylish direction, which includes influences like grindhouse, samurai cinema, blaxploitation, and spaghetti Westerns, “Kill Bill: Volume 1” is the perfect outlet if Valentine’s Day makes you feel a little angry.
‘Falling Down’ (1993)
An intense character study meets a psychological thriller in “Falling Down,” which features a stellar performance from Michael Douglas as William Foster, a divorced defense engineer who has recently been laid off from his job. Stuck in an impossible traffic jam on a sweltering day in Los Angeles, Foster abandons his car on the highway and sets off on foot across the city to attend his daughter’s birthday party — in violation of a restraining order from his ex-wife.
Along the way, his encounters are colored by his anger toward what he sees as the decay of society, with his intense interactions revealing his mental unraveling. What makes “Falling Down” scary is that, although taken to the extremes of thriller cinema, Foster is a completely believable character, illustrating how one can be pushed to the edge by the frustrations of modern life. It also shows how our personal lives and dramas are tied to a bigger picture of economic disparity, violence, and community breakdown.
For when Valentine’s Day just feels like too much, “Falling Down” is available to buy or rent through Amazon Prime Video.
‘Stand by Me’ (1986)
When romance fails you, lean on your friends. “Stand By Me” is a classic coming-of-age story that serves as an ode to the bonds of friendship. In the summer of 1959 in small-town Oregon, four boys hear a report of a missing boy thought to have been hit by a train. The friends set off on a two-day hike along the railway tracks to be the first to discover the boy and become local heroes.
The journey proves to be transformational for each of them as they confront dangers along the trail, wrestle with personal demons, and face the realities of growing up. With bullies on their heels and the reality of death lying at the end of the road, none of the boys will come back the same — and neither will you.
Another fitting option if you want a dose of vengeance on Valentine’s Day, the 1976 classic horror film “Carrie” plays out the dark fantasy of making everyone who ever hurt us pay. Weird and shy Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) is raised by her religiously fanatical and abusive mother. An outcast at school, she’s frequently subjected to ridicule and bullying from her classmates.
After a nasty bullying incident when Carrie gets her first period, popular Sue (Amy Irving) asks her boyfriend and Carrie’s crush, Tommy (William Katt), to take Carrie to prom out of remorse. Meanwhile, her main bully, Chris (Nancy Allen), is banned from the prom due to the incident and plots a cruel prank to get back at Carrie. Little do they know she’s harboring a dark secret that neither her classmates nor her mother want to mess with.
‘The Wizard of Oz’ (1939)
“The Wizard of Oz” is wonderfully removed from anything to do with love or romance, focusing on friendships, bravery, open-mindedness, and an appreciation for our home and family. Kansas girl Dorothy Gale (Judy Garland) lives with her Aunt Em, Uncle Henry, and her beloved dog, Toto. After a harsh encounter with a neighbor who wants to take Toto away, Dorothy runs away from home and gets caught in a tornado, whisking her away to the magical land of Oz.
Advised that to return home she must go to the Emerald City and seek the help of the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy sets off along the Yellow Brick Road. On her journey, she befriends three companions, each bearing resemblance to a friend back home, and each seeking something from the Wizard. Facing many obstacles in Oz, they come to realize that what each of them seeks has actually been inside them all along. Heartwarming, wholesome, and celebrating the entirely unromantic connections in our lives, you can’t go wrong with “The Wizard of Oz” as an anti-Valentine’s Day watch.