A Cinematic Valentine’s Tradition

My wife and I have had this Valentine’s Day tradition for the past 3 years where instead of going out to a fancy dinner, we stay home and watch movies.  (I know.  I’m a genius.)  Since Valentine’s Day usually falls within a couple of weeks of the Academy Awards and since we’re huge movie fans and obsessed with seeing as many of the Oscar-nominated films as possible, Valentine’s Day gives us a good excuse to stay in and watch a couple of the more obscure films nominated for Oscars each year. 
The tradition is still a relatively new one, but we’ve only been married 4 ½ years.  It all began in 2009 when we were busy packing up our townhouse for a move.  Most of the downstairs consisted of stacked boxes full of our stuff, ready to move.  We had been packing all evening and instead of going out, we decided to order Italian food in, light some candles, spread out a blanket, set up a picnic in our living room, Yada Yada Yada and watch what’s left on our list of nominated films.  Along with choosing to watch those films of little consequence, we inadvertently chose the films that were more of a depressing nature, and a tradition was born. Here is a run-down of how our Valentine’s Days have shaped up over our first few years of marriage. 
On the inaugural “Valentine’s Packing Picnic with Oscar” in 2009, we chose two films.  The first was the brutally stark and depressing, Frozen River, which stars Melissa Leo who was nominated for Best Supporting Actress.  If you like films about poor people doing bizarre things for the betterment of their family, including but not limited to smuggling a newborn baby in a car over a river that has frozen over, then this just might be the film for you.  It was a downer to say the least, but that didn’t put a damper on the romance of the evening.  Nay, I would say that it made it all the more fun. 
For our second film that evening we decided to watch Vicky Christina Barcelona, one of the better Woody Allen films from the first decade of the 21rst century and one that centers on a love triangle of sorts, but also with many beautiful shots of Spain.  Penelope Cruz was nominated for and won Best Supporting Actress.  The film also stars the great Javier Bardem and the not-so-great-but-Woody’s-obsession-at-the-time Scarlett Johansson.  There’s something about people sitting around, drinking wine, talking and making bad decisions that I thoroughly enjoy.  Valentine’s Day 2009 was a supporting performance kind of night and we all know how important performance is. 
For the 2nd annual “Oscar Valentine’s Movie and a Blanket”, we decided to do the very same thing, but this time in a different house.  We got our usual Italian and made up our usual picnic, and watched In the Loop, an Adapted Screenplay nominee from that year.  It’s a very smart, darkly funny satire about the relationship between American and British politics and stars Tony Soprano, the girl from My Girl and Gabe from The Office.  It’s a neat, light little film that keeps you laughing and keeps you on your toes, though on your toes, may not be where you’d like to end up.
In 2011, the 3rd Annual “Oscar Italia Movie-palooza”, we went back to the ways of Supporting Actress and watched the grim, independent film, Animal Kingdom, which is an Australian crime drama film about a family that sort of runs the crime in their area.  It’s a good film and stars the fighting teacher that married way up from Warrior and Jacki Weaver, who was nominated for Best Supporting Actress.  It’s violent, sad and an all-around bummer of a film with a hint of Reverse Oedipus Complex; the key ingredients for a night of romance.
This year, the “Oscar Fest Movie Food Candle Magic Carpet Ride” will change course just a tad.  We will explore the far-away lands of the non-nominated films, though it could be argued that both films on the agenda deserved a nomination in certain categories.  The movie playlist this year consists of Contagion, the very depressing and unromantic disaster thriller directed by Stephen Soderbergh starring lots of famous people getting all sick and stuff followed by 50/50, a serious comedy starring Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt about just one person getting sick.  Here’s to hoping my chances are greater than 50/50.
Let’s be real, nobody likes to get out on Valentine’s Day and when I say “Nobody”, I mean me and hopefully my wife or else I’ve got a lot of making up to do.  If you already have a Valentine’s Day tradition of dressing up and going out into the cold night and waiting for a table, then consider shaking things up for once.  A change from the usual plan implies that some thought went into it.  Likewise, bringing home dinner and movies shows that you put forth some effort: 
If you’re just now realizing that it is Valentine’s Day, then I’ve got good news.  This really doesn’t take much thought or effort at all.  It just looks like it does.  And honestly, it’s the impression of thought and effort that you’re really going for anyways.
Enjoy the time together, enjoy the food, enjoy the films, but most importantly, enjoy the rewards that you will reap, my friends.  And…..ACTION!

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