6. Once (2007)
Being single isn’t about perpetually being on the hunt for your next partner: in fact, it can be awfully refreshing when you strike up a platonic relationship with a kindred spirit. Such is the story of Once, when a would-be romance works out much better for both people involved as they develop a creative partnership instead.
Guy is a thirty-something street busker who sings songs about his ex-girlfriend, while Girl is a flower seller and piano player who strike up a friendship. While Guy initially pursues her romantically, she reveals she has a husband in the Czech Republic and encourages him to reunite with his ex. But their relationship doesn’t end there, and in fact becomes something deeper as their musical partnership encourages both in their passions.
A romantic film that has a rare take at the power of platonic relationships, Once is a charming and musical movie that goes to show that a relationship doesn’t need to be based on sex or love to be fulfilling—in fact, some of the best relationships can be forged based on shared passions rather than passion itself.
7. Chasing Amy (1997)
Oh, relationships: they sure can be messy. Many of us tend to take the road of most resistance in our romantic pursuits for difficult to discern reasons. Maybe it has to do with feeling like one’s won or conquered something, but as many singles can tell you, often going after the most difficult romantic target leads to an emotional disaster. Even worse is when it turns out that you’re your own worst enemy in a relationship.
Consider the case presented to the audience in Chasing Amy: Holden (Ben Affleck) writes a successful comic book with his best friend Banky (Jason Lee), but after he meets fellow comic artist Alyssa (Joey Lauren Adams), their professional and personal relationship stumbles. Further straining this is that Alyssa is a lesbian, which doesn’t stop Holden from trying to start a romantic relationship with her.
He eventually succeeds, and for a while they are happy—until Banky reveals that Alyssa has a much more colorful past than she first let on.
Chasing Amy is arguably Kevin Smith’s best film and one that approaches the often confronted but rarely depicted issues in relationships—jealousy over a partner’s sexual history especially—that people face. Singles will appreciate its mature and unique look at an ultimately doomed love affair, and maybe some will even see some aspects of themselves in the characters and how they may have made the same mistakes before—and hopefully won’t again.
8. Revolutionary Road (2008)
As any happily single person will tell anyone that listens, being single is awesome: you are beholden to no one, can do whatever you want at any time, and none of the responsibilities that come with marriage (and children, especially) are there to weigh them down. As such, watching movies about doomed, unhappy marriages can be a bit of a guilty pleasure for singles.
And as far as doomed marriages go, Revolutionary Road is a doozy: set in 1955, a time of placid conformity in America, the Wheeler family is a young couple with children who are beginning to chafe at their bland suburban life. They soon find a new zeal after making a plan to move to Paris, but reality soon intrudes on their ambitions, leading to a tragic conclusion.
Which is horrifying to a married couple but brings a sort of sweet, cruel justification to singles who can rest assured that being alone in life at least promises more freedom than the stifling prospect of marriage.
9. Frances Ha (2012)
What’s the best thing about being single? If you said freedom, go and dance to your heart’s strange beat. Frances Ha is a film very much about the sort of freedom that being single affords. Well, single and unemployed and nearly homeless.
Frances (Greta Gerwig) is a 27-year-old fledgling dancer who finds herself rootless after her roommate moves to an apartment out of her price range. She wanders from one location to another on a small, sweet odyssey that finds her lamenting her lack of money, terrible prospects, and slow realization that she may not obtain her dreams. But the conclusion of the film finds an admirable resolution where Frances finds her own modest place in the universe, matures to an appropriate level, and finally gains some autonomy to call her own.
Singles—particularly those whose professional and personal ambitions haven’t lived up to their expectations—will find a small gem in Frances Ha, seeing themselves as rootless, dreamy, and maybe in need of a little growing up. But mostly, it’s a film about a woman whose story isn’t dependent upon being the romantic foil, which is refreshing in itself.
10. (500) Days of Summer (2009)
Hey, falling in love is great, right? You intense highs, the shattering lows, the dizzying idea that you’ve finally found someone to love that also loves you—it’s a heck of a feeling. But what happens when you’re the only one experiencing this? Such is (500) Days of Summer, where Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a romantic greeting card writer, meets quirky Summer (Zooey Deschanel) and falls head-over-heels in love with her.
Only one problem: Summer doesn’t believe in love. This doesn’t stop Tom from convincing himself that she’s “the one,” and the film skips back and forth in time throughout their relationship a la Annie Hall as Tom tries to sort out their tumultuous relationship after it ends.
And like Annie Hall, it seems (500) Days of Summer is a film made for people who have experienced—and lost—love, focusing on a particular relationship and period of time that’s a turning point for the protagonist. While it is a bit of an anti-romance film (it often veers sharply from the expected tropes viewers would expect in this kind of movie), singles will appreciate its wry look at the pitfalls of modern relationships and the expectations that people bring to relationships—whether or not the other person sees it the same way.
Ultimately, being single isn’t the end-all, be-all of life: it’s more of a temporary situation than a permanent arrangement. Besides that, being single allows one to figure out who they really are and what they truly want, in both a relationship and in life. Whether you’re happy, sad, bitter, or indifferent about your singlehood, any one of these ten films will speak to your situation—every ridiculous, confusing, lonely moment of it. Besides, as this list can attest, there are worse things than being alone.
Author Bio: Mike Gray is a writer whose work has appeared on numerous websites and maintains a TV and film site at MeLikeMovies.com.