Kristy Holland
Kristy Holland

I've always thought of the "movie date" as a lazy-man's device. All he has to do is pick the biggest blockbuster, buy a couple of tickets and a bucket of popcorn, and sit through a two-hour show. There's little chance of offending his date -- or even really conversing with her -- and she's guaranteed to be entertained by Matthew McConaughey's washboard abs or otherworldly scenes brought to life by Steven Spielberg.

It's a win-win for him, because it's super easy and a dark theater can inspire romance -- especially if you're swapping spit in the back row. But, movie nights aren't exactly the setting for a creative date. Where's the planning that shows a gal she's special? Where's the opportunity to talk and get to know each other?

Unless... you break away from the multiplex mentality. Boulder isn't overflowing with indie theaters, but there are a couple of opportunities this weekend to catch an inspired flick. And, with the Oscar nominee announcements out this week, even if you do hit the 17-screen theater, you can avoid dragging your date to a dud and score points for demonstrating your appreciation of fine cinema.

Buy tickets to one of these film events and it having the bulk of your date in the dark may not kill the your opportunity to talk, but actually inspire conversation when the credits start rolling.

Bringing art-house movies to Boulder since 1941, the International Film Series is one of the few regular events in town for aspiring film critics in this town. This weekend's Sundance Shorts, an 85-minute program of 20-minute-or-less flicks featured at Sundance in 2011, is a sure-thing date pleaser. "Incident By A Bank" and "Worst Enemy" will have you giggling while some of the other films in the series are deeper -- there's really something for everyone. Even though there are four showings (Sat. and Sun., 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.; Muenzinger Auditorium ; internationalfilmseries.com) tickets are likely to sell out, so it may be worth lining up outside before the shows. For just $6 with your student ID, it's super affordable for such highbrow entertainment.

The Dairy Center's "How to Watch a Movie" series ($10; Sun. 7 p.m.; 2590 Walnut St.; thedairy.org) continues this weekend with Dr. Jim Palmer, former director of the CU Film Studies Department, discussing the award-winning 2011 documentary "Into The Abyss." The film isn't upbeat -- it's about a death row inmate's crime and the countdown of his final days -- but Palmer's pre-show commentary should give you some insight into one of today's best documentary writer/directors and, if you love getting to know a date over fiery political debates, the death-row backdrop of this emotional film should definitely inspire.

If you really do love the cushy chairs and stadium seating of the 29th Street Mall's Century Cinema, you're in luck. Five of the theater's 17 screens are still showing films called out by best picture Oscar nominations this week. "Hugo," "War Horse," "The Descendants," "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," and "The Artist" are all on the local lineup. "Hugo," a story of a tinkering Orphan set in 1930s Paris and starring Jude Law and Sacha Baron Cohen, is by far the most date-friendly in terms of subject matter. It's also the leader of the 2012 Oscar pack with more nominations -- a total of 11 -- than any other film from the last year.

Prefer outdoorsy adventure films to documentaries and drama? Mark your calendar for the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour's Boulder showings on February 28th and 29th. The all-day Boulder Theater showings are sponsored by REI and proceeds from the $15 tickets benefit CU's Outdoor Program and the Boulder Mountainbike Alliance.

Kristy Holland writes about dating once a week for the Colorado Daily. Tell her about your date-night ideas or strategies at boulderdatenight@gmail.com.