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Solid romance movies are hard to come by. Some are too cheesy and others lack substance. Plus, with Netflix offering thousands of titles to choose from, the search for a tug-at-your-heartstrings kind of movie can be daunting. Lucky for you, we have shed the tears and let out a collective “You went back to him?” groan to compile the perfect list of romance movies. Here are our choices for the best romance flicks on Netflix.
One of the iconic films of the New Hollywood era, Mike Nichols’ 1967 movie The Graduate follows Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman), a young man who moves back in with his parents after graduating college, unsure of what to do next in life. His dull summer gets a little more exciting when he begins an affair with family friend Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), but their loveless tryst gets more complicated when Ben falls in love with her daughter, Elaine (Katharine Ross). The Graduate is a fascinating, character-driven romantic comedy, one with characters who don’t fit into easy boxes.
After a teenage fling, childhood friends Sasha (Ali Wong) and Marcus (Randall Park) go their separate ways. She grows up to be a celebrity chef, engaged to a successful businessman, while Marcus stays in San Francisco to help out with his father’s air conditioner installation business. When Sasha’s boyfriend keeps putting off their wedding, she breaks up with him and moves back to San Francisco, where fate reunites her with Marcus. The two start hanging out again, and Marcus’s old feelings for Sasha reignite, but he has to deal with his feelings of inadequacy as well as her new boyfriend, Keanu Reeves (playing himself). Always Be My Maybe doesn’t reinvent the rom-com formula, but it executes it well, and all the actors involved give it their all (especially Reeves, delightfully over-the-top).
After her boyfriend dumps her (in a public restroom, no less), stand-up comedian Donna Stern (Jenny Slate) decides to get over him by having a one night stand with a stranger, Max (Jake Lacy). Weeks later, Donna realizes she is pregnant and decides to have an abortion, but her life gets even more complicated when Max tracks her down and tries to start an actual relationship. Obvious Child is determined to wade through the gross muck of relationships, and its honesty about the difficulties of an unplanned pregnancy is refreshing. Slate is also perfect in the lead role, conveying her character’s ups and downs with aplomb.
Following the end of World War II, London writer Juliet Ashton (Lily James) bonds with the residents of Guernsey while writing her latest book. The colorful locals share their experiences of living on the once Nazi-occupied island with her, and the founding of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. This romantic hidden gem, based on a book of the same name by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, will dazzle fans of period pieces and romance alike.
Alex Strangelove is a coming-of-age story about Alex Truelove (Daniel Doheny), a high-school student who is ready to lose his virginity to his girlfriend, Claire (Madeline Weinstein). Things get complicated, however, when he meets Elliot (Antonio Marziale), a charming gay kid. This sends him on an emotional roller coaster, where his sexuality is blurred as his feelings for Elliot deepen. In the end, it’s a story of self-discovery and sexuality during an age where nothing makes sense. The well-cast ensemble and homages to teenage classics like Sixteen Candles are simply a plus.
Few films are as beautiful, subtle, and beguiling as Carol. Based on author Patricia Highsmith’s groundbreaking novel, The Price of Salt, the film chronicles a forbidden love affair between a budding photographer (Rooney Mara) and an older woman amid a challenging divorce (Cate Blanchett) at the onset of the 1950s. It’s a film that conveys much with few words — namely due to Mara and Blanchett’s exemplary performances and Edward Lachman’s muted cinematography — and speaks volumes regarding the nature of romantic desire. “Electrifying” is one way to put it; “profound” is another.
In the Netflix original Ibiza, Harper (Gillian Jacobs) is sent to Spain for a business meeting, so she naturally brings her two best friends, Nikki (Vanessa Bayer) and Leah (Phoebe Robinson), to join along in the merriment. Harper meets a famous DJ, Leo (Richard Madden), and her friends convince her to throw caution — and her meeting — to the wind to go to Ibiza and find this man. It’s different from regular romance plots, but conventional nonetheless. With a trio of hysterical ladies, Ibiza will hit your funny bone, but not tear too hard at your heartstrings.
Ali’s Wedding is proof that a single white lie can change your life forever. Ali (Osamah Sami) is the son of a prominent Muslim clergyman, whose only wish is for his son to become a doctor. When Ali lies about his exam results — spoiler: He failed — his life changes overnight. He is quickly arranged to be married, even though he has fallen for a Lebanese woman named Dianna (Helana Sawires). Ali’s Wedding may border on cliche at times, particularly when it comes to cultural norms and issues of race, but the offbeat comedy still has its heart in the right place.
Blue Valentine is a love story of the everyday struggle. It follows two people through their journey of falling in love, getting married, having a child, and falling out of love. Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams) are a young, working-class married couple. You experience their hardships and their triumphs. In the present day, Dean is pleading for their marriage to work, and Cindy is trying to decide if it’s worth it. This may not be a happy-ending-type romance, but it can’t always be happily ever after, right?
Written, directed, and produced by Spike Jonze, Her is not your average love story. Theodore, the main character, (Joaquin Phoenix) is a lonely man who spends most of his time playing video games. He decides to buy the brand new OS1, the world’s first artificially intelligent operating system. Her name is Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) and she is everything Theodore could want in a woman, but she isn’t real. Her explores what it would be like to fall in love with something you can’t see or touch. The Oscar-winning movie for Best Original Screenplay, Her is a new but relatable kind of love story.
Based on the novel of the same name, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is about a teenager named Lara (Lana Condor), whose life is turned upside down when love letters she has written to her crushes — meant for her eyes only — are mailed out. Each of her five previous loves confronts her one by one in an awkward, cringe-worthy fashion. Lara, normally a shy girl, must face the reality that her secrets are now out. She breaks through her shy exterior and lets herself have extraordinary experiences, and maybe she even finds love? This Netflix original will solidify your notions that high school was a rough time for all, but not without pulling at your heartstrings first.
Based on the best-selling novel of the same name, Nappily Ever After tells the story of Violet Jones, played by Sanaa Lathan, who seemingly has it all — the job, the boyfriend, the hair — until it all falls apart. She comes to realize that the life she thought she wanted isn’t actually the life for her. In a late-night breaking point, Violet cuts all her hair off, shedding more than just her locks in the process. When she goes on a date with a soulful barber, she begins to understand what true happiness means to her. The Netflix original is a feel-good romance where one woman finds out what is most important to her.
Not all love stories are confined to America. In Been So Long, Michaela Coel (Black Mirror, Chewing Gum) plays Simone, a committed single mother living in London who falls — rather unexpectedly — for a man (Arinzé Kene) who may or may not be living in the shadow of his troubled past. Part musical part romance, the Netflix Original is a pure portrayal of finding love during a time when life is already complicated enough. It’s based on the stage musical by Ché Walker and Arthur Darvill, and as such, you can expect the modern-day tale to incorporate elements of funk and soul, not to mention plenty of mood lighting.
Based on David Nicholls’ best-selling book, One Day follows Dexter (Jim Sturgess) and Emma (Anne Hathaway) on the same day for 23 years. The films starts in 1988 on the day of their college graduation, and follows them throughout the course of their lives, providing only a snippet as to what happens on July 15. Sometimes the two are together and other times they’re seeing other people, though, they seemingly always find their way back to one another. It may not seem like a typical romance movie, but their love for one another is hard to deny. Pro tip: Keep some tissues handy.
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