In real life, we hope to find love that is as minimally dramatic as possible. But that’s no fun in the movies! If you believe that love always prevails, you likely love romance movies. But it’s a whole lot more fun to watch if love prevails only after a series of challenges. Romance movies allow us to experience powerful emotional connections vicariously through the characters on screen, without having to worry about all that drama in our own lives.
Fortunately, Netflix has a robust lineup of the very best romance movies. We’ve gone through the streaming giant’s formidable library to find the best romance movies available to stream now.
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Malcolm & Marie (2021)
While Malcolm & Marie may be a bit soapy for some, it will very likely hit all the right tones for the hopeless romantics. After the premiere of his new movie, a filmmaker (John David Washington) and his girlfriend (Zendaya) return home with the expectation of an imminent windfall of critical and financial success. As they celebrate, the night takes a turn when revelations about past relationships arise, testing the strength of their bond in the face of an incoming, drastic change.
Rotten Tomatoes: 66%
Stars: Zendaya, John David Washington
Director: Sam Levinson
Runtime: 106 minutes
A Little Chaos (2014)
The late, great Alan Rickman directed this saucy, romantic tale centered on King Louis XIV of France’s royal court. The king’s chief landscape architect (Matthias Schoenaerts) makes the strange decision to hire a woman (Kate Winslet) to create a lavish garden at Versailles, striking off scandal and intrigue in the court. But there’s also scandal and intrigue behind the scenes.
Rotten Tomatoes: 48%
Stars: Kate Winslet, Matthias Schoenaerts, Alan Rickman
Director: Alan Rickman
Runtime: 116 minutes
A Walk to Remember (2002)
The Notebook before The Notebook, A Walk to Remember captured the imaginations and hearts of millennial high schoolers across the country in 2002. That’s perhaps no more evident than in the Rotten Tomatoes’ score: 27% from critics, 78% from the audience. Undeniably cheesy, the film follows a jaded, aimless high school senior (Shane West) who falls in love with an awkward young lady (Mandy Moore) that he and his friends used to bully. As their relationship grows, they discover intense truths about one another that force them to grow up much faster than they ordinarily would.
Rotten Tomatoes: 27%
Stars: Mandy Moore, Shane West, Peter Coyote
Director: Adam Shankman
Runtime: 101 minutes
Remember Me (2010)
Robert Pattinson and Emilie de Ravin star in this saccharine romance about the trials of family and the relationships we make when coping with tragedy. Tyler (Pattinson) has a strained relationship with his father (Pierce Brosnan) and acts out accordingly. When he meets Ally (de Ravin), her warmth begins to heal the grief he feels from a family tragedy. But just as Tyler begins to finally rediscover meaning in his life, emerging secrets threaten their love.
Rotten Tomatoes: 27%
Stars: Robert Pattinson, Emilie de Ravin, Chris Cooper, Pierce Brosnan
Director: Allan Coulter
Runtime: 107 minutes
Runaway Bride (1999)
Despite the Richard Gere-Julia Roberts team up, Runaway Bride is not Pretty Woman, but it is a cute, heartwarming comedy that will make for a fun evening. Roberts plays Maggie Carpenter, a beautiful woman who has already left three grooms at the altar, earning her the epithet “the runaway bride” from jaded city journalist Ike Graham (Gere). But when his reporting is called into question, Ike goes to meet Maggie in her hometown to save his reputation and report on her fourth wedding — which he’s convinced she’ll run from. But Ike may just find he’d like to run to the altar rather than watch Maggie run away.
Rotten Tomatoes: 46%
Stars: Julia Roberts, Richard Gere, Joan Cusack
Director: Garry Marshall
Runtime: 106 minutes
What a Girl Wants (2003)
Another beloved teen comedy from the early aughts joins the list! Made at the peak of Amanda Bynes’ teen queen power, What a Girl Wants follows American teenager Daphne (Bynes) on a trip to England to find the father she never met. It turns out the man she’s looking for is Lord Henry Dashwood (Colin Firth), a man of extraordinary power in Britain who is running for political office. Dashwood didn’t know Daphne existed but, doing the right thing, he welcomes her into his life. The rest of his family? Not so much. But as Daphne slowly, uncomfortably assimilates to British life, she finds some other affections help along the way.
Rotten Tomatoes: 35%
Stars: Amanda Bynes, Colin Firth, Kelly Preston
Director: Dennie Gordon
Runtime: 95 minutes
The Ottoman Lieutenant (2017)
This period drama set just before the First World War centers on two Americans falling in love in the Ottoman Empire. Strong-willed Lillie (Hera Hilmar) is infuriated by injustice in the United States, so she leaves to join an intriguing American doctor (Michiel Huisman) on his remote medical mission in the Ottoman Empire. On the brink of war, Lillie finds her loyalty tested to both Jude and the mission when she finds herself surprisingly falling in love with the enemy: A lieutenant in the Ottoman imperial army.
Rotten Tomatoes: 19%
Stars: Michiel Huisman, Hera Hilmar, Josh Hartnett, Ben Kingsley
Director: Joseph Ruben
Runtime: 110 minutes
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2018)
If you’re wondering about the name, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is the improvised title of a group that was breaking curfew in German-occupied Guernsey in World War II. In 1946, author Juliet Ashton (Lily James) journeys to Guernsey to learn more about the society and its missing co-founder, Elizabeth McKenna (Jessica Brown Findlay). Along the way, Juliet develops feelings for a Guernsey resident, Dawsey Adams (Michiel Huisman), even though her boyfriend, Mark (Glen Powell), has already asked her to marry him. This film deftly balances its romantic elements with the mystery, and it’s very well-made.
Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
Stars: Lily James, Michiel Huisman, Glen Powell
Director: Mike Newell
Runtime: 124 minutes
Adrift is based on the real story of Tami Oldham (Shailene Woodley) and Richard Sharp (Sam Claflin), a young couple very much in love. When Richard is hired to sail a yacht to San Diego, Tami accompanies him on the fateful journey. However, the untimely arrival of Hurricane Raymond devastates the yacht and threatens their lives. Woodley’s terrific performance carries most of the film, but the power of Tami’s bond with Richard can’t be denied.
Rotten Tomatoes: 70%
Stars: Shailene Woodley, Sam Claflin
Director: Baltasar Kormákur
Runtime: 96 minutes
Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)
Before he took moviegoers into Jurassic World, director Colin Trevorrow’s Safety Not Guaranteed offered viewers an irresistible premise: A classified ad looking for a companion to travel back in time. Seattle Magazine writer Jeff Schwensen (Jake Johnson) instantly recognizes that as an intriguing story, but the movie belongs to Aubrey Plaza’s Darius Britt. She’s the intern who proves to be a good match for the ad’s writer, Kenneth Calloway (Mark Duplass). The result is a quirky, understated romance that has a lot of heart. It’s an adorkable movie, from start to finish.
Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Stars: Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake Johnson
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Runtime: 86 minutes
There’s a real lack of romantic fantasy movies, but Stardust admirably fills the void with a wonderful adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s original novel. Future Daredevil star Charlie Cox headlines the film as Tristan Thorn, a young man who wants to impress a girl named Victoria Forester (Sienna Miller) by retrieving a fallen star. However, the fallen star has become a woman, Yvaine (Claire Danes), and she has her own desires. Robert De Niro has a scene-stealing turn as Captain Shakespeare, the sky pirate who mentors Tristan and Yvaine as they develop feelings for each other. Meanwhile, the evil witch, Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer) hunts the young lovers to gain immortality from the heart of a star. Stardust’s charms are hard to deny, and it’s still one of our favorites.
Rotten Tomatoes: 76%
Stars: Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert De Niro
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Runtime: 128 minutes
Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
The Philly-est romantic comedy of all-time, Silver Linings Playbook is also one of the more candid looks at mental health that you’ll see in a rom-com. After losing his job, losing his wife, and spending time in a mental institution, Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) is at home living with his parents. Pat wants to get his wife back and rebuild his life, but his parents would really just prefer he move on and be a good Philadelphia Eagles fan. When Pat meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), she offers to help him to reconnect with his wife if he’ll help her with something very important to her: Compete in a dance contest.
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Stars: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro
Director: David O. Russell
Runtime: 122 minutes
Marriage Story (2019)
Marriage Story was one of four Netflix original films to be nominated for the 2020 Golden Globes and is yet another thought-provoking, deeply moving offering about real life from celebrated director Noah Baumbach. Baumbach, who has built his reputation on down-to-earth films about relatable characters like The Squid and the Whale, Frances Ha, and another Netflix original, The Meyerowitz Stories, delivers perhaps his most profound work yet in Marriage Story. Starring Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver as a couple who genuinely love one another yet can’t make their marriage work, Marriage Story is one of the most honest, complex analyses of love and marriage you’ll ever see. “Marriage is hard” is the platitude we always hear but this film takes that saying to its absolute logical and philosophical extent.
Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Stars: Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, Laura Dern
Director: Noah Baumbach
Runtime: 122 minutes
Always Be My Maybe (2019)
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).
Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Stars: Ali Wong, Randall Park, Keanu Reeves
Director: Nahnatchka Khan
Runtime: 102 minutes
Howards End (1992)
Directed by James Ivory, this 1992 romantic classic features outstanding performances from iconic actors Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. Exploring the various social classes of Victorian England, this story follows three families as they fight to make their mark on the world while the burgeoning love between Thompson’s Margaret and Hopkins’ Henry threatens to engulf everyone’s world in scandal. If you’re a Bronte fan, this Victorian love story is for you.
Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson, Helena Bonham Carter
Director: James Ivory
Runtime: 143 minutes
Someone Great (2019)
Gina Rodriguez stars in this Netflix original that marks the directorial debut of Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, who is also the screenwriter for Marvel’s Thor: Love and Thunder. Rom-com to Marvel movie? Yes, and it will make sense once you see this imaginative, unusual, and hilarious flick about love, loss, growth, and the bond of female friendship. Rodriguez plays Jenny Young, a music journalist who is dumped by her long-term boyfriend on the eve of a huge move to San Francisco for her dream job. Despite her sorrow, her two best friends pry Jenny out of her misery for one last outrageous adventure in New York City, determined to help her look forward and not back.
Rotten Tomatoes: 82%
Stars: Gina Rodriguez, Brittany Snow, DeWanda Wise
Director: Jennifer Kaytin Robinson
Runtime: 92 minutes
About Time (2013)
A charmingly romantic twist on time travel tropes, this Richard Curtis film centers on Tim’s (Domhnall Gleeson) discovery that the men in his family have the ability to go back in time. Naturally, he uses this power to win the woman of his dreams and give her the perfect life. Of course, it’s not all sunshine and roses as there are always limits to what we can and can’t change. With beautiful performances from Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, and Bill Nighy, this heartfelt, poignant drama delightfully masquerades as a romantic comedy.
Rotten Tomatoes: 68%
Stars: Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, Bill Nighy
Director: Richard Curtis
Runtime: 123 minutes
Set It Up (2018)
Sick of their domineering bosses (Lucy Liu and Taye Diggs), two corporate assistants (Zoey Deutch and Glen Powell) hatch a plan to make them fall in love with one another so they’ll stop being so darn demanding. Naturally, the assistants fall in love, too. This 2018 Netflix original was written by Booksmart writer Katie Silberman and delivers far more charm than your typical scheme-y rom-com. With engaging performances from the lovable Liu and Diggs as well as the relative newcomers, Deutch and Powell, Set It Up is a feel-good love-fest with plenty of laughs.
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Stars: Zoey Deutch, Glen Powell, Lucy Liu
Director: Claire Scanlon
Runtime: 105 minutes
Ibiza: Love Drunk (2018)
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.
Rotten Tomatoes: 67%
Stars: Gillian Jacobs, Richard Madden
Director: Alex Richanbach
Runtime: 120 minutes
The Incredible Jessica James (2017)
Jessica Williams hasn’t quite had a breakout since The Daily Show, but The Incredible Jessica James is the first real chance she gets to show off her rom-com chops … and she succeeds marvelously. Jessica James, the character, may not be quite as incredible as you’d expect but she’s passionate and fun, and Williams plays her with a comedic resolve that makes you fall in love with her. Her chemistry with co-star Chris O’Dowd makes for a goofy, sexy, and refreshingly honest exploration of love after heartbreak. It’s a rom-com simply for lack of a better classification — this cynical but hopeful romp is very much its own thing.
Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Stars: Jessica Williams, Chris O’Dowd
Director: James C. Strouse
Runtime: 85 minutes
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018)
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.
Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Stars: Lana Condor, John Corbett
Director: Susan Johnson
Runtime: 100 minutes
To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You (2020)
Loved To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before? Good news, there’s a sequel! Lana Condor returns as awkwardly in love Lara and, turns out, she’s still reaping the fall out from the love letters she never meant to send. You may recall, the last movie left off with Lara and Peter (Noah Centineo) happily in a relationship but when another recipient of her old love letters — a crush from way back — enters the picture, there’s trouble brewing in paradise.
Rotten Tomatoes: 74%
Stars: Lana Condor, Noah Centineo
Director: Michael Fimognari
Runtime: 101 minutes
Nappily Ever After (2018)
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 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.
Rotten Tomatoes: 71%
Stars: Sanaa Lathan, Ricky Whittle, Ernie Hudson
Director: Haifaa Al-Mansour
Runtime: 90 minutes
Been So Long (2018)
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.
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Stars: Michaela Coel, Arinzé Kene
Director: Tinge Krishnan
Runtime: 99 minutes
The Theory of Everything (2014)
Eddie Redmayne received universal praise for his portrayal of theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking in this biographical film about the man with the brilliant mind who was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, at a young age. While the film chronicles Hawkings’ work in the field of physics, at its heart is the beautiful love story between he and his girlfriend and eventual wife Jane Hawking. Hawking received his diagnosis just a year after meeting Jane, and he has credited his engagement to her as giving him a purpose to live. It’s a love story unlike any other, made all the more touching given that it’s based on real life. The film was nominated for five Academy Awards, and Redmayne won for his lead role.
Rotten Tomatoes: 80%
Stars: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Charlie Cox, Emily Watson, Simon McBurney, David Thewlis, Maxine Peake
Director: James Marsh
Runtime: 123 minutes
The Artist (2011)
Despite being made in the 2010s, this film was designed in the style of a black-and-white silent film and is set in Hollywood in the late ’20s and early ’30s. At the heart of the love story is an actress whose star is on the rise and an older man, a famous silent film star, who is finding that his roles are being gobbled up by a new generation of actors known as “talkies.” The film was nominated for an impressive 10 Academy Awards and taking home half that, while Jean Dujardin became the first French actor to win an Oscar in the Best Actor category.
Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Stars: Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo, James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller, Malcolm McDowell, Missi Pyle, Beth Grant, Ed Lauter, Joel Murray, Ken Davitian, John Goodman
Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Runtime: 100 minutes
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