Can you feel the love tonight? Whether you’re flying solo or watching with your significant other, there’s nothing quite like watching a great romantic movie. These are the films that tug at your heartstrings and remind you why it can be so rewarding to make an emotional connection, fleeting or otherwise.
That said, it can sometimes be a challenge to find the romantic movies that are right for you. Fortunately, Netflix offers plenty of romantic films to choose from, whether you’re a fan of timeless classics or 21st-century tales starring virtual assistants. Here, we’ve narrowed the movies down to the best of the best.
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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
West Side Story (1961)
Let’s be clear: West Side Story is basically a retelling of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. However, the story was updated and moved to 1950s New York, as two rival gangs, the Jets and the Sharks, vie for control of the streets. In the backdrop of a potentially deadly rumble, an ex-Jet named Tony (Richard Beymer) falls hard for Maria (Natalie Wood), the younger sister of the Sharks’ leader, Bernardo (George Chakiris). Tony and Maria’s courtship is beautifully portrayed through music and dance. That’s one of the reasons it won the Oscar for best film, among several other awards. Steven Spielberg’s remake should arrive in theaters next year, but the original West Side Story still has all of its power decades after its release.
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Stars: Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Rita Moreno
Director: Robert Wise, Jerome Robbins
Runtime: 152 minutes
Human relationships are hard. Can we really blame Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) if he wants to try something new? In Spike Jonze’s Her, Theodore loses his wife, Catherine Klausen (Rooney Mara) and can’t rekindle his romance with Amy (Amy Adams). But he can form a bond with Samantha (Scarlett Johansson), a woman who doesn’t really exist. Samantha is Theodore’s adaptive A.I. personal assistant that gives him everything he needs, short of physical comfort. It’s all perfectly normal, as far as Theodore’s concerned. But even virtual relationships have their complications, especially when they spill into the real world.
Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara
Director: Spike Jonze
Runtime: 126 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
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Jim Carrey really stretched his acting talents beyond his traditional slapstick comedy in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. He stars as Joel alongside Kate Winslet as Clementine. The couple decide to erase each other from their memories. Combining a non-linear narrative with psychological and sci-fi elements, the film explores what romantic love really means and the nature of one’s memories of it. Considered by many to be one of the best films ever made, and certainly among the best of this century, the film took home an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay while Winslet was nominated for Best Actress. The movie has since developed a cult following and remains one of Carrey’s crowning achievements.
Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Stars: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, Mark Ruffalo, Elijah Wood, Tom Wilkinson
Director: Michel Gondry
Runtime: 108 minutes
Pride & Prejudice (2005)
Based on the Jane Austen 1813 novel of the same name, the period film, set in the 18th century, tells the story of five sisters, with the central character being Elizabeth. She eventually falls for the handsome yet aloof Mr. Darcy, who initially annoys her. While the film’s story follows that of the novel fairly closely, it does deviate slightly in some ways, such as in terms of family dynamics and the specific time period. Some tweaks are also made to create a film that’s more appealing to a younger, mainstream audience. Bottom line: This isn’t your parents’ or grandparents’ movie; it will appeal to romance film lovers of all ages.
Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Stars: Keira Knightley, Matthew Macfadyen, Brenda Blethyn, Donald Sutherland, Tom Hollander, Rosamund Pike, Jena Malone, Judi Dench
Director: Joe Wright
Runtime: 127 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 Notebook (2004)
Despite the mixed reviews, The Notebook remains a must-watch film for romance movie fans. Based on the 1996 Nicholas Sparks novel, an elderly man reads his love story from the 1940s to another resident in his nursing home, recalling the moments in vivid detail thanks to his notebook journal. It’s a typical romance trope involving the wealthy, beautiful girl falling for the poor worker boy against all social class conventions and her parents’ wishes. While the film is, for the most part, pretty predictable, the ending introduces a twist that will bring on some serious waterworks.
Rotten Tomatoes: 53%
Stars: Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams, James Garner, Gena Rowlands, James Marsden, Kevin Connolly, Sam Shepard, Joan Allen
Director: Nick Cassavetes
Runtime: 124 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
An Education (2009)
This coming-of-age drama isn’t your conventional romance flick: It follows the story of Jenny, a schoolgirl who is seduced by a charming, older con man. Set in early 1960s London, the film is about intense love, heartbreak, deception, and starting over. And while it doesn’t (spoiler alert) end with the signature touching kiss that often comes with romance movies, the film teaches a lot about love and naivety when it comes to one’s feelings. Earning three Academy Award nominations, An Education is based on the memoir of the same name by Lynn Barber, a British journalist.
Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Stars: Carey Mulligan, Peter Sarsgaard, Alfred Molina, Rosamund Pike, Dominic Cooper, Olivia Williams, Emma Thompson
Director: Lone Scherfig
Runtime: 100 minutes
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