Romantic movies are a staple for Valentine’s Day and are best watched indoors, in the comfort of your own home after a nice dinner. This is one of the most ideal date ideas these days and fits right in with the new normal we’re all practicing. The best bit? With platforms like Amazon Prime and Netflix, you’ll have unlimited options.
So, what are the best romantic movies of all time? Whether it be romantic movies 2019 or from the 1980s, here are our top romantic movies you can enjoy this coming Heart’s Day.
Sad Romantic Movies
Dear John, 2018
Starring: Amanda Seyfried and Channing Tatum
If it’s a classic romantic movie that you’re looking for, then this war drama just might be the thing. The story follows a soldier who exchanges letters with a young woman after he is deployed into war. It stars Channing Tatum as soldier John Tyree and Amanda Seyfried as Savannah Lynn Curtis. It is one of those movies that will make your heart ache, but the ending makes up for that.
Starring: Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara
Based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel, The Price of Salt, the film centers on the unlikely romance between a well-off older woman and a department store clerk. If it’s sad romantic movies you’re looking for, this one will deliver. It is one of the top 10 romantic movies for the LGBTQ community as well.
The Theory of Everything, 2014
Starring: Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones
While not marketed among the many romantic movies of its time, the film does place emphasis on the relationship between famed theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking and his wife, Jane Hawking. It’s one of those romantic movies to watch if you’re looking for a bit of hope when it comes to love.
A Walk to Remember, 2002
Starring: Mandy Moore and Shane West
Based upon a novel by Nicholas Sparks, the mere mention of its title might conjure up all the sob-worthy moments that it had to offer. It’s safe to say that this film is the blueprint for weepy teen romance flicks. This just might be one of the best romantic movies of all time, despite the heartbreak.
A Star is Born, 2018
Starring: Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper
It might be a remake of the 1937 and 1954 versions, but 2018’s A Star is Born is its own love story given life by the film’s cast. The movie stars Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper in the lead roles. Cooper plays a musician suffering from alcoholism, whose life changes after he discovers and falls in love with a young singer portrayed by Lady Gaga. If the plot itself doesn’t move you, the soundtrack to this romantic movie will!
Call Me By Your Name, 2017
Starring: Timothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer
We have seen many coming-of-age films over the years, but this romance drama by Luca Guadagnino is hard to forget. It’s set in northern Italy in 1983 and follows the romantic relationship between 17-year-old Eli and a 24-year-old graduate-student. Though it represents LGBTQ characters, the story and the emotions it portrays are all universal.
The Notebook, 2004
Starring: Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling
Set in the 1940s, where we are introduced to Allie Hamilton and Noah Calhoun. The plot is familiar: poor guy falls for the rich heiress, and eventually wins her over. In this case, Allie’s family forbids their relationship, aware of the gap in social class between the two. It’s not too surprising that many consider this to be one of the best romantic movies all time—it really sticks to you.
Starring: Keira Knightley and James McAvoy
Based on an Ian McEwan novel of the same name, the film follows a crime and how its aftereffects ripple through the lives of those involved, over the course of the six decades. Despite the heavy themes tackled by the film, it makes it difficult to tear your eyes away from the screen. The wrap-up is bittersweet and will make you understand why it is one of the best romantic movies on Netflix.
Brokeback Mountain, 2005
Starring: Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal
Based upon a short story by Annie Proulx, the film centers on the relationship between two American male cowboys, which plays out over the course of two decades. Aside from showing the complexity of their experience, from discovering their feelings for each other and coming to terms with it, the film also tackles heavy subjects such as homophobia. It may not be your typical romantic movie, but it will open your eyes all the ways love can manifest.
The Best Romantic Comedies
Bridget Jones Diary, 2001
Starring: Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth, and Hugh Grant
Bridget Jones Diary is the first film that comes to mind whenever romcom movies are mentioned. It is a retelling of Jane Austen’s ever popular novel Pride and Prejudice, but this time we follow the story of 32-year-old Bridget Jones whose life changes when two men begin to try and win her affection. It spawned two sequels, Bridget Jones Diary 2 and Bridget Jones’s Baby. They are classics when it comes to funny romantic movies.
I’ll See You in My Dreams, 2015
Starring: Blythe Danner, Sam Elliot, and Martin Starr
Romantic movies aren’t just for the young and this film is proof of that. I’ll See You In My Dreams follows the story of Carol Peterson, a widow living with just her dog in California. It’s a lonely yet beautiful life, which changes when she later meets Bill (Sam Elliot), who makes her rethink the possibility of falling in love again. It is one of the best rom coms on Netflix.
When Harry Met Sally, 1989
Starring: Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal
It may have been decades since this romantic movie was released, but it has barely aged. Its themes and ideas about the relationship between men and women still resonate even with today’s audiences. The way the film interlaces segments of fictitious older married couples narrating their stories to the camera with the film itself makes it even more interesting to watch. It’s one of those romcoms that have a good balance of everything. A true classic.
Runaway Bride, 1999
Starring: Julia Roberts and Richard Gere
This remains one of the best 90s romantic movies. Marriage can be a scary prospect, whether you’ve had the time to prepare for it or not. Maggie Carpenter (Julia Roberts) has had a number of unsuccessful relationships over the years and has left many fiancés waiting for her at the altar—to no avail. She’s become so notorious that the tabloids have nicknamed her “The Runaway Bride”. Does she run away in the end? You’ll just have to watch this one for yourself.
Love Actually, 2003
Starring: Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Colin Firth, Laura Linney, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Keira Knightley, Martine McCutcheon, Bill Nighy, and Rowan Atkinson
Romantic Christmas movies are an entire genre unto itself, but it need not be the holidays for you to enjoy this one. The ensemble cast that comprises this film is more than enough reason to give it a watch. The movie follows the stories of different individuals and takes a closer look into the different aspects of love.
Crazy Rich Asians, 2018
Starring: Constance Wu, Gemma Chan, Henry Golding, Lisa Lu, Ken Jeong, Awkwafina, and Michelle Yeoh.
This film follows a Chinese-American professor who is set to meet her boyfriend’s family, only to later find out that they are among the richest in Singapore. It’s got everything you could want in a romcom—laughs, satire, and an ensemble cast that makes even the most cliché of tropes a blast to watch. Of note is the film’s high fashion appeal, which has drawn comparisons to movies such as The Devil Wears Prada. It is one of the best romantic movies on Netflix you must see.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, 2018
Starring: Lana Condor and Noah Centineo
Based upon the 2014 novel by author Jenny Han, we follow Lara Jean Covey who is a high school junior with a habit of writing letters to boys she has intense feelings for—before locking those letters away in her closet. Even if you’re not a big fan of romantic movies, give this one a try. It’s one of those teen movies that you’ll relate to, even as an adult. It is one of the best movies on Netflix that you can’t miss out on.
La La Land, 2016
Starring: Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling
With Hollywood as its backdrop, this movie mixes comedy, romance, and music in one colorful tale. It follows a jazz pianist and an aspiring actress who later meet and fall for each other, while trying to chase after their dreams in Los Angeles. This love story will leave you wanting your own “La La Land” moment.
Sci Fi Romantic Movies
Starring: Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult
Our next sci fi romantic movie brings a different spin to our idea of what a utopia is. Instead of the paradise most of us envision, this future managed to achieve peace and equality by erasing people’s emotions. The movie follows their story, how each of their barriers slowly break down, and we are reminded of that one very powerful saying: Love conquers all.
The Lake House, 2006
Starring: Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves
In one of the best romantic movies of the past decade, time travel is given a new flavor. Kate Forester (Sandra Bullock) is seen leaving a note for the Lake House’s next tenant, which we’re made to suppose is Alex Wyler (Keanu Reeves). Finding the “right timing” takes on a new meaning as these two try to discover how to make their timelines coincide so that they can meet.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, 2004
Starring: Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey
At first glance, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind may resemble a psychological thriller more than a romantic movie. However, at its very core is the love story between Joel and Clementine. It deals with familiar subjects such as loss, memory, and falling in love with the same person again and again. If you’re up for an unorthodox take on the struggles most relationships face, give this one a watch.
The Discovery, 2017
Starring: Rooney Mara, Robert Redford, and Jason Segel
Death is one of the biggest fears that people share, but it is also a subject that creates the most amount of fascination in people. What happens after it? In this 2017 film, the story tackles the characters’ need to fix mistakes, even if it meant having to live in an eternal loop. If it’s romantic movies you’re after, this may be an unconventional choice, but you won’t regret trying it out.
The Time Traveler’s Wife, 2009
Starring: Rachel McAdams, Eric Bana
In this film, time travel does not come in the form of machines, portals, or even black holes. For Henry (Eric Bana), it is a paranormal genetic disorder that actually causes him to randomly time travel. Among the romantic movies on our list, this one finds a good balance between sci-fi and romance, creating an enduring love story.
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, 2012
Starring: Keira Knightley and Steve Carell
Imagine that the end of the world is coming–who would you want to spend it with? In this 2012 apocalypse film, two strangers bond as they both try to find closure in their lives before an asteroid ends all life on Earth. This love story does end on a bittersweet note, but it will remind you that love is not measured by time. It’s all about the connections we make.
Foreign Romantic Movies
Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain, 2001, France
Starring: Audrey Tatou and Mathieu Kassovitz
Best known to some audiences as simply “Amélie”, this French romantic movie follows our shy protagonist as she attempts to better the lives of the people around her. She isn’t without her own struggles, however, and we are later shown that the shy waitress often feels isolated from everyone. This changes when she meets Nino, and she begins her own adventure.
Chungking Express, 1994, Hong Kong
Starring: Brigitte Lin, Faye Wong, Tony Leung, and Takeshi Kaneshiro
Directed by famed director Wong Kar-Wai, this film consists of two romance stories, which are told in sequence. Each follows a Hong Kong policeman going through the struggles associated with relationships. Both stories tell of love, loss, and memory.
Manuale d’Amore, 2005, Italy
Starring: Ensemble Cast
This film is divided into four romance stories, which focus on a different couple. Each love story focuses on a particular stage of a romantic relationship and are named as follows: Innamoramento (Falling in Love), Crisi (Crisis), Tradimento (Cheating), and Abbandono (Break-up). Aside from giving people a glimpse into the reality of being in a relationship, we later learn about what connects these characters.
Dil Bechara (The Helpless Heart), 2020, Bollywood
Starring: Sushant Singh Rajput and Sanjana Sanghi
Hindi romantic movies are always a colorful and heartwarming display. Among the most recent stand out Bollywood romantic movies is this adaptation of the popular John Green novel, The Fault in Our Stars. The story never loses its sense of wonder and adventure, despite the challenges its character faces. Though the end is bittersweet, it will remind you that even in the face of the inevitable, love still shines brightest.
The Handmaiden, 2016, South Korea
Starring: Kim Min-hee and Kim Tae-ri
This may not be one of your typical Korean romantic movies, but if you’re looking for mystery and thrill in your options then this will deliver. The beginning feels more like a crime thriller, but the blooming relationship between two particular characters begins to unfold as the film progresses. Do they win in the end? You’ll just have to watch this love story for yourself.
Let the Right One In, 2008, Sweden
Starring: Kåre Hedebrant and Lina Leandersson
This film is aptly described as a romantic horror film, one that you wouldn’t be able to tear your eyes away from. Aside from the gorgeous cinematography, this haunting tale feels more real than a lot of the overly sweet romance movies we’ve seen lately. It explores the darker side of humanity and the relationship between vampire child Eli and human child Oskar. If it’s vampire romantic movies you want, skip Twilight and give this one a watch.
Animated Romantic Movies
Whisper of the Heart, 1995
Created by: Studio Ghibli
Studio Ghibli is renowned for their ability to create some of the most unique stories and put together equally beautiful animation to go along with it. This 1995 film was written by the great Hayao Miyazaki and is based on a 1989 manga by Aoi Hiiragi. It is among the top teenage romantic movies, but one that avoids all the cliché dialogues and overused plot lines we’ve seen throughout the years.
Lady and the Tramp, 1955
Created by: Disney
There are many Disney princesses we could have added to this list, but that would be too easy. Besides, this particular love story is a pop culture icon. Everyone will recognize that scene where the two main characters eat spaghetti together! It is one of the most memorable scenes in the history of romantic movies. Catch this on Disney+ to witness this heartfelt and wholesome love story.
Your Name, 2016
Created by: CoMix Wave Films
The film follows the story of a school boy living in the city and a school girl from the country who end up swapping bodies. Aside from the beautiful animation, the way this love story flows will keep you glued to the screen. Will our main characters finally meet in the end? The answer is worth waiting for.
Over the Moon, 2020
Directed by: Glen Keane
Our next film introduces us to the legend of Chang’e, who took an immortality potion, which caused her to become a goddess. She ascends to the moon, but without her lover Houyi. This is one of those romantic movies that encompasses not just romance, but also the love between families. It is one of the best supernatural romantic movies available.
Created by: Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios
We weren’t sure whether to place this one in the sad romantic movies category, given how many people it left in tears. While the adventures of Russell and Carl comprise a bigger chunk of the film, it is the relationship between Carl and his late wife Ellie that really moves the story along. We would argue that their story is one of the most enduring ones out of any animated romantic movie and for good reason.
Created by: Pixar Animation Studios
There are small loves and great loves, then there are those that impact you so much that you’ll cross the galaxy for it. Wall-E is a solitary robot in a deserted Earth, left to clean up its garbage. He later meets EVE, but she is taken away before he can even let her know how he feels. This begins Wall-E’s adventure to finding her—even if it means leaving the comfort of his home.
Like love languages, romantic movies come in many different forms and even genres. Watching movies may not be among your usual kind of Valentines Day ideas, but it can add a little more fun to the activities you have planned. From the profound, to the simpler stories that reflect our everyday life– we hope that this Valentine’s or Galentine’s Day, you find one that is best suited to your tastes.