The 50 Best Romantic Movies of All Time
If you're in the mood for love, you'll adore this list of romantic movies that will woo you, stir your soul, and set your heart on fire.
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Isn’t it romantic?
Romantic movies carry you away. The best ones take you on a passionate adventure. You can’t look away, and it feels like your own heart is the one being chased and courted. We’ve gathered the romantic movies that stand out from the crowd with a list that includes Hollywood classics, contemporary masterpieces, the best of international cinema, and love stories that are diverse and inclusive. Because what’s at the heart of every great love story? The journey of two people who connect beyond the chaos of a world that would sooner keep them apart. So, get ready to snuggle up with a soft blanket and a box of tissues (for happy tears!) to watch these dreamy, mushy, passionate, and tenderly exciting romantic movies. Warning: Viewing them may turn you into a hopeless romantic. If that happens, you should definitely check out these 40 real-life romantic ways to say, “I love you.”
Four Weddings and a Funeral
Hugh Grant perfects his shaggy-haired, adorable-British-guy charm in this classic rom-com. Andie MacDowell plays the American who steals his heart while they’re attending a whirlwind of weddings. The romantic highlight comes during the funeral the title warns you about, when a widowed spouse reads a love poem by W.H. Auden. This is one of those romantic movies that make your heart swell with all the emotions sparked by love. If you love hearing words of love read aloud, check out these romantic books you’ll want to read as a couple.
How do you fall in love in a world full of sleaze and heartache? This is one of those black-and-white, classic romantic movies with a charm that endures. Directed by auteur Billy Wilder, it won the Best Picture Oscar in 1961 for its cynical presentation of relationships that still features one of the most romantic endings of all time. Jack Lemmon plays a junior exec who rents out his apartment (as a love nest) to his oily boss (Fred MacMurray) to score a promotion. Shirley MacLaine plays a woman having an illicit affair, but the result will make your heart sob because you know she deserves better.
Finally! A butterflies-in-your-tummy high school romance about love between two boys. Adapted from the acclaimed novel Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, the movie follows Simon (Nick Robinson), a teenager who hasn’t come out to his parents or his friends, which creates coming-of-age-drama galore. The romantic meet-cute, set on a Ferris wheel, will give you allllll the feels. Who is Simon’s anonymous online crush? It’s a mystery that will make you swoon. You’ll love the movie and the book! Here are 10 more young adult novels grown-ups secretly love.
Bridget Jones’s Diary
Colin Firth and Hugh Grant play the dashing British boyfriends of Bridget Jones, and their rivalry eventually leads to a riotous fistfight. Renée Zellweger brings the famous novel’s heroine to life in this rom-com about a woman who’s hapless at love. Highlights include Jones belting out “All By Myself” while downing glasses of wine and an all-too-relatable klutziness. She’s the queen of self-deprecation and one-liners, but she keeps a stiff upper lip through heartbreak and high jinks. Get ready for a dash-through-the snow showdown to win the love of the right man. Looking for more laughs? These are the 100 funniest movies of all time.
Love and Basketball
Monica (Sanaa Lathan) and Quincy (Omar Epps) are two neighborhood kids who long for basketball stardom and share a deep love for the game. They both grow into exceptional players and their relationship blossoms, but when Quincy’s career takes off, Monica’s takes a backseat. They’re star-crossed rivals who go their separate ways, but their bond ultimately pulls them back together in this classic romance about courtship of every kind.
Ghost is one of those romantic movies that brings out the underlying passion in pottery wheels—especially if you’re Demi Moore and your art studio is in a spectacular Manhattan apartment. Patrick Swayze stole hearts as a murdered man who just can’t say goodbye yet. Whoopi Goldberg won a Supporting Actress Oscar as a medium who channels messages between two lovers separated by a terrible fate. Get ready to weep! But they’re good tears—of joy, loss, sweetness, and faith. If you love Ghost, you won’t want to miss this real-life story about a widow who saw her late husband’s handprint.
Call Me By Your Name
This is the romantic movie for those of you smitten with the idea of a hunky graduate student coming to live in your parent’s Italian villa for the summer so you can fall head over heels in love with him. Armie Hammer is the American guest, and Timothée Chalamet plays the teenager who gets entangled in a relationship with him. The gorgeous cinematography captures the enchanting, natural landscape and makes the perfect backdrop for this all-consuming story about first love that has an end date looming in the future. Of course, the end of the summer doesn’t have to mean the end of a romance. Check out these stories of 10 long-distance couples who manage to keep the romance alive every day.
Ethan Hawke, as the original American hipster traveling abroad, meets a luminous, intriguing Parisian played by Julie Delpy. The two walk and talk all night, perusing the streets of Vienna until they’re faced with a morning goodbye at the train station. This classic spawned two more romantic movies, the sequels Before Sunset and Before Midnight, that explore love that can stretch across miles and years when you meet that rare someone who you truly connect with. Looking for your own European adventure? Here are 9 secrets to traveling cheap, according travel agents.
Gone with the Wind
Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara give off the ultimate love-hate vibes in this classic romantic movie filled with iconic scenes and famous lines like, “You should be kissed, and often, and by someone who knows how.” Swoon. Rhett’s the only one who sees straight through Scarlett’s wiles—and instead of judging her, he loves her for it. This is the ultimate story of unrequited love between a Southern belle (Vivien Leigh) and her roguish beau (Clark Gable). Just when she figures out that she actually loves the guy, he’s out the door! It’s also a love affair with the Old South, which is all the better if gone with the wind. Not to mention, it includes one of the most famous movie quotes of all time.
Quentin Tarantino wrote the script for what has to be the most romantic madcap crime spree in cinema. Patricia Arquette and Christian Slater play unlikely newlyweds who are chased down by mobsters and kingpins when all they want to do is get away with a happy ending. Get ready for gunfights, Tarantino’s signature violence, and a crazy sweetness that infects the whole thing with a sense of true love surviving in a chaotic world. The movie also includes unforgettable performances from Brad Pitt, James Gandolfini, Christopher Walken, and Gary Oldman in small roles.
Best Picture Oscar winner Moonlight joins romantic movies that woo the viewer with stunning and unexpected moments masterfully photographed with beauty and candor. The movie follows a young boy, Chiron, played by different actors at different ages, as he grows up in sun-soaked Miami, which the audience views through his singular perspective. Scenes between adult Chiron (Trevante Rhodes) and Kevin (André Holland) capture a sense of the intimate romance of gazing at another, of looking and being seen, while sharing an unspoken history.
Casablanca features the most romantic airport goodbye of all time. The fog is just as perfect as the tilt of Humphrey Bogart’s fedora as he gives his love, played by Ingrid Bergman, those famous movie lines that drip with romance as the two face the inevitable. Rick and Ilsa will always have Paris, but since they’re also in the midst of World War II, their problems don’t amount to a hill of beans by comparison. In the end, Bergman goes off with her war-hero husband (Paul Henreid) and Bogie exits with his new BFF, played by the incomparable Claude Rains. The film’s famous line, “We’ll always have Paris,” definitely qualifies as one of the best romantic quotes.
Crazy Rich Asians
This wedding-centered rom-com, based on the best-selling novel by Kevin Kwan, drips with romance, glitz, fashion, and flirtation. Watch for the clothes, the centerpieces, and the chic bridal style, as you visit lavish set pieces across Asia. Constance Wu plays Rachel, a professor who’s way out of her league when she travels to Singapore with her boyfriend (Henry Golding). He failed to mention a little detail about his family—they’re dripping in money. Rachel’s up against a society who deems her way too basic for such an eligible bachelor. Princess-y plot twists ensue! If you swoon over great costumes, here are the movies to watch just for the clothes.
Get ready for late-’90s nostalgia as you watch Nia Long and Larenz Tate fall for each other over coffeehouse poetry. This romantic movie recently celebrated its 20-year anniversary, and it stands out for being a rom-com centered on Black characters who are creative intellectuals with sensitive souls. At the time, such representation was a departure from movie clichés that centered on violent stereotypes. In Love Jones, the primary conflict concerns whether the heroine should go back to her ex or choose the guy who writes poems and sweeps her off her feet in the rain.
If you love romantic movies about time travel, About Time will sweep you up with its sweetness and sentiment. Domhnall Gleeson plays a man who inherits the ability to travel back in time from his father. He uses the power to woo, and re-woo, Rachel McAdams over and over. The film’s theme has to do with the romance in the tiny moments that make up a life and the magic of experiencing them over and over again. Check out these 12 time travel movies that will make you question everything.
Jane Campion’s Bright Star captures the writing life of the romantic poet John Keats (Ben Whishaw), whose love affair with the English languages takes inspiration from the beguiling Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish). The biopic centers on the relationship between the two kindred spirits moved by creative artistry. They are pulled apart by a rival poet and circumstances that take Keats far from Brawne’s side. Don’t miss the enchanting scene in which the heroine yearns for love in a room full of butterflies. This film captures the poetic heart of longing and tells a tragic true story infused with fiery passion and striking beauty.
Beyond the Lights
If you love Notting Hill and The Bodyguard, give Beyond the Lights a twirl. It’s another movie about a superstar who falls for a regular Joe. Gugu Mbatha-Raw plays a pop star struggling with depression who’s lonely despite her fame. Nate Parker is the cop who comes along and saves her during a moment of despair. Along the way, love helps her discover and unleash her true calling as an artist. It’s a little-seen film with a loyal following, and the music is just as good as the story. Here are 12 more films with rockin’ soundtracks.
Ricky Gervais seems an unlikely romantic leading man, but he grows on you as a cranky dentist who has the uncanny ability to talk to ghosts after a hospital procedure gone wrong. Greg Kinnear stars as a deceased playboy who tries to get Gervais to give messages to his widow, Téa Leoni. The afterlife vibe gives the film a sweet soul as Gervais helps countless spirits make amends with loved ones while he finds his own heart—and against all odds, just might get the girl. If you’re fascinated by stories about the afterlife, here are the 12 best movies that are set in that realm.
When Harry Met Sally…
This is the romantic movie that made high-maintenance restaurant ordering totally adorable. Nora Ephron’s screenplay captures love in the late ’80s as lifelong friends Harry and Sally discover that they might just be perfect for each other, despite the hate-fest when they first met. Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan play the title couple with now-iconic performances. Also pay attention to a stellar performance from Carrie Fisher, who steals her scenes as the supportive friend who makes a perfect match after being set up with Harry and choosing his friend instead.
Pride and Prejudice
This version of Pride and Prejudice, with Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet and Matthew Macfadyen as the arrogant Mr. Darcy, may be the most romantic of all the novel’s adaptations. Just picture the cranky Mr. Darcy (now lovestruck to the point of breathlessness) traipsing across an English field in an open shirt, his trench coat wafting on the fog, as he marches toward a woman he can only hope will one day love him. If you like early-1800s dance parties, proposals in the rain, or the delights of being called “Mrs. Darcy,” this is the romantic movie for you. Jane Austen certainly had a way with words. Here are 15 of the most romantic quotes from books.
Cate Blanchett plays Carol, a married woman who falls in love with a younger shop girl (Rooney Mara). The 1950s setting provides a sumptuous, stylish backdrop to the women’s tangled love affair. It’s captured through glances and nuance in a world that denies such passion. The drama unfolds as Carol’s husband discovers her illicit love and seeks to take her child from her. The movie seethes with romantic desire, but it also aches with the oppression of loving when your society seeks to repress it.
What do you do when you fall in love with the class valedictorian, but she’s way out of your league? According to the one of the most romantic movies ever, you hold up a boom box on her front lawn and blast “In Your Eyes.” John Cusack plays Lloyd Dobler, who makes it his full-time job to love the perfectionist Dianne (Ione Skye), whose seemingly perfect life falls apart. He’s there to support her through the upheaval. Who doesn’t need a Lloyd Dobler in their life?
Travel to Paris with this romantic French movie that captures the magic of infatuation. Audrey Tautou stars as a waifish barista who’s up to trickster mayhem intended to bring romance and whimsy to the lives of those around her. The film features thrilling fantasy sequences that warm the heart, but the real fun happens when Amélie herself falls in love. Prepare to fall for Paris, the young French heroine, and love itself in a movie that’s so touching, it’ll melt even the hearts of cynics.
Sense and Sensibility
If you’ve ever thought you might die of a broken heart, this is the film for you. No one spins romance and courtship like Jane Austen, and this adaptation of her novel about the Dashwood sisters will thrill viewers. Kate Winslet and Emma Thompson play the marriageable siblings, and Hugh Grant and a deliciously dashing Alan Rickman delight as the eligible suitors. If you’re a book lover, here are 60 of the best romance novels of all time to keep you up way past your bedtime.
In the Mood for Love
Prepare for desperately romantic cinematography that captures 1960s Hong Kong awash with deeply rich colors and textures. The story follows two married people living in the same building who discover that their spouses are having an affair. Their shared grief and loneliness creates unexpected love. It’s a film that brims with the anguish of missed encounters and the longtime intensity of true love in the face of obstacle.
Southside With You
Parker Sawyers and Tika Sumpter star as the couple who would become America’s 44th President and First Lady. The film follows the romantic first date of the two dynamic personalities as they get to know each other and walk and talk for hours before seeing the movie Do the Right Thing in 1989. Southside with You is all the more romantic and intriguing given what the audience knows about the couple’s future. The movie captures the two iconic figures with a warmth and intensity that makes this film a true love story rather than a simple biography. After you watch, check out these 25 inspiring quotes from Michelle Obama.
This true story about C.S. Lewis (the author of The Chronicles of Narnia) and the American poet Joy Davidman will soothe your soul and break your heart. Anthony Hopkins plays Lewis with a formality that threatens to boil over with a tightly held passion. At first, he marries Joy (Debra Winger) only so she can stay in England, but soon he’s swept up by her direct, bold intensity. Soon, a serious diagnosis threatens the happiness of the two writers in love. Quiet scenes capture the ache of true love and its inevitable loss.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
In this sweet and dreamy high school rom-com based on the book of the same name, a middle sister (played by Lana Condor) writes letters to all the boys she loves—and then her little sister mails them! This is extremely awkward, especially since one was addressed to their older, college-bound sister’s ex. The movie puts Korean American girls at the center of the action, offering powerful and positive representation. Heartthrob Noah Centineo plays one of the letter recipients, and he’ll take you back to high school all over again for dizzying, goofy romance. Here are more great books that also became hit movies.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire
This extraordinary French masterpiece captures the intense romantic pleasures of being seen. It follows an artist sent to paint the portrait of a woman in order to send it to her fiancé so that he may see her face. The woman refuses to be captured, so the artist paints her in secret. The artist and her subject fall in love, and the film creates the passion of their mutual gazes and desires. It features quiet moments with intense longing and an understanding of time and place for women confined by their place in society—but who find creative ways to bust out. This movie is still out in theaters, so go see it now…and then bide your time until you can cozy up on your couch to watch it again and again.
It doesn’t quite make sense that a story about a resort dance teacher and his teenaged cha-cha-cha partner would capture the nation’s heart, but it did. No one puts baby in the corner—instead, she’ll get literally swept off her feet in a leaping dance move made all the more romantic by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes’ hit song “I’ve Had the Time of My Life.” The late Jerry Orbach steals his scenes as Baby’s sentimental dad who watches his little girl grow up before his eyes right there on the dance floor. Guess what? You can actually stay in the real-life Dirty Dancing resort!
The Best Man
This beloved rom-com follows a group of college friends who get together for a wedding weekend. The writer in the group, played by Taye Diggs, has penned a novel loosely (or maybe not so loosely) based on the lives of his friends. The book’s contents threaten the upcoming marriage by unearthing secrets from long ago. The group grapples with long-buried feelings and the friendships that bond them. The drama gets brought! You’ll also find relatable characters, funny moments, and plenty of romance.
The Fault in Our Stars
This teen romance is the quintessential tearjerker, so go in ready to cry your heart out. First, you’ll be inspired by the carefree, delicate love that emerges between two teenagers who meet at a cancer support group. Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort play the two who bond over illness and also their love of books. They take off on an adventure to meet their favorite author, a cranky old fogey who needs saving himself. Here are another 10 tearjerkers for when you need an emotional release.
Safety Not Guaranteed
Aubrey Plaza plays a magazine intern following a story about an eccentric inventor (Mark Duplass) who claims he can time-travel. A romance sprouts between the two misfits who struggle to trust each other, due to tragedies in their pasts. The giddy romance comes from watching them take the risk to fall in love—a feat that seems way more complicated and dangerous than taking a ride on a time machine.
West Side Story
If you’ve ever wanted to sing when you just met a girl named Maria (or a paramour of any name) this is the romantic movie for you. It’s a Romeo and Juliet update set in urban alleyways and concrete lots that makes forbidden love a relatable dilemma in any era. Two rival gangs, the Sharks and Jets, rumble over their turfs while a love affair brews between Tony and Maria. Released in 1961, West Side Story uses modern art style, pop colors, and jazz as a backdrop for the tragic tale about prejudice told through love. If you want to get up and dance, these 12 best dance movies of all time should do the trick.
Jenny Slate stars as a stand-up comic who uses her disastrous love life as material for her routine to varying degrees of hilarity and catastrophe. Jake Lacy stars a sweet guy who keeps showing up in the aftermath of one-night stands. Abby Hoffman plays her bestie, with Polly Walker as her professor mom, in a story where romance springs from the unexpected, contemporary experience of women in a story rarely told.
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Marilyn Monroe performs her iconic “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” number in a magenta satin gown that dazzles against a deep red background. Howard Hawks’ musical is a Technicolor miracle drenched in glamorous glitz. The whole thing drips with romance and sizzle, as two showgirls (Monroe and Jane Russell) get wooed on a cruise ship. Prepare yourself for a sumptuous double wedding by the end. These are the best-ever movie musicals to get your toes tapping.
The low-key passion in this tender, tragic love story will move you to the core. Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger play ranch hands sent to tend sheep on an isolated mountain, where they fall for each other. They each marry and go on with their lives, but they can’t let go of their desire and connection, though the world around them demands it. The movie features heartfelt performances and cinematography that captures the ache of forbidden love.
Brief Encounter speaks to everyone who’s ever had a chance meeting or missed connection. This classic black-and-white romantic movie from 1946 makes train stations the ultimate setting for romance as strangers who may be soulmates cross paths. Trains also have a long cinematic history as the location for harrowing, gut-wrenching departures for star-crossed lovers. Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson play two strangers, both married, who share a deep but forbidden love after a chance encounter on a train. What do you consider a classic-era movie? Check out the most popular movie from the year you were born.
The Big Sick
Kumail Nanjiani stars in this rom-com that he co-wrote with his wife (Emily V. Gordon). It’s a story that chronicles their own experiences as an interethnic couple who have to deal with a serious illness that hits at the very beginning of their relationship. Zoe Kazan plays the grad student who falls ill after falling for Nanjiani, a Pakistan-born comedian. The two grapple with differing cultural backgrounds that threaten to pull them apart. The hospital becomes the setting for both a “meet the parents” comedy and sweet, love-conquers-all romance.
An Officer and a Gentleman
Love will lift you up where you belong if you remember the hit pop song from this 1982 movie. There’s nothing like a man in uniform, especially when he’s sweeping you off your feet and right out of your grueling factory job. Richard Gere plays the bad-boy officer candidate trying to make it through a training program where most fail. He’s not looking for love, but a local woman, played by Debra Winger, makes him take another look at what should have been a fling. Now that you’re in an ’80s mood, you just might have to binge-watch 12 more classics from that era.
The Age of Innocence
If you like your love infused with bittersweet yearning, then The Age of Innocence will be just your thing. Martin Scorsese directed this adaptation of Edith Wharton’s novel, and he infuses the story about upper-crust New York society with mobster tension. Daniel Day-Lewis finds himself enraptured by the married Countess Olenska (Michelle Pfeiffer), but their friends and family won’t allow such a scandalous union. Watch it for the rapturous love story, but be prepared to fall for the production design—the Victorian-era costumes and set pieces will woo you as well.
This beautiful romance is told through a nonlinear narrative that offers a sensitive character study as it examines love and grief. Ewan McGregor plays a man whose father comes out as gay after he is widowed. Christopher Plummer won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar as the older man taking another shot at love near the end of his life. McGregor puts together the pieces as he embarks on his own love story. Here are another 10 romantic movies that you may not have heard of but need to go on your must-see list.
The Goodbye Girl
Marsha Mason shines as a single mom in Manhattan whose boyfriend dumps her, then sublets the apartment they shared to a stage actor played by Richard Dreyfuss, who shows up on a rainy night demanding entrance. Forced cohabitation, with a wisecracking kid (Quinn Cummings) in the mix, provides zany comedy as heartbreak and hatred shift into much more romantic but totally risky territory. This is a movie about learning to trust again after you’d rather say goodbye.
The African Queen
Humphrey Bogart pairs up with Katharine Hepburn in World War I–era Africa. Directed by John Huston, the film has humor, action, and two of the greatest personalities of the American screen. Hepburn plays a witty missionary on the run from Germans. Bogie is the alcoholic, grizzled captain of a patched-together-with-spit old tub of a boat who has offered her safe passage. Together, they dodge danger and figure out that love is its own risky adventure. Have you seen these movie classics that most people lie about watching?
In Her Shoes
Get together with your sisters and nestle into this story about siblings who lost their mom at a young age and ended up having to raise each other. Things get complicated and painful when the younger sister (Cameron Diaz) sleeps with her older sister’s boyfriend (what a jerk!). The two sisters have to make it alone after basically breaking up with each other. The movie ends with a wedding and it’s all about finding the right guy, but it’s also about the deep love between sisters. Pop quiz! Can you name the 20 romantic movies in this picture?
Based on a Nicholas Sparks novel, this very watchable movie tells the story of an elderly man whose wife suffers from Alzheimer’s. James Garner shows up every day at the rest home to read her a chapter from his notebook. The story he weaves is one of two young lovers in the 1940s, in which the woman’s wealthy parents don’t approve. How will it end? Well, you can kind of guess pretty early on. But who cares! The film is sweet, and the actors—Garner, Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams, and Gena Rowlands (whose son Nick Cassavetes directed)—are great. This is one of the best romantic movies for the entire family.
Bonnie and Clyde
This classic work in American cinema is as much about the outlaw spirit at the heart of true love as it is about the famous bank robbers. With each bank robbed and lawman dispatched, Bonnie and Clyde’s love grows. Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway play the Depression-era gunslingers in a film famous for its innovative, modern style. Crime is both glamorous and gritty as the movie critiques conditions that create poverty and hails rebellion. Although director Arthur Penn churns up a lot of bloody action, at its core, this movie is a romance between two beautiful psychopaths who are just as crazy as the world around them.
Adam Sandler proves he’s got acting chops in this wildly romantic story about love at first sight. Emily Watson plays a woman who spots Sandler’s picture and wants to meet him. Somehow, she’s smitten with the anxiety-ridden salesmen Sandler plays, who’s also obsessed with a coupon promotion to get airline miles. What should be an easy go at love gets beset with obstacle after obstacle in ways that are funny and moving. For some real-life romance, check out these stories from men and women about the sweetest thing their partner has ever said to them.
Silver Linings Playbook
If you love your romantic movies to swing you around the dance floor, then you’ll fall hard for Silver Linings Playbook. Two misfits dealing with loss enter a professional dance contest well above their skill level. Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper play two single people trying to get over heartbreak. The movie deals with serious subjects and mental illness, but it infuses the characters and situations with genuine quirk and heart that transcends clichés around dysfunction.
This sumptuous, visually thrilling film takes place in Korea and Japan during the 1930s. A Japanese heiress lives in a sprawling estate with a young maid who aims to double-cross her. The handmaiden is embroiled in the plot at the behest of a conman who seeks the rich woman’s hand in marriage. Filled with glorious period details, intrigue, and multiple deceptions, the twisty plot serves the two women who, in the midst of it all, fall in love. After you’re done watching these romantic movies, find out 40 romantic ideas to say “I love you.”