40 of the Best Romantic Movies of All Time
Whether you care to admit it or not, everyone loves a good romance. Which is why we’ve rounded up some of the most beautiful, devastating, passionate and mushy flicks through the ages. Here, 40 of the best romantic movies of all time that will make you laugh, cry and, yes, believe in true love.
1. ‘The English Patient’ (1996)
This adaptation of Michael Ondaatje's novel stars Ralph Fiennes and Kristin Scott Thomas as two hapless lovers in Northern Africa during World War II. It received 12 nominations at the 69th Academy Awards in 1997 and won nine awards including Best Picture. If you’re not bawling by the end, then you’re a monster. Only joking. (Sort of.)
2. ‘In the Mood for Love’ (2000)
Set in 1960s Hong Kong, this beautifully-shot film tells the story of two neighbors (played by Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung) whose spouses are having an affair. As they confront this betrayal, the two begin to spend more time together and eventually develop feelings for each other.
3. ‘A Star Is Born’ (2018)
When popular musician Jack (Brad Cooper) accidentally discovers (and falls in love with) struggling artist Ally (Lady Gaga), he brings her into the spotlight and jumpstarts her career. But like any great love story, tragedy is just around the corner.
4. ‘Notting Hill’ (1999)
“I'm also just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.” Gah, we don’t even care how cheesy it is, this story about a charming English bookstore owner (Hugh Grant) and a famous American actress (Julia Roberts, essentially playing herself) is pure rom-com gold.
5. ‘Before Sunrise/Before Sunset/Before Midnight’ (1995/2004/2013)
In the first movie, American man Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and French woman Céline (Julie Delpy) meet on a train, get off in Vienna and spend the night walking around the city, talking and falling in love. The sequel follows up with the duo nine years later in Paris, and the third another nine years later in Greece. You’re going to want to set aside an entire weekend and watch them all. Trust us.
6. ‘Love Actually’ (2003)
A bunch of stars (Hugh Grant and Colin Firth included) try to figure out their love lives with plenty of laughter and tears thrown into the mix. Plus, there’s an epic cover of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas." (But you can totally watch this one all year round.)
7. ‘It Happened One Night’ (1934)
This oldie but goodie centers around a spoiled heiress (Claudette Colbert) who runs away from her family and meets a charming man (Clark Gable) who is willing to help her. The snag? The kind stranger is actually a reporter looking for a story. This was the first movie to win all five major Academy Awards (Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress and Screenplay).
8. ‘When Harry Met Sally’ (1989)
Meg Ryan, Nora Ephron and the Big Apple—matches made in rom-com heaven. It’s a delightful film about a pair of quirky New Yorkers (Billy Crystal included) who are convinced that men and women can’t be friends—or can they?
9. ‘Amélie’ (2001)
When a young and slightly kooky girl, Amélie (Audrey Tautou), moves to the central part of Paris to become a waitress, she discovers a lost treasure belonging to the former occupant of her apartment and decides to dedicate her life to helping those around her. She meets plenty of colorful characters along the way including what could be her perfect match. Charming, fun and an instant classic.
10. ‘Ghost’ (1990)
You just haven’t lived until you’ve seen that scene with Demi Moore, Patrick Swayze and some messy clay.
11. ‘The Proposal’ (2009)
Margaret Tate (Sandra Bullock) is a ballsy editor-in-chief of a book publishing company, and Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds) is her hard-working assistant. When Margaret faces deportation to Canada, she hatches a plan to marry Andrew in order to keep her visa status, and in exchange offers Andrew a promotion. We think you can guess what happens next (hilarity and love, of course).
12. ‘An Officer and A Gentleman’ (1982)
While Pretty Woman is a rom-com classic, this Richard Gere drama about a young man completing his navy pilot training is a more mature look at love and human growth. Keep tissues on standby.
13. ‘Casablanca’ (1942)
Others have tried, but no movie couple is as iconic as Ilsa and Rick (Bergman and Bogart) are in this epic wartime romance.
14. ‘Brokeback Mountain’ (2005)
This moving tale of a secret love affair between two cowboys is powerful, heartbreaking and beautifully crafted.
15. ‘Love Story’ (1970)
We’re not sure we can get on board with this flick’s famous last line, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry” (it doesn’t), but this ’70s cult classic is perfect for those nights when you just want a really good ugly cry.
16. ‘Like Crazy’ (2011)
You never forget your first love, but unfortunately for a British college student (Felicity Jones) and her American classmate (Anton Yelchin), their love story takes a tragic turn when she violates the terms of her visa and they’re forced to separate. If the movie feels true-to-life, it’s likely because a lot of it was actually improvised.
17. ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ (1961)
Those pearls, the Givenchy LBD and that iconic 'do—this classic is worth watching for Holly Golightly’s (Audrey Hepburn) enviable style alone. But this story based on Truman Capote’s famous novella has plenty else going for it—comedy, romance and swanky Upper East Side locations.
18. ‘Blue Valentine’ (2010)
Some romances are made for curling up with your S.O. and reaffirming your love for each other. Others, like this one, are better watched alone (or with your besties). A bittersweet portrayal of marriage and heartache starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams.
19. ‘The Way We Were’ (1973)
Barbra Streisand stars in this opposites attract love story and that’s all you need to know. OK fine, Robert Redford also stars and the film is fabulous. The end.
20. ‘Beauty and the Beast’ (1991)
This enchanting hand-drawn Disney animation film is a classic for all ages. Equally good? The 2017 remake starring Emma Watson as Belle and Dan Stevens as the Beast that gives the fairy tale a modern, feminist twist.
21. ‘The Big Sick’ (2017)
This isn’t your standard rom-com. Instead, this funny and smart film (based on Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon’s IRL love story) explores cross-cultural themes and feels delightfully refreshing. Pakistan-born comedian Nanjiani (played by himself) falls for grad student Emily Gardner (Zoe Kazan), but when she contracts a mysterious illness that leaves her in a coma, Kumail must confront her parents, his own family and his true feelings.
22. ‘My Best Friend’s Wedding’ (1997)
Julia Roberts is her typically charming self in this screwball romance, but it’s the film’s surprising plot twists that make it worth watching. (And an ah-mazing sing-along scene.)
23. ‘West Side Story’ (1961)
On the upper west side, two gangs—the Sharks and the Jets—battle for control of the neighborhood. Things get complicated when Jets member Tony (Richard Beymer) falls for Maria (Natalie Wood), the sister of the Sharks leader. It's a modern-day Romeo and Juliet with a musical twist.
25. ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ (2014)
Couldn’t stop weeping during A Walk to Remember? This is the movie for you.
26. ‘Garden State’ (2004)
Zach Braff directed and starred in this sweet and sensitive film about a troubled young man (Andrew) who returns to his hometown in New Jersey for his mother’s funeral after being estranged from his family. Natalie Portman co-stars as the quirky love interest with plenty of other offbeat characters and a killer soundtrack.
27. ‘The Notebook’ (2004)
Oh, come on. We had to include it.
28. ‘About Time’ (2013)
From the man behind Love Actually, Notting Hill and Bridget Jones’s Diary comes this uplifting flick about a young man who realizes he has the ability to time travel. A wonderful reminder to cherish each and every day (and also that Rachel McAdams is amazing in everything).
29. ‘Carol’ (2015)
This melodrama about two women who fall in love with each other in the 1950s is beautifully crafted and full of subtext and atmosphere.
30. ‘Atonement’ (2007)
You won’t be able to tear your eyes away from the screen during that scene in the library with James McAvoy and Keira Knightley (and her stunning green dress). Shortly after, things take a devastating turn as these two lovers are torn apart by meddling families.
31. ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ (2004)
An estranged couple (Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet) erase all memories of their relationship in this heart-wrenching, imaginative 2004 science-fiction comedy-drama.
32. ‘Titanic’ (1997)
We’re not ashamed to admit that we saw this in theatres two three times. And even though we know how it ends (spoiler: the ship sinks), our hearts still go on leap for joy every time Jack and Rose dance together and sketch nude drawings.
33. ‘Call Me By Your Name’ (2017)
This blossoming romance between a seventeen-year-old boy and his father’s research assistant takes place in picture-perfect 1980s Italy. A tale of first love based on the acclaimed novel by André Aciman and starring the incredible Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer. Need we say more?
34. ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ (2018)
Based on Kevin Kwan's 2013 best-selling novel of the same name, this romantic comedy is the first major Hollywood film with a majority Asian cast and crew since The Joy Luck Club in 1993 (NBD). It follows native New Yorker Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) as she accompanies her boyfriend, Nick Young (Henry Golding) to his best friend's wedding in Singapore. Upon arrival, she learns that not only is Nick super rich but he's also one of the country's most eligible bachelors. How will Rachel navigate this new world of wealth and glamour... and his disapproving mother?
35. ‘Blue Is the Warmest Color’ (2013)
When 15-year-old Adèle meets the blue-haired Emma, it sparks something within her. Audiences will be mesmerized by this complicated and passionate French love story that evolves over the next ten years.
36. ‘One Day’ (2011)
Sure, this film adaptation from David Nicholls's smash-hit novel of the same name isn't perfect (Anne Hathaway's accent, in particular, received a lot of flack) but it's impossible not to fall in love with Dex and Emma as we watch the two friends meet on the same day over 18 years.
37. ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’ (2001)
We love cursing, boozing and laugh-out-loud funny Bridget Jones just as she is in this irresistible comedy that spawned two sequels. But are you team Darcy or team Cleaver? (Trick question: Darcy, obviously.)
38. ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’ (2018)
Tish and Alonzo (Fonny) have been friends since childhood but their plans for the future are derailed when Fonny is arrested for a crime he did not commit. Set in 1970s Harlem, this moving flick centers around a couple's unbreakable bond and the obstacles they must overcome to be together. Beautifully shot, you'll marvel (and cry) at this touching love story.
39. ‘Dirty Dancing’ (1987)
When Frances 'Baby' Houseman (Jennifer Gray) spends the summer at a Catskills resort with her family, she falls in love with the camp's bad boy dance instructor, Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze). It's a classic story with few surprises but we'll watch it again and again for that lift.
40. ‘Lost in Translation’
Two strangers (Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray) form an unlikely bond after meeting in a hotel bar in Tokyo. A moving (and at times, laugh-out-loud funny) film about finding a connection with someone.