48 Most Romantic Movies That You Definitely Need To Watch
We all love a good romantic movie, right? Romance has long played a central role in fiction, theatre and the movies; it makes us feel warm and fuzzy inside, and it’s something we all relate to. Whether it be a grand and epic romantic film, like Casablanca, or a more stripped-back romance about unrequited love in the suburbs, such as a French new-wave film, romantic movies always hit the spot with women.
Men, of course, manage to tolerate them with admirable dignity. But that isn’t to say they can’t get something out of these films too: Woody Allen practically reinvented the genre by taking a closer psychological look at the battle of the sexes, getting inside the heads of men while attempting to make some sense of the complex female mind, before When Harry Met Sally became literally the most universally acclaimed romance movie ever. The question it posed remains to this day: Can a relationship be purely platonic?
If you’re looking to treat yourself to a romantic movie this weekend but don’t know where to start, let’s take a look at 48 of the most romantic films of all time.
Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
After acting like a mental patient for half a decade in box-office hits including The Mask, Dumb and Dumber, The Cable Guy and Ace Ventura, Jim Carrey decided that it was time to start getting serious – and romantic. In 2003, he was offered the chance to star in French director Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind alongside Titanic star and English rose Kate Winslet.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is not your typical romance; Gondry here employs a non-linear narrative structure, and things can get a bit confusing if you don’t give it your undivided attention. But as long as you lose yourself in this film, you will feel all the pain, anguish and trapped feelings that follow a break-up.
Hannah And Her Sisters
When you think of Woody Allen, you probably think of Manhattan and Annie Hall, but it was 1986’s Hannah And Her Sisters that went on to become his biggest ever box-office hit, grossing $40m at the time.
It’s no surprise. The film is centred around three Manhattan sisters who each have their own love life problems. Mia Farrow’s character is married to the lustful, bumbling Michael Caine who is suffering a mid-life crisis, and who thinks he is attracted to his wife’s younger sister, Barbara Hershey. Hershey, meanwhile is married to a much older man who can’t satisfy her youthfulness anymore, while the third sister, perennial singleton and scatty Dianne West gets involved with Woody Allen, a TV producer who thinks he’s got a brain tumour.
It all makes for great fun!
Breathless is a French new-wave movie that is also more commonly known as A Bout de Souffle. It was director Godard’s first film and remains his most popular to date. Known for its innovate editing techniques, and its fast-moving, bubblegum dialogue about everyday things (which became an influence on Tarantino), Breathless is also a very sexy romantic movie that is as cool as a cat.
Godard was influenced by film noir, and you can see both his love and hatred for the classical Hollywood template in this film; at its heart, Breathless is a wistful romance between two unbelievably young and unbelievably attractive people; but it is also a crime film that is capable of turning up the heat when it wants to. It’s well worth watching for the idyllic walks through Paris the director takes us on. Totally dreamy.
The “Before” Trilogy
If you haven’t seen the “Before” trilogy, you might wander what the heck we’re referring to. We’re actually talking about a trio of film made by the director Richard Interval at various intervals: Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight.
The first movie was made way back in the mid-nineties, the second in 2004, and the third in 2014. The director didn’t shy away from the gap in time, and everything was deliberate; he used the same actors and made a trio of films that realistically portray a relationship. As we age, so do the characters. As we change over time, so do the characters.
Essentially, the films are a series of vignettes that follow two strangers who get talking on a train bound for Paris. After the first movie ends, we’re left wandering if the pair will ever meet again. Fast-forward ten years, and we’re reunited with them. Then, we fast-forward again to … well, we won’t spoil the rest.
Buffalo ’66 is a strange one; it’s definitely a romantic movie at heart, but it’s reminiscent of everyone trying to tell a macho man that he’s actually got feelings.
“No, I haven’t,” he aggressively insists.
So, you try to cuddle him to coax out his inner softness. Maybe you tickle him.
“Get off,” he grunts, batting you away.
It’s an awkward, dark film that progressively opens up to reveal a soft, and utterly adorable centre core.
In the movie, which Vincent Gallo directs and stars in, an ex-convict is trying to reconnect with his parents. To ensure they have no idea he’s been in prison for the last few years, he kidnaps a young girl and pretends to his parents that she is his long-term girlfriend.
Kidnapping a girl to impress one’s parents sounds warped, but it proves to be the basis for this ultimately heart-warming movie about a scowling, furtive man who just needs someone to open up to.
Bonnie And Clyde
Bonnie And Clyde could have been a very different film to the one it was, and it could easily have not existed at all. It was made in 1967, just after America had lifted a code of ethics that had previously banned all American movies from showing too much violence and sexuality. Fearing that they were falling behind liberal European films, the guys in the suits knew they had to act.
And it didn’t take long for Arthur Penn and Warren Beatty to collaborate on a rather violent (for 1967 at least) Bonnie And Clyde.
That isn’t to say that this film isn’t romantic, because it is. After all, it’s a tale of two desperate lovers who run away together. They’re outlaws, but they’re still in law, and they’ll do anything to stay together.
If you want your romance to be a little more daring, this one could be right up your street.
Chunking Express is not your average romantic movie; directed by Wong Kar-Wai, it’s more about mood and feeling than plot.
It’s also not so much about actually getting together with someone as opposed to suffering from a broken heart, or having to toy with the frustrating possibility of a relationship. Little materialises in this film, but if you’re currently aching for someone who doesn’t even realise you exist, you might find some sweet treasure in this South Korean film.
Everyone has seen Juno, right? Juno was the smash-hit of 2007 and with good reason. It’s a tale about a young girl who accidentally gets pregnant, and while the theme of abortion is a little bit questionable, this film’s heart is in the right place. It’s essentially a sweet, amusing romantic comedy about teen and middle-aged relationships.
Beauty And The Beast
“Tale as old as time,” goes the song. And it’s right too, for romance between a “beauty and a beast” is ageless.
Disney made this film in 1991, but the template for the story is a lot older. It’s a story about a beauty who ventures to a dark gothic castle to rescuer her father who has been kidnapped by the local beast. Belle is, of course, fearless, and ignores the plights of her townspeople to stay away from this beast.
Although the beast does very beast-like things from time to time, he is eventually charmed by Belle who manages to reverse the curse (he was turned into a beast as a young Prince because he’d been a bit naughty). It will melt your heart.
Four Weddings And A Funeral
Somehow, this British film with a tiny budget, managed to make £150m worldwide. It propelled Hugh Grant into mega stardom, and made Australians and Americans love the Brits again.
Yes, the Brits are eccentric and quirky, but what’s why they do romance so well; and romance is never done quite as well as in Four Weddings and a Funeral, a film about love, loss, and hilarious shenanigans.
Amelie is a rather quirky French film that is really divisive; some people can’t get enough of it, while others think it’s just too off-beat.
We at Beauty And Tips absolutely love it and appreciate its sweet charm. At the heart of the box-office smash is Amelie, played by the stunning Audrey Tautou. Amelie is not really like any other twenty-something; she still lives in her childlike imagination, and goes about her business assuming she has a heart defect (she doesn’t). She’s a lonely eccentric with a mischievous personality.
Eventually, something happens that causes her to devote her life to making people happy, before stumbling on a man she quite fancies. Rather than ask him out like you or I would, she decides to engage him in a cat-and-mouse game in Paris. It’s super fun and super romantic.
Singin’ In The Rain
You can’t have a list of the most romantic movies ever and not include Singin’ In The Rain. No doubt you watched it in your childhood, while your brother sulked and whinged that men shouldn’t be allowed to dance like that.
But Singin’ In The Rain tells a story we can all relate to; it’s a tale of two dancers who, despite their mutual dislike of one another, are forced to work together. Can romance really blossom when you’re singing in the pouring rain with someone you don’t even like? Apparently, it can.
Wings of Desire
At almost three hours long, Wings of Desire is not your usual romantic film. But this German black-and-white tale of unrequited love is poignant, philosophical and incredibly thought-provoking.
It moves slowly and hauntingly, with the characters subject to lengthy monologues about life, guilt and love. It isn’t an easy watch, and it’s certainly not a film to cuddle up to your partner with. There are no dramatic twists and turns, no “will they won’t they” plot lines. But if you’re feeling down at the moment and need someone to meditate on love to you, you could do a lot worse than watch this film.
Does Wings Of Desire sound a little bit too moody and meditative for you? Perhaps you fancy something a bit more raucous and sexy? Dirty Dancing could well be for you.
Dirty Dancing is a huge favourite with many women. It tells the story of snake-hipped Patrick Swayze as he teaches Jennifer Grey how to get her groove on.
Naturally, they both get their groove on in other ways, too.
Charlie Chaplin can never be dismissed as a slapstick comedian who is only good for a bit of light entertainment to help us pass the time. He was a genuine artist who infused pathos with comedy, and in no where in does he do this better than in City Lights. But he also adds some romance too.
As always, Chaplin plays the down at his heels tramp who can’t seem to catch a break in life, despite his eternal optimism. But even when life is at its worst, he still manages to find the love of his life.
Back in the day, Moulin Rouge was the Parisian dancehall where strangers of the night fell in love. It’s where fleeting kisses were exchanged, and where pressing yourself up to a man you’d never met before in the dim lights of a night club first became considered normal.
This lavish film, directed by King Of All Things Lavish And Extravagant Baz Luhrmann, is a feast for the eyes and ears. It’s a romantic musical that brings the impoverished writer Ewan McGregor together with the TB-infected singer Nicole Kidman. It should probably be a sad affair, but thanks to Luhrmann’s unapologetically flamboyant style, it’s really rather magnificent.
“Would you like me to seduce you?”
The Graduate was Dustin Hoffman’s first big break. Here, he plays a young student who, charged by his adolescent hormones and youthful boredom, is driven to the edges of desire by Mrs. Robinson.
Is it a romance film? It is in the same way that Bonnie & Clyde is a romance film. Released in the same year as the crime caper, The Graduate tears up the old romantic movie rulebook and writes a new one. If postmodernist romance is your thing, watch this movie now.
500 Days of Summer
Hands down, 500 Days of Summer is one of the most romantic films of all time. It stars the eternally cute Zooey Deschanel alongside hunk Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
Levitt’s character works as a greeting card writer who falls for Deschanel. She tells him right
from the start that she doesn’t believe in love, but he thinks he can make her change her mind. He’s got 500 days in which to do it. Will he? Won’t he?
Secretary is certainly an unconventional romantic film, but we decided that we should include something for everyone on this list. And if workplace romance that is coloured with a bit of BDSM is your thing, you might find that Secretary is the cosiest film you’ll have watched all year.
Just don’t blame us if it isn’t your thing. We have warned you!
If BDSM in the workplace is not really your cup of tea, Casablanca might be instead.
This 1942 romantic drama stars the smooth cat Humphrey Bogart as a cynical expat living in Morocco during the war. He owns a nightclub and gambling den and is doing just fine.]
That is until his ex-lover wants him to help her husband escape the Nazis. For Humphrey this is the biggest sacrifice he’ll ever have to make. But will he do it?
Sleepless In Seattle
Sleepless In Seattle is many women’s favourite ever romantic film. It’s just so achingly sad and warm, and it fills you with so much optimism when you’re watching it.
Widowed Tom Hanks is a bit of a romantic chap at heart, but he’s also a little down on his heels. After all, his wife has died! He does, though, have his young boy to keep his spirits up.
And it’s thanks to his young son that Hanks finds the chance of love through a radio call-in show. Meg Ryan also stars.
You’ve Got Mail
You’ve Got Mail also stars Hanks and Ryan, and is pretty much a revised version of the above film. Fast-forward a few years, and Hanks no longer needs to rely on a radio call-in show to find his soul mate; he’s got the Internet instead!
There is a twist in all of this; Hanks is no longer the romantic chap he was in Sleepless In Seattle; instead, he works for a mega corporation that is destroying Meg Ryan’s small book store.
Joey from Friends can sum this film up better than we can: “They get mail and stuff.”
An Officer And A Gentleman
If you were a cinema-goer in the early eighties, you’ll remember this film like it was yesterday. Starring the incredibly suave Richard Gere, An Officer And A Gentleman was the eighties’ Titanic.
It is a smooth, old-fashioned love story with an eighties gloss. It’s direct, and it aims straight for your heart. And if you don’t mind a bit of gush and a typical story about an arrogant flyboy finding out that there is more to this world than just him, this killer romance is for you.
It’s A Wonderful Life
Okay, so It’s A Wonderful Life is the seminal Christmas movie of all time, but that doesn’t mean you can’t watch it at any other time of the year, because this winter-warmer will make you feel all fuzzy inside in the spring, summer and autumn too.
Although the fable is seemingly about an ambitious family man’s world falling apart because he doesn’t get to realise his dreams of seeing the world, it’s actually a film about opening your eyes and realising what truly matters in life – such as your wife.
It’s probably cinema’s greatest gift to mankind.
Ghost might have a rather daft premise: Patrick Swayze gets murdered but returns to the physical world to communicate a message to his widow (Demi Moore) that the man who murdered him is about to return to get her.
Rather unfortunately, Demi Moore can’t actually see or hear him and is therefore totally vulnerable to being murdered. So Swayze, using his dead brain, enlists the help of a local, fairly eccentric medium (Woopie Goldberg).
However silly it might sound, there is certainly nothing silly about this powerful romantic film that still hits hard today. It’s a beautiful, magical script that is aided by some fine directing, and some fine accompanying music. For anyone who has loved and lost, it gives hope that your soulmate is still out there somewhere, waiting for you.
If someone tells you that a film about a man with scissors for hands can’t be romantic, you just tell them we’ve got your back. Edward Scissorhands is Tim Burton’s finest hour. It’s a romantic movie about a man who was created by a scientist to live with scissors for hands.
He’s a lonely, rather hapless creature who can’t seem to catch break. That is until he bumps into Winona Ryder. Super sweet.
Manhattan is another killer Woody Allen romance, shot and filmed in the director and actor’s hometown way back in 1979. It stars Allen as a divorcee on the cusp of middle-age who has somehow got himself into a relationship with a 17-year-old.
I know what you’re thinking: Allen’s character is obviously a lustful old man who should know better. The reality, though, is that he’s desperately trying to break it off, while the young woman – who is mature beyond her ways – realises that they have a strong bond, emotionally, intellectually, as well as physically – and she doesn’t want to let him go.
This is a sweet romance that appraises the universality of love. You can fall in love with anyone, and just because there is an age gap it doesn’t mean that a broken heart is any easier to get over. Allen handles the subject matter (and the yawning age gap) masterfully to execute one of the modern cinemas best romantic films. Watch it.
West Side Story
West Side Story is based on Shakespeare’s Romeo And Juliet. The classic play is given a contemporary revision, with this musical set on the tough streets of Upper West Side New York.
In the film, Tony takes the place of Romeo and falls in love with young starlet Natalie Wood, who is the sister of his biggest rival. But when Wood looks as good as she does here, you can’t really blame him. Even if falling in love with her means inconvenient knife fights.
Part of what makes this film so good is the stunning music. It’s a shameless but brilliant musical.
When Harry Met Sally
When Harry Met Sally is so far removed from the Hollywood romance movies of the forties and fifties that it’s almost as though Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall had never existed.
Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan play two baby boomers who are both looking for love, and who realise that they may have just found it. The thing is, Meg believes a relationship can thrive without intimacy, whereas Billy thinks that’s total nonsense. Get outta here, Meg!
But who was right?
Brokeback Mountain has unfortunately become known as “that gay Heath Ledger film.” This is rather sad because the film is actually a poignant depiction of the troubles that gay relationships encountered back in 1960’s Wyoming.
Achingly sad, it stars Jake Gyllenhaal and the aforementioned Heath Ledger whose own legend has since been sealed. There is romance in here, but be warned: You’re going to need those tissues.
Pretty Woman won’t be the only time Richard Gere appears in this list (come on, just take a look at the man), but it’s the only time his co-star Julia Roberts makes an appearance.
In Pretty Woman, Gere and Roberts’ chemistry goes through the roof. Gere plays the overworked businessman who doesn’t have time for marriage and children. When he needs a woman, he hires an escort – Roberts.
Eventually, though, life and Roberts teach him that love is totally possible. You don’t need to work all the time. Especially when you’ve got a pretty woman on your hands!
You didn’t seriously think we were going to make a list of the 48 best romantic movies and not include Titanic, did you? Okay, we’ve left it late, but there was always going to be room for De Caprio and Winslet’s doomed relationship in here somewhere.
Director James Cameron (The Terminator 2, Avatar) pulls off a near miracle with this film. The story of the Titanic was already famous all around the world, but almost one-hundred years after its maiden voyage, was there really any new way to tell its story?
Throw in two of the hottest young actors on the planet, a smidgen of love and lust and “we’ll be forever together” platitudes, as well as that inevitable sinking ship that you just know is going to break their hearts, and, yup, you’ve got a box-office smash. This is a romance that just never gets old.
Harold And Maude
Harold And Maude is another of those unconventional romance films that we like to include on this list. Made in 1971 not too long after the abolition of the Motion Picture Cold, it explores the relationship between a 19-year-old man with a morbid fascination for death and a 79-year-old who is facing up to her own mortality.
Harold And Maude is a very seventies black comedy that actually performed really badly at the box-office. If you like your tales of romance to be a little bit quirky and different, you’re onto a winner with this one.
After all, we can’t all be supremely photogenic and fall in love on a sinking ship, can we?
Lost In Translation
We’re noticing a familiar theme at the moment: Movies about older people falling for much younger people. Lost In Translation stars Bill Murray as a glum and rather exhausted American actor shooting a quite ridiculous commercial in Japan. He doesn’t want to be there, and you get the impression the only reason he’s flown out there is to escape the humdrum life he shares at home with his wife (as well as make some cash).
He then meets an incredibly young (and incredibly hot) Scarlet Johansson, who is staying over at the same hotel as he is. There is an obvious connection between the pair; they chat, and even head out on the town together. The only problem is they’re both married and he’s flying home soon.
This is an incredibly muted, subtle film that has the power to break your heart into a thousand pieces.
Punch Drunk Love
Do you like your romantic movies to be really off-beat?
I mean REALLY really off-beat?
You do? Then Punch Drunk Love is for you.
Starring Adam Sandler in what turns out to be a super-amazing career curveball, Punch Drunk Love is a black comedy about a rather bizarre lonely man who captures the imagination of a female friend of his sister. What happens next is a rather weird relationship that feels wrong but also right in so many ways. This is terrific, darkly fun that says everyone deserves a little happiness.
Breakfast At Tiffany’s
We could have a list of the best romantic movies and not include an Audrey Hepburn film somewhere, so here we are. Breakfast At Tiffany’s is based on the Truman Capote novella and should strike a chord with most couples. The lesson of the day here is that, no matter how logically and rationally you approach love, you simply cannot help who you fall in love with. Love is not rational.
Jerry Maguire is more of a film about growing to love someone, as opposed to actually falling head over heels in love. It’s full of cliches, such as “you had me at hello,” – but it’s still a really good watch.
It also stars Tom Cruise before he went all gaga about scientology. He’s still cute basically. Just about.
The Lady And The Tramp
She’s a lady and he’s a tramp. They were never meant to meet, let alone fall in love with one another. I mean, they’re from two entirely different social stratums.
But fall in love they do. The Lady And The Tramp is the most romantic film involving dogs EVER, and it just goes to show that you’ll be surprised at who you’ll fall in love with. Don’t judge a book by its cover and all that …
Zach Braff’s directorial debut, Garden State was an indie smash-hit. It centres around a very kooky Natalie Portman who manages to bring Braff under her spell. Braff is only in town for his mom’s funeral, and is expected to return home in just a few days time. But has Portman and her unusual personality done enough to convince him that he should stick around?
The Shop Around The Corner
The Shop Around The Corner might just be the most romantic film you’ll ever see. Set during Christmas in a small town in Hungary, it’s a film about opposites attracting. James Stewart and his new co-worker Margaret Sullivan simply can’t stand each other, and they’re also pretty bored of life. The only thing either have to look forward to is meeting their pen pals for the first time. But just who are these anonymous pen pals the two have fallen so in love with?
Gone With The Wind
Gone With The Wind is possibly your grandmother’s favourite ever romantic movie, and it could be yours if you could get over the fact that this film is a) almost 3 hours long and b) really old.
Clarke Gable and Vivienne Leigh were basically the Richard Gere and Julia Roberts of their day. Kinda. And although this film is really, REALLY long, you shouldn’t let that deter you from watching one of the greatest on-screen romances ever.
It’s an epic saga that follows Gable and Leigh through the Civil War South and into the Reconstruction. You’ll find yourself willing them to be able to find happiness together, but you just know the gods are against them. Curse those gods and fate!
The Notebook was the film that thrust Ryan Gosling into the public consciousness. He made women everywhere cry, while men suddenly realised they weren’t the only one in their relationship anymore; they had to share their partner with Mr Gosling.
The story deals with a youthful relationship that began in the 1940s, but which ended suddenly because the girls’ parents didn’t like the boy (her mother calls him “trash trash trash”). The boy writes to the girl everyday, but to no response, until eventually we fast-forward several years and the girl is now an elderly woman with dementia and all those letters. Can she summon the strength to remember who he was?
Warning: This film is a real tear-jerker.
Blue Is The Warmest Colour
When Blue Is The Warmest Colour first hit our screens back in 2013, it caused a storm of controversy, largely thanks to its graphic sex scenes. It was also a romantic film about two lesbians.
But you should cut through all the controversy and the leering male gazes, because When Blue Is The Warmest Colour is a fine romance movie that shows us our intense and powerful first love truly is.
It’s based on a graphic novel by the same name (and, yes, it really is graphic), but don’t let anything deter you; if you’ve ever gone through the entire emotional chessboard that first log and loss brings, you will adore this film.
Out Of Sight
In Out Of Sight, Jennifer Lopez and George Clooney are still relatively young. Which means they’re both staggeringly smoking.
There is even a scene where they get shut in a car boot together. It’s quite steamy.
Anyway, as steamy as this 1998 Steven Soderbergh film is, it’s also super romantic.
Here is a romantic film for those who like their romances to be old-fashioned. It’s an epic movie that has all the elements of a true 1960’s romantic saga: It’s melodramatic, gooey, and kinda rather manipulative.
But, so what?!
Some Like It Hot
Some Like It Hot stars Marilyn Monroe in arguably her finest performance. Accompanying her for the ride are Tony Curtis and Jack Lemon as two on-the-run musicians who must dress in drag to hide from their assailants.
Curtis inevitably finds himself falling in love with the lovely Monroe, but because he’s dressed as a woman, he’s in a bit of a catch 22 situation.
This film is funny and hugely romantic. So sweet.
Love Actually was written and directed by the guys behind Four Weddings And A Funeral, and tells a story in a series of vignettes involving multiple characters who get into all kinds of mishaps. Hugh Grant again stars, this time as a besotted prime minister, while other superb cast members include Kiera Knightley, the late Alan Rickman, and Colin Firth.
It’s a quaintly British poem about love, and it will hit home with anyone whose been in love, but it’s also incredibly funny at times. Try it.
Before Woody Allen wrote and directed Manhattan and Hannah And Her Sisters, he began reinventing the romantic movie genre with Annie Hall in 1977. Starring himself and Diane Keaton, this is a film that follows two neurotics trying to cope with life and love in New York.
Annie Hall was the first time Allen ditched the slapstick he had become known for, replacing it with more subtle (but incredibly sharp) humour. He also takes a stab at dissecting the psychology of love and tries ever so hard to understand women.
He fails, of course, but this is at least a realistic film about a relationship from a man’s point of view. It asks the question; why is she so in love with me one minute and leaving me the next?
What are your favourite romantic movies?