Editor’s Note: This post is updated monthly. Bookmark this page and come back every month to stay up to date with the best romance movies on Netflix.
Updated for October 2018
Romance movies are not that different from horror movies. Both are incredibly hard to pull off, are heavily watched during a cold time of year, and hopefully end with every character covered in blood.
With that in mind we present to you a list of the best romantic movies on Netflix. Because romance deserves it, damn it. Virtually every song ever written is a love song but poor romance can’t get a fair shake at the movies. Whether it be a rom-com or just a straight-up soul-enlightening/crushing romance, our list of the best romantic movies on Netflix will get you back in touch with your cold, dead heart.
Blue is the Warmest Color
Blue is the Warmest Color is categorized as a coming-of-age film and a romance movie. Ultimately, those two genres are roughly the same. What is a more important or poignant way to come of age than to fall in love? Adele is a young Frenchwoman who likes to gossip about boys until one day she sees another young woman with blue hair walking past.
What follows is infatuation, romance, heartbreak, jealousy, confusion, late nights, comfort, and disappointment. You know, love. Blue is the Warmest Color is one of the definitive and great romance movies on Netflix
At first glance, Atonement seems like standard people-talking-in-British-accents-during-WWII Oscar bait. But it is so much more than that. Atonement is as heartbreakingly tragic as it is earnestly romantic. It’s the story of how love can sometimes be derailed or destroyed by forces we absolutely wouldn’t expect.
James McAvoy, Keira Knightley, and the young Saoirse Ronan (who earned an Oscar nomination here) are all remarkable and Atonement, is a romance-war hybrid that works.
This list has been all fine and good so far but I know what you’re thinking: WHERE ARE THE MILENNIAL CRAFT BREWERY ROMANTIC INDIE DRAMAS. Well here you go, hypothetical reader with incredibly specific tastes. Drinking Buddies is a mumblecore masterpiece starring some truly excellent and funny actors: Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick, and Ron Livingston.
It’s a mostly improvised, simple story about relationships, jealousy and lots of great craft beer. Kate (Wilde) and Luke (Johnson) are flirty coworkers at a craft brewery who decide to go on a joint trip with their significant others Chris (Livingston) and Jill (Kendrick). Romantic comedy ensues.
AWOL is how indie romances should be – small, authentic, affecting. Joey (Lola Kirke) and Rayna (Breeda Wool) are two young women from a nowheresville Pennsylvania town. They meetcute at a local carnival and quickly fall for each other but circumstances threaten to crush their romance before it can even begin.
AWOL understands first and foremost that while love is easy, relationships (and arguably everything else in the world is hard). Sometimes what you want and what your environment is able to allow you to have are two very different things.
Like Crazy is excellent because of how simple it is. Felicity Jones plays Anna, a British woman who falls in love with American Jacob (Anton Yelchin) while attending college in Los Angeles. Oftentimes in romances, ridiculous circumstances conspire to keep our star-crossed lovers separated.
This time around it’s just plain-old visa issues. It’s mundane and simple but it’s also something that could so easily and probably frequently interrupt burgeoning relationships. Jacob and Anna attempt to keep their long-distance relationship alive but then enters an interloper…an Jennifer Lawrence-ian interloper.
Todd Haynes, director of Carol and Far From Heaven knows longing. And if there’s an element that makes for an excellent romantic movie experience its longing. That desperate sense is baked into nearly every frame of Carol. Based on a 1950s romance novel, Carol is the story of a young photographer (Rooney Mara) and an older woman going through a divorce (Cate Blanchette) undertaking a forbidden affair.
Forbidden because, you know, ’50s. And that’s where the longing comes in. Nothing is more romantic or sexier than a forbidden romance. Carol channels that romantic energy into something mature, fascinating and heartbreaking.
Sleeping with Other People
We love famous people. We love famous funny people. We love famous funny people acting in movies about un-acted upon mutual attraction. Sleeping with Other People‘s script could have been 1 page that just said “Jason Sudeikis, Allison Brie, Natasha Lyonne, Amanda Peet, and Adam Scott do stuff.
Sexual tension ensues” and it would have been worth a ticket on that alone. Thankfully there are the makings of a plot just beyond that. Sudeikis and Brie star as old friends who have a one-night stand and then 12 years later feel compelled to act as though it didn’t really matter to them.
The Reader isn’t just a punchline to Hugh Jackman’s best joke while hosting the Oscars – it’s also an excellent, achingly romantic movie in its own right. Kate Winslet stars as Hanna, a woman having an affair with a younger man…a much younger man in the 1950s. Things are going pretty well for the pair until the younger man, Michael, discovers a disturbing truth about his older paramour. A disturbing truth that rhymes with Shnazi Shympethizer.
Things may not be what they seem, however, thanks to another secret Hanna is harboring. The Reader occasionally gets criticized for being transparent Oscar bait and while that may be partly fair, it’s hard to resist its doomed romance and winding twists and turns.
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
Wow, a lot of cheesy romantic comedies have the number “10” in them. It’s nice to pretend that 10 Things I Hate About You is a spiritual prequel to How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. In the latter, however, it’s the adults who are behaving like assholes in the pursuit of romance. Andie Anderson (Kate Hudson) works for a magazine and wants to write an article about, well, read the title again.
There’s a big hitch in her plan, however, as the man she’s supposed to lose is Matthew Freaking McConaughey. Good luck with that, sister. McConaughey may or may not look back fondly at his history of romcoms but this one is unequivocally good and the best example of Hudson and McConaughey’s respective charms.
Love Actually is so closely associated with romance films, Valentine’s Day, and Christmas that it’s almost a self-parody at this point. This is a picture that has been picked apart for comedic and memeable scraps time and time again since its debut in 2003. Still, it holds up as a genuinely sweet, mega-omnibus love story.
It doesn’t hurt that Love Actually also features the most impressive roster of British acting talent this side of a Harry Potter movie.
Revolutionary Road is a romantic drama set in 1948 that reunites Leonardo Dicaprio and Kate Winslet as Frank and April Wheeler. Frank and April live a happy little idyllic American life with an unthinkable secret: they’re unhappy.
Revolutionary Road is “revolutionary” in the sense that it finds the unhappiness buried beneath the most ideal romance. This is Dicaprio and Winslet we’re talking about here. How could they possibly not enjoy each other’s company?
So many American romance dramas find the sinister in day-to-day life. Revolutionary Road just finds the sadness and explores the solutions therein.
Beauty and the Beast
2017’s live-action version of Beauty and the Beast isn’t the best depiction of the classic fairy tale ever but that’s ok. It doesn’t have to be. All Bill Condon’s Beauty and the Beast really needed to be was a fun little dip into nostalgia with sumptuous visuals and a believable romance. On that front, everything goes according to plan.
Emma Watson stars as Belle and Dan Stevens is her beast. Belle heads off from her small French town to the Beast’s castle to rescue her father. What follows is Stockholm Syndrome: The Movie. But sexier. Beauty and the Beast really does look good and Watson and Stevens have just enough chemistry to make this a worthwhile romantic experience.
If you want a satisfying romance movie experience sometimes you have to go to Paris. Amelie is a French-language film about Amelie, a young Parisian movie who deals with her own sense of isolation by trying to better the lives of those around her. Eventually those efforts get her in touch with something truly scary: love.
Amelie features many archetypes that we’ve come to appreciate in our romance movies. Star Audrey Tatou is the perfect and original manifestation of a twee manic pixie dream girl – only this time removed from the male gaze. It’s a wonderful, romantic film about the limits of selflessness.
The Phantom of the Opera (2004)
Casting Gerard Butler as a man so ugly he feels the need to cover his face is an interesting decision to be sure. But questionable casting aside, Joel Schumacher’s 2004 remake of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s iconic musical is a fun, romantic time.
Emmy Rossum stars as Christine Daaé, an actress who takes over for a play’s lead when a mysterious accident causes the lead actress to leave. Ghostly occurrences continue to happen to the production and eventually Christine comes to believe her own “Angel of Music” could be behind it.
The story of The Phantom of the Opera is wonderfully moody, gothic, and romantic. Rossum and Butler have good chemistry as the leads and the film is a worthwhile update to a classic story.
Weirdly, there may be few concepts more romantic than indecision. Romance, human attraction, and love are all a mystery. No other time in a person’s life is more mysterious than their adolescence – when they’re on the cusp of adulthood but not quite. Perhaps that’s why so many great romance movies feature young people who must soon face big decisions about their future.
Beautiful Girls is one of those movies. Willie Conway (Timothy Hutton) is a semi-successful musician in New York. When Willie returns home to Massachusetts for a high school reunion, he’s forced to confront the fact that he’s at a crossroads in his life. Lots of decisions about his adulthood linger, including whether he should marry his long-time girlfriend, Tracy Stover (Annabeth Gish).
Beautiful Girls aptly captures the romance of youth and adolescence and features an enormous cast of noteworthy actors like Uma Thurman, Natalie Portman, Matt Dillon, Noah Emmerich, Mira Sorvino, Michael Rappaport, and more.
God’s Own Country
British film God’s Own Country is all about what happens when a sudden bolt of intimacy and sexual tension is introduced into a lonely, pastoral life.
Johnny lives on a farm in Yorkshire with his father and grandmother. Due to his father’s stroke, most of the responsibilities fall to Johnny and he leads a lonely existence among the calves and lambs. Then when his family hires Romanian migrant worker Gheorghe, Johnny realizes that his feature may not be as lonely as he assumed it might be.
Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist
What does love feel like if not an infinite playlist of your favorite songs?
In Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, two young people, Nick (Michael Cera) and Norah (Kat Dennings) are two teenagers who go to the same high school. They don’t know each other but meet when out one night and discover that they’re both trying to see a rare performance by their favorite elusive indie band, Where’s Fluffy? Over the span of the night the two grow close as they try to find the show and tend to their drunken mutual friend.
Nick and Norah is about the romantic magic of music and One Great Night in the city.
We embrace every kind of love on our list of the best romance movies. Sometimes that includes some questionable, and some would say “icky” kind of love. So…Outside In is a teacher-student romance. But don’t panic! It’s ok.
Jay Duplas stars as Chris, a man who was wrongly imprisoned at age 18 and who is relased at age 38. When Chris is released, he immediately meets up with his old high school teacher, Carol (Edie Falco), who was his penpal when he was in prison. He wastes little time before he declares his love for her.
Despite its subject matter, Outside In is a mature, well-handled exploration of love and what it means to love someone for themselves as opposed to what they do for us.
Sometimes it can be hard to find a pure romance film for the purposes of this list. There are romantic-dramas, romantic-comedies, romantic-everything. Thankfully, 2000’s Chocolat is one of the few pure romances. Though it certainly has its comedic and dramatic elements.
Juliette Binoche stars as chocolatier Vianne who moves to a small, repressed French town and begins hocking her wonderful chocolates. The townspeople are distrustful of these sinful chocolates except for of course the mysterious Traveller Roux (Johnny Depp). Chocolat is a pure love letter to love…and chocolate.
Our list is not wanting for hard-nosed “REAL LOVE IS HARD DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND” adult romance movies. So sometimes you’ve just got to switch it up and indulge in some fantasy romances.
In Penelope Christina Ricci stars as the eponymous Penelope. Due to a curse placed upon her family, Penelope has the ears and nose of a pig. And the only way to get rid of it is, get this: fall in love. Thankfully James McAvoy is on hand to help with that very task.
Set It Up
Set It Up is Netflix’s most accomplished original romantic comedy yet.
Zoey Deutch and Glen Powell star as overworked assistants Harper and Charlie. Harper is an assistant to Kirsten (Lucy Liu) the woman behind a sports media empire. Charlie works for finance maven Rick (Taye Diggs). Harper and Charlie realize that their respective workloads might lesson if their bosses were more focused on their love life and less focused on work. So they…set them up.
Set It Up is a fun, novel high-concept romance movie positively filled with chemistry on all sides.
If the band Grizzly Bear scores your film, you know you’ve got something real atmospheric and powerful.
Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams star as married couple Dean Pereira and Cindy Heller. Blue Valentine presents the story of their marriage in a non-linear way, flashing back to their passionate courtship and flashing forward to the sad dissolution of their marriage.
Aside from the non-linear play, there are no narrative shenanigans in Blue Valentine. It’s a romance story about love that understands how hard love is and explores what it means when love alone isn’t enough.
The her in the movie Her isn’t really a her. She’s an intelligent computer operating system that just happens to have the voice of Scarlett Johansson. Still despite a lack of anything human other than a voice and access to Google, the OS Samantha falls in love with Theodore Twombly. And Theodore loves her back.
Her is a fascinating science fiction film from Spike Jonze that is barely science fiction. It’s a romance about our weird little species, so filled with empathy that we can fall for anyone and anything. The question then becomes “will these things love us back?”
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
With a name as long as The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, the movie better be good to justify how many times we poor cultural commenters must type it out. Thankfully Guernsey is quite good!
Based on a book by the same name, Guernsey is a historical love story set in 1946. Lily James stars as British writer Juliet Ashton. Juliet begins exchanging letters with residents of the islands of Guernsey, which was under German occupation in WWII (so like two years before the movie starts). While there she meets the dashing Dawsey Adams (Michael Huisman) and romance begins to blossom.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is an excellent, watchable classical romance
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
Oh hey! Another Netflix original with a long title based on a book. Like the Potato Peel Pie Society, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is another effortlessly enjoyable romantic romp – this time of the teen variety.
Lara Jean Song Covey (Laura Condor) experiences every young person’s nightmare when private love letters to five boys she has or has had crushes on suddenly and mysteriously become public. But fear not. This is a romance movie, not a horror movie. So this sudden reveal has to go well for Lara Jean, right? RIGHT?!?