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The 50 Best Romantic Movies Ever

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Best Romantic Movies
By  · Published on February 12th, 2019

40. 3-Iron


Love stories often require a fair amount of dialogue exchanged between characters as they draw closer to each other, but what this beautiful South Korean film presupposes is… maybe they don’t? A lonely, abused wife meets a willfully mute young man, and together they discover something intimate and special without a word between them. Kim Ki-duk’s film slows down the usually heightened pace of movie romances and just lets its characters exist in each other’s presence, and it’s sensual music to our hearts. (Rob Hunter)

39. Crazy Rich Asians

Crazy Rich Asians

There are plenty of movies about how love transcends cultures, but never before has a romantic comedy planted itself so centrally in the middle of the Eastern and Western values diaspora. Constance Wu shines as Rachel Chu, a woman caught out of her depth when she journeys to her boyfriend Nick’s (Henry Golding) childhood home of Singapore and becomes involved in the tangled web of relationships that is his family. At the center is mama spider Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh), whose values dissonance with Rachel drives a film that addresses relationship struggles across the board, from fragile and insecure masculinity to Eastern vs. Western family values to relationships with in-laws. As part of Hollywood’s first majority Asian cast in nearly 30 years, Wu, Golding, and Chu absolutely kill in this movie, supported by the likes of Awkwafina and Ken Jeong. And let’s not forget how absolutely gorgeous this film can be; scenes like the wedding and Nick’s homecoming night market tour showcase the gorgeous locales of Singapore. I cry at every romance, but when Nick proposes to Rachel (in a scene that captures EXACTLY what it’s like to be in economy class on a trans-Pacific flight) using his mother’s ring (which actually belongs to Yeoh!!), I lose it every time. Also, this movie has more hot shirtless Asian guys in it than the entire history of cinema. (Hans Qu)

38. Up


Just mentioning Pete Docter’s Pixar classic is enough to send entire generations of movie buffs into hysteric bouts of crying, but the film is a lot more than that infamous first-act sequence. Of course, it’s a beautiful but harrowing opening, with the swift journey through Ellie and Carl’s life together from childhood to death, with all the ups and downs along the way. Despite Ellie’s early exit, her existence and the relationship narrative soars due to the wonderful single-minded narrative and Michael Giacchino’s charming (and Oscar-winning) score that provides a musical backbone, and even with all the shenanigans with Russell and Dug, it still keeps that emotional connection reinforced as Carl has to reconcile his feelings about the house and completing Ellie’s dream. It’ll give you the spirit of adventure, as long as you have an industrial-sized box of Kleenex. (Charlie Brigden)

37. The Handmaiden


Park Chan-wook isn’t exactly the first director one thinks of when discussing romantic films — and no, Oldboy isn’t quite the ideal romance — but his 2016 thriller is as stunningly beautiful a love story as you’re likely to see. Cruelty, sexual manipulation, evil intentions, and double-crosses are all at play here, but its core sees the building of an intimate relationship between bodies and minds. Lavish production design and gorgeous cinematography paint an exquisite landscape, but the truest beauty is the love both shown and felt by these two women. (Rob Hunter)

36. Only Lovers Left Alive

Only Lovers

Lingering in a shadowy existential depression in the grungy Detroit noise scene surrounded by volumes of romantic poetry isn’t what most associate with love, but then again, most of us haven’t been stuck on Earth for hundreds of years. Jim Jarmusch’s slow vampire love story is an intoxicating tale of cultural exploration and environmental concern that is dripping wet with romance. It’s grounded in tremendous leading performances by Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton, whose centuries worth of marriage represents a relational maturity we can only dream of, and stellar supporting performances by Mia Wasikowska, John Hurt, Jeffrey Wright, and the late, great Anton Yelchin. Between Detroit and Tangiers, Jarmusch conjures a dreamy, lazy, eccentric ontology of modern vampire life that we haven’t otherwise seen on screen. Don your favorite velvety robe, fix a decadent cocktail, pick up some William Blake, throw a jazz record on your vinyl player, and curl up in your lover’s arms. (Luke Hicks)

35. Secretary


Romantic films don’t often stray from the path of least resistance and instead typically pair likable characters in a story that brings them together with minimal conflict. This uniquely refreshing and blackly comic film gives a middle finger to that idea and instead goes full bore with an asshole and a withdrawn young woman prone to self-harm. Their love story involves self-discovery through S&M built less on pain and more on connection, and as with the recent Piercing, it’s a revelation that draws them closer together despite appearances to the contrary. It’s equal parts beautiful and sexy, and you’ll never forget it. (Rob Hunter)

34. Notting Hill

Notting Hill

“I’m also just a girl standing in front of a boy asking him to love her.” With these words, Notting Hill cemented itself as one of the greatest rom-coms of our time. You can say the movie, which is about the relationship between London every-man Will (Hugh Grant) and world famous Hollywood actress Anna (Julia Roberts), is cheesy and unrealistic. You wouldn’t be wrong to do so. But when Anna plays her cards in front of Will, when she puts everything on the table and asks him to want her back, all complaints of cheesiness dissipate as far as I’m concerned. In its place, we’re left with a truly perfect moment in the history of the romantic comedy. Sure, the film has its cliches, but that’s why I love it. We all need a comfort movie to remind us that the strife we go through looking for love will be worth it in the end. This is my movie. (Anna Swanson)

33. Your Name

Your Name

Hearing the premise of Your Name is guaranteed to bring out one’s inner skeptic. Body-swapping dream-sharing teenage soulmates(?) on a desperate quest to find each other? Pfft. Give me a break. But here’s the crazy thing: it works. There’s a reason this is the highest-grossing anime film of all time. Skillfully handled by writer-director Makoto Shinkai, this mix of classic romance tropes and trippy sci-fi/fantasy twists will lull your crusty, cynical shell into a deep slumber and allow that inner hopeless romantic you forgot you had buried inside to break free — for an hour and 47 minutes, at least. (Ciara Wardlow)

32. Submarine


Richard Ayoade’s directorial debut is a coming-of-age tale about young love and the human connection, awkwardness, and heartache associated with it. The film follows Oliver (Craig Roberts), a socially impotent teenager who wants to lose his virginity before his birthday. His family is also falling apart. Then he meets Jordana (Yasmin Paige), a feisty classmate he ends up wooing. A relationship ensues, but it’s far from the happily-ever-after dream that we all assumed our first loves would be during our adolescent years. Submarine is quirky, funny, bittersweet, and very moving. A rare treat that captures teenage angst with the intelligence, experience, and sense of humor of a reflective, weathered adult mind. (Kieran Fisher)

31. Paris, Texas

Paris Texas

A man (Harry Dean Stanton) stumbles out of the desert. He is a dried husk of a human. Having suffered a tremendous heartbreak, he removed himself from society, severed his ties with family, and found solace in complete physical and emotional isolation. Now, he is back. He may not be ready to reconnect with his brother (Dean Stockwell), or the son (Hunter Carson) that he dumped on his doorstep, but the drifter’s options are limited. He can confront his pain or die. He convinces his child to join him on a cathartic road trip towards redemption where at the end of the road is the woman he ruined and in return ruined him (Nastassja Kinski). Is this a lush, flowing, and uplifting romance? No. It’s passion and mixed in all that love are anger, depression, despair, and hope. Feeling. All of it. (Brad Gullickson)

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