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The 50 Best Romantic Movies Ever

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

20. Before Sunrise

Before Sunrise

Before Sunrise is one of those rare and magical films that spark sequels that are somehow just as good as (if not better than, depending on who you ask) the original. In Before Sunrise, what eventually becomes a life-changing love story that spans decades and continents, starts off in the simplest way imaginable: a young American man, Jesse (Ethan Hawke), meets a young Parisian woman, Celine (Julie Delpy), on a train traveling to Vienna. The film perfectly captures that feeling of meeting someone whom you feel an instant connection with. One so powerful, in fact, that when Jesse invites Celine to get off the train and spend the day in Vienna with him, she accepts. As the two spend the rest of the day and night together, they realize that their initial instincts were right, and that heartbreak will undoubtedly await when Jesse has to board a plane in the morning. The idea behind the film came from a real-life encounter that writer-director Richard Linklater had with a woman in Philadelphia. He enlisted Kim Krizan to co-write to script with him, and that eventually became an (uncredited) collaboration with actors Hawke and Delpy as well. According to Hawke, he initially had reservations about the film, which can essentially be described as two people having a conversation, but what Linklater told him to quell those anxieties will also work well to convince you to watch this film the next time you’re in the mood for a romance: “[Linklater] answered that he’d never been in a helicopter crash, he’d never been involved in any espionage, he’d never been to Outer Space, and yet his life felt full of drama. And the most dramatic thing that ever happened to him was the experience of truly connecting with another person.” (Madison Brek)

19. True Romance

True Romance

Hollywood has been fascinated with outlaw lover stories since Gun Crazy paved the way for this type of cinema, and True Romance is a love letter to such movies. The Quentin Tarantino-penned story embraces the cliches and doesn’t rewrite the tried-and-tested format of these tales by any means, but he populates the world with an endearing central couple (Patricia Arquette and Christian Slater), an affectionate love story, memorable villains, explosive violence, and a terrific sense of humor. It’s still the best thing Tarantino has ever written in this writer’s humble opinion. While the movie contains his trademark sensibilities, it’s also his most heartfelt story to date. (Kieran Fisher)

18. Wild at Heart

Wild At Heart

David Lynch’s 1990 Palme d’Or winner is more than just another film that proves Lynch’s utter singularity. It is one of the best performances of Laura Dern, Willem Dafoe, and Nicolas Cage’s then already unbelievable careers. It’s the kind of romance that both weirds you out and turns you on at the same time — unless Bobby Peru is skulking on screen; then it just creeps you to the bone. It brandishes a cool, hot, southern style via leather jackets, metal concerts, murder, mystery, unbridled dancing, cigarettes, sports cars, and sloppy smooches. It’s absolutely irresistible. Not to mention, Sailor Ripley and Lula Fortune must be the most sovereign names in the history of lovers on screen. (Luke Hicks)

17. The Philadelphia Story

Philadelphia Story

There are few better cinematic kisses than the one Jimmy Stewart gives Katharine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story. Remarkably, the movie balances comedy and romance better than so many comedies that try to take on love. It seems like an easy decision for Hepburn’s character, Tracy Lord, to take back her charming ex-husband played by Cary Grant, but the film gives her many other options before the end of the film. The movie lands on our list because it tells the redemption story of love that seems doomed from the beginning. There are several romantic lines of dialogue placed in between hilarious, smart jokes, but the dreamiest comes from Stewart’s character: “A magnificence that comes out of your eyes, in your voice, in the way you stand there, in the way you walk. You’re lit from within, Tracy. You’ve got fires banked down in you, hearth-fires and holocausts.” Spoken in the glowing moonlight by a garden pond, this is the stuff we dream about. (Emily Kubincanek)

16. Y Tu Mamá También

Y Tu Mama

In real life, love looks different for almost everyone, but Hollywood still hasn’t quite gotten the memo, repeatedly serving us stories about couples that look like a wedding cake topper. That contrast makes the love portrayed in Alfonso Cuaron’s Mexico-set road movie, a love that’s polyamorous and upends gendered expectations, a love that’s deeply rooted in bodies and places and specific time periods, feel like a breath of fresh sea air. The movie follows Tenoch (Diego Luna) and Julio (Gael García Bernal), two teenagers who travel across rural Mexico with a woman (Maribel Verdú) in crisis. Although Y Tu Mamá También is most-remembered for its graphic sex scenes, it’s also a movie — like Roma — with love in every shot. Tenderness, sensuality, and precarious yet romantic character dynamics linger below the surface of a story that’s, in turn, funny, poetic, and heartbreaking. (Valerie Ettenhofer)

15. Love Actually

Love Actually

Love Actually hasn’t enjoyed the most positive re-evaluations in recent years. Countless think pieces have been written about its problematic elements, and some of these criticisms do have merit. At the same time, though, it’s an ambitious ensemble rom-com that successfully weaves several story arcs with aplomb and delivers plenty of festive cheer and feel-good optimism. I can’t hate a movie like that — I love it, actually — and I’d argue that the pros outweigh the cons. Sure it’s cheesy and presents a sappy sugar-coated image of romance, but we need movies like that, and Love Actually is better than most. By all means, acknowledge its flaws and discuss them openly, but let’s not forget that it’s a very well-intentioned movie that makes people happy. (Kieran Fisher)

14. Amelie


Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s whimsical story about love in so many of its forms perhaps the most soothing and delightful film ever made on the subject of love. And like a fine French pastry, it has layers. Through the doughy eyes of its protagonist (played by sunshine-in-human-form Audrey Tautou), Amelié romanticizes humanity and its many fun deviations, while also telling the powerful story of a loner who learns in order to truly love and help others, you sometimes have to be able to help yourself. It’s fucking delightful. (Neil Miller)

13. Call Me By Your Name


It’s 1983, somewhere in Northern Italy, and young Elio is in love.  Part romance, part coming of age story, Luca Guadagnino’s film based on the novel of the same name follows our protagonist over the course of a dreamlike summer as he falls for an older, male, American graduate student.  Call Me By Your Name is a sensory experience, one that evokes the beauty of ancient statues and soft-boiled eggs and Timothée Chalamet whispering in French. Guadagnino, together with screenwriter James Ivory, perfectly captures the many emotions of love: the ache of longing, the thrill of flirtation, the all-consuming nature of desire. It’s also a gay love story that feels fully authentic to queerness — Guadagnino, Ivory, and author Andre Aciman are all gay men — and yet never feels exceptional for that fact. There’s no coming out arc, no reckoning with homophobia, just two men exploring what it means to want someone so fully that the boundaries between self and other are nonexistent.  Excuse us while we go listen to Sufjan Stevens’s soundtrack and cry. (Megan Sergison)

12. Roman Holiday

Roman Holiday

If only there was a way to put into words how Roman Holiday makes me feel. The film brought Audrey Hepburn instant fame (not to mention an Oscar) for her portrayal of the sheltered Princess Ann. One night while on a royal visit to Rome, Ann, desperately wanting to escape the stifling, overly scheduled life of a princess, breaks out and heads to the city. She meets American reporter Joe (Gregory Peck), who comes to discover who Ann really is, but not before his feelings complicate the matter. Peck is as charming as anyone has ever been and Hepburn dazzles her way into your heart instantly. Together their chemistry is off the chart and they effortlessly sell the believability of this fast-paced romance. No matter how many times I watch this film, I never make it through the ending without feeling like my heart is going to burst out of my chest. Safe to say, I will cherish Roman Holiday in memory as long as I live. (Anna Swanson)

11. Titanic


James Cameron’s sweeping disaster-set love story might be the butt of the joke sometimes (see: the Jack could’ve lived discourse; the iconic Titanic couple’s pose), but there’s a reason it stole everyone’s hearts and disposable income upon its release in late 1997. Any woman who’s ever felt constricted by social expectations can relate to Rose’s (Kate Winslet) breathless whirlwind romance, and any guy who’s ever known he could treat his lady love better than her boyfriend can put themselves in Jack’s (Leonardo DiCaprio) shoes. Pick any scene with the two fresh-faced leads — the below-deck dance, the spitting lesson, the painting scene, the final posthumous reunion — and their butterfly-inducing chemistry, a winning cocktail of innocence, infatuation, and eroticism, will still make your heart flutter all these years later. (Valerie Ettenhofer)

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