It’s hard to beat these classics.
What constitutes a “romantic comedy” has evolved over the years, even if some of its more problematic characters have not. Many modern rom-coms take into account the highs and lows of online dating and go beyond the tiresome will-they-won’t-they storyline.
The best romantic comedies on Netflix
1) Man Up
This 2015 film takes the missed connection plotline and gives it a twist. Lake Bell plays Nancy, a woman who’s more interested in eating chips in bed and reciting lines from Silence of the Lambs than dating, but thanks to a conversation on a train, she ends up meeting Jack (Simon Pegg), who thinks he’s her blind date. There are the usual rom-com hijinks once the truth comes out, but then the film can breathe a little bit, as Nancy and Jack become unexpected allies. —Audra Schroeder
Before American Ultra, another quirky rom-com, Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg starred together in this throwback to 1987. Ryan Reynolds, Kristen Wiig, and Bill Hader also star in this film about a gang of kids stuck working at an amusement park, directed by Superbad’s Greg Mottola. —A.S.
3) 5 to 7
Defying the norm of a traditional rom-com storyline, this film shows a different perspective of love and changes the way people think about relationships. Anton Yelchin and Bérénice Marlohe play the role of two different people who fall into an open love affair that sparks a challenge for Yelchin’s conservative family and views. The romantic notions of French culture collide with a New York love story in 5 to 7, and will capture viewers who are open to the idea of modern relationships with its transcendent beauty. —Kristen Hubby
This isn’t a rom-com in the traditional sense, thanks to the line “fuck me gently with a chainsaw,” among other things. But the relationship between Winona Ryder’s and Christian Slater’s characters is one of the more complex to emerge from the ‘80s high school genre. Veronica (Ryder), one of the four popular “Heathers,” finds a mirror in JD (Slater), an outcast who inadvertently hatches a plan that kills one of the Heathers. Their relationship doesn’t have a meet-cute; it’s more about what love (or lust) makes you blind to. —A.S.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet 2001 film made Audrey Tautou a star, and it’s easy to see why. As the title character, she finds joy in bringing joy to others, quietly pulling strings around Paris to brighten the lives of strangers. She’s not a matchmaker; Amelie’s goal is something bigger. But then she stumbles upon Nino, a man with a similar goal. —A.S.
6) Me and You and Everyone We Know
Miranda July’s first feature film mirrors Jeunet’s a bit: She plays Christine, an artist with an eye for people’s odd quirks, including her own. When she happens upon Richard (John Hawkes), she’s drawn to his vulnerability, and the two engage in a tentative back and forth that begins with a poetic walk down the street. The supporting characters add to the intimacy and show we’re all just looking for someone to walk with. —A.S.
Mike Mills’ 2011 film is a left and right hook: a story about a father coming to the end of his life and coming out to his son. Christopher Plummer and Ewan McGregor are easy in this role, and Beginners is full of charming, poignant scenes (including a tear-jerker with a cute dog). Of course, when Oliver (McGregor) meets a free-spirited woman named Anna (Melanie Laurent), a little more light comes in. —A.S.
8) Working Girl
Melanie Griffith memorialized the line “I have a head for business and a bod for sin.” Mike Nichols’s 1988 film about a woman trying to work her way up in sexist corporate America has some of the typical underpinnings of a rom-com (the competitive other woman, played here by Sigourney Weaver; the man who sees her for who she really is), but Griffith and her hustle steer the thing. Working Girl satirizes Wall Street narcissism and what “it’s just business” really means. —A.S.
9) 10 Things I Hate About You
A cult classic, 10 Things I Hate About You was adapted from Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew into a high school rom-com about a feminist outsider (Julia Styles) and the smoking “bad boy” (Heath Ledger) bribed to woo her. The film’s title was inspired by one of the film screenwriters after she found her high school diary with an entry listing everything she hated about her ex-boyfriend at the time, and all these years later, it still retains its charm. —K.H.
10) Midnight in Paris
Written and directed by Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris is a feel-good movie that will make you want to book a trip to Paris in hopes of finding adventure. While on a trip to Paris with his fiancée’s (Rachel McAdams) family, a nostalgic screenwriter (Owen Wilson) travels back in time to the 1920s when the clock strikes midnight. He hangs out with F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and learns what’s missing in his own life in the process. —K.H.
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11) Moonrise Kingdom
This Wes Anderson film is as beautiful as it is witty and touches on the innocence of young love. Set during the summer of 1965 on an island in New England, two young kids fall in love, flee their hometown, and run away together. A search party ventures out to find the two, and they turn the town upside down, weather a storm, until they find them. —K.H.
After a large number of employees are let go at a call center and the department is outsourced, the manager (Josh Hamilton) is directed to travel to India to train his replacement. The American businessman realizes he has to sensitize himself to the culture of India and understand the way they live—and falls in love along the way. —K.H.
13) How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
Andie Anderson (Kate Hudson) and Benjamin Barry (Matthew McConaughey) have such great chemistry and humor in How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days it makes hearts hurt and yearn for a love like theirs. Anderson, a writer for a New York magazine, goes on a mission to date a guy and try to “lose him” in 10 days by acting crazy. But Barry accepted a bet that he couldn’t make Anderson fall in love with him in the same amount of time. As they both race against the clock, they really do start falling for each other. Swoon, someone save me. —K.H.
14) Love Actually
A holiday classic, the plotline of Love Actually goes well beyond the Christmas spirit. Filled with a talented cast, the film tells the interrelated stories about the obstacles Londoners go through to find happiness and love in the upcoming weeks of Christmas. Some are falling in love, some out of love; some are unhappy in the relationship and others are thinking of having an affair. Love Actually captures the reality of love, no matter the season. —K.H.
15) Leap Year
Leap Year is a delightful cliche: Girl goes to find her slightly self-absorbed man, meets a sweet stranger along the way, and falls in love with him instead. Amy Adams is a quirky character who always has to be in control and meets the charming and kind Matthew Goode when she travels to Dublin to propose to her boyfriend. The film will not only make you want to travel through the countryside of Ireland, but make you believe that once you go with the flow of life, love can be found in unexpected places. —K.H.
16) Spanish Affair
In 2014, Spanish Affair became the highest-grossing film in Spain, and for a good reason. The culture clash between a southern man from Seville—where people are stereotypically outgoing and witty—and a woman from the fierce Basque region, makes for a rollercoaster of passion. Spanish Affair is rooted with a lot of the country’s local and cultural references. Even if you aren’t familiar with the historic competitiveness of the different regions of Spain, Spanish Affair is a rom-com that will have you giggling all the way through. —K.H.
Directed by Logan Kibens, Operator explores how technology in the modern world can get in the way of our life and relationships. As a husband and wife start working together on an artificial intelligence project featuring his wife’s voice, the husband begins to rely on their creation rather than his wife IRL. The film has a sudden dramatic turn of events toward the end, setting the movie apart from other rom-coms with a distinct poetic nature.—K.H.
18) In the Land of Women
Adam Brody portrays the troubled boy next door who flies across the country to escape the Los Angeles chaos, only to meet a group of women who impact his life more than he thought was possible in the suburbs of Michigan. The movie borders the line between a romantic comedy and a drama, and the sharp and realistic obstacles that the characters face make the film perfect for a night in with Mom. —K.H.
19) Something’s Gotta Give
This is an old-fashioned rom-com that will satisfy the itch to watch a movie that is heartwarming yet slightly cliché. Jack Nicholson plays a senior who dates women half his age, Keanu Reeves is an attractive and young doctor, and they both fall in love with Diane Keaton. The love triangle is complicated (since Nicholson is also dating Keaton’s daughter and Reeves is younger than Keaton) but the storyline always finds its way. Something’s Gotta Give is a traditional flick to say the least, but it reminds viewers that love isn’t limited by age or class. —K.H.
20) The Break-Up
To sum it all up, The Break-Up is exactly what it sounds like. It may not be the typical happy-go-lucky romantic comedy that viewers are used to, but the chemistry between Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston is both electric and passionate. Vaughn is lazy and Aniston wants more from the relationship, and after two years together the couple realizes they might not be the ones for each other even if they both have feelings tucked away. The movie goes back and forth as the two hilariously try to make each other jealous, but the effort may not be worth it. —K.H.
21) Forrest Gump
A sweet classic, Forrest Gump is the type of movie you should watch curled up on the couch with a box of chocolates and Kleenex. Tom Hanks portrays Gump, who is a slow-witted and kind-hearted boy who grows up to be a man of many wise words and achieves more than most. From running across the country to fighting in the Vietnam War, Gump gets around through life with his optimism, but faces a tough road trying to make things work with his childhood love, Jenny (Robin Wright). Forrest Gump may not have the normal quirks of a rom-com, but the message and subtle humor will stay in your heart forever. —K.H.
22) The Matchbreaker
Nearly everyone has experienced that moment of unemployment when you will take any odd job just to pay the rent, even if it means you are about to ruin someone’s happiness. Wesley Elder plays a man who gets hired by disapproving parents to break up their child’s relationship in exchange for money. All goes well until one of his client’s daughters is his high school crush, and Elder is faced with a decision: Break her heart, or win it? —K.H.
23) Under the Tuscan Sun
Under the Tuscan Sun will have you digging for your passport. After Diane Lane finds out her husband is cheating on her, she is encouraged to go on a trip to Italy for a vacation on a gay tour—sans any straight men that could prevent her healing process. Lane then purchases a house in the Tuscan region of Italy and is faced with many trials and errors, including running into a special someone. Moving to Italy after a tough split and finding love again with a refined Italian is a dream come true, where is the sign-up sheet? —K.H.
24) Chalet Girl
Chalet Girl is a heartwarming and whimsical rom-com that will make you believe in finding love at the most unexpected places. Felicity Jones plays the role of a girl who takes up a position of chalet girl during ski season to support her dad back home. Jones learns the ropes of the job, but faces a tough situation when she falls for her boss, whose family falls on a different end of the class scale. The witty humor and heart-stopping exchanges between Jones and Ed Westwick in Chalet Girl are reminders that love can blossom even from the top of a mountain. —K.H.
25) All Relative
Love can be tough to find, but when you meet the perfect girl and find out you also slept with her mother, that’s when you risk losing it all. Life is good after a graduate student has the perfect one-night stand with an older woman, but things escalate quickly. This rom-com will make you laugh, cringe, and realize that life throws you a few curveballs. It’s all about how you handle it in the moment that determines if you will find happiness. —K.H.
Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.
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