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. Netflix has started pumping out its own takes on the rom-com—Master of None, Love, Easy—but they don’t beat some of the classics of the genre.
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
2) 13 Going On 30
A mid-80’s teenager tired of cliques and puberty drama wishes to fast-forward to adulthood—specifically, to age 30. When her childhood wish becomes a magical reality overnight, one of the funniest coming-of-age rom-coms is born. Jennifer Garner stars as a successful and single 30-year-old who finds that adulthood still comes with its set of challenges, especially when your BFF (Mark Ruffalo) could possibly be your soulmate.—Kristen Hubby
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. —K.H.
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) Bridget Jones’s Diary
In this quintessential British romantic comedy, 32-year-old Bridget Jones decides to take finally control of every aspect of her life: from work and family to sex and relationships. Her incriminating and hilarious diary documents it all. Renée Zellweger stars as clumsy and whimsical Jones on her quest to find love, but stumbles (literally) across a couple of obstacles in the form of Colin Firth and Hugh Grant. Both men make her question whether or not finding real love is possible. This hysterical and relatable rom-com is one that will never get old.—K.H.
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) Blind Date
We can all relate to a noisy neighbor who won’t stop making noise, but in this case, annoying relationships with neighbors bloom into an unexpected love story. In this 2014 French film, a pianist (Mélanie Bernier) moves next door to a man (Philippe Duquesne) who needs peace and quiet for work. The two build a bickering relationship that slowly grows into something more. The only catch is the two have never met before, they communicate entirely through a shared wall in the same building.—K.H.
9) Picture Perfect
Jennifer Aniston stars as Kate, a young advertising executive trying to land a promotion only to be told she’s “not stable enough” because of her single status. Just when she tells her boss she is engaged to a man she just met, she meets a co-worker (Kevin Bacon) whose charm catches her off-guard. The two play along with the scenario in hopes of landing Aniston a promotion, but (rather predictably, of course) unexpected feelings are formed.—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) Larry Crowne
After he’s fired by a wave of corporate downsizing at his longtime job, run-down and middle-aged Larry Crowne (Tom Hanks) is forced to find a solution to solve his debt and unemployment. Crowne decides to go back to college and makes friends with a group of misfits who may be nearly half his age but are facing the same trials as him. This quirky and honest rom-com makes a midlife crisis look like it’s not-so-bad, especially when Crowne’s love interest is his professor (Julia Roberts). —K.H.
14) She’s Gotta Have It
Dramatically deciding whether someone is right or wrong for you is a common trope in the dating world (and in romantic comedies) but having to choose between three people is another story. Directed by Spike Lee, She’s Gotta Have It follows Nola Darling (Tracy Camilla Johns) who is in the middle of choosing between three men on totally different ends of the personality spectrum. One man is a total narcissist, another a controlling alpha male, and the third a shy geek who seems the most genuine. Darling’s process of trial and error is pretty laughable, but it also leads her to discover much more about herself than she knew before. —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) To Rome with Love
If you liked Midnight in Paris but crave a little more edge, this movie is for you. Written and directed by Woody Allen, To Rome with Love fuses reality with surrealism. The film features four intertwined plots: Allen as a director eager to find his star, Alec Baldwin as an American architect reliving a past life, two lovers who diverge into different affairs, and an average Roman who suddenly becomes famous. While both Allen and the film received mixed reviews, it will at least fill your rom-com void with unabashed satire, humorous vignettes, and beautiful cinematography. —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) I Give It A Year
Getting married is the easy part, but keeping the sparks flying is a lot more difficult. An ambitious go-getter (Rose Byrne) and a struggling writer who are crazy in love decide to get married after being in a relationship for only seven months. The people closest to them are not convinced it will work out. When the daily obstacles of marriage get in the way of the fantasy the two imagined, both husband and wife become distracted by an ex and a client, respectively, who could possibly be a better match for each of them.—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.
The Incredible Jessica James opens on something many of us are all too familiar with: a very bad Tinder date. Jessica Williams plays an aspiring playwright, working through her failures in New York. She’s not above stalking her ex on Instagram or lying to her parents. But Williams gives us a performance that reminds us that we’re all human and that falling down is not something to be ashamed of. In the process, she breathes life into the tired rom-com genre. —Sarah Jasmine Montgomery
27) Rumor Has It
Based on Jane Austen’s classic novel, Emma is a lighthearted comedy that will take you back to the ways of courtship in the early 19th century. Emma (Gwyneth Paltrow) is a witty and mischievous matchmaker who tries to set her single friends up with a husband, only to make a mess of the whole situation. Just when Emma thought she herself didn’t have time for love, she ends up stuck in the middle between two men. —K.H.
29) Someone Like You
Sometimes all it takes is a heartbreaking end to a relationship to give you the power you need to succeed in life. After Jane Goodall’s (Ashley Judd) electric relationship with her show’s executive producer goes awry, she is forced to move in with her womanizing best friend (Hugh Jackman). In this quintessential 2000s hit, Goodall meticulously observes how her new roomie plays the field, leaving her wondering if there will ever be a man out there who only has eyes for her.
Taking a break from the chaos of life is a good thing, especially when you find somebody on your same wavelength. Greenberg is a mellow, mid-life crisis rom-com following Roger Greenberg (Ben Stiller) as he leaves New York City to house-sit for his brother in Los Angeles, only to be greeted by adults who’ve been coasting through the milestones of life. When he meets a woman who is also trying to find herself in the midst of change (Greta Gerwig), he starts to see the light he’s been missing.—K.H.
Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.
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