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The 35 best rom-coms on Netflix

For your next date night, just press play.


Chris Osterndorf


Posted on Jul 21, 2018   Updated on Jul 7, 2020, 3:33 pm CDT

When you’re in a pinch for your next date night, it’s hard to go wrong with one of the best rom-coms on Netflix.

Romantic comedies get a bad rap. For some reason, anything seen as a “chick flick,” aka entertainment aimed at women, is considered lesser. Not only is that bunk, it completely discards the many classics of this timeless genre. We’re talking about films like It Happened One Night, His Girl Friday, The Philadelphia Story, When Harry Met Sally, The Princess Bride. (Yes, to be fair, we’re also talking about films like The Ugly Truth and Valentine’s Day, but every genre has its stinkers.)

Thankfully, Netflix has a range of top rom-coms right now, from excellent originals to modern classics. So sit back, take out that pint of ice-cream, and get ready to indulge. Here are the best rom-coms on Netflix.

The best rom-coms on Netflix

1) Set it Up

Set It Up stars Zoey Deutch and Glen Powell playing stressed-out assistants seeking to hitch their powerful bosses, ably played by Taye Diggs and Lucy Liu. Harper (Deutch) works for fearless sports editor Kirsten (Liu) while slowly drowning her journalist dreams. Charlie (Powell) waits on irritable businessman Rick (Diggs) hand and foot, leaving no time to consider his life or tend to his wasting relationship with status-chasing model girlfriend Suze (Joan Smalls). The assistants soon bring their alpha bosses together, and of course, this means they find themselves predictably closer as well. Set It Up doesn’t break any new ground, but its stars’ chemistry and diverse casting make it a win. —Kahron Spearman

2) Julie & Julia

As talented as Amy Adams is, she can’t quite save the half of this movie devoted to Julie Powell and her quest to complete all the recipes in Julia Child’s first cookbook. Yet it hardly matters, when you have Meryl Streep giving one of her best performances in recent years as Child herself. From her intelligence, to her love for the kitchen, to her inability to be anything other than herself, Streep brings way more humanity to Child’s outsize personality than anyone should be able to. This was was the legendary Nora Ephron’s last film before she died, and as sad as it was to lose her, we can at least take comfort in the fact that she gave us one more great rom-com before she left. Come to Julie & Julia for the food, stay because Julia Child and Stanley Tucci are relationship goals. Chris Osterndorf

3) The 40-Year-Old Virgin

Judd Apatow’s era-defining comedy is still his best work and as good now as the day it was released. Besides helping launch Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, and Seth Rogen to stardom, it also set the tone for the decade of raunchy but thoughtful romantic comedies that followed. For all the trends (both good and bad) that Apatow’s movies have spawned, The 40-Year-Old Virgin deserves to be remembered as a sensitive, nuanced love story as much as a vehicle for dick jokes. —Chris Osterndorf

4) Silver Linings Playbook

Although Silver Linings Playbook is just as, if not more, in-your-face than any other David O’ Russell movie, it betrays one of the central tenets of his filmography, which is that he’s secretly a big softie. His characters might be broken with protruding, jagged edges, but they all crave connection. This was never so true as in Silver Linings Playbook, which completed both Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence’s ascent to superstardom (Lawrence also won an Oscar for it.) It’s rare to see a rom-com that’s this formally frenetic, but like all of O’Russell’s work, his camera is fluid and swift here. Yet despite the modern touches, Silver Linings Playbook is a screwball comedy at heart. There’s as much His Girl Friday in this movie as there is Three KingsChris Osterndorf

5) To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

In case you’ve been of the grid for the last month, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before has become a fullblown Internet sensation since it was released in August. And to be honest, it probably should be. Not only is it a funny, smart rom-com with positive representation in the vein of Crazy Rich Asians and Netflix’s other recent additions to the genre, it’s also a savvy update on the classic template put forth by John Hughes. For those of you still not in the know, the film is set in motion when the private letters of high-schooler Lara Jean Covey (Lana Condor) are unleashed upon the world, and sent to all her secret crushes. To cover her tracks, she makes a pact with hunky lacrosse player and new Internet boyfriend Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo) designed to to help maintain both of their social standings. As you might’ve guessed, things don’t go as planned. Cue audience swooning.  Chris Osterndorf

6) Annie Hall

It is increasingly hard to get past the Woody Allen of it all, but if you can, it just may be possible to appreciate Annie Hall for what it is: one of the most influential romantic comedies of the last century. Without Annie Hall, there’s arguably no When Harry Met Sally…, no Four Weddings and a Funeral, no The Big Sick. The film serves as a template to show that the much-maligned genre can feel serious and even real, while still being entertaining. Plus, Diane Keaton remains perfection, as she is in all of Allen’s movies. Thankfully, you don’t need to be an Allen fan to be a Keaton fan. —Chris Osterndorf

7) Man Up

This 2015 film takes the missed connection plot line 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

8) White Christmas

Although the famous Irving Berlin song was first popularized in the 1942 Bing Crosby/Fred Astaire vehicle Holiday Inn, many Americans more closely associate with this 1954 classic, with which it shares a name. Crosby is back, but this time he’s paired up with Danny Kaye. The two play a song-and-dance team who fall for two sisters (Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen). The plot is as silly as you might expect, but the songs, again supplied for Berlin, are wonderful, and the movie is a delightful old-timey treat to watch around the holidays. —Chris Osterndorf

9) Sliding Doors

Sliding Doors is kind of ridiculous, so much so that it was recently parodied on an episode of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. But the 1998 Gwyneth Paltrow film about how small choices can impact the course of our lives is also weirdly impactful. It’s definitely not the best English rom-com of its era, but if you’re even remotely interested in the concept of fate and parallel realities, Sliding Doors is sure to be of interest.

10) Zack and Miri Make a Porno

Like much of Kevin Smith’s best work, Zack and Miri Make a Porno is an outwardly filthy movie with a deep sweetness at its core. Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks star as the titular roommates in this comedy about two broke friends who decide to make an adult film to get out of debt. Yes, it has shit gags, but it also has touching confessions of love. Chris Osterndorf

11) 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. —Kristen Hubby

12) Mamma Mia!

Who hasn’t danced and sung along to the songs of ABBA while trying to figure out who their father is on an island in Greece? OK, so maybe Mamma Mia! isn’t the most realistic movie, but since when were rom-coms or musicals supposed to be realistic? This adaptation of the hit Broadway show features a fantastic cast, including Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgård, Julie Walters, Christine Baranski, and Dominic Cooper, all of whom can really carry a tune (except Brosnan, God love him). It’s a great time, so much so that they made a sequel, hitting theaters July 2018. —Chris Osterndorf

13) Kicking and Screaming

Noah Baumbach set the tone for the rest of his career with his feature directorial debut, Kicking and Screaming,  about a group of disaffected, East Coast intellectuals all struggling to figure out what the hell they’re doing in their relationships and in life. It’s a familiar story, but Baumbach’s ear for dialogue is fresh, even this early in his career. It’s also one of those movies that’s entirely generational, but contains universal truths about growing up. Chris Osterndorf

14) Sleeping With Other People

As much as it might seem like Sleeping With Other People is trying to be an “edgy” romantic comedy from the trailer, it’s actually a decent standard bearer for the genre. Written and directed by Bachelorette’s Leslye Headland and starring Alison Brie and Jason Sudeikis, this time-old story about two people who’ve known each other since college but can’t get out of their own way to be with one other is sort of like a When Harry Met Sally for the Instagram generation. It does have a few raunchy moments, but overall it’s way more sweet than salty. Chris Osterndorf

15) Sixteen Candles

Look, there’s a loooooooot about Sixteen Candles that doesn’t work today. The film’s sexual and racial politics are a mess, to say the least. But what does work, chiefly Molly Ringwald’s endlessly charming, star-making performance as Samantha, holds up as an accurate portrait of the insecurities everyone feels in high school. Netflix’s own recent teen rom-com hit, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, even shouted it out as a staple of the genre (while still acknowledging how crazy racist it is.) Chris Osterndorf

16) Catching Feelings

The South African film Catching Feelings follows thirty-something professor Max and his journalist wife, Sam, as their relationship is tested by a combination of money problems, infidelity, and older white writer, Heiner, who moves into their home. The film is much more than a romantic comedy—it’s a weighty, topical film about a man grappling with racial tension in a post-apartheid society. — Tess Cagle

17) Win It All

Jake Johnson helms this film about a gambling addict and the duffel bag that starts the domino effect. Director Joe Swanberg follows up Drinking Buddies with another tale of a hapless guy in over his head and adds in some memorable scenes with Joe Lo Truglio and Keegan-Michael Key. —Audra Schroeder

18) I Am Not an Easy Man

Netflix original French-language film I Am Not An Easy Man follows app maker and shamelessly chauvinistic manchild Damien as he navigates an alternate universe, forced to cope with his newfound gender repositioning. The film is darkly funny, purposefully ham-fisted with its unnuanced gender-flipped cliches and specific situations that Damien finds himself in, shoe now on the woman’s foot. But problems arise when he starts dating the gambling, seductive writer Alexandra, because in this woman’s world, we get a story about a man—and only the misguided Damien finds himself changed. —Kahron Spearman

19) Obvious Child

Starring Jenny Slate and Jake Lacey, Obvious Child is a realistic and relatable film that never misses a beat and tackles a real-life crossroads many young women face. This film is one to watch over and over again, as Slate’s nuance and sharp wit gives this romantic comedy an edge worth appreciating. Kristen Hubby

20) Bachelorette

This 2012 raunch fest from Leslye Headland (Sleeping With Other People, Russian Doll) is kind of a romantic comedy for people who hate romantic comedies. Though not as acerbic and ruthless as Headland’s original play, Bachelorette is funny in that biting, watch-through-your-hands sort of way. The film stars Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher, and Lizzy Caplan as a group of women who reunite as their friend, Becky (Rebel Wilson,) is about to get married. The relationship between the four of them is complicated, as is the film’s depiction of female friendship. Luckily, each of the performers is excellent, as are their male counterparts, played by Adam Scott, James Marsden, and Kyle Bornheimer. Chris Osterndorf

21) Alex Strangelove

Netflix’s Alex Strangelove is an earnest, albeit sometimes cringeworthy, coming-of-age story about Alex Truelove, who nervously plans to lose his virginity to his girlfriend Claire until he meets a handsome gay guy Elliot at a party. Set in a modern high school where more and more of his peers identify as gay, bi-sexual, and genderqueer, Alex grapples with the reality that he might not be straight in this sincere and realistic story based on director Craig Johnson’s own coming-out experience. —Tess Cagle

22) 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

23) Heathers

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. —Audra Schroeder

24) 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. —Kristen Hubby

25) Like Father

After being left at the altar, Rachel and her estranged father end up on her honeymoon cruise together, not so much making up for lost time as trying to endure the awkwardness of it all. While formulaic at times, the light comedy succeeds mostly because of the great chemistry between the two leads, Kristen Bell and Kelsey Grammer, who are more alike than they care to acknowledge—and all of the ridiculous activities aboard the cruise. —Austin Powell

26) Nappily Ever After

Netflix‘s overly safe Nappily Ever After is a practical vehicle for actress Sanaa Lathan, who powers through the fun but occasionally suspect script, and wooden co-stars. Adapted from author Trisha Thomas’ empowering series, Lathan plays Violet Jones, an insecure ad exec struggling with maintaining a forced perfection, principally through her hair. Lathan’s naturalness in her acting and sensuality make the film work, even when the plot sags and her co-stars lack chemistry. Nappily Ever After ultimately rewards in its portrayal of Black women’s relationship with hair, and also its disengagement with the power of the male gaze and external approval. The entirely-too-safe comedy doesn’t entirely work in plotting or script, but the film still feels vital in its message. —Kahron Spearman

27) 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). —Kristen Hubby

28) Spanish Affair 2

Spanish Affair became the highest-grossing film in Spain in 2014, so there was a lot of excitement when Spanish Affair 2 arrived the year after . Like the first one, a lot of the film is based off the country’s culture. In particular, the movies focus on the different regions of Spain, and how competitive they are with each other. —Chris Osterndorf

29) Operator

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.—Kristen Hubby

30) Ali’s Wedding

Ali’s Wedding serves as a functional rom-com adapted from star and co-writer Osamah Sami’s memoir Good Muslim Boy, a bright and honest look into the reconciliation of the modern world and Muslim tradition. Desperate to please his father and his community Ali (played by Sami) lies about passing his tests to get into medical school, where he falls in love with Dianne (Helana Sawires), a medical student and the daughter of a Lebanese fish-and-chip spot owner. In the course of all this, Ali is desperately trying to get out of his arranged marriage. Sami and co-writer Andrew Knight make use of all the usual rom-com cliches, but the decisions come with qualitative, selective cheekiness directly aimed at Western filmmakers. In staying true to his roots, Sami has likely helped Netflix attract an international audience and forged a path forward for Muslims worldwide to follow. —Kahron Spearman

31) Sierra Burgess Is a Loser

Netflix’s latest offering in the rom-com resurgence follows the titular Sierra Burgess (Stranger Things’ Shannon Purser), a smart and awkward teenage girl who balances confidence and insecurity, often at the same time. Veronica (Kristine Froseth), a cheerleader and one of Sierra’s tormentors, gives Sierra’s phone number to sensitive jock Jamey (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’s Noah Centineo) so she doesn’t have to give him her number. By the time she learns who she’s supposed to be, Sierra’s already fallen for Jamey. She recruits Veronica to help her keep up the façade in exchange for tutoring Veronica so that she can catch the eye of a college boy who rejected her. While Sierra Burgess can’t quite shake off its slightly creepy premise, it offers a sweet and unlikely friendship between two girls from completely different social circles. —Michelle Jaworski

32) The Incredible Jessica James

The Incredible Jessica James opens on something many of us are all too familiar with: a 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

33) Happy Anniversary

Romance is easy. Love is hard. Romantic comedies are even harder. Sam and Mollie, played by Ben Schwartz and Noël Wells, spend their third anniversary debating their future as a couple. As the movie goes on the story presents a more compelling case in favor of the couple breaking up than staying together. The performances play into that, and both shine brighter in the fight scenes. But at a scant 78-minute runtime, Happy Anniversary is a minimal time investment with enough charm to get by.  —Eddie Strait

34) I Love You, Man

Is it still a rom-com if the love story is between two friends? I Love You, Man would suggest so. The couple getting married in the film is Paul Rudd’s Peter and Rashida Jones’ Zooey, but it’s Peter’s relationship with Jason Segel’s Sydney that the movie is actually about. When straightlaced Peter realizes he doesn’t have any close male friends in the lead-up to his wedding, he sets out to find a best man. Eventually, he encounters the free-spirited Sydney, and the two men bond quickly. Though I Love You, Man is in many ways a typical Judd Apatow comedy about arrested development, it’s also a cogent look at modern male friendships and intimacy. If Superbad explored what it’s like to maintain a best friendship at 18, I Love You, Man examines the same struggle at 35. —Chris Osterndorf

35) Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist

During Michael Cera’s glorious mid-aughts run of comedies, he starred alongside Kat Dennings in this infinitely charming and funny rom-com. Nick and Norah, strangers at the start of the movie, turn their meet-cute into an all-night chase around New York to catch a secret show by the elusive band Where’s Fluffy. The movie is plenty funny, but it’s the relationship between Nick and Norah that elevates the movie above most of its peers. —Eddie Strait

Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance. 

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*First Published: Jul 21, 2018, 6:00 am CDT