70 Best Romantic Movies of the 21st Century

In the mood for a tearjerker romance? How about a laugh-out-loud rom-com? Either way, this list of the best romantic movies of the 21st century has got you covered.

You won’t see classics like 1973s Groundhog Day, or Cary Grant films from the 50s here; those will be on a separate list because we’re keeping it modern.

Without further ado, here’s the scoop on the best romantic movies of the 21st century!

a couple laying on couch with drink and popcorn

Romance Movies to Watch 

1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

This thought provoking film starring Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet sees them playing lovers whose relationship has turned sour.

Their solution is to undergo a medical procedure that erases their memories of one another forever, but in doing so they realize they might not want to forget. This romantic drama went on to win the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

2. Before Sunset (2004)

Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy play the main characters in this sequel to 1995s Before Sunrise, one of the romantic classics of the 20th century.

This film follows their story nine years after their first meeting. They accidentally meet in Paris and begin to tell each other stories of their own lives and rediscover their true love that was lost in time. 

3. The Lobster (2015)

Rachel Weisz and Colin Farrell in The Lobster (2015)
Photo by Despina Spyrou

In the future, single people are taken to a hotel where they are given 45 days to find a love interest or be turned into an animal of their choosing and banished into the woods.

David (Colin Farrell) is sent to this hotel, and after a failed attempt at a relationship, David flees into the woods and finds a group of loners whom he joins.

He meets a young woman (Rachel Weisz) and they begin a secret relationship. This film is weird, thought-provoking, and delightfully fresh.

4. 500 Days of Summer (2009)

This great romantic comedy tells the story of Tom, and Summer, co-workers at a greeting card company, who begin a relationship.

Summer sees their relationship as really nothing more than best friends, whereas Tom wants something more.

After much anguish, Tom meets Autumn, and the movie ends with him moving into this new chapter of his life. 

5. Date Night (2010)

Steve Carrel and Tina Fey play Phil and Claire Foster, a married couple whose relationship has become stale. They go out on a date night to an expensive Manhattan restaurant and steal a reservation from a no-show guest.

This begins a hilarious chain of events that involves the Mob, and crooked cops. This romantic comedy is perfect to put on when you want a light-hearted, relatable, and hilarious film to put on with your significant other on your date night.  

6. Amélie (2001)

Amélie is a shy and eccentric young adult (Audrey Tautou), who devotes her life to bringing happiness to other people’s lives but neglects her own happiness.

For his work, Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet won the European Film Award for Best Director. In addition, this delightful French film tells lessons of loneliness, self-love, and the power of actions towards others, and is a must-watch for adventurous rom-com enjoyers. 

7. Blue Valentine (2010)

Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling star in this romantic drama about a married couple whose story is told from different points of their relationship throughout the film.

What starts as a loving relationship turns sour over the years, and the film follows their attempt to rekindle what they once had. 

8. Before Midnight (2013)

Before Midnight is the finale of the Before Trilogy of movies. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy reprise their roles as lovers from the first two movies, but in this film, they are married with a family.

A night alone in a hotel makes them begin their relationship and the direction of their lives. Director Richard Linklater received acclaim not only for the Before Trilogy as a whole but Before Midnight as well, winning many awards for its writing and directing. 

9. The Hours (2002)

This film follows the lives of three women, one in 1923, one in 1951, and the final in 2001 searching for meaning within their lives. They are all connected by the book “Mrs. Dalloway” which plays a key part in each of their lives during the times we get to see them.

Nicole Kidman won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Virginia Woolf the author of the book. 

10. Brokeback Mountain (2005)

Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal in Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Good Machine

This film stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger as cowboys working in Wyoming. The two work on Brokeback Mountain together and quickly develop a romantic relationship that they know they can’t bring back off the mountain.

As time passes they both start other romantic relationships and have kids, but time has not made them forget the connection they shared. This film breaks a lot of norms that a great deal of classic romantic films are known for and that’s what makes it exceptional.

Brokeback Mountain went down in film history upon its release and received critical and audience acclaim and was nominated for Best Picture.

11. La La Land (2016)

This film needs no introduction, but in case you haven’t heard of Damien Chazelle’s masterpiece La La Land, it centers around Sebastian, played by Ryan Gosling, and Mia, played by Emma Stone.

Both live in LA and both want more out of their careers. Sebastian is an aspiring Jazz musician and Mia wants to be an actress. They begin a relationship with each other, but their relationship with their work begins to pull them apart.

Regarded as one of the best films of the 21st century, La La Land is an absolute must-see. 

12. A Ghost Story (2017)

A Ghost Story is a profound story about the enduring nature of the human spirit and love. Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck both give powerful portrayals, and although A Ghost Story may not be the typical romantic movie it certainly deserves attention. 

13. Lost in Translation (2003)

Bob Harris, played by Bill Murray, is an aging movie star and Charlotte, played by Scarlett Johansson, is a young Yale graduate.

They meet at a hotel in Tokyo and begin a friendship that allows them to explore their problems and dissatisfactions with one another. 

14. The Notebook (2004)

The Notebook since its release is one of the best romance movies of the 21st century, and for good reason.

This movie tells the tale of Noah and Allie’s love story throughout the years and is both beautifully romantic and deeply sad.

Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling have great chemistry in their scenes which only adds a layer of depth to the already fantastic film. 

15. Once (2007)

Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová star in this Irish film about two musicians who connect over their work. This connection leads to romantic thoughts but both have their reasons for not pursuing each other.

Despite its limited budget, Once was a critical and box office success, and went on to win an Academy Award for Best Original Song. 

16. High Fidelity (2000)

After being dumped by his long-time girlfriend, Rob (John Cusack) tries to understand where he went wrong in his relationships and wants to be a better person.

Rob connects with the various people in his record store and he rekindles his relationship with his ex-girlfriend Laura. 

17. A Single Man (2009)

George, played by Colin Firth, lost his partner Jim in a car accident and plans to take his own life.

The film follows George over the course of what he thinks is his last day as he interacts with old friends and new acquaintances and discovers that life is actually worth living. 

18. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

Brad Pitt plays the role of the titular character in this film about a man afflicted by a condition that makes him age backwards. This film tells the story of his life, the problems, and of course, the romantic relationships.

Cate Blanchett and Brad Pitt both deliver incredible performances, and both received various nominations for their work in this movie. 

19. The Great Gatsby (2013)

Based on the classic F. Scott Fitzgerald book of the same name, The Great Gatsby serves as a modern adaptation of the 1925 classic.

Set during the roaring twenties the film tells a story of romance, betrayal, infidelity, and loyalty all set in front of a backdrop of wealth and excess.

The ensemble cast includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, and Joel Edgerton.

20. Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)

After his relationship ends with his actress girlfriend, Peter goes on a Hawaiian vacation to clear his mind.

The only problem is his ex Sarah is staying at the same resort with her new rockstar boyfriend. What follows is a hilarious series of events that will leave you laughing until the end credits. 

21. In the Mood for Love (2000)

Chow Mo-wan & Mrs. Chan
© 2000 – USA Films – All Rights Reserved

Regarded as one of the greatest films of all time, this movie, written, produced, and directed by Wong Kar-Wai, tells the story of spousal infidelity, desire, and loss.

After learning that their spouses are having an affair with another, Chow Mo-wan and Su Li-zhen begin to get romantically involved with one another.

Despite being a Chinese film, critics and audiences alike praised the film for being universally enjoyable. This is must-watch for anyone who doesn’t mind subtitles. 

22. Mulholland Drive (2001)

Described by director David Lynch as “A love story in the city of Dreams,” Mulholland Drive is some of the director’s best work, which is high praise considering how influential David Lynch’s movies are in the film industry.

Known for being a movie up for interpretation, this film has spawned countless debates as to what the story means. It’s one that you absolutely have to watch to understand, and even then no one really understands it. 

23. Yi Yi (2000)

This is yet another film on this list that has enough praise to consider it one of the greatest films of the modern era. Yi Yi is a Taiwanese drama that centers around an engineer named NJ, and a family in Taipei.

With a 2h 53m runtime, this film is definitely a time investment. But if you can set aside an evening to watch this beautifully profound movie that time will be well rewarded. 

24. The Reader (2009)

Michael Berg is a German lawyer who, when he was 15 years old, had a romantic relationship with an older woman that ended abruptly.

Years later the woman reemerges as a defendant in a war crime trial. She is part of a strong case tied to her past as a Nazi concentration camp guard. 

25. The Holiday (2006)

Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, and Jack Black helm this romantic comedy about two women who, through a home-swapping website, exchange houses for the holidays.

While the movie adheres to a more traditional rom-com movie format, it is worth a watch if you’re looking for a light-hearted movie. 

26. Marriage Story (2019)

This Noah Baumbach film is a far cry from his 1995 feature debut Kicking and Screaming. Marriage Story tells the story of a married couple’s life as they navigate through a divorce and post-marriage life.

Although some critics criticized the film as being just another upper-middle-class white film, a vast majority of critics praised almost every aspect of the film. The movie goes on to become nominated for six Golden Globe Awards and six Academy Awards. 

27. 50/50 (2011)

This film is based on a true story about movie writer Will Reiser’s own experience with cancer. The movie follows Adam whose recent cancer diagnosis, with a 50/50 survival rate, changes his whole life.

Although the premise may seem rather grim, this film manages to be light-hearted, and funny throughout its 100-minute run time. 

28. If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)

In 1970s New York, Fonny and Trish are ripped apart when Fonny is arrested for a crime he did not commit. Trish then sets out to clear her lover’s name.

Directed by Barry Jenkins this romantic drama is poignant and a must-watch for old and young people alike. 

29. A Star Is Born (2018)

Lady gaga singing on stage
A Star is Born

Two musicians meet at a drag bar and begin a serious relationship, but with one’s career on the rise and the other’s career being destroyed by his alcohol addiction, their relationship and who they are as individuals are tested.

Based off of the 1954 and 1976 versions of A Star Is Born this depiction stands as a modernized version starring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, and remains just as enduring, and poignant. 

30. The Photograph (2020)

Lakeith Stanfield and Issa Rae star in this romantic drama about a journalist and an assistant curator who try to keep their new relationship afloat while being pulled in opposite directions by their career and family. 

31. Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)

On New Year’s Day, Bridget Jones decides it’s time to take back control of her life, and begins to write in a diary logging about every aspect of her life.

This film starring Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, and Hugh Grant has been hailed as one of the best British romantic comedies of all time. 

32. Hurt Locker (2008)

It may be a long shot to call this a romantic movie, as a large part of the runtime is devoted to life as an Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal Sergeant.

The film does manage to tell a powerful message about a soldier’s return to family life post-deployment, and dealing with the raw human emotions that come from that.

Perhaps more of a movie to watch when a light-hearted rom-com is not what you’re looking for, Hurt Locker is definitely worth a watch. 

33. Intolerable Cruelty (2003)

This romantic comedy, written by Joel and Ethan Coen, is a battle of wits against a high-profile divorce attorney, and a recently divorced woman who wants to get revenge after being left with nothing after her divorce.

34. The Proposal (2009)

Margaret Tate, played by Sandra Bullock, is facing deportation and the loss of her profile job due to her visa renewal being declined.

Margaret attempts to blackmail her assistant, played by Ryan Reynolds, into marrying her so she can get a green card. What follows is a hilarious wild ride that sees both actors at their best. 

35. Lady Bird (2017)

This coming-of-age tale, starring Saoirse Ronan, has a little bit of everything, high school angst, romance, and strained friendships. Greta Gerwig wrote and directed this film.

Moreover, it also has a 99% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and absolutely needs to be watched. 

36. American Ultra (2015)

Department store worker Mike Howell realizes that his foggy past is the result of being a test subject in the CIA “Wiseman” program.

This gives him super spy levels of training and knowledge that will be necessary when dangerous individuals begin to hunt him and his girlfriend down. 

37. My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)

Toula’s Greek family is all worried that at 30 years old she will never marry, but when she meets Ian, a teacher, things could change for her. But will her family accept this new man? 

38. Dear John (2010)

A soldier overseas and a young woman exchange love letters while the distance created by his profession keeps them apart.

When John gets a final love letter in the mail stating that Savannah now loves someone else, he re-enlists, but their connection stands the test of time. Audiences should prepare for hardship in this heartwarming and at times sad film. 

39. Knight of Cups (2015)

Rick, played by Christian Bale, is a screenwriter living in Los Angeles and despite his successful career finds himself indulging in the vices of the city to distract him from this fact.

While this film is more of a drama than a romance film, romance is still a central theme throughout, and the film manages to tell a powerful story along the way. 

40. Hotel Chevalier (2007)

Natalie Portman and Jason Schwartzman in Hotel Chevalier (2007)
Searchlight Pictures

This short film serves as a prologue to Wes Anderson’s feature length film The Darjeeling Limited.

At only 13 minutes long it would seem hard to fit a good story in the runtime, but this film manages just that.

41. Mr. Nobody (2009)

Mr. Nobody explores the life of Nemo Nobody, a man with the ability to see the different paths his life could have taken, but it is unclear and slightly irrelevant, which path actually happened.

As we explore Nemo’s life and romances through these different paths, we explore the character of those on screen. But also the film seems to want to explore the audience’s characters as well.

Profound and thought-provoking, it’s impossible to watch this film and not think about the various different paths your own life could have taken. 

42. Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper star in this film about two broken people with mental illness forming a connection through dancing and the various struggles of life.

Earning countless nominations, Silver Linings Playbook is a safe bet if you’re looking for an excellent movie to watch with a loved one. 

43. The Shape of Water (2017)

In 1962, a woman working at a secret government facility falls in love with an amphibious humanoid being kept there. When she learns they plan on killing the creature she does everything she can to save him.

Although one of the weirder love stories on this list, The Shape of Water received praise for its visuals, acting, and story. 

44. Her (2013)

Another romance movie that bucks the traditional narrative, Her follows Theodore Twombly, a man who has fallen in love with his virtual assistant Samantha.

Given the subject matter, it’s surprising how well this film actually works, all the while being surprisingly emotional and relatable. 

45. WALL-E (2008)

It’s hard to believe a Pixar movie is making the best romantic movie list, but WALL-E manages to tell the story of two robots’ romance better than some other romance movies.

WALL-E is a salvage robot meant to clean up the world after humanity was forced to leave Earth due to environmental neglect. The second WALL-E sees EVE, a robot sent back to Earth to search for signs of life, he does everything in his power to win her love.

This movie is perfect for someone looking for something a little more family-friendly all while retaining that romantic spark. 

46. Punch-Drunk Love (2002)

Punch-Drunk Love is not the typical Adam Sandler rom-com, although Sandler brings his usual level of wit and charm. In this film, Sandler plays Barry Egan, a man who sells novelty toilet plungers and is known for his bouts of rage and social anxiety.

He meets a woman named Lena and begins a relationship, but when goons from the phone sex line Barry uses come to collect their money things get complicated quickly. 

47. Walk the Line (2005)

Following the life of singer, and songwriter Johnny Cash, this film tells his story through the music industry as well as his long time relationship with June Carter. 

48. Love Actually (2003)

Keira Knightley and Andrew Lincoln in Love Actually (2003)
Photo by Peter Mountain. – © 2003 Universal Studios. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Told from the perspective of 10 separate love stories, Love Actually manages to use its ensemble cast of actors to tell a Christmastime romantic story without a hard to follow plot and remains hilarious throughout. 

49. Twilight (2008)

Taking the world by storm upon its release, Twilight follows Bella Swan as she meets and interacts with the various people in her new town of Forks, Washington.

Most importantly it follows her relationships with Jacob and Edward whom she learns both keep a dark secret that leaves her forced to pick sides.

50. The 40 Year-Old Virgin (2005)

Andy Stitzer is a 40-year-old man who has given up on trying to develop a love life for himself.

When his friends and co-workers learn that he is still a virgin, what unfolds is a series of antics and awkward raunchy encounters that will leave you howling the whole time while watching. 

51. Moulin Rouge! (2001)

A young writer becomes infatuated with a cabaret actress, but when their relationship threatens to unravel everything they’ve worked for they must figure out a clear path forward. 

52. A Walk to Remember (2002)

Based on the Nicholas Sparks’ book of the same name, A Walk to Remember tells the story of two smitten teenagers as they navigate through their unexpected romance and a fatal illness. 

53. Crazy Rich Asians (2018)

When Rachel Chu travels with her boyfriend Nick to Singapore she is shocked when she learns how rich Nick’s family is. On top of that, Rachel must try to win the approval of Nick’s mother.

Crazy Rich Asians is a lighthearted, comedic, romance story that shouldn’t be looked over. 

54. About Time (2013)

Tim Lake can go back in time and change the past, but when he attempts to use this ability to get himself a girlfriend, he discovers it may not be that simple, and there may be some unintended consequences. 

55. The Vow (2012)

Leo and Paige Collins get into a car crash that leaves Paige’s memory wiped of all their memories during their relationship. Leo must do everything he can to make her remember their love. 

56. Friends with Benefits (2011)

What begins as a casual fling between platonic friends quickly becomes something more in this Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis lead rom-com. 

57. Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011)

Carl Weaver (Steve Carell), a middle-aged man whose wife is leaving him for another man, learns how to seduce women from serial womanizer Jacob Palmer.

But, when Jacob begins falling for Carl’s daughter Hannah their whole friendship unravels. 

58. The Fault in Our Stars (2014)

Two teenagers meet at a support group for cancer patients and immediately form a connection. The two share what limited time they have left in this heartbreaking, yet sweet movie. 

59. Passengers (2016)

Chris Pratt, Michael Sheen, and Jennifer Lawrence in Passengers (2016)
Photo by Jaimie Trueblood – © 2016 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Jim wakes up 90 years too early aboard a sleeper ship transporting people off of Earth with only an android bartender to keep him company.

Eventually, Aurora is woken up as well, but when she begins to investigate the cause of her awakening she starts seeking answers from Jim. 

60. We’re the Millers (2013)

A budding romance and a family road-trip movie with a lot of raunchy comedy makeup. This comedy stars Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston, Emma Roberts, and Will Poulter.

David Clark must smuggle marijuana across the border of Mexico, and he recruits an unlikely crew to pretend to be his happy family in order to avoid detection. 

61. Hitch (2005)

When professional “date doctor” Hitch meets Sara, a gossip columnist, he realizes he may just have met his match when it comes to love. Will Smith, Eva Mendes, and Kevin James star in this romantic comedy classic. 

62. Wedding Crashers (2005)

Two men make a sport out of crashing weddings to sleep with women. But when they meet women whom they just can’t seem to shake their past, and their future are quickly called into question. 

63. Yes Man (2008)

Carl goes to a seminar and takes a vow to say “yes” to everything. In doing so he meets Allison, a quirky girl whom he falls for. However, his vow to say yes has some unintended consequences that Allison may not be able to keep up with. 

64. Call Me By Your Name (2017)

Elio Perlman, meets Oliver, an older man who is working as an intern for his father. Elio begins to realize that he is falling for Oliver, but when Oliver leaves the country Elio realizes his feelings don’t leave with him. 

65. Love, Simon (2018)

Simon is a closeted gay high school student who is simply trying to navigate life. However, he begins getting blackmailed for his secret. 

66. Pride & Prejudice (2005)

Elizabeth is facing mounting pressure from her family to marry, and when she meets Mr. Darcy it looks like that may just happen. Darcy’s reservations may just put a stop to that.

Based on the Jane Austen classic novel of the same name, this Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfayden lead adaptation does everything right. 

67. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)

Adèle Haenel and Noémie Merlant in Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)
Lilies Films

Commissioned to do a wedding portrait, Marianne begins to fall for the subject of her painting Héloïse.

The two share what limited time they have exploring this newfound connection in this passionate romance set in the 18th century. 

68. Brooklyn (2015)

Elis Lacey moves from Ireland to New York City and meets an Italian-American Plumber Tony, but on a trip back home to Ireland, Elis finds comfort in a new life. 

69. Cold War (2018)

Set in Poland in the 1950s, this movie tells the story of two lovers who must overcome impossible odds to make their romance work. 

70. The Big Sick (2017)

Kumail, a struggling stand-up comedian, meets Emily, a graduate student, and begins a relationship. When Kumail’s mother tries to set him up for an arranged marriage. Emily decides it may be too much to handle. 

Best Romantic Movies of the 21st Century Guide

Okay, so there were a few movies on this list from 2000. While these romantic movies aren’t technically from the 21st century, why does a single year matter when those classics of the 20th century were too good to pass up and deserve a spot on the best movies list?

Each movie on this list brings something unique and interesting to the table and no matter which one you pick for your next movie night you won’t be disappointed. 

best romantic movies of 21st century

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