There’s pretty much always a good reason to watch a romantic movie with your sweetie—especially when you venture beyond the obvious rom-com genre. We’ve gathered 10 of the most romantic movies that are guaranteed to not only deliver a dose of love but also (depending which you watch): action and thrills, laughs, inspiration, quirkiness, awkwardness, redemption and joy.
1. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
If you agree that nothing says “I love you” quite like flying kicks, hammer fists and a legendary sword, we’ve got the perfect romantic movie for you. Mu Bai (played by Chao Yun-fat), deciding to end his time as a warrior, and asks fellow warrior Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh) to transport his sword—the fabled Green Destiny—to Beijing as a gift to their friend. With this as the primary story line and against the backdrop of late 1700s China, this epic tale of heart-wrenching love, forbidden love, revenge and redemption unfolds. We learn that Mu Bai has never expressed his love for Yu Shu Lien, nor has she done the same. We meet Jen (Zhang Ziyi), daughter of an aristocrat and promised in marriage to a man she doesn’t love. PS: she actually is in love with a bandit—which always goes over fantastically with families. And then there’s Jade Fox, who couldn’t care less about love because all she wants is the Green Destiny. Stir all that together, wrap it up in some thrilling fight sequences and you have the ultimate martial arts love story. The film won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Picture; watch it to get ready for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny.
It’s a romantic dish with a side of: major martial arts action, breathtaking landscapes and settings, and subtitles. So don’t plan on texting while you watch!
2. Shopgirl (2005)
Quick: aside from a heart, name the shape most commonly associated with love. It’s the triangle. More specifically: the love triangle. And that’s the starting point of this smart, reflective film, which is based on Steve Martin’s novella of the same name. Mirabelle Buttersfield (played by Claire Danes) is an aspiring artist who leads a wildly mundane existence as a salesperson at the Beverly Hills Saks Fifth Avenue evening gloves counter. But her life is suddenly thrown into disarray with the appearance of two radically different men. Ray Porter (Steve Martin) is an older, successful businessman who sweeps Mirabelle off her feet—until he repeatedly demonstrates just how emotionally unavailable he is. Jeremy (Jason Schwartzman) is an unpolished young man who knows little about how to woo a woman—not that it stops him from trying (and failing) several times with Mirabelle. Along the way, our heroine is confronted with one of love’s most painful but important questions: when should we hold on and when should we let go? Which makes it as much a story about loving yourself as one about finding love with another person. Get ready for an emotional workout.
It’s a romantic dish with a side of: moody introspection, and a combination of male awkwardness and aloofness.
3. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)
Exes can really get in the way of a budding new relationship. But in Scott Pilgrim’s (played by Michael Cera) case, they are actually, physically, in the way. And by “they,” we of course mean the “seven evil exes” of his love interest, Ramona Flowers. Now, any reasonable person would figure he could just avoid these exes (two of which are twin brothers who she dated at the same time). Thing is, they keep finding him, regardless of where he is, and challenging him to a battle to determine whether he can move on to the next fight and ultimately win Ramona’s affections. If you can appreciate just how challenging both love and video games can be, this fresh and funny movie is for you.
It’s a romantic dish with a side of: ultra-quirky humor, video game-inspired graphics and loads of comic book-style “Crashes!” “Bams!” and “Booms!”
4. About Time (2013)
Think about the things in your life that you’d do differently if only you could go back in time to change them. Like instead of inserting a foot in your mouth you’d plant both of them firmly on the ground and set yourself on a good course. That’s what㺕-year-old Englishman Tim Lake (played by Domhnall Gleeson) hopes after his father (Bill Nighy) reveals that the men in the family can travel back in time. Which is exactly what Tim does, focusing on winning the love of an American woman named Mary (Rachel McAdams). But that’s not to say that the film is all about romantic love. The most moving moments—the ones that will make you want to clutch a Kleenex—are easily the ones between Tim and his father. Yep, you’re going cry and it’s going to feel good.
It’s a romantic dish with a side of: laughs, tears and generally heart-warming moments.
5. The Notebook (2004)
Almost a decade before Rachel McAdams played a character who inspired a guy to time travel for her, another one of her characters—southern heiress Allie Hamilton—was breaking the heart of country boy Noah Calhoun (Ryan Gosling). Coming from radically disparate economic classes, they are forbidden to see each other by Allie’s family. Time, distance, World War II and new love comes between them. But they never forget each other and that fact changes their lives forever. This tale of love triumphing over all odds has made it a modern romance cult classic. And there’s a really good chance you’ll want to take up journaling or letter writing after you watch it.
It’s a romantic dish with a side of: forbidden but enduring love and one of the best kissing-in-a-downpour scenes ever.
6. Crazy, Stupid Love (2011)
Ryan Gosling also went on from The Notebook to create an impressive career for himself, including a starring role in Crazy, Stupid Love, where he portrays playboy Jacob Palmer. In this romantic comedy, we follow the development of two romantic relationships—one just starting, the other disintegrating. Jacob falls for the one woman who tuned him down: Hannah (played by Emma Stone). Meanwhile, Jacob takes Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) under his wing to get him back out into the dating world after his marriage to Emily (Julianne Moore) falls apart. All of which sounds pretty straightforward—until the stories and characters accidentally intertwine to create an emotionally complicated and comedic storyline. Supporting roles played by acting veterans Kevin Bacon and Marisa Tomei round out this all-star ensemble cast.
It’s a romantic dish with a side of: personal transformation, forgiveness, well-tailored suits and Ryan Gosling’s abs.
7. Her (2013)
Her puts a techno twist on age-old questions of the heart: What does it mean to be a partner, to grow (and grow apart) in a romantic relationship? Oh sure, the main love interests happen to be a human being and a highly advanced operating system designed for social interaction. But that doesn’t make it any less a love story for writer Theodore Twombly (played by Joaquin Phoenix) and his new digital companion Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson)—who, by the way, exists in a device smaller than a smartphone. No biggie (literally). Set in near-future Los Angeles, the film explores Theodore’s lonely awkwardness and isolation and how he’s transformed by Samantha’s surprisingly rapid evolution into a thinking, joking, feeling being with her own wants and needs. Written and directed by Spike Jonze, it won both an Academy Award and Golden Globe for best screenplay. Bonus points: watch the movie on VUDU so you can check out the special features, too.
It’s a romantic dish with a side of: emotional, sci-fi techno drama that gives new, mind-blowing meaning to the term “long-distance relationship.”
8. Amélie (2001)
Far away from the futuristic Los Angeles of Her, we find Amélie Poulain (played by Audrey Tautou)—an equally isolated young woman in Paris. Though this shy waitress lacks close human connection, her life is filled with her vivid imaginings and fantastical daydreams. A seemingly insignificant event suddenly inspires Amélie to devote herself to improving the lives of others in meaningful ways. She opens their eyes to the beauty of seeing the world, reconnecting with loved ones and experiencing love—all the while paving the way for herself to finally find love as well. As well as receiving numerous European film awards, the New York Times included the film on its list of The Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made.
It’s a romantic dish with a side of: quirkiness, visually stunning adventure, runaway imagination, French style and subtitles.
9. Brokeback Mountain (2005)
You’re probably going to want to file this movie under the category of Heavy But Important to Watch. Like many of the movies that made our list, this one is about forbidden love. Though this time it’s not economic class that separates the lovers, but social norms of the time in which the movie is set. The film takes place primarily in Wyoming and Texas from 1963 to 1983 and centers around two men, Ennis Del Mar (played by Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) who start out working together and begin a friendship that evolves into a romantic relationship. It’s the story of their enduring love and the hardships they face as they both struggle to keep their secret from their wives, families and the world. Directed by the renowned Ang Lee, this film won three Academy awards, including Best Director.
It’s a romantic dish with a side of: secret and forbidden love; the social pressures that can keep people apart and the lasting love that can bind them to each other.
10. The Salton Sea (2002)
Rounding out our list is a flick that reminds us that sometimes the end is also the beginning. An ending is what Danny Parker (played by Val Kilmer) is seeking. And by “ending,” what we really mean is “revenge.” Wouldn’t you, if you’d seen your wife brutally murdered? But how far would you go? How much of your life would you let slip away in exchange? And who would you be if and when you made it to the other side of revenge? These are the questions that Danny faces while he does his best to simultaneously manage a series of drug dealers, tweakers (a.k.a. his friends), corrupt narcotics cops and the troubled woman next door he can’t help but try to save. There’s also a really hangry badger. Did we not mention that part? So if your sweetie isn’t into typical romance stories, this could be the movie for you. Bonus points for a truly creepy performance by Vincent D’Onofrio, who plays the drug dealer without a nose (yes, really), Pooh Bear (think less cuddly, more sociopath).
It’s a romantic dish with a side of: intensity, melancholy trombone solos, drugs and dealers, regret, revenge and love.
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- A delicious snack to share. What about some wine and chocolate, or a bowl of homemade popcorn?
Plan your next move. If all these relationship-oriented flicks have got you thinking about commitment, it could be a great time to get into a TV series. Check out the Top 10 TV shows to binge-watch this winter.