It’s that time again: February. That dreaded month where everyone cozies up and gets all romantic to forget about the freezing temperatures outside. Well, thankfully, there’s plenty of romantic movies to enjoy on Netflix in the comfort of your warm home, whether or not you have a romantic partner to enjoy them with. What’s also great is the sheer variety of romantic films on Netflix: there’s everything from the cheesiest movies you can imagine to the movies that will make even the most cynical person feel a small twinge in their heart.
Want a classic romance? Netflix has got your Love Actually’s and your The Holiday’s on deck. Want literally anything else? Netflix has got you covered there too, with plenty of romance films about teens, non-white people, and queer people that show the full spectrum of what love can look like in this crazy world. So whether or not you’re a romantic at heart, there’s going to be something on our list that will be right up your alley. Here are the best romantic movies on Netflix.
The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996)
Director: Barbra Streisand
Cast: Barbra Streisand, Jeff Bridges, Lauren Bacall, George Segal
Genre: Romance, Comedy
Runtime: 2h 6m
Rotten Tomatoes: 55% (Critics) 72% (Audience)
A certified Mom Classic, The Mirror Has Two Faces is the third film directed by the illustrious Barbra Streisand. The romantic comedy drama follows Rose (Streisand), a professor of romantic literature who lives with her vain mother Hannah (Lauren Bacall), who seeks passion in her life as she encounters Gregory (Jeff Bridges), a math professor who longs for a passionless relationship, and begins a romantic but non-physical relationship with him. Streisand always shines in front of (and behind!) the camera and here is no different, with her frumpy literature professor exuding lots of charm through Streisand’s sheer will. Her chemistry with Jeff Bridges is great as well, but the real draw here is her relationship with her mother, played by none other than screen legend Lauren Bacall in a deliciously self-indulgent role that feels like a commentary on her own glitzy Hollywood career. Both romantic and well acted, The Mirror Has Two Faces is a delight.
The Half Of It (2020)
Director: Alice Wu
Cast: Leah Lewis, Daniel Diemer, Alexxis Lemire, Becky Ann Baker
Genre: Romance, Comedy
Runtime: 1h 45m
Rotten Tomatoes: 97% (Critics) 81% (Audience)
Director Alice Wu made her mark on the independent film scene in 2005 with Saving Face, a critically successful romantic drama based on her own experiences as a lesbian Chinese-American. Almost two decades later Wu has finally made her sophomore film with Netflix’s teen romantic comedy The Half of It. Loosely inspired by Cyrano de Bergerac, it follows shy teenager Ellie (Leah Lewis) as she helps inarticulate football player Paul (Daniel Diemer) win over his crush Astor (Alexxis Lemire), whom she also has a crush on. There are plenty of teen rom coms on Netflix, but few have the genuine charm and nuance that The Half Of It has plenty of. Lewis and Diemer give life to characters that might otherwise feel like stock teen movie characters, and Wu’s writing smartly centers on Ellie’s own self-actualization. Deft and sweet, The Half of It joins the roster of great teen romantic comedy Netflix originals.
The DUFF (2015)
Director: Ari Sandel
Cast: Mae Whitman, Robbie Amell, Ken Jeong, Bella Thorne
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Runtime: 1h 36m
Rotten Tomatoes: 73% (Critics) 66% (Audience)
An underrated teen comedy from the 2010’s, The DUFF stars the always charming Mae Whitman in the titular role. Based on the novel of the same name, the teen rom com centers on high schooler Bianca (Whitman) as she learns that the school body considers her the DUFF (designated ugly fat friend) of her friend group, which consists of more popular girls. With the help of charming jock Wesley (Robbie Amell), Bianca sets out to change her status as “DUFF” and up her reputation at school. Like many teen movies before it, the movie does tackle the usual “just be yourself” cliches, but what could have been your boilerplate average teen comedy comes to life thanks to Mae Whitman’s natural gift for comedy (as can be seen in Arrested Development and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World). There’s also an enjoyable turn from Ken Jeong as her teacher, as well as plenty of chemistry with co-star Robbie Amell. Surprisingly solid, The DUFF deserves to be talked about more in the teen movie canon.
As Good As It Gets (1997)
Director: James L. Brooks
Cast: Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt, Greg Kinnear, Cuba Gooding Jr.
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Runtime: 2h 18m
Rotten Tomatoes: 85% (Critics) 86% (Audience)
After his two previous comedy drama masterpieces Terms of Endearment and Broadcast News, the legendary writer/producer/director James L. Brooks returned to the director’s chair in 1997 for the similarly critically acclaimed As Good As It Gets. The romantic comedy drama follows a misanthropic author (Jack Nicholson), a single mother and waitress (Helen Hunt), and a gay artist (Greg Kinnear) as they form an unlikely friendship. Like the rest of Brooks’ work, it’s the humanistic heart at the center of As Good As It Gets that makes it work as well as it does: every character feels startlingly real, even if they’re recognizable characters within a romantic comedy. Nicholson and Kinnear give stellar performances, but the true standout is Helen Hunt, giving a layered performance, and making the movie more than earn its inevitable happy ending. As Good As It Gets is, well, as good as it gets when it comes to ‘90s romantic comedies.
The Holiday (2006)
Director: Nancy Meyers
Cast: Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Jack Black
Genre: Romance, Comedy
Runtime: 2h 12m
Rotten Tomatoes: 50% (Critics) 80% (Audience)
Nancy Meyers is a genius when it comes to romantic comedies. You don’t have to look further than movies like The Parent Trap, Something’s Gotta Give, and of course, The Holiday. The Christmas themed romantic comedy centers on unlucky in love women Iris (Kate Winslet) and Amanda (Cameron Diaz) as they exchange homes to avoid being reminded of their romantic failures during the Christmas season. As they switch homes (and continents), they strike up relationships with single father Graham (Jude Law) and film composer Miles (Jack Black), respectively. Ridiculous premise aside, Meyers writes very relatable women (look no further than Cameron Diaz singing along to “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers), very charming men (Jack Black as a dorky composer works way better than it has any right to), and enjoys putting them in reliably wacky romantic situations as they slowly reach the happy ending you just know is coming. A must-watch if you’re a respectable fan of romantic comedies, The Holiday is a blast if it’s your first or a hundredth time watching.
Director: Jeff Nichols
Cast: Joel Edgerton, Ruth Negga, Marton Csokas, Nick Kroll
Genre: Drama, Romance
Runtime: 2h 3m
Rotten Tomatoes: 88% (Critics) 76% (Audience)
Loving v. Virginia is one of the major civil rights battles in civil rights history, with the Supreme Court decision being decided in 1967. Loving follows the story behind this court battle, which ruled that laws banning interracial marriage violated the U.S. constitution. The romantic drama centers on defendants Richard (Joel Edgerton) and Mildred Loving (Ruth Negga), who were arrested on charges of miscegenation and were the center of this landmark civil rights battle. The film works well with a subtle atmosphere, enhancing the strong-willed romanticism between the characters in the face of horrifically racist legislature. Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga breathe life into the characters and have great chemistry with each other. Both historically important and rivetingly romantic, Loving is a uniquely romantic, soul stirring film.
Set It Up (2018)
Director: Claire Scanlon
Cast: Zoey Deutch, Glen Powell, Lucy Liu, Taye Diggs
Genre: Romance, Comedy
Runtime: 1h 45m
Rotten Tomatoes: 92% (Critics) 67% (Audience)
One of Netflix’s biggest romantic comedy hits, Set It Up follows two overworked New Yorker assistants’ (Zoey Deutch, Glen Powell) attempt to set their bosses (Lucy Liu, Taye Diggs) up, only to find that they have a connection of their own. The plot isn’t anything the average romantic comedy enthusiast has seen before, but the well qualified cast makes the material anything but stale. Zoey Deutch is effortlessly charming, as is Glen Powell, who makes the “lovable jerk” trope his own; Lucy Liu and Taye Diggs are also reliably hilarious as their unfathomably unreasonable bosses. Set It Up feels familiar but is undeniably fresh thanks to its very talented cast.
About Time (2013)
Director: Richard Curtis
Cast: Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, Bill Nighy, Tom Hollander
Genre: Romance, Comedy
Runtime: 2h 4m
Rotten Tomatoes: 69% (Critics) 81% (Audience)
From the writer and director of Love Actually comes this underrated romantic comedy that might just make you happy cry (much like Love Actually does, whether you like to admit it or not). About Time follows Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) who learns from his father (Bill Nighy) that the men in his family can time travel, but only affect events in their own lives. He later meets Mary (Rachel McAdams) and falls in love, but after a time travel incident erases their first meeting, he must meet her again and again in order to fix things. While the time travel component may make About Time seem complicated, it’s rooted in a deep humanism that is writer/director Richard Curtis’ specialty. Rachel McAdams gives a typically great performance here, and Domhnall Gleeson gives a great pre-Star Wars performance as well. About Time is crowd-pleasing, heartwarming, and surprisingly underrated.
The Lovebirds (2020)
Director: Michael Showalter
Cast: Issa Rae, Kumail Nanjiani, Paul Sparks
Genre: Action Conedy
Runtime: 1h 27m
Rotten Tomatoes: % (Critics) % (Audience)
The director of 2017 hit The Big Sick teaming up with not one but two prominent comedy stars is a collaboration that can’t be missed. Premiering on Netflix in lieu of theaters because of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Lovebirds centers on struggling couple Jibran (Kumail Nanjiani) and Leilani (Issa Rae) as they go on the run after witnessing a murder and potentially rekindle their romance. In a sea of recent mediocre romantic comedies, The Lovebirds stands out in reinvigorating the genre by being a fun action comedy as well as a solid romantic comedy. As unpredictable as it is funny, the movie uses its NOLA setting to its advantage, amping up the adventurous antics of the protagonists with scenic delights. Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae stand out in particular, with Nanjiani being as charming as he was in The Big Sick and Rae being as hilarious as we’ve come to expect from Insecure. Thrilling, fun, and romantic, The Lovebirds is more than worth your time.
Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
Director: David O. Russell
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Rating: 2h 2m
Rotten Tomatoes: 92% (Critics) 86% (Audience)
The same year that Jennifer Lawrence became a household name with a starring role in The Hunger Games, she wowed critics and won her first Oscar with her performance in the acclaimed Silver Linings Playbook. Pat (Bradley Cooper), a man with bipolar disorder, is released from a psychiatric hospital and moves in with his parents. Shortly after, he meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), and they help each other cope with their mental illness and personal problems as they train for a dance competition. The result is a charming romantic dramedy with strong performances from both Cooper and Lawrence. Silver Linings Playbook famously became the first movie since 1981’s Reds to be nominated for all four acting categories at the Academy Awards, with Cooper, Lawrence, Robert De Niro, and Jacki Weaver all receiving nominations.
Alex Strangelove (2018)
Director: Craig Johnson
Starring: Daniel Doheny, Madeline Weinstein, Antonio Marziale
Genre: LGBTQ Romance, Comedy
Runtime: 1h 39m
Rotten Tomatoes: 80% (Critics) 70% (Audience)
Superbad is an undeniable teen comedy classic, but have you ever wondered what it would be like if it didn’t center on straight guys? Alex Strangelove is here to answer that question. Like a mix between the aforementioned gross-out comedy and 2018’s Love, Simon, Alex Strangelove tells the story of titular teenager Alex Truelove (Daniel Doheny), who plans on losing his virginity to his girlfriend Claire (Madeline Weinstein) but begins questioning his sexuality when he finds himself falling for handsome stranger Elliot (Antonio Marziale). The film takes both a sensitive and irreverent approach to Alex’s questioning: his inner turmoil is played for both laughs and pathos, thanks to his oversexed friends and the careful writing around his coming to terms with his sexuality. Alex Strangelove is a must-watch for anyone on the lookout for a solid LGBTQ teenage romantic comedy.
Duck Butter (2018)
Always Be My Maybe (2019)
Director: Nahnatchka Khan
Cast: Ali Wong, Randall Park, Keanu Reeves
Runtime: 1h 42m
Rotten Tomatoes: 89% (Critics) N/A (Audience)
Netflix has often proved to be the cornerstone of the romantic comedy market thanks to hits like Set It Up and To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. 2019’s crowd pleaser Always Be My Maybe has only further cemented their rom com dominance. Always Be My Maybe follows chef Sasha (Ali Wong) who, after a breakup, begins feeling old sparks of attraction with a childhood friend (Randall Park) after seeing him for the first time in fifteen years. Always Be My Maybe is the most recent showcase for comedian Ali Wong, who previously had a starring role on the beloved (and gone too soon) Tuca & Bertie. She’s credited with co-writing the film as well. The film, while hitting the usual romantic comedy beats, is full of charm, thanks to impressive performances from Wong and Park. There’s even a hysterical scene involving Keanu Reeves that truly has to be seen to be believed. As far as recent romantic comedies go, Always Be My Maybe is one of the very best.
Blue Jay (2016)
Director: Alex Lehmann
Cast: Mark Duplass, Sarah Paulson, Clu Gulager
Runtime: 1h 25m
Rotten Tomatoes: 91% (Critics) 77% (Audience)
A stark romantic drama, Blue Jay remains criminally underrated. Jim (Mark Duplass) and Amanda (Sarah Paulson), two former high school sweethearts, meet by chance while visiting their hometown. While the plot isn’t by any means unique, it’s the acting and writing that elevate this movie into a true gem. Duplass and Paulson have an understated chemistry that makes the movie come to melancholic life and makes you believe they were once together a long time ago. The movie itself, shot in black and white, also has a naturalistic and gentle feel, furthering the intense realism. While Blue Jay isn’t the most heartwarming movie, it’s one of the most realistic and well-written romance movies you’ll ever see.
To All The Boys I've Loved Before (2018)
Director: Susan Johnson
Cast: Lana Condor, Noah Centineo, Israel Broussard
Genre: Romance, Drama
Runtime: 1h 39m
Rotten Tomatoes: 96% (Critics) 86% (Audience)
Netflix got in on the teen romance genre in 2018, to great success. Their breakout smash of the year was the YA romance adaptation To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. Based on the bestselling book of the same name, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before centers on teenager Lara Jean (Lana Condor) as she deals with the fallout of the release of her secret love letters to all of her past and present crushes, including Peter (Noah Centineo) and Josh (Israel Broussard), her sister’s ex-boyfriend. When Lara Jean and Peter decide to have a fake relationship to make his ex jealous, things go exactly how you’d expect a teen romance to go. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is reminiscent of classic romantic comedies and will undoubtedly appeal to your inner teen.
She's Gotta Have It (1986)
Director: Spike Lee
Cast: Tracy Camilla Johns, Redmond Hicks, John Canada Terrell, Spike Lee, Raye Dowell
Genre: Romance, Comedy
Rotten Tomatoes: 91% (Critics) 73% (Audience)
In Spike Lee’s breakthrough independent film, he plays one of three suitors to a self-assured Brooklyn black woman, Nola, who values her independence and sexual freedom. Lee plays Mars Blackmon, a goofy bike messenger that went on to star in Nike commercials with Michael Jordan, who competes against the affections of a narcissistic male model and a polite, well-meaning man with aspirations of being a full-blown boyfriend. As she samples the trio, their feelings for her grow stronger, putting her smack in the middle of a game of tug-of-war. The film marked the beginning of Lee’s illustrious career with a film that broke ground for its depictions both of African-American characters, but also women, allowing his leading lady the sort of romantic independence that men exercise without a double-take. Matter of fact, it was so ahead of its time, they’re rebooting the concept for a Netflix series this year.