We know what you’re thinking, but trust us. The best romantic movies on Netflix won’t make you gouge your eyes out. In fact, they may even garner a wry smile, a slight exhale of nose breath and perhaps even a chuckle. While you may have been burned by chick flicks and rom-coms in the past, that’s no reason to say goodbye to the genre altogether. Romantic movies have a place in today’s society, generally parked between a bowl of popcorn and a tub of ice cream on a lazy Friday night with your partner. So, if you’re keen to get in the good books, start with a good romance movie, one that both of you can enjoy.
Stuck for ideas? Here is a list of the 20 best romantic movies on Netflix that don’t suck.
1. The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s iconic short novel hit the screen in a big way in 2013 with this Baz Luhrmann-directed explosion of colour. Telling the story of Nick Carraway, a World War II veteran who befriends a mysterious millionaire with an extravagant lifestyle. As the cracks in Gatsby’s nouveau riche existence begin to show, we learn more about love lost and the hope for a second chance to make things right. Definitely one romantic movie that will keep you and your girl entertained, if not for Leonardo DiCaprio’s inspired performance alone.
Release date: 30 May 2013 (Australia)
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Awards: Academy Award for Best Production Design
Producers: Baz Luhrmann, Catherine Martin, Barrie M. Osborne, Catherine Knapman, Lucy Fisher, Douglas Wick
One of the most heartbreaking and powerful films in recent memory, Moonlight is definitely an experience. The 2017 Best Picture Academy Award Winner tells the story of Chiron, a young African-American boy who miraculously finds guidance in Juan, a drug dealer. Inspiring him to carve his own path, Juan’s advice leaves a lasting impression on Chiron. While it might not seem like a romantic movie on the outside, Moonlight is a stunning depiction of race, sexuality and identity that urges us all to find the love most meaningful to us.
Initial release: 2 September 2016 (USA)
Director: Barry Jenkins
Cinematography: James Laxton
Screenplay: Barry Jenkins, Tarell Alvin McCraney
3. When We First Met
One for the rom-com people, When We First Met is actually worth a laugh. Starring our third favourite Workaholic, Adam Devine, the Netflix movie plays out like romantic Groundhog Day. After spending a night with the girl of his dreams and winding up in the friendzone, Noah gets the chance to travel through time and alter that night over and over again until he gets everything perfect. Naturally, everything goes tits up, but you get to enjoy the ride while it happens. Look out for social media star King Bach, who inadvertently steals the show.
Initial release: 9 February 2018 (Brazil)
Director: Ari Sandel
Budget: 9.5 million USD
Screenplay: John Whittington, Isabelle Nuru Dayne
4. Malcolm & Marie
Easily the newest romantic movie of Netflix, Malcolm & Marie has Oscar-bait written all over it. The moody black and white feature stars Zendaya and John David Washington in a gritty and tense drama that feels almost like a stage play. In the Netflix romance, a filmmaker and his girlfriend return home from his movie premiere, before smouldering tensions and painful revelations push them toward a romantic reckoning. One for the arthouse lovers.
Release date: 5 February 2021 (Australia)
Director: Sam Levinson
Screenplay: Sam Levinson
Budget: 2.5 million USD
Producers: Sam Levinson, Ashley Levinson, Kevin Turen
5. Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
Stay with us. While absolutely no-one expected a Will Ferrell-led comedy about two Icelandic Eurovision Song Contest performers to be a surprisingly beautiful romance, that’s exactly what Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga is. The chemistry between Ferrell and perennial chick flick specialist Rachel McAdams is unexpectedly terrific and the songs are absolute bangers. Convincing your girlfriend that a Will Ferrell flick is the romantic movie she’s been waiting for might be a challenge, but trust us, you’ll both get a kick out this.
Initial release: 26 June 2020
Director: David Dobkin
Music composed by: Atli Örvarsson
Screenplay: Will Ferrell, Andrew Steele
6. The Theory of Everything
Based on the love story between the late Stephen Hawking and his first wife Jane Hawking, The Theory of Everything takes what you thought you knew about the famed physicist and flips it on its head. Charting the pair’s relationship from Hawking’s early days as a brilliant student through to his crushing motor neurone disease diagnosis, the emotional journey is raw, confronting and ultimately uplifting.
Initial release: 7 November 2014 (USA)
Director: James Marsh
Based on: Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen; by Jane Hawking
7. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
There’s a big reason why To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before exploded in popularity when it came out in 2018, it feels real. The fun and sweet romance is based on the novel by Jenny Han and follows the story of Lara Jean. The teenager has her worst nightmares realised when five letters she wrote to her old crushes are leaked and along with former flame Peter, she hatches a plan to create a fake relationship to resolve the issue. Of course, the classic troupe of spending too much time with your fake boyfriend comes up and well, you might think you know the rest, but you’d be wrong.
Initial release: 17 August 2018
Director: Susan Johnson
Film series: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
Story by: Jenny Han
8. Set It Up
Charming, that’s pretty much the only way to describe Set It Up. One of the best romantic movies on Netflix, the 2018 flick follows two assistants who decide to set their bosses up to get some free time away from their demanding jobs. Naturally, the two start to fall for each other and while this rom-com plotline is pretty old and tired, the performances from leads Zoey Deutch and Glen Powell more than make up for it.
Initial release: 12 June 2018 (USA)
Director: Claire Scanlon
Screenplay: Katie Silberman
Budget: 10.2 million USD
9. 365 Days
Steamy, dangerous and borderline pornographic, Polish film 365 Days made a lot of noise when it was first released, not all of it good. Sure, the acting is terrible and the plotline is problematic (to say the least), but there’s just something about kidnapping a woman and holding her captive as a love slave that is just so…romantic. On second thoughts, maybe skip this one.
Initial release: 7 February 2020 (Poland)
Directors: Barbara Bia?ow?s, Tomasz Mandes
Featured songs: It’s Hard For Me, Feel It
Languages: Italian, Polish
Screenplay: Blanka Lipinska, Barbara Bia?ow?s, Tomasz Mandes, Tomasz Klimala
10. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The second F. Scott Fitzgerald adaptation to make its way onto Netflix, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button sees Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett at their very best. Directed by acclaimed filmmaker David Fincher, the story follows Benjamin Button, a man who suffers from a rare ageing ailment that makes him age backwards. Befriended by kind-hearted Daisy, their relationship evolves over time, as she gets older and he gets younger. Both Blanchett and Pitt pull out amazing performances in this truly remarkable love story.
Release date: 26 December 2008 (Australia)
Director: David Fincher
Story by: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Eric Roth, Robin Swicord
11. Silver Linings Playbook
With Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver all headlining this romantic film, it’s no wonder Silver Linings Playbook racked up the nominations back in 2012. A strange take on the rom-com genre, the film tells the story of Pat, a man recently released from a mental health facility after brutally attacking his wife’s lover. After walking out of the centre he meets a kind but troubled stranger who may hold the key to mending things with his wife.
Release date: 31 January 2013 (Australia)
Director: David O. Russell
Screenplay: David O. Russell, Matthew Quick
12. Marriage Story
When it first came out, Marriage Story won a lot of awards and rightly so – this movie will absolutely break you in every possible way. Starring our favourite ex-marine Adam Driver and Hollywood royalty Scarlett Johansson as a married couple at the end of their tether, this Netflix movie is a brooding and complicated story. A strange premise for a romance film, the story chronicles the process of divorce from separation to finalisation, with Driver playing a successful theatre director husband to Johansson’s actress wife. We see the situation from both sides of view, leaving you both conflicted and empathetic. Both Driver and Johansson give incredible performances in this deeply human tale.
Initial release: 15 November 2019 (United Kingdom)
Director: Noah Baumbach
Screenplay: Noah Baumbach
13. 50 First Dates
Adam Sandler at his goofy best. Before he was Jack and/or Jill, the Sandman was trying to make Drew Barrymore fall in love with him every day. In 50 First Dates, Sandler plays a commitment-phobe who falls for a charming woman that suffers from intense short-term memory loss. Sure, it sounds silly and it is, but this one will tug at your heartstrings.
Initial release: 13 February 2004 (USA)
Director: Peter Segal
Screenplay: George Wing
Box office: 198.5 million USD
Producers: Nancy Juvonen, Jack Giarraputo, Steve Golin
14. About Time
A gem of a romantic movie, About Time is one of the most interesting and touching time travel movies ever made. Written and directed by Love, Actually filmmaker Richard Curtis, the movie tells the story of a young man who discovers he has the ability to time travel. When he meets a charismatic American girl (Rachel McAdams, of course) he puts his talents to good use. What starts out as a light-hearted romp quickly turns emotional, however, as the true love story emerges. Expect to be a blubbering mess by the end of this romantic movie.
Release date: 17 October 2013 (Australia)
Director: Richard Curtis
Screenplay: Richard Curtis
Featured song: About Time Theme
Box office: 88.5 million USD
15. Always Be My Maybe
Always Be My Maybe plays on the theory that any film can be improved by shoving Keanu Reeves in there for absolutely no reason. Want proof? Watch it and see. Co-written by and starring Fresh Off the Boat‘s Randall Park and funny-woman Ali Wong, the film tells the story of two childhood best friends who drift apart before being pushed back together again in adulthood despite having very different lives. Park and Wong are hilarious together in this (not quite) chick flick.
Initial release: 29 May 2019
Director: Nahnatchka Khan
Screenplay: Ali Wong, Randall Park, Michael Golamco
Producers: Ali Wong, Randall Park, Nathan Kahane, Erin Westerman
Music composed by: Michael Andrews, DJ Greyboy
16. The Love Birds
This accidental crime movie inadvertently wound up as one of the best romantic movies on Netflix. Following Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani, The Love Birds, tells the story of a couple out on the town who find themselves in a very dangerous situation. They must work together to stay alive and clear their names for a murder they didn’t commit.
Initial release: 22 May 2020
Director: Michael Showalter
Screenplay: Aaron Abrams, Martin Gero, Brendan Gall
Producers: Aaron Abrams, Martin Gero, Brendan Gall, Jordana Mollick, Tom Lassally
Story by: Aaron Abrams, Martin Gero, Brendan Gall
17. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
It’s rare that a well-loved book gets a film adaptation that fans approve of, but it certainly helps when the author directs it. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a 2012 coming-of-age drama written and directed by Stephen Chbosky, based on his own novel of the same name. In the film, we follow Charlie, an awkward 15-year-old introvert attempting to traverse high school while dealing with a tumultuous past. He finds comfort in two seniors, who embrace him wholeheartedly, in spite of his apparent nervousness. While not a traditional romance but any means, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is as much about love as it is about acceptance.
Release date: 29 November 2012 (Australia)
Director: Stephen Chbosky
Featured song: Heroes
Producers: John Malkovich, Russell Smith, Lianne Halfon
18. The Notebook
You can’t do a list of the best romantic movies on Netflix without including The Notebook. The Nicolas Sparks classic that completely ruined most women’s expectations of men is still one of the most popular chick flicks of all time. The film follows one couple across decades, from the 1940s to the 2000s, charting the heart-making and breaking highs and lows that accompany a lifelong romance.
Release date: 14 October 2004 (Australia)
Director: Nick Cassavetes
Box office: 116.1 million USD
Awards: MTV Movie Award for Best Kiss
Story by: Nicholas Sparks, Jan Sardi
19. A Knight’s Tale
We’re still not really sure what era this was set it in. From the outside, it seems like your average run-of-the-mill medieval knight story, but if the amount of Queen that blasts throughout the film is any indication, A Knight’s Tale is anything but. Starring Heath Ledger, Paul Bettany and Alan Tudyk, the film centres around William Thatcher, a commoner who pretends to be royalty in order to compete in a host of high-class Knight tournaments. Throw in a beautiful princess, some good action scenes and a bit of classic Heath humour and you’ve got yourself one of the best romantic movies on Netflix.
Initial release: 2001 (Norway)
Director: Brian Helgeland
Based on: “The Knight’s Tale”; by Geoffrey Chaucer
Screenplay: Brian Helgeland
Box office: 117.5 million USD
20. The DUFF
A straight chick flick if ever we’ve seen one, The DUFF is surprisingly hilarious. The film centres around Bianca, an oddball narrator who suddenly realises that she is being used by people to get to her popular friends. Upon learning that she is the DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend), she decides to change and takes her former friend turned alpha-male along for the ride. Yeah, it’s a blatant rom-com, but you will laugh.
Initial release: 12 February 2015 (Los Angeles)
Director: Ari Sandel
Story by: Kody Keplinger
Based on: The Duff; by Kody Keplinger
Box office: 43.7 million USD
What is the best romantic movie of all time?
According to Rotten Tomatoes, the top-rated romantic movie of all-time is The Shape of Water. The 2017 Best Picture Academy Award winner is a bold, science-fiction take on the genre, which won it a wealth of fans. For the traditionalist, you can’t go past Only Yesterday, The Notebook and Titanic.
What are some good new romantic movies on Netflix?
After the success of the hit show Bridgerton, you can expect to see far more romantic movies hit Netflix. The best new love movies on Netflix include Malcolm & Marie and The Kissing Booth 2.
What are some romantic movies that are based on true stories?
There are a number of great love movies that are based on true stories. Some of the top-rated include Eat, Pray, Love, The Vow and The Theory of Everything.