How long do we have before Netflix releases an original romantic comedy called Netflix and Chill? I give it one or two years, tops, before we’re subjected to 120 minutes of star-crossed millennials falling for each other while watching Set It Up. Until then, though, we’ll have to make do with the current crop of romantic movies on Netflix for December 2018. Luckily for you, dear reader, we've put together this list of the best romance movies on Netflix.
Oh, and Netflix: if you want that rom-com idea, just send us a check.
This article will be updated periodically to reflect changes to Netflix Streaming.
P.S. I Love You
Holly (Hillary Swank) and Gerry (Gerard Butler) are a young married couple living in New York. Although deeply in love, their relationship is sometimes tumultuous, but when Gerry passes away suddenly from cancer, Holly deeply regrets the time the two spent arguing.
As time goes by, Holly finds it impossible to look towards a future without Gerry. When a surprise from her late husband arrives on her 30th birthday, she realizes that before passing away, Gerry planned a series of notes and messages to help his widow eventually move on and find new love and joy on her own. Guided by Gerry's messages from beyond the grave, Holly embarks on a journey across the world that will bring her closer to Gerry than ever before — and to herself.
The Princess Switch
'Tis the season for indulging in nonsensical holiday rom-coms while eating cookies in front of a roaring fire. The Princess Switch is the Netflix equivalent of a Hallmark movie, and filled with all the delightful cheesiness Hallmark fans have come to expect. Vanessa Hudgens does double duty as Chicago baker Stacy DeNovo, and her doppelganger, Lady Margaret Delacourt, Duchess of Montenaro. Recently-heartbroken Stacy agrees to take a trip to the fictional country of Belgravia to participate in a baking competition. While there, she meets the betrothed Lady Margaret. Both are understandably struck by their identical looks, and decide to switch identities for a few days (like you do) so that Margaret can have some time out of the royal Belgravian spotlight. Baking fiascos, royal hijinks, and romance of course ensue. The perfect so-bad-it's-good movie to watch with friends or like-minded family this holiday season, The Princess Switch is as insubstantial and delicious as a candy cane.
Before We Go
This sweet indie romance was directed by, and stars, Captain America himself—Chris Evans. Set over the span of one New York night, it follows the meeting between musician Nick (Evans) and Brooke (Alice Eve). Brooke is desperate to get home, but has lost her cell phone. Nick, a busker in Grand Central, steps in to help her retrieve it. The two become unlikely companions on an overnight odyssey that takes them across New York and through a tour of their respective romantic pasts. Along the way, the two highly photogenic strangers begin to fall for each other—but Brooke has a very complicated marriage waiting for her at home.
In some ways, this John Hughes movie hasn't aged well. As its star Molly Ringwald wrote for The New Yorker earlier this year, Sixteen Candles' racial and sexual politics are undeniably problematic. That being said, if you watch it with a healthy helping of critical distance, there's still a lot to enjoy about this 80s tale of love between Sam (Molly Ringland), whose family has forgotten her birthday, and untouchable high school senior Jake Ryan (Michael Schoeffling).
To All the Boys I've Loved Before
This hit Netflix original is the perfect watch for when you're feeling down in the dumps and just want to watch two good-looking, good-hearted people fall in love. Based on the book of the same name by Jenny Han, it stars Lana Condor as Lara Jean, a romance-reading high schooler who copes with crushes by writing them letters she never intends to send. But when these love letters mysteriously arrive in the hands of her crushes—including her older sister's ex-boyfriend—Lara Jean is determined to pretend her feelings for him are over. She and another letter recipient, Peter Kravinsky (Noah Centineo), agree to enter into a mutually beneficial fake relationship with each other. Before long, Lara Jean develops very real feelings for her fake boyfriend...but she and Peter may have created a lie that will be too difficult to unravel.
Two Weeks Notice
Of the many romantic comedies currently available on Netflix, Two Weeks Notice is certainly not the best-written. (Who can forget the scene in which the romantic leads are trapped in an RV together while one of them desperately needs to poop? Truly, the stuff iconic romance is made of.) But it's worth a watch for the winning combo of rom com royalty Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant, who sell the movie, as they each of have many other mediocre movies, with their charm and good looks.
Lucy (Bullock) is a high strung lawyer devoted to saving historic and environmentally significant sites from development. George (Grant) is a billionaire real estate developer and womanizer who inherited the family empire. Desperate to hire a new chief counsel, he convinces Lucy to work for him by promising to halt plans he had to destroy a community center. Despite their deal, Lucy feels like she's selling out—but before long, the mismatched pair see a side of each other they never anticipated.
Rom-coms tend not to be critically acclaimed, and that’s okay–there’s definitely some cinematic junk food on this list. But Amélie is the exception to the rule: it’s a rom-com that film buffs love. Maybe that’s because it’s French, or maybe it’s just because it’s a truly charming story and a well-made film. Strange and sweet, the film follows the title character–a beautiful girl who has lived a reclusive life–as she explores love and the world around her.
God's Own Country
This British drama follows the romance between Johnny, a young Yorkshire sheep farmer, and Gheorghe, a Romanian migrant who comes to work temporarily on Johnny's family farm. Overwhelmed by the responsibilities of caring for the farm, helping his ailing father, and hiding his homosexuality, Johnny turns to binge drinking.
But when he and Gheorghe must spend a few days in the Yorkshire countryside caring for a flock that has moved away from the farm, the two of them develop an intimate and ultimately tender companionship that provides a salve for both lonely men. This 2017 film is at once bleak and lushly romantic—the beauty of the countryside and the film's two costars is juxtaposed against the harsh realities of poverty and farm life. Ultimately, it's a sensuous love story of two lost souls coming together amidst the beauty and brutality of the natural world.
Gwen (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and Eddie (John Cusack) are the high-profile stars of the new film Time Over Time. Unfortunately, they're also going through a nasty breakup, one that the movie's publicist Lee (Billy Crystal) is determined to keep under wraps throughout the press tour. But when a romance begins to blossom between Gwen's personal assistant Kiki (Julia Roberts) and Eddie, the private breakup stands to become very, very public.
Man Up stars the very funny Simon Pegg and Lake Bell as a pair of cynical London singles who meet cute after Nancy (Bell) picks up a self help book a stranger left behind on the train. Because of the book she's carrying, Jack (Pegg) mistakes Nancy for his blind date. Rather than telling Jack the truth, Nancy joins him for a surprisingly emotional first date—but can their new-found connection survive when it's based on a lie?
Forrest may not be the brightest crayon in the box, but he's endearing and loyal to the ones he loves. Forrest Gump was released in 1994, 23 years ago, but it's a film that continues to inspire and move us to tears. While Forrest has a below-average IQ, he's an incredibly interesting man who has experienced some of America's most important historical events, all while trying to make time for the love of his life, Jenny.
This is a movie that will definitely make you cry–even you skeptics.
The Incredible Jessica James
This Netflix original stars the ridiculously charming former Daily Show correspondent Jessica Williams as Jessica James, a struggling playwright reeling from a difficult break up with her ex, Damon. She rebounds with Boone (Chris O'Dowd), a recent divorcee who volunteers to keep tabs on Damon for Jessica via social media. Boone and Jessica have great chemistry, but what makes this rom com super easy to love is Jessica's passion for theater, and for the students she teaches.
Paige (Gillian Jacobs) and Sasha (Leighton Meester) have been inseparable for years. But when Paige's internet date with Tim (Adam Brody) develops into a serious relationship, Sasha feels left behind. Whereas most romantic comedies feature a wisecracking best friend content to play second fiddle to the heroine's love interest, Life Partners takes a realistic but funny look at the way female friendship can be compromised by one or both friends finding a romantic partner to share their life with.
The Lake House
The Lake House is a notoriously silly film, but it's carried by the charm of Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves, and the inherently goofy premise makes this a so-bad-it's-good romance. Kate (Bullock) and Alex (Reeves) both rent a remote lake house, and find notes from the other in the house's mailbox. Through a series of clues they leave for the other, the pair soon realize they're living in timelines two years apart. Through their letters, the pair fall for each other—but finding the right place and the right time is particularly difficult when you and your loved one are stuck two years apart.
Blue Is the Warmest Color
A tale of first love and all the heartbreak and discovery that comes with it, this French film follows a relationship between two young women over the course of several years. Teenager Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos) is dating a boy in her class when she first sees, and is immediately drawn towards, blue-haired art student Léa Seydoux. The two develop a friendship that evolves into a passionate romance, and Adèle navigates the challenges of coming out to her family and friends. The couple's bond transforms their lives—but first love rarely lasts forever.
An adaptation of Julie Maroh's graphic novel of the same name, Blue Is the Warmest Color won the Palme d'Or in 2013. But the movie's depiction of sex between two women caused considerable controversy. Maroh herself condemned the film's depiction of lesbian sex as "brutal and surgical," and the two lead actresses spoke out about the extreme pressures put on them while filming the scene.
Must Love Dogs
After a disastrous divorce, preschool teacher Sarah (Diane Lane) is pressured by her family to date. Sarah's sister Carol (Elizabeth Perkins) creates a not-entirely-truthful profile for her on the dating website perfectmatch.com, which eventually leads to a tumultuous first date with Jake (John Cusack). Jake and Sarah have a tentative attraction to each other, but both of them have been hurt before. Will their spark survive Sarah's nosy family, the interference of the dangerously attractive Bob (Dermot Mulroney), and the weight of Jake and Sarah's respective baggage? The answer, of course, is yes; but you'll enjoy watching Jake and Sarah realize that for themselves.
Feeling nostalgic for the aughts? Check out this 2008 high school drama, and harken back to the days when Jesse McCartney was still coveted leading man material.
Natalie (Elisabeth Harnois) is a focused student determined to use her academic prowess and tennis skills to escape her rural small town. When she's assigned Keith (Jesse McCartney), an eccentric loner, as her chem lab partner, Natalie is initially frustrated to be saddled with someone so unfocused. But as Keith and Natalie get to know each other through friend dates Keith calls 'un-dates,' Natalie begins to questions all of her convictions. And when she learns that Keith is hiding a horrible secret, she'll stop at nothing to help him shoulder his burden.
When New York PR agent Harper (Gillian Jacobs) learns she's going abroad for her first big work trip, her best friends Leah (Phoebe Robinson) and Nikki (Vanessa Bayer) insist on tagging along and crashing in her Barcelona hotel. Their first night out in Spain, the trio head to a local club, where some penis graffiti leads to a hilarious meet-cute between Harper and internationally renowned DJ Leo (Game of Thrones' Richard Madden).
Struck by their instant chemistry, Harper and Leo try to reunite after his set, but a series of drug-fueled late-night mishaps prevent the course of true love from running smooth. When Harper learns that Leo will be playing the next night in Ibiza, her friends encourage her to throw caution and professional obligation to the wind and embark with them on a last-minute trip to the island.
A raunchy rom-com that will please fans of Bridesmaids or Bad Moms, this Netflix original features some super romantic moments between Harper and her ludicrously hot Irish DJ, but never at the expense of highlighting the camaraderie between Harper and her loyal, debauched friends.
After spending one magical night together in New York, cellist Lyla (Keri Russell) and Irish rocker Louis (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) are separated abruptly, and Lyla is involved in a tragic accident that she is led to believe killed their unborn child. Years later, Lyla learns that her son with Louis survived the accident and is living in New York. As Lyla, Louis, and their son are drawn together again by fate, they will learn that music is more powerful than they could have ever believed.
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
Andie Anderson (Kate Hudson) is the "how to" columnist for women's magazine Composure. When she sets out to write a piece on how to turn off a new man within ten days, she settles on Benjamin Barry (Matthew McConaughey) as her unwitting subject. But Andie doesn't realize that Benjamin is playing her, too—and when the pair find themselves undeniably attracted to each other, their mutual deception may lead to heartbreak.
Based on the novel by Neil Gaiman, this 2007 movie doesn't get the credit it deserves for being a truly swoon-worthy fantasy romance. In order to win the heart of his beloved, Tristan (Charlie Cox) sets out across the wall into fairy land to capture a fallen star, who has the human form of a woman named Yvaine (Claire Danes). As Tristan and his captive embark on the long return journey across the wall, the two will have to evade the traps of a witch driven mad in her quest for eternal beauty, and will find themselves pushed together in the process.
Adapted from the award-winning musical of the same name, Rent follows a diverse group of artists struggling to survive and find connection in New York in the late 90s. As they grapple with AIDs and imminent eviction from their living space, the found family of young bohemians hold tight to their convictions and each other as they fall in and out of love in America at the end of the millennium.
Part romance, part dance movie, part gritty meditation on American existential angst and late-stage capitalism, Magic Mike is the second-greatest movie ever made. The first-greatest movie ever made is its sequel, Magic Mike XXL, which sadly is not on Netflix (yet).
Magic Mike introduces us to Mike (the exceptionally talented Channing Tatum), a male stripper in Tampa, Florida who dreams of one day opening his own custom furniture business. Mike recruits 19-year-old Adam (Alex Pettyfer) to join the cast at the Xquisite Strip Club run by showman Dallas (Matthew McConaughey).
Mike and Adam's friendship is full of ups and downs, particularly when Mike falls for Adam's sister, Brooke (Cody Horn), a self-possessed nurse. Brooke initially distrusts Mike, partially because she holds him accountable for introducing Adam to the party lifestyle adopted by many of the Xquisite Strip Club performers. But over time — and after watching Mike release his inner demons on the dance floor — she begins to see that his feelings for her are ginuwine.
Sex and the City: The Movie
Get...ahem...carried away to the year 2008—long before the travesty that was Sex and the City 2— with this dramatic tale of matrimony and Manolo Blahniks. Picking up where the events of the Sex and the City show left off, it follows Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Big (Chris Noth) as they plan to move into a luxurious uptown loft (with plenty of closet space) together. When Carrie expresses anxiety about leaving her apartment to move into a larger place that Big will primarily be paying for, he proposes to her. But their path to happily ever after is imperiled by the stresses of planning a high-profile wedding. Luckily, Carrie has her friends there to pick up the pieces along the way.
Sleeping With Other People
During a sex addicts anonymous meeting in New York, Jake and Lainey—two college misfits who took each other's virginity once upon a time—are surprised to run into each other after drifting apart years ago. Since college, they've each had a string of destructive, toxic relationships. The two commit to just being friends, deliberately setting aside their sexual chemistry in order to provide a level of kindness and intimacy for each other that neither has been able to find in a romantic or sexual relationship. But the harder they try to keep their relationship platonic, the more undeniable their feelings for each other become.
It's been 23 years since Empire Records first came out, and the mid-90s movie doesn't hold up particularly well on re-watch. But if you grew up with this dramedy about a group of young people working at a failing indie record store, you'll likely enjoy it on the basis of nostalgia alone. The movie takes place over one remarkable day at Empire Records, as the young employees grapple with the store's imminent buyout by a corporation, contend with a visit from rock star Rex Manning (Maxwell Caulfield), and, in the case of Corey (Liv Tyler) and A.J. (Johnny Whitworth), finally reveal their long-simmering feelings for each other.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall
When actress Sarah (Kirsten Bell) breaks up with him after five years of dating, composer Peter (Jason Segel) is devastated. He tries to escape his heartbreak by taking a trip to Hawaii, but is horrified to discover that Sarah is staying at the same hotel with the man she left him for, Aldous Snow (Russell Brand). Concierge Rachel (Mila Kunis) takes pity on Peter, who is obviously devastated. As Peter tries to mend his broken heart in Hawaii—all while avoiding his ex—he and Rachel discover they have a connection. A sweet, silly rom com that will warm the heart of anyone who's ever utterly embarrassed themselves during a breakup, Forgetting Sarah Marshall is a hilarious romantic escape.
Set It Up
This Netflix original follows two overworked personal assistants who attempt to orchestrate a romance between their respective bosses—and wind up falling for each other in the process. Harper (Zoey Deutsch) is an aspiring sports journalist stuck in an assistant role for tyrannical media mogul Kirsten (Lucy Liu). Charlie (Glen Powell) is the lackey for volatile venture capitalist Rick (Taye Diggs). After a chance meeting, Harper and Charlie put aside their initial dislike and devise a scheme to trick Kirsten and Rick into falling for each other.
Full of familiar rom com tropes, Set It Up will delight fans of When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, and other classics of the genre. Harper and Charlie are charming—but Lucy Liu and Taye Diggs truly steal the show as two tightly wound, successful but deeply unhappy professionals.
Featured still from "Before We Go" via RADiUS