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 August 2019. 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.
This charming 1996 adaptation of Jane Austen's novel features an absolutely stellar cast. Gwyneth Paltrow stars as Emma, a precocious young woman who takes pride in her abilities as a matchmaker, and intervenes in the romantic affairs of Harriet (Toni Collette), a young and seemingly-naive woman in Emma's community. But Emma's matchmaking hubris comes back to haunt her when she misinterprets the intentions of Mr. Elton (Alan Cumming). Austen lovers will enjoy this star-studded, charming take on the classic story of a young woman learning to come to terms with her own heart, and her relationships with those around her.
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.
P.S. I Love You
Holly (Hillary Swank) and Gerry (Gerard Butler) are enjoying life as a young married couple, when Gerry dies suddenly of a brain tumor. Still deeply in mourning, Holly is shocked on the eve of her 30th birthday to receive a message and present Gerry arranged for when he knew he would likely not live to see his wife reach this milestone. The message is the first of several notes Gerry arranged to be sent to his wife after his death, which ultimately lead her on a trip to Ireland—and to finding herself, and love, again.
Four Weddings and a Funeral
This 1994 classic is experiencing renewed popularity recently thanks to the Hulu TV series adaptation from Mindy Kaling. Remember where it all started by rewatching the original rom com about a relationship which blossoms over course of several years. At his best friend's wedding, Londoner Charles (Hugh Grant) is charmed by American Carrie (Andie MacDowell). The two spend an electric night together but say their goodbyes in the morning, acknowledging the ocean between them. Over the next few years, the pair continue to collide at their mutual friends' weddings, but Carrie, aware that Charles isn't ready for a real commitment, becomes engaged. A charming exploration of romantic failure and the importance of timing, Four Weddings and a Funeral remains romantic over two decades after at its release.
Always Be My Maybe
Sasha (Ali Wong) and Marcus (Randall Park) have known each other since they were next-door neighbors growing up in San Francisco. Sasha's parents worked long hours at their store, so Saha came to view Marcus' family as her own. While the two are in high school, Marcus' mom dies suddenly, and Marcus and Sasha channel their grief into an awkward sexual encounter in the backseat of Marcus' car.
Over a decade later, Sasha is a successful celebrity chef trying to distance herself from her family. Marcus' life hasn't changed much since high school: he's dedicated to living at home with his aging father, playing in his long-time band, and staying in the Bay area. When a recently-dumped Sasha returns home briefly to open a restaurant, the childhood best friends are forced to reconnect. Featuring an already-legendary cameo by Keanu Reeves, this sweet and hilarious rom com is a second-chance romance that's perfect for a night of Netflix and chill-ing.
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.
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.
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?
What a Girl Wants
It's no She's the Man, but What a Girl Wants is still a super-fun rom com blast from the past. Based on the British play The Reluctant Debutante, it stars Amanda Bynes as Daphne, a New York teenager who flies to London to meet her father Lord Henry Dashwood (Colin Firth, aka Definitive Mr. Darcy) for the first time. A comedy of manners follows as Daphne first horrifies, and then is embraced by, upper-class London society. Along the way, she fights and flirts with Ian (Oliver James).
This sensuous historical drama takes place against the backdrop of the 'tulip mania' of 17th-century Amsterdam, during which tulip bulbs became exorbitantly expensive. Sophia (Alicia Vikander) has entered a loveless marriage to a much older man so that her sisters may afford passage to the new world. When Sophia fails to quickly produce a heir, Cornelis (Christoph Waltz), commissions a painter to create a portrait of him and his young wife, so that Cornelis' legacy will at least be associated with his beautiful bride. However, Sophia has an instant connection with Jan (Dane DeHaan), the young painter Cornelius hires. The two embark on a forbidden romance, and concoct a desperate plan to start a new life of freedom together.
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.
Sex and the City: The Movie
If you're craving some nostalgic froth, may we recommend the first Sex and the City film? True, sex and gender politics have evolved a lot since the heyday of SatC, but there's still a lot of fun to be had with the first of the movies. Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) and matrimony-shy Mr. Big (Chris Noth) are finally tying the knot. But the public scrutiny brought on by the wedding gives Big cold feet, and after years of off-and-on romance, he leaves Carrie at the altar. Thankfully, everyone's favorite sex columnist has her loyal friends to help pick up the pieces, and take her on the honeymoon that was planned for her and Big. After being left at the altar, Carrie can't help but wonder...is love still possible with the man who shattered her heart in the most public way possible?
Oh say can you stream! Settle in for a night of feel-good nostalgia with Chasing Liberty, a delightfully cheesy addition to Mandy Moore's pantheon of early-aughts romantic movies. Moore plays Anna, the rebellious daughter of the President of the United States. Frustrated by the constant presence of Secret Service agents, Mandy goes rogue while vacationing in Prague, and asks motorcyclist Ben (Matthew Goode) for a ride to freedom. Before long, Anna finds herself falling for bad-boy Ben...too bad Ben is actually an undercover Secret Service agent.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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 "Four Weddings and a Funeral" via Rank Film Distributors