Starting with our Valentine’s Day movie night, my roommates and I have gone on a romance movie kick and haven’t looked back. Our picks have ranged from childhood favorites to the Fifty Shades franchise (sorry mom!) and we’ve loved every second of it. We pick on the characters, point out problematic story lines, notice commonalities (literally every main female character is an English major), and laugh at the cheesy moments just as much as we swoon over the love stories and gorgeous men. While I am no film critic or romance expert, I thought it might be fun to rank the ungodly amount of rom coms we’ve consumed over the past three months and maybe give you some inspiration for what to watch next. If you love love just as much as we do, keep on reading:
1. Liberal Arts (Watch on SHOWTIME, free with Spotify Student)
When I was crafting this ranking, I didn’t expect myself to put Liberal Arts first on my list but I realized it was the most relatable and most realistic love story any of these movies portrayed. The film- shot at nearby Kenyon College and starring Kenyon grads Josh Radner and Allison Janney- is the story of 35-year-old admissions counselor Jesse Fisher who visits Kenyon and meets 19-year-old sophomore Zibby. The two are sweet on each other and form an interesting relationship as penpals and sweethearts as they try to figure out how to deal with their age difference. With witty jabs at what it’s like being a liberal arts student, sweet moments between Jesse and Zibby, and all-too-real mental health scares from student Dean, the movie is romantic, witty, and authentic. My heart was warmed by the panoramic views of rural Ohio and I laughed out loud at Zac Efron’s unexpected character. I highly recommend it, almost as much as getting a liberal arts education itself.
2. Fifty Shades Darker (Rent on YouTube or access free through our TV provider)
While I never thought the Fifty Shades franchise would be my cup of tea, I love the relationship between Christian Grey and Ana Steele in the second movie. Their relationship progresses from a purely sexual one to what Ana calls “a vanilla relationship” based in love, trust, and communication (you know, those boring old things). I loved seeing them grow and seeing how much they came to trust and care for one another. Also, did you see the scene of Christian working out in the gym??!
3. After We Collided (Watch on Netflix)
Just like with Fifty Shades, I love seeing the relationship between Hardin Scott and Tessa Young progress from the first to the second movie. Tessa is much less of the innocent archetype in this movie and comes into her power in her relationship with Hardin. It is sweet seeing them fall back in love with one another after being apart, even though I know their relationship is beyond toxic. Me and my roomies are obsessed with Vance’s son Smith and have so much fun quoting all the cringey lines throughout the movie. (P.S. Hardin is dreamy).
4. After (Watch on Netflix)
While the second one tops the first, the original After is still a fan-favorite in our room and has a lot of lovely romantic scenes. The movie soundtrack is so fitting to the story and it’s fun to get lost in somebody else’s college romance. (P.S. Hardin is still dreamy).
5. Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (Watch on Disney+)
This movie is a childhood favorite that I definitely recommend revisiting if it’s been a while since you’ve last seen it. Mia’s character is so relatable, funny, and empowered and Anne Hathaway is a goddess.I absolutely love the slumber party scene (mattress surfing, anyone?) and the soundtrack immediately takes me back to the good old days in 2004. Also, Chris Pine could pick me up on horseback and take me out on a date any night of the week.
6. 10 Things I Hate About You (Watch on Disney+)
Even though this movie is a classic, I only watched it for the first time last year… and LOVED it. Kat Stratford is the opposite of your typical innocent, submissive, quiet female love-interest. She is beyond smart, outspoken on social justice issues, and doesn’t take any sh*t ever. Even though Heath Ledger’s character Patrick Verona is paid to take Kat out, they end up falling in love which is a toxic but exciting storyline. I also love hating on pretty-boy Joey Donner and laughing at Kat’s pregnancy-fearing father.
7. The Kissing Booth 2 (Watch on Netflix)
A classic Netflix go-to, The Kissing Booth 2 slightly edges out the original. Noah’s new college hair-do is a major plus and so is the addition of Marco Pena, the school’s newest hottie (FYI, no high school or college man will everrrr look like either of them). Besides these two, I love seeing Noah and Elle’s relationship grow stronger by overcoming the obstacle of being in a long distance relationship, and dido for Lee and Rachel. Although I had a mini heart attack when Elle and Marco kissed on stage during the dance competition, this is definitely a solid rom-com choice.
8. The Kissing Booth (Watch on Netflix)
I think The Kissing Booth is more of a comfort movie at this point than something I watch because it’s good. I do like the relationship between Noah and Elle, but there are almost too many cringey lines and scenes to count. The acting is questionable, but this is definitely still a go to, because we all need a cheesy rom-com sometimes, right?
9. Fifty Shades of Grey (Rent on YouTube or access free through your TV provider)
While I loved the second movie in the Fifty Shades series, I think the first one was a little shocking for me and lacked the romance that I was hoping for. I can see why the intense scenes are appealing to some, but it just doesn’t happen to be my cup of tea. However, I’m glad I watched it to set me up for the story in the second movie and of course I won’t say no to watching any movie with Christian Grey in it.
10. Twilight (Watch on SHOWTIME, free with Spotify Student)
I know some people may gasp, but I just watched Twilight for the first time last week. I never got into the books or movies when they were popular and vampires aren’t really my thing. I can confirm that I was right to avoid watching this movie because of how poorly it was filmed and how bad the storyline is. There were a few cute moments between Bella and Edward but overall, I didn’t get the warm fuzzies I love so much about romance movies.
Grab some popcorn, get cozy, and pop on the movie of your choice (but please God don’t pick Twilight). Happy watching!