11 Romance Movies for your Inner Hopeless-Romantic

If you’re anything like me, you’re spending V-Day in the comfort of your bed with a movie. The age-old question, however, is what to watch. Here are my favorite romantic movies for any occasion, but especially Valentine’s Day. No spoilers here!

  1. 1. “To All the Boys I Loved Before” directed by Susan Johnson

    “To All the Boys…” has quickly become a Valentine’s Day classic for me. The color palette and styling of this film are reason enough to fall in love with this high school flick, but Lana Condor’s performance as Lara-Jean truly sells it. She’s a romantic at heart and every action reflects that. I can’t claim to be a Noah Centineo fan in the slightest, but Johnson’s direction makes him charming and a great love-interest. A fake-dating situation can become all-too-familiar all too quickly, but this feels like a fresh start on an overused story.

    “To All The Boys I Loved Before” is available to stream on Netflix, as well as its sequels, “To All The Boys: P.S. I Love You” and “To All The Boys: Forever and Always,” premiering Feb. 12, 2021.

  2. 2. “Moonlight” directed by Barry Jenkins

    This will not be a strictly heterosexual list! “Moonlight” could be one of the best movies to come out in the last decade or so and should not be excluded from any list of romances. Perhaps not the most uplifting, but an incredible story about Black and gay love.

    “Moonlight” is available to stream on Netflix.

  3. 3. “The Shape of Water” directed by Guillermo del Toro

    Okay, so there’s some weird ones in here. But really, “The Shape of Water” is an incredibly tender look at love for people who don’t usually get to experience love on screen. There’s so many interesting cultural references in this gorgeous movie that even if you can’t get down with a monster love story, you’ll still enjoy this movie. Boiled eggs will never be as romantic as del Toro frames them. 

    “The Shape of Water” is available to rent through Amazon, Redbox, and YouTube.

  4. 4. “In the Mood for Love” directed by Wong Kar-Wai

    Let’s get international! “In the Mood for Love” is a Chinese romance set in 1962 Hong Kong. Admittedly, this is a quiet and slow romance, but is so tender and features incredible cinematography. This film puts a whole new layer on the passion of the color red. 

    “In the Mood for Love” is available to stream on HBO Max.

  5. 5. “Emma.” directed by Autumn de Wilde

    This is a new-found favorite for me. Jane Austen has such a way with tender romance, and “Emma.” is no exception. The set design, inconsequential drama, and utter melodrama of it all are simply delightful. Anya Taylor-Joy and Johnny Flynn are so fun to watch on screen together, as well as Mia Goth and Josh O’Connor. In the end, none of their drama really matters to anyone besides the families involved in the drama, and that’s so nice to see these days. 

    “Emma.” is available to stream on HBO Max. 

  6. 6. “When Harry Met Sally...” directed by Rob Reiner

    “When Harry Met Sally...” is centered around a single question: “Can men and women ever truly be just friends?”. Over 12 years, Harry and Sally continue to meet and ask this question to each other. You probably know at least one scene from this movie already, with Meg Ryan faking an orgasm in the middle of Kat’s Delicatessen. Written by Nora Ephron, this movie is my personal favorite romantic comedy and is just absolutely timeless. 

    “When Harry Met Sally…” is available to stream on HBO Max.

  7. 7. The Before Trilogy directed by Richard Linklater

    The Before Trilogy is unquestionably one of my favorite collections of films. Celine and Jesse have such incredible chemistry and by the end of “Before Sunrise,” you feel like you know so much about these two people. Maybe it’s the travel aspect of these films, but these movies hit differently in 2021. 

    “Before Sunrise,” “Before Sunset,” and “Before Midnight” are all available to rent on Amazon, Redbox, and YouTube.

  8. 8. “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” directed by Céline Sciamma

    If any movie were to be crowned the pinnacle of yearning, “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” would take the crown. A slow and contemplative film, but a true display of love between these two women. 

    “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” is available to stream on Hulu.

  9. 9. “Punch-Drunk Love” directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

    Yet another understated and quiet pick. Adam Sandler somehow manages to be absolutely brilliant in his role as a socially-awkward and lonely salesman falling in love. Every couple of months I seem to get the line “I have a love in my life...it makes me stronger than anything you can imagine” and it blows me away every time.

  10. 10. “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” directed by Michel Gondry

    Besides taking place on Valentine’s Day, I find this to be one of the most romantic concepts in recent memory. Think “Invisible String” by Taylor Swift meets some sci-fi elements, plus the style of Charlie Kaufman, the writer of this as well as “Being John Malkovich” and “Adaptation.” Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet knock it out of the park in this somewhat trippy rumination on personal and relationship pasts. 

    “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” is available to stream on Peacock with ads.

  11. 11. “Pride and Prejudice” directed by Joe Wright

    “Pride and Prejudice” (2005) came on Netflix a couple months ago, and it’s all I (and many others) can think about. There’s only so much you can say about this movie without getting some gut-wrenching yearning, so I’ll leave it at this: the hand flex scene.

    “Pride and Prejudice” is available to stream on Netflix.