Television

21 Big-Screen Romances To Kickstart Your Heart!

Weight of the world got you down? Feeling jaded about love?

Escape into a world of romance by rediscovering some classics and/or recent gems you may have missed. Here are just a few to get you going.

There’s something for everyone on this list — comedies, period pieces, musicals, fantasy, and more!

Somewhere In Time (1980)

If you love time travel romances (warning — there will be quite a few here), the oft-forgotten Somewhere In Time is a must-watch.

Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour star as a playwright and an actress, respectively, who find each other on opposite ends of the century.

The cinematography has a dreamy, hazy quality, and the costumes and music fit the material perfectly.

The film has developed a dedicated following over the years, and if you’re a sucker for sentimental romance, it’s easy to see why.

Stream on Tubi, rent on Apple TV+, Prime Video, Google Play, YouTube

Dirty Dancing (1987)

A classic ahead of its time, Dirty Dancing features amazing dancing (of course!) and an unbeatably iconic soundtrack of ’60s and ’80s hits.

There’s a reason it has spawned a sequel, remakes, a musical, and countless memes. It’s a sexy, fun, coming-of-age story that deals with important issues but is still compelling and entertaining.

Who amongst us didn’t want to be Baby (Jennifer Grey), learning to dance and falling in love with Patrick Swayze for the first time?

Stream on DirecTV, Freeform, rent on Apple TV+, Prime Video, Google Play, YouTube

Moonstruck (1987)

Moonstruck is a romantic comedy that accurately captures how unexpected, overwhelming, and ridiculous love can be.

It’s also a portrait of a time, a place, and a culture (New York Italians) that celebrates their quirks and eccentricities.

Cher gives one of the most perfect (Oscar-winning) leading performances by an actress in a rom-com, and Nicolas Cage brings his all as her younger, unlikely beau.

Stream on HBO Max, DirecTV, rent on AppleTV+, Prime Video, Google Play, YouTube

The Princess Bride (1987)

1987 was a great year for romance, okay? Robin Wright’s film debut is the immortal tale of Princess Buttercup and farmboy Westley (peak Cary Elwes).

This film has something for everyone — comedy, sword fighting, Rodents Of Unusual Size, cameos galore, and a love story for the ages.

Whether you’re hearing the witty dialogue for the first time or reciting those one-liners by heart, this is one the whole family can enjoy.

Stream on Disney+, rent on Prime Video

Ghost (1990)

Another classic Patrick Swayze film (nobody does vulnerable strength like Swayze), Ghost is a transcendent romance that is so much more than its iconic pottery wheel love scene.

Demi Moore is stunning as the grieving Molly, and Whoopi Goldberg has never been funnier as medium Oda Mae (she won an Oscar for her work here).

Ghost is a profound look at grief, how unfair life can be, and how love lives on in the people left behind. This one’s a tearjerker, so have plenty of Kleenex ready.

Watch on Paramount+, AMC+, DirecTV, rent on AppleTV+, Prime Video, Google Play, YouTube

Much Ado About Nothing (1993)

Much Ado is one of the best Shakespeare adaptations to ever hit the screen!

Kenneth Branagh’s Much Ado About Nothing boasts a star-studded cast (Denzel Washington, Keanu Reeves, Emma Thompson, Kate Beckinsale, Michael Keaton, Imelda Staunton), stunning Tuscan scenery, and the classic enemies-to-lovers trope.

Shakespeare had a lot to say about the treatment of women, and Thompson’s Beatrice pulls no punches in defying the norms of her time. It’s witty, sexy, and shows just how accessible and fun Shakespeare can be!

Stream on HBO Max, rent on AppleTV+, Prime Video, Google Play, YouTube

In The Mood For Love (2000)

Wong Kar-Wai’s masterpiece is one of the seminal achievements in Asian cinema.

Every shot is imbued with longing. Maggie Chung and Tony Leung portray a pair whose spouses are having an affair, and slowly develop feelings for one another.

If you like sophisticated and gorgeously filmed romances, treat yourself to In The Mood For Love.

Stream on The Criterion Channel, HBO Max

Love & Basketball (2000)

There’s never been a more romantic sports drama!

Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan portray two rising basketball stars who share a passion for the game and each other. It’s a semi-autobiographical story with love as a guiding force.

The central relationship is rooted in realism, and their chemistry makes you root for them in every respect. It also makes a statement about the pressure put on female athletes to prove themselves and the sacrifices people make to support their partners.

Stream on Netflix, HBO Max, rent on DirecTV, Apple TV+, Prime Video, Google Play, YouTube

Kate & Leopold (2001)

Another time travel love story (they’re the best) that plays like Outlander light, Kate and Leopold features the queen of rom-coms, Meg Ryan, hooking up with a 19th-century duke (Hugh Jackman), who’s been transported through time to modern-day New York.

It’s pure fluff, but both the leads are delightful, and it’s nice to be swept away by a little feel-good fantasy without thinking too hard.

Stream on Showtime, DirecTV, rent on AppleTV+, Prime Video, Google Play, YouTube

Moulin Rouge! (2001)

Moulin Rouge! is a frenetic musical extravaganza where declarations of love are sung with exuberant passion.

Ewan MacGregor and Nicole Kidman have irresistible chemistry as the writer Christian and his doomed muse Satine.

Moulin Rouge! is a film with enough heart to back up the lavish spectacle, and though it ends in tragedy, it’s one hell of a ride, and you’ll never hear “Like A Virgin” the same way again.

Stream on Starz, DirecTV, rent on Apple TV+, Prime Video, Google Play, YouTube

Far From Heaven (2002)

Julianne Moore has never been better in Todd Haynes’ homage to the films of Douglas Sirk.

Moore plays Cathy, a suburban housewife in the 1950’s. Dennis Haysbert plays the unlikely love interest, and there’s so much yearning and romantic tension it’s almost unbearable.

It could feel like melodrama if it wasn’t so beautifully executed on all fronts — cinematography, acting, the score, the performances; it’s perfect. Save this one for when you need a good cry.

Stream on Starz, DirecTV, rent on AppleTV+, Prime Video, Google Play, YouTube

Bride and Prejudice (2004)

Bride and Prejudice is a Bollywood-style musical adaptation of (no surprise) Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

It features plenty of playful dance numbers and a story of impossibly beautiful people (Aishwarya Rai, Martin Henderson) falling in love against the odds.

It’s cheesy, swoon-worthy, and a total blast!

Stream on Hoopla, Pluto TV, rent on AppleTV+, Prime Video, Google Play, YouTube

Pride & Prejudice (2005)

Speaking of which — everyone’s got their favorite version of Jane Austen’s classic, but Joe Wright’s version starring Keira Knightley as Lizzie and Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy is a worthy, solid adaptation.

The ensemble cast is impressive, featuring Judi Dench and Donald Sutherland, among others!

Elizabeth Bennet remains a template for modern heroines, while Mr. Darcy is an example of a man bettering himself not for the sake of a woman but because it’s the right thing to do. It’s one of the most enduring love stories for a reason.

Stream on Peacock Premium, BritBox, rent on Apple TV+, Prime Video, Google Play, YouTube

Enchanted (2007)

Amy Adams is pure magic as a real-life Disney princess Giselle, thrust into a strange new place (New York City, of course).

Patrick Dempsey and James Marsden are the two diametrically opposed (but very appealing) points of Giselle’s unique love triangle.

The tongue-in-cheek playfulness of the script pokes fun at the tropes while still supplying all the things we love and expect in a Disney princess film, including catchy songs and a fairy-tale ending.

Stream on Disney+, rent on Apple TV+, Prime Video, Google Play, YouTube

Mamma Mia! (2008)

A musical of the songs of ABBA shouldn’t work as well as it does. Thanks to a charming performance from Meryl Streep (is there anything this woman can’t do?), Amanda Seyfriend, Colin Firth, and Christine Baranski (among others), Mamma Mia! is so much fun it’s hard to say no.

Streep’s Donna is given the difficult but enviable choice between three dashing suitors who could all potentially be her daughter’s father.

The Greek island setting is spectacular, and the musical numbers are a treat! Older women deserve romance, too, and a guilty pleasure is still a pleasure!

Stream on Starz, DirecTV, rent on AppleTV+, Prime Video, Google Play, YouTube

 About Time (2013)

About Time is a sweet, sincere love story from writer/director Richard Curtis (Love Actually, Four Weddings and a Funeral).

It’s the tale of a time traveler (yes, another one!) meeting the girl of his dreams and doing everything he can to make life perfect for them.

Domhnall Gleason and Rachel McAdams have amazing chemistry, and, as always, Curtis has a sentimental but honest look at how precious love — and life — can be.

Stream on Starz, rent on AppleTV+, Prime Video, Google Play, YouTube

Cinderella (2015)

One of Disney’s first live-action remakes, and arguably one of its best, Cinderella features a tour-de-force performance from the continuously impressive Lily James and a post-Game Of Thrones Richard Madden as her prince.

Directed by Kenneth Branagh, with supporting turns from Cate Blanchett (coldly evil as Stepmother) and Helena Bonham Carter (affably loopy as the Fairy Godmother), this retelling of the classic fairy tale holds up beautifully, imparting a positive message of courage and kindness.

Stream on DirecTV, Sling, TNT, rent on AppleTV+, Prime Video, Google Play, YouTube

Paterson (2016)

Jim Jarmusch’s gentle, slice-of-life film that feels more like a poem, Paterson celebrates the beauty in the mundane.

The love story between Paterson (Adam Driver) and his mercurial but devoted wife (Golshifteh Farahani) is an undramatic portrait that captures the intimacy of everyday life.

Watching Paterson feels like putting on a cozy sweater fresh out of the dryer.

Stream on Prime Video, rent on DirecTV

The Big Sick (2017)

Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily V. Gordon wrote the autobiographical screenplay about the challenges of dating outside one’s culture and loyalty in the face of exceptional circumstances.

The Big Sick features Nanjiani as himself, Zoe Kazan as Emily, and supporting performances from Ray Romano and Holly Hunter.

It’s a funny film that is also confronting, deeply moving, and real. You get your laughs in, but you don’t get off lightly, either.

Stream on Prime Video, rent on AppleTV+, DirecTV, Google Play, YouTube

Portrait Of A Lady On Fire (2019)

Céline Sciamma’s French period drama is full of depth and longing.

Noémie Merlant and Adèle Haenel smolder as the artist and model turned lovers, Marianne and Héloïse. The unusual score adds a layer of rawness to the scintillating performances.

Portrait Of A Lady On Fire showcases period romance with a distinctly female gaze, and it’s captivating.

Watch on Hulu, Kanopy, rent on AppleTV+, Google Play, YouTube

Fire Island (2022)

Fire Island is a queer reimagining of — you guessed it! — Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice that’s as hilarious as it is refreshing.

Not only does Fire Island feature a fabulously diverse cast, but it gives gay Asian-American men the chance to be romantic leads, which is still shockingly rare.

Fire Island is that most special of adaptations that totally reinvents the material in a way that stays true to the original while proving how timeless it can be!

Stream on Hulu

How many have you seen? Which ones do you love? 

Obviously, there are so many more out there that hold a special place in our hearts.

Share some of your favorite romantic movies in the comments — and tell us why they’re worth watching!

Mary Littlejohn is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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