Is it just us, or has Hollywood been struck by a rom-com shortage in recent years? Where’s the love for funny, lighthearted love stories? Coupled with the fact that so many aspirational celebrity couples have split over the last few years (we’re looking at you, Anna Faris and Chris Pratt), it’s enough to make fans feel like love is dead.
Happily, though, you can always pull from the incredible body of rom-coms from the ‘90s and early ‘00s. And, to give credit where credit is due, clever rom-coms do seem to have started popping up again — especially on Netflix. Between the streaming giant’s original titles and the nostalgic favorites it features, you might say Netflix is keeping love alive… on our screens, at least.
In the last year, according to Netflix, more than 80 million accounts got their rom-com fix by watching a love story. So, what are you waiting for? If you need help narrowing down your choices, let us help. The following rom-coms should be on your Netflix queue no matter what, but we’ve gone a step further by categorizing them according to life status.
1. If you’re a hopeless romantic, watch… Amélie
This feel-good 2001 film revolves around the remarkably plucky and charming Amélie (Audrey Tatou), who is on a quest to bring happiness to those around her. Those who don’t speak French will need to make it through the subtitles, but the sweet and tender story will draw you in so much, you won’t mind. It’s impossible not to feel warm and fuzzy inside when you watch this hallmark of French cinema. The humor in the film doesn’t hit you over the head; rather, it’s quirky and often surprising. Amélie is looking for love in her own way, and the journey is magical. Watch here.
2. If you found love when you least expected it, watch… How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
Are parts of this 2003 film starring Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey predictable? Sure. But the rest of the film is so cute, you’ll forgive such momentary lapses. Hudson and McConaughey are super convincing as Andie (Hudson) and Ben (McConaughy), two New Yorkers who wind up on opposite sides of a bet that both of their careers are staked on. Hilarity ensues as Andie does everything in her power to push Ben away — only to realize they’re falling for each other. If this rom-com leaves you wanting more of Hudson and McConaughey, you could always track down 2008’s Fool’s Gold. Watch here.
3. If you’ve always been a little shy, watch… To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
Can you imagine if someone secretly mailed out the love letters you’d written to all of your crushes but were too shy to actually send? That’s what happens to Lara Jean Covey (Lana Condor) in this movie adaptation of the popular YA novel by the same name. The film proves to be one of Netflix’s best original titles, playing perfectly on the fake dating plot. It will make you blush, it will make you laugh, it might even make you cry. And the incredible cast of young Hollywood talent will give you hope that more rom-coms could be just around the corner. Watch here.
4. If you’ve got a serious case of wanderlust, watch… Leap Year
When Anna (Amy Adams) doesn’t get an expected proposal from her boyfriend, she decides to take matters into her own hands — she plans to surprise him in Ireland by asking him to marry her. The catch? She has to pop the question on Leap Day, when local tradition holds that he can’t refuse. Upon her arrival in Ireland, though, things quickly go comically awry when Anna meets local barkeep Declan (Matthew Goode). What follows is a series of foibles that will cause serious secondhand embarrassment. All of this, and it’s set against the stunning Irish countryside. Yes, please. Watch here.
5. If mushy movies make you squirm but you still want something funny, watch… I Give It a Year
This 2013 film from director Dan Mazer isn’t your typical romantic comedy. In fact, it’s more of a reverse rom-com, or even an anti-rom-com. But it is far funnier than your typical rom-com too. No one believes newlyweds Nat (Rose Byrne) and Josh (Rafe Spall) can make it, but does that turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy? Well, of course we aren’t going to tell you here. Watch this smart farce to find out. Watch here.
6. If you’re in between romantic partners but still want something cute, watch… Frances Ha
At 27, Frances Ha (Greta Gerwig) should probably have her life together a little bit more than she does. Her living situation is comically unstable. She and her BFF are basically on the outs. She’s an apprentice at a dance company but isn’t really a dancer. In that way, it’s set up to play out like a standard rom-com — she wants more, and from the genre, you’d expect that she finds meaning through an unexpected romance. However, the brilliance of Frances Ha is that it suggests finding a man isn’t the answer to all of a young woman’s problems. It’s a realistic slice of life wrapped in rom-com gossamer. And, as usual, Gerwig is a breath of fresh air. Watch here.
7. If you’re feeling decidedly less youthful these days, watch… While We’re Young
How was this 2015 film not more talked about? This Noah Baumbach comedy stars Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts as Josh and Cornelia, a childless married couple in their mid-40s who befriend hipster couple Jamie (Adam Driver) and Darby (Amanda Seyfried). If you’re no longer in your 20s and feel like life may have gotten away from you a little bit, this movie will make perhaps more sense than you want it to. It’s relatable and, often, deeply funny. Watch here.
8. If you’re an unabashed Bridget Jones fan, watch… Bridget Jones’s Baby
The last chapter of the Bridget Jones saga is just as sweet and funny as the first two. While the second installment of the trilogy wasn’t as well received as the first, the third proved that you can bring a franchise back years later as long as you don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Of course, a major reason this film works is its cast: Renee Zellweger as the always awkward but endearing Bridget, Colin Firth as Mark Darcy and newcomer (to the BJD family) Patrick Dempsey as dreamy American matchmaking billionaire Jack. Plus, there’s a baby! Everyone loves a baby. Watch here.
9. If you’re engaged, watch… I Love You, Man
The premise is simple: A couple get engaged, and they need to nail down their wedding party. However, Peter (Paul Rudd) spends most of his time with his girlfriend, Zooey (Rashida Jones), and doesn’t really have any male friends. So, he goes on a quest to find the perfect groomsmen and finds… Sydney (Jason Segel). There are too many laugh-out-loud moments to mention in this rom-com that ultimately does end up at the altar. But as happy as you are for Peter and Zooey, the real couple you’re rooting for is Peter and Sydney. If you’re feeling ambitious, you could turn this into a double feature by watching Chocolat — watch I Love You, Man and you’ll understand. Watch here.
10. If you’ve seen all the standard fare, watch… The Incredible Jessica James
First things first: Jessica Williams (as Jessica James) couldn’t be more captivating as an aspiring NYC playwright struggling through a painful breakup. The fact that this rom-com is rounded out by Lakeith Standfield (as Jessica’s ex) and Chris O’Dowd (as her potential new love interest) means that what could have been an entirely predictable rom-com feels fresh and new. Williams shines as a woman trying to navigate her two worlds, work and love — sometimes to hilarious effect. Watch here.
11. If your Christmas countdown started on Easter, watch… Love Actually
Because, come on, right? This 2003 London-based rom-com has become a cult classic for good reason — it just makes you feel good. Not because it’s cloyingly happy, either. It isn’t. There are genuinely heartbreaking moments throughout. However, the holiday scenery and cheerful sentiments of the season will put you in the Christmas spirit and make you believe, at least for a brief and shining moment, in the redeeming nature of love. And that’s to say nothing of the strength of this ensemble cast. With Billy Nighy, Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Alan Rickman, Laura Linney, Keira Knightley, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Andrew Lincoln… need we say more? Watch here.
12. If you want to get swept up in romances from another time, watch… Emma
We love a romantic costume drama, so of course we had to choose one of the dreamiest costume dramas around: Emma. Starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Toni Collette, Jeremy Northam, Ewan McGregor and some very recognizable British character actors, this 1996 adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic about a young woman determined to play matchmaker for all of her friends and loved ones — to mixed results — is too good to ignore. Watch here.