Best romantic movies on Netflix
Director: Giuseppe Tornatore
Cast: Philippe Noiret, Enzo Cannavale, Antonella Attili
Okay, so it’s a bit maudlin and manipulative. Anybody who loves movies will get choked up by the parade of forbidden kisses that constitutes this film’s climax, in spite of themselves. It also features Ennio Morricone’s most heartbreaking score—fightin’ words, but we just threw ’em down.
Watch if you liked: Edward Scissorhands
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Cast: Maribel Verdú, Gael García Bernal, Diego Luna
Cuarón’s three-way drama broke box-office records in Mexico and was a huge crossover hit here; it’s also one of the best Jean-Luc Godard films that Godard never made. Two 17-year-old horndogs (Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna) embark on a road trip to the Boca del Cielo beach. When they’re joined by an older woman, innocence, friendship and sexuality collide.
Watch if you liked: The Graduate
Director: Abdellatif Kechiche
Cast: Léa Seydoux, Adèle Exarchopoulos, Salim Kechiouche
To the film’s credit, this is not primarily a gay-identity drama; that subtext is, for the most part, accepted by friends and family. It leaves room for the ache of a tumultuous relationship in full, centered around the somewhat obvious metaphor of artist (Léa Seydoux) and muse (Adèle Exarchopoulos), but shaded by the messier realities of career anxiety, cohabitation, sex and colleague flirtations. An emotional powerhouse, the film leaves you raw.
Watch if you liked: Her
Director: Todd Haynes
Cast: Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sarah Paulson
Todd Haynes (Safe, Far from Heaven, I’m Not There) is so consistently excellent as a filmmaker, it’s almost freakish that he continues to one-up himself. Working for the first time with material developed by another screenwriter—Phyllis Nagy—he’s transformed an underappreciated 1952 Patricia Highsmith novel about secret longing into a universal romance.
Watch if you liked: The Duke of Burgundy
Director: Wes Anderson
Cast: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bruce Willis
The dapper auteur behind such idiosyncratic works as The Royal Tenenbaums and The Grand Budapest Hotel wrote and directed this continuously surprising and delightful adolescent romance, set in 1965.
Watch if you liked: Adventureland
Director: Blake Edwards
Cast: Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard, Patricia Neal
If you can get past the association with that noxious Deep Blue Something song and the sight of Mickey Rooney playing a racist caricature of a Chinese man, you’re almost certain to be captivated by Audrey Hepburn’s indelible incarnation of Holly Golightly.
Watch if you liked: Roman Holiday
Director: John Huston
Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn, Robert Morley
Katharine Hepburn reportedly based her performance in this first-rate adventure on Eleanor Roosevelt; Humphrey Bogart, meanwhile, finally won the Oscar he’d long deserved with his portrayal of a cantankerous boat captain who hauls Hepburn’s heinie up the river. Simple and sublime.
Watch if you liked: Casablanca
Director: Richard Curtis
Cast: Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Bill Nighy
It’s either unbearable schmaltz or a heart-warmer, depending on who you ask. Love is certainly all around in this ensemble drama set during the holiday season: Even a school nativity play is an opportunity for romance. Comic standouts include Bill Nighy as an aging rock legend who’s reduced to competing in the race to land Britain's coveted Christmas No. 1.
Watch if you liked: Bridget Jones’s Diary
Director: James Ivory
Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson, Vanessa Redgrave
Merchant and Ivory turned again and again to E.M. Forster, and they must have been in sync with his convoluted prose style, because they got the tone right every time. Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson and Helena Bonham Carter excel in this Oscar-winning adaptation of what many consider Forster’s greatest work.
Watch if you liked: Downton Abbey
Director: Julio Medem
Cast: Paz Vega, Tristán Ulloa, Najwa Nimri
Sex and love are the dual starting points for the entwined plot strands of this tale of a writer and his biggest fan (a fearless Paz Vega). There's lots of sex here—exuberant, ecstatic, exhibitionist, giving way to a more damaging hedonism—yet this mysterious and ravishingly beautiful film rights itself triumphantly.
Watch if you liked: Malèna