There’s a reason people are so enamored by romance movies. Those who are single and looking for love enjoy watching the best romance films play out on the big screen. It helps their belief system grow as they fantasize about a time in the future when they’ll experience true love for themselves. Those who are already in happy relationships can easily relate to the characters they see on screen based on the real-life lovey-dovey moments they share with their partners.
Romance movies will always have a place in society. Romance is a genre that doesn’t lean on intense action sequences with explosions, car crashes, and physical fighting the way action movies do. This genre doesn’t include an abundance of gore or terror with serial killers, zombie apocalypses, or vengeful ghosts the way many Halloween-themed movies do. For those, here is a list of the 40 best Halloween movies ever made.
For the most part, romance movies are all about the allure of love in its purest form. These are some of the best romance films of all time.
To determine the best romance movies of all time, 24/7 Tempo developed an index using average ratings on IMDb, an online movie database owned by Amazon, and a combination of audience scores and Tomatometer scores on Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie and TV review aggregator, as of November 2023, weighting all ratings equally. We considered only movies with at least 5,000 audience votes on either IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes. Directorial credits are from IMDb.
Beauty and the Beast (1991)
- IMDb user rating: 8/10 (472,000 reviews)
- Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 93% (250,000 reviews)
- Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 93% (121 reviews)
- Directed by: Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise
The animated version of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” premiered in 1991. The live-action version starring Emma Watson is certainly worth mentioning, but the animated version stands as being one of the most timeless romance movies ever. A young woman named Belle trades her freedom for her father’s freedom with a moment of hesitation.
While trapped in an enchanted castle with a daunting beast, feelings between the two characters start to grow. He was once a human prince, but his physique was cursed based on his selfishness and immaturity. If she wasn’t willing to intervene and save her father, the love between her and the beast likely would’ve never formed.
- IMDb user rating: 8/10 (652,000 reviews)
- Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 82% (100,000 reviews)
- Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 94% (293 reviews)
- Directed by: Spike Jonze
“Her” is a 2013 movie directed by Spike Johns. It’s an unconventional love story about a man named Theodore who falls in love with an operating system named Samantha. Although Samantha doesn’t have a physical human form, Theodore wants to be with her anyway.
After living a life of loneliness and isolation, his willingness to connect with an operating system he can’t actually kiss, touch, or snuggle with is still enough for him. The operating system is voiced by none other than Scarlett Johansson. This movie might’ve premiered in 2013, but the idea of people connecting with AI is more relevant now than ever.
The Princess Bride (1987)
- IMDb user rating: 8/10 (443,000 reviews)
- Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 94% (250,000 reviews)
- Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 98% (83 reviews)
- Directed by: Rob Reiner
“The Princess Bride” is thought of as one of the most whimsical and heartfelt romance stories of this generation. It premiered in 1987 telling the story of a young hero named Westley. He’s on a mission to rescue the one woman he knows he wants to be with forever.
Her name is Princess Buttercup and she’s scheduled to marry a man named Prince Humperdinck who doesn’t have her best interest at heart. Unfortunately for her, there’s not much she can do to free herself from her circumstances. Westley’s determination to save Princess Buttercup makes this precious romance movie so much more pleasant to watch.
La La Land (2016)
- IMDb user rating: 8/10 (641,000 reviews)
- Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 81% (50,000 reviews)
- Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 91% (471 reviews)
- Directed by: Damien Chazelle
The ending of “La La Land” is heartbreaking, but that doesn’t mean the entire movie isn’t worth mentioning as an incredible romance. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone star in the film as two creative souls trying to achieve their goals in their respective industries.
Ryan plays Sebastian who hopes to make it as a successful jazz musician. Emma plays Mia who’s desperate to become a world-renowned actress on the silver screen. The movie takes place in Hollywood with the bright lights of Southern California as a magical backdrop to the rise and fall of their relationship. This movie is available for streaming on Netflix.
Three Colors: Red (1994)
- IMDb user rating: 8.1/10 (108,000 reviews)
- Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 94% (25,000 reviews)
- Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 100% (62 reviews)
- Directed by: Krzysztof Kieslowski
There are three movies in the “Three Colors” trilogy. “Three Colors: Red” is the final installment that premiered in 1984. It’s about a young woman working as a model who finds herself in an unfortunate predicament. She accidentally crashes into a dog while driving her car.
The dog’s owner surprisingly strikes up a friendship with the model instead of expressing anger or rage towards her. The connection they share seems random at first, but it makes more sense when viewers discover that she’s stuck in a tumultuous relationship with a man who is incredibly possessive and controlling.
It Happened One Night (1934)
- IMDb user rating: 8.1/10 (110,000 reviews)
- Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 93% (25,000 reviews)
- Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 98% (108 reviews)
- Directed by: Frank Capra
“It Happened One Night” is a 1934 movie based on a short story called “Night Bus” written by Samuel Hopkins Adams. This romance tells the story of a socialite named Ellie who goes out of her way to rebel against her father’s wishes. She enlists help from a reporter named Peter to make her father angry.
Even though her reason for connecting with Peter starts out as something spiteful and immature, it becomes impossible for her to deny the lovey-dovey feelings she has for the reporter. Overwhelming love continually develops inside her whenever she spends time with the man.
Before Sunset (2004)
- IMDb user rating: 8.1/10 (281,000 reviews)
- Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 92% (50,000 reviews)
- Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 94% (178 reviews)
- Directed by: Richard Linklater
“Before Sunset” is a romance movie about two characters who reconnect after spending several years apart. They come back together in one of the most romantic places in the world – Paris, France. Nine years after their initial meeting, they realize they want to pick things up where they left off back in the day.
Even though many years have passed between the first evening they spent together and their present moment, the desires they have for each other become more intense and more undeniable than they were the first time. Somehow, nine years apart begins to feel like they were only apart for nine seconds.
In the Mood For Love (2000)
- IMDb user rating: 8.1/10 (162,000 reviews)
- Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 94% (50,000 reviews)
- Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 92% (187 reviews)
- Directed by: Kar-Wai Wong
“In the Mood for Love” is a 2000 movie that focuses on two neighbors who connect over one of the most heartbreaking reasons ever. Mr. Chow just learned his wife is having an affair with another man. Mrs. Chan also just learned that her husband is having an affair with another woman.
Based on their mutual heartache, Mr. Chow and Mrs. Chan connect on a deeper level. It’s easy for them to find solace in their friendship since they understand each other’s pain. No one else can relate to what they’re going through. Eventually, what starts out as a platonic friendship turns into true love.
Before Sunrise (1995)
- IMDb user rating: 8.1/10 (330,000 reviews)
- Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 93% (50,000 reviews)
- Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 100% (48 reviews)
- Directed by: Richard Linklater
When two people cross paths after a totally random encounter, sparks between them instantly fly. Jesse and Celine come to the conclusion that they should dive in headfirst on their potential love story. Although these strangers don’t know much about each other, their instant attraction pushes them down the path of further exploration.
When they realize Jesse’s flight out of the country is only hours away the next morning, they do everything in their power to connect before it’s time for him to leave. This dialogue-driven romance serves as a reminder that it doesn’t always take months or years to experience true love when you’ve met your soulmate.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)
- IMDb user rating: 8.1/10 (104,000 reviews)
- Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 92% (250,000 reviews)
- Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 97% (336 reviews)
- Directed by: Céline Sciamma
“Portrait of a Lady on Fire” is set in 18th century France. This romance touches on forbidden love as it focuses on two women who have fallen head over heels for each other. Héloïse is engaged to marry a man she doesn’t want to be with. In fact, she hasn’t even met him yet. The arranged marriage is something her family is insisting on.
She meets a woman named Marianne and their affair quickly takes off. Marianne is hired to paint a wedding portrait of Héloïse, but instead of sticking to the professional side of things, they choose to lean into their desire and passion for each other. The more time Héloïse and Marianne spend together, the more their romantic feelings continue blossoming. As far as new romance movies go, this one is one of the most recent.
The Handmaiden (2016)
- IMDb user rating: 8.1/10 (165,000 reviews)
- Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 91% (10,000 reviews)
- Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 96% (225 reviews)
- Directed by: Park Chan-Wook
“The Handmaiden” is a romance movie that brings so much to the table beyond any typical love story. It’s thought of as an erotic thriller and psychological drama. The movie, which takes place in Asia in the 1930s, tells the story of a young woman named Sook-hee who lands a job as a handmaiden for a woman name Lady Hideko.
Lady Hideko is a wealthy Japanese heiress who doesn’t hold back from making loads of obnoxious requests. An unexpected and passionate romance between Sook-hee and Lady Hideko ensues. The fact that Sook-hee only accepted a role as a handmaiden in an attempt to swindle Lady Hideko out of her money is one of the most shocking details of all.
Gone with the Wind (1939)
- IMDb user rating: 8.2/10 (328,000 reviews)
- Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 92% (250 reviews)
- Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 90% (104 reviews)
- Directed by: Victor Fleming, George Cukor, and Sam Wood
“Gone with the Wind” is one of the more obvious romance movies to make an impact in the Hollywood industry. It premiered in 1939 based on inspiration from the classic novel written by Margaret Mitchell. It’s about a character named Scarlett O’Hara who marries a man named Rhett Butler. Scarlett is a strong-willed woman who typically goes after what she wants in an unapologetic manner.
Her complicated love for another man named Ashley Wilkes creates loads of issues within her marriage to Rhett. As a woman being spread thin between attention and affection from two different men, escaping the drama of a tangled love affair becomes nearly impossible.
The Apartment (1960)
- IMDb user rating: 8.3/10 (192,000 reviews)
- Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 94% (25,000 reviews)
- Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 93% (107 reviews)
- Directed by: Billy Wilder
What would you do if you found out the person you loved was involved in an extramarital affair? That’s exactly what “The Apartment” is all about. This 1960 movie tells the story of a man named Budd Baxter who graciously lends his apartment to his boss whenever he needs privacy to get intimate with women behind his wife’s back.
Budd doesn’t feel morally perturbed by what he’s doing until he discovers that one of the women meeting with his boss is someone he actually cares about. Suddenly, his views and opinions about what he is involved with start to shift. He begins deeply questioning his involvement in supporting his boss’s extramarital affairs.
Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
- IMDb user rating: 8.3/10 (255,000 reviews)
- Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 95% (100,000 reviews)
- Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 100% (75 reviews)
- Directed by: Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly
In 1952, “Singin’ in the Rain” premiered as an undeniably beautiful romance movie. The story takes place in Hollywood during the 1920s focused on an actor named Don Lockwood. After significant changes have just been implemented, Don is doing his best to keep up.
The silent film era is over and actors are expected to start memorizing scripts and dialogue for the first time. In the midst of trying to be a successful actor who actually talks out loud on screen, Don finds himself attracted to an actress named Kathy Selden. Her rise to fame has him feeling more motivated and inspired than ever before.
- IMDb user rating: 8.3/10 (782,000 reviews)
- Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 95% (250,000 reviews)
- Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 89% (186 reviews)
- Directed by: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
2001 was a wonderful year for romance movie lovers thanks to the premiere of “Amélie.” The protagonist of this film is one of the most selfless and thoughtful fictional characters of all time. Instead of prioritizing herself and her own interests, she’s always putting other people ahead of herself.
Bringing light, love, and joy to the people she interacts with is her ultimate goal. Along the way, she ends up experiencing romantic love with a quirky young man named Nino. By the second time Amélie bumps into Nino, she realizes there will be no way for her to ignore the feelings that are developing in her heart.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
- IMDb user rating: 8.3/10 (1.1 million reviews)
- Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 94% (250,000)
- Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 92% (256 reviews)
- Directed by: Michel Gondry
“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” is a beautiful romance movie starring Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey as Clementine and Joel. When Clementine pays for a surgical procedure to have all memories of Joel wiped from her brain after their breakup, he quickly signs up to have the same exact procedure.
As his memories of Clementine are being wiped from his mind, he realizes he doesn’t actually want to forget about her or the love they once shared. The detail that makes this romance movie so thought-provoking and profound is that after re-learning all of each other’s flaws, they decide that they still want to be together anyway.
Your Name (2016)
- IMDb user rating: 8.4/10 (303,000 reviews)
- Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 96% (100 reveiws)
- Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: Unscored
- Directed by: Makoto Shinkai
There aren’t many animated movies that can be mentioned on a list of iconic romance films. “Your Name” from 2016 certainly fits the bill, though. This movie tells a story of two teenagers faced with a confusing and complicated bodily curse. Similar to the storyline of Lindsay Lohan’s “Freaky Friday,” a high school-aged boy and girl repeatedly swap bodies as the days pass by.
The universe paves the way for them to understand each other on a deeper level. Since they have the opportunity to walk a mile in each others shoes, their experience allows them to evolve and grow with emotional maturity. They also begin to accept their mutual love for one another.
City Lights (1931)
- IMDb user rating: 8.5/10 (192,000 reviews)
- Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 96% (25,000 reviews)
- Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 95% (61 reviews)
- Directed by: Charlie Chaplin
Although it might be easy to assume that dialogue is required for a movie to classify as one of the best romance movies of all time, that isn’t actually the case. “City Lights” premiered in 1931 as a silent film. Since the actors didn’t have the opportunity to speak to each other on camera using audible dialogue, their body language was enough to carry the storyline where it needed to go.
Charlie Chaplin took on the leading role as the male love interest. His character pursues a whirlwind romance with a blind woman who has fallen on hard financial times. Fortunately for him, his money situation is enough to help him change her life for the better.
Modern Times (1936)
- IMDb user rating: 8.5/10 (254,000 reviews)
- Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 95% (25,000 reviews)
- Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 98% (112 reviews)
- Directed by: Charlie Chaplin
“Modern Times” is another silent movie starring Charlie Chaplin as the male lead. Interestingly enough, Charlie was never wholeheartedly seen as a romance movie actor. Still, this film definitely changed the perspective of most audience members. The movie is about a man who struggles to make ends meet after getting fired from multiple positions and facing a prison stint.
Despite all of his complicated hardships, there’s still plenty of time for him to develop feelings for a woman named Ellen. They connect over the fact that they’re both vagabonds. They’re both simply trying to figure out what their next steps are with each passing day.
- IMDb user rating: 8.5/10 (595,000 reviews)
- Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 95% (250,000 reviews)
- Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 99% (137 reviews)
- Directed by: Michael Curtiz
The owner of a nightclub located in Casablanca is a man and Rick Blaine. When a woman he used to know named Ilsa arrives in town, things get turned upside down for him. When she shows up with her new husband, Rick goes out of his way to avoid any potential interactions with her. His love for her goes beyond any selfish desire to keep her for himself.
“Casablanca” is often described as being the best romance movie of all time by movie lovers around the globe. This is likely due to the fact that it is undeniably classic and iconic. The movie represents exactly what old Hollywood was all about during the era of World War II. Click here to find out what the 50 best WWII movies are.
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