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Best rom-com movies from the last decade

Warner Bros.

Best rom-com movies from the last decade

Romantic comedies offer lighthearted thrills, but they’re also reflections of their cultural moment. The idea of romance as fulfilling is traditional and generally believed to be true. Many films end with coupledom as the happy ending, with the notion that society-at-large is also better off when people pair up. When comedy is added to romance, there’s a possibility for transgression. Rom-coms use love, marriage, and a drive toward coupledom as the happy ending—sometimes to interrogate cultural norms, and often, rebel against them. Not all romances end with marriage, and the most progressive films offer a more open-ended finale. Cultural ideas around gender, desire, money, and power play out in stories about marriage—the endgame moment for a culture that emphasizes the value of romance. Romantic comedies take it as a given that romance is good and fulfilling.

In the last decade, the best rom-coms show social progress and strides in representation. They give visibility to previously marginalized races and ethnicities by centering characters with these identities. They give voice to queer representation and move queer love closer to the mainstream. Queer representation limits heteronormativity as the only option. These expansive modes gained traction in the last decade allowing alternate perspectives that come from diverse and inclusive stories of love. Such rom-coms also open up new ideas around gender as they shift focus to millennial women characters who break the usual mold with fearless, honest stories that critique the usual fantasies.

Stacker compiled IMDb data on all romantic comedies from the 2010s and ranked them according to their user ratings (out of 10), initial ties broken by Metascores (out of 100) and secondary ties broken by IMDb user votes. To qualify, the film had to be listed as "romance" and "comedy" on two or more of the major databases (IMDb, Metacritic, Wikipedia, Letterboxd, Rotten Tomatoes, etc.), released in the U.S. theatrically or on streaming services between Jan. 1, 2010, and today, and have at least 20,000 votes on IMDb.

Movie genres are meant to help describe and communicate the tone and style of a film, not to serve as a limiting factor on what films can and cannot be. There are no hard and fast lines that define romantic comedies, and leaning into more open interpretations of what fits into certain genres is best practice for getting a pool of films that represent all possible expressions of a particular genre. Every film on the list has been considered according to the cinematic history and development of romantic comedies.

While this list shows progress it also proves how slowly it moves. Since marriage is at the root of social convention, and love as a transactional relationship leans conservative, rom-coms often reinforce traditional notions of gender roles. Rom-coms frequently center the experience of the white cisgender male and show this hero controlling or trying to control the women in his life. Rom-coms are formulaic, and by nature nostalgic, but the best ones break the mold, and most of all, sweep up their audiences with emotion.

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Fox 2000 Pictures

#50. Love & Other Drugs (2010)

- Director: Edward Zwick
- IMDb user rating: 6.7
- Votes: 170,492
- Metascore: 55
- Runtime: 112 min

Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway star in “Love and Other Drugs.” This dramatic role was part of Anne Hathaway’s transition to a major actress, as opposed to mere rom-com sweetheart. She plays a free spirit with a serious disease and acts in what were considered racy sex scenes with the pharmacy salesman played by Gyllenhaal. Two years later, Hathaway won Best Supporting Actress as the tragic prostitute Fantine in “Les Misérables.”

G4 Productions

#49. Before We Go (2014)

- Director: Chris Evans
- IMDb user rating: 6.8
- Votes: 46,928
- Metascore: 31
- Runtime: 95 min

Chris Evans, the star of Marvel’s “Captain America” films, starred and directed this indie film about an encounter between strangers. Alice Eve plays the random woman who he helps after she breaks her phone. The two spend an evening walking, talking, and getting to know one another in the vein of “Before Sunrise.” The film shows the romance of the chance meeting, and ends on a note of ambiguous hope—the audience decides if that was the end or just the beginning.

Paper Street Films

#48. Happy. Thank you. More. Please. (2010)

- Director: Josh Radnor
- IMDb user rating: 6.8
- Votes: 28,493
- Metascore: 45
- Runtime: 100 min

Josh Radnor wrote and starred in this upbeat indie rom-com with Kate Mara as Mississippi, the waitress who steals his heart. Radnor plays a writer whose great tragedy, as he understands it, was growing up in the suburbs with nice parents. It rings off-key when he takes in a young black child who was lost on the subway and subsequently comes across like a device to aid the hero’s journey to love. In a secondary love story, Malin Åkerman plays a woman with alopecia, while Tony Hale plays the man who woos her and gives one of the more epic love at first sight speeches of all time.

Samuel Goldwyn Films

#47. The First Time (2012)

- Director: Jonathan Kasdan
- IMDb user rating: 6.8
- Votes: 63,464
- Metascore: 55
- Runtime: 95 min

This high school rom-com takes a tender look at awkward teen sex as two seniors make sense of their first time and grapple with the before and after in a film that goes for sweetness over raunch. This was one of Dylan O’Brien’s first film roles before starring in “The Maze Runner” franchise. Britt Robertson plays a senior from another school who he obsesses over. Robertson would go on to star in “Tomorrowland” with George Clooney, and the TV drama “For the People.”

UK Film Council

#46. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (2011)

- Director: Lasse Hallström
- IMDb user rating: 6.8
- Votes: 59,632
- Metascore: 58
- Runtime: 107 min

A Yemeni Sheikh (Amr Waked) embroils in British politics and terrorist plots while instigating an unlikely love affair between bureaucrats—all because he wants a salmon fishery in a Yemen desert. Ewan McGregor stars as the fish scientist caught up in the project who falls for the Sheikh’s adviser played by Emily Blunt.

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No Trace Camping

#45. What If (2013)

- Director: Michael Dowse
- IMDb user rating: 6.8
- Votes: 65,704
- Metascore: 59
- Runtime: 98 min

In the early 2010s, Daniel Radcliffe was branching out in roles beyond iconic wizard Harry Potter. In this quirky rom-com he plays a man friend-zoned by a graphic designer (Zoe Kazan) in the familiar plot that asks if men and women can really be friends. Graphic animations (artwork come to life) give a sense of hipster whimsy to this sweet, easy story about the love beneath friendship.


#44. Always Be My Maybe (2019)

- Director: Nahnatchka Khan
- IMDb user rating: 6.8
- Votes: 35,018
- Metascore: 64
- Runtime: 101 min

This is one of Netflix’s hit rom-coms that garnered viral buzz. Keanu Reeves plays himself in a small role that set the internet aflame with renewed stanning of the now middle-aged “The Matrix” star. Audiences also fell for the main story about childhood friends played by Ali Wong and Randall Park who are destined to end up together despite the obstacles. The film was praised for respecting Asian American identity without erasing it or making it a central part of the story.

Big Talk Productions

#43. Man Up (2015)

- Director: Ben Palmer
- IMDb user rating: 6.8
- Votes: 45,601
- Metascore: 69
- Runtime: 88 min

Simon Pegg plays a man in a mid-life crisis who mistakes a woman (Lake Bell) for his blind date, and she chooses to go along with it. In this British comedy, the two fall for each other, break up, and then decide to maybe give it a go after all over the course of one day filled with slapstick antics, a little romance, and hope.

Universal Pictures

#42. Bridesmaids (2011)

- Director: Paul Feig
- IMDb user rating: 6.8
- Votes: 253,520
- Metascore: 75
- Runtime: 125 min

Kristen Wiig proved that an all-female leading cast could open an R-rated comedy with strong box office gusto in this gross-out, slapstick wedding rom-com. Melissa McCarthy emerged as a major star with comedic genius in her Academy Award-nominated supporting role as the groom’s kooky sister who thinks “Fight Club” would make a great theme for the bridal shower.

Rooks Nest Entertainment

#41. Obvious Child (2014)

- Director: Gillian Robespierre
- IMDb user rating: 6.8
- Votes: 22,014
- Metascore: 76
- Runtime: 84 min

Jenny Slate represents a version of what the Rumpus’ Arielle Bernstein called a new “Lady Neurotic,” a version of millennial womanhood (in line with Lena Dunham’s “Girls”) who emerges in the 2010s in white female characters grappling with empowerment and its failed promises. The story destigmatizes abortion as it follows an unwanted pregnancy and the unlikely romance that forms with the guy from a one-night stand. 

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Decibel Films

#40. Yesterday (2019)

- Director: Danny Boyle
- IMDb user rating: 6.9
- Votes: 57,441
- Metascore: 56
- Runtime: 116 min

The end of the 2010s brought a spate of movies with music nostalgia—most of it boomer-era classic rock that represents an earlier cultural optimism. The Bruce Springsteen-driven “Blinded by the Light,” “Rocketman,” “A Star is Born,” and “Bohemian Rhapsody,” all rhapsodize on the nostalgic idea that classic pop and rock are connective across age, culture, and era. In “Yesterday,” Himesh Patel plays a man who wakes up in a world where no one knows of The Beatles except him. He becomes a superstar when he presents their music as his own.

Summit Entertainment

#39. Warm Bodies (2013)

- Director: Jonathan Levine
- IMDb user rating: 6.9
- Votes: 211,041
- Metascore: 60
- Runtime: 98 min

The zombie zeitgeist of the aughts and 2010s got romantic in this apocalyptic rom-com that presents the living dead as human enough for love. Movie zombies are typically both “them” and “us.” They are the quintessential other, monsters, while also representing the masses, the mainstream, and folks who walk in lockstep. Nicholas Hoult plays the zombie “R” who gains a man’s memories and the love he had for his girlfriend after he eats his brains.

AG Studios

#38. Long Shot (2019)

- Director: Jonathan Levine
- IMDb user rating: 6.9
- Votes: 52,772
- Metascore: 67
- Runtime: 125 min

“Long Shot” explores ideas around the first woman president alongside the notion of a “First Mister” who’s also a quintessential bro. Seth Rogen brings his “Knocked Up,” Judd Apatow-influenced brand of macho to his role as the speechwriter turned love interest of U.S. Secretary of State (Charlize Theron) who’s running for president. The film presents the fantasy of a successful, powerful woman who’s attracted to a hapless man-child. The comedy contrasts her professional aptitude with his jocular immaturity, presenting a male-centered message that she is absolutely not out of his league.

Warner Bros.

#37. Crazy Rich Asians (2018)

- Director: Jon M. Chu
- IMDb user rating: 6.9
- Votes: 111,173
- Metascore: 74
- Runtime: 120 min

This rambunctious, rollicking ode to the nuances within Asian culture, adapted from the best-selling novel, became a box office bonanza that broke formula while proving wide audiences are easily enraptured by a majority Asian cast. Leads Constance Wu and Henry Golding couple up amid the cultural clashes within their broader ethnicity that comes down to class. A regular woman catches the eye of a prince. “Crazy Rich Asians” revels in the cinematic details of weddings and wealth with opulent scenes that highlight the melodrama of style itself.

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#36. The Diary of a Teenage Girl (2015)

- Director: Marielle Heller
- IMDb user rating: 6.9
- Votes: 27,580
- Metascore: 87
- Runtime: 102 min

Based on an autobiographical graphic novel of the same name, this indie film explores sexuality and creativity in the story of Minnie (Bel Powley), a 15 year old who sleeps with her mother’s boyfriend, played by Alexander Skarsgård. Kristen Wiig, in one of her dramatic turns, plays Minnie’s mom who discovers the affair in her daughter’s diary. Set in the 1970s, the film shows Minnie’s rich inner life in colorful visuals that come alive in graphics and animations of her work and interior world.


Fox Searchlight Pictures

#35. Enough Said (2013)

- Director: Nicole Holofcener
- IMDb user rating: 7.0
- Votes: 56,350
- Metascore: 78
- Runtime: 93 min

“Enough Said” was one of James Gandolfini’s final films. He plays a sensitive single dad, Albert, dating another divorcee, Eva, played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus. The film pairs the two in roles that swing far from their iconic TV personas as Tony Soprano and “Seinfeld’s” Elaine Benes. They each have grown daughters about to go off to college, but their new romance goes sour when Albert realizes Eva has kept secret her friendship with his ex-wife. She uses his ex to collect intel on Albert and ends up breaking his heart.

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Focus Features

#34. The Kids Are All Right (2010)

- Director: Lisa Cholodenko
- IMDb user rating: 7.0
- Votes: 121,629
- Metascore: 86
- Runtime: 106 min

Annette Bening and Julianne Moore play a California couple whose teen kids seek out their sperm-donor dad. Mark Ruffalo plays the dad—and things get complicated when he meets the moms and starts an affair with one of them. The film’s popularity showed that mainstream audiences found the characters relatable and charming. The film was received as a positive representation of lesbian family life despite casting straight actresses and using a plotline that involves cheating with a man. The story bases in part on director Lisa Cholodenko’s real-life experience.

Head Gear Films

#33. The Little Death (2014)

- Director: Josh Lawson
- IMDb user rating: 7.1
- Votes: 23,928
- Metascore: 46
- Runtime: 96 min

Josh Lawson directs and stars in this Australian rom-com that looks at sexual desire in a way that swings daring, but also falls flat. The film follows several white heterosexual suburban couples who explore their fantasies. One vignette presents a hearing-impaired man and the woman who works as his video chat sign language translator. The man calls a phone sex line, and the interaction offers a fresh presentation of sex and disability in a film otherwise somewhat superficial and disturbing.

Focus Features

#32. It's Kind of a Funny Story (2010)

- Directors: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck
- IMDb user rating: 7.1
- Votes: 127,929
- Metascore: 63
- Runtime: 101 min

Keir Gilchrist, now starring in the Netflix series “Atypical,” plays a depressed teen who checks himself into a psychiatric hospital where he’s housed with adults since the youth wing is under construction. Zach Galifianakis plays another patient—a quirky, but suicidal father, in a role that merges his quirk in “The Hangover,” with dramatic depth. In the vein of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” or “Girl, Interrupted,” the film presents mental illness with compassion while still using tropes of the charming depressive. Emma Roberts plays another teen in the grown-up ward who catches the young boy’s eye.

Screen Gems

#31. Easy A (2010)

- Director: Will Gluck
- IMDb user rating: 7.1
- Votes: 336,571
- Metascore: 72
- Runtime: 92 min

This high school rom-com was Emma Stone’s breakout star-making role. The film adapts Nathaniel Hawthorne’s puritan novel “The Scarlet Letter” for a high school setting, much like “Clueless” or “10 Things I Hate About You” did with Jane Austen and Shakespeare. Stone plays a young woman who gains a bad reputation from slut-shaming rumors. Amanda Bynes plays the girl determined to shame her in a film that’s ultimately about empowerment. Stone’s character speaks her own story in a direct address to the audience through the conceit of a web diary.

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Andrew Lauren Productions

#30. The Spectacular Now (2013)

- Director: James Ponsoldt
- IMDb user rating: 7.1
- Votes: 136,449
- Metascore: 82
- Runtime: 95 min

Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley had breakout roles as lovestruck teens in this heartfelt novel adaptation. It was a popular coming-of-age love story that broke the mold of high school rom-coms by focusing on grit, family dysfunction, and a sense of the ordinary trials of regular teens.


#29. The Lobster (2015)

- Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
- IMDb user rating: 7.1
- Votes: 190,590
- Metascore: 82
- Runtime: 119 min

This surrealist anti-romantic comedy delivers absurd love and dark humor set in a dystopian future where singles turn into an animal if they remain uncoupled past a certain deadline. Leading man Colin Farrell chooses to become a lobster, hence the title. In addition to the film’s weird vibe, it’s also gruesome and unsettling as single people receive bizarre punishments in their quest to couple up with a good match (someone who shares a distinct trait). “The Lobster” also stars Rachel Weisz as Farrell’s true love if that’s possible in such a world, as it offers a beautifully savage critique of American culture’s obsession with compulsory heteronormativity.

Canyon Creek Films

#28. Love, Rosie (2014)

- Director: Christian Ditter
- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Votes: 109,004
- Metascore: 44
- Runtime: 102 min

“Love, Rosie” features Lily Collins and Sam Claflin—friends who are obviously perfect for each other. Using the “When Harry Met Sally” formula, life pulls the friends in different directions. The film dramatizes obstacles, missed connections, and life choices that can’t quite get in the way of the destiny of first love.

Informant Media

#27. Stuck in Love (2012)

- Director: Josh Boone
- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Votes: 79,805
- Metascore: 49
- Runtime: 97 min

This generational romantic comedy dramatizes the lives of a family of writers. Words often appear on the screen as character voiceovers “write” them. Greg Kinnear is a novelist who spies on his estranged wife, Jennifer Connelly. Lily Collins is their college-age daughter who’s also a novelist, as is the teen son. The film quotes short story author Raymond Carver and offers a look at those who love words on its way to a happy ending.

Blueprint Pictures

#26. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011)

- Director: John Madden
- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Votes: 86,852
- Metascore: 62
- Runtime: 124 min

British powerhouse actors play boomers who move to a retirement home in India in this crowd-pleasing comedy of manners with a sentimental heart. Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, and Maggie Smith star, with Dev Patel as the helpful hotel manager. The “exotic” setting allows for new love and reminiscences—one in particular presents a long ago gay love affair that was thwarted by heterosexism and prejudice.

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Brownstone Productions (II)

#25. Pitch Perfect (2012)

- Director: Jason Moore
- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Votes: 261,391
- Metascore: 66
- Runtime: 112 min

Anna Kendrick scored a pop hit with “Cups,” her version of the song “When I’m Gone”. Her character, Beca, auditions for the college a cappella group the Bellas using the song with cup choreography. The hit rom-com started a franchise. Rebel Wilson gives a stand out performance in this silly college romp with bawdy humor alongside a sweet love story between Beca and a boy in a rival singing group. “Pitch Perfect” is part of a whole genre of romantic comedies and dramas that center on competitions, such as “Bring it On” or “Stomp the Yard.”

Fox Searchlight Pictures

#24. Ruby Sparks (2012)

- Directors: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Votes: 91,987
- Metascore: 67
- Runtime: 104 min

Zoe Kazan wrote the screenplay and stars with real-life partner Paul Dano in a story about a writer and the character he creates who comes to life. The film presents ideas around idealizing women, and also controlling them. Eventually, the male writer sets his creation free, but she’s still presented as romantically interested in him. These power dynamics get more complicated since the woman writer wrote the part played by her real-life partner. Ultimately, the film presents ways that idealized romantic love attaches to fantasies of control.

Fox Searchlight Pictures

#23. The Sessions (2012)

- Director: Ben Lewin
- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Votes: 40,150
- Metascore: 79
- Runtime: 95 min

Helen Hunt and John Hawkes give powerful performances in this heartfelt love story centered on sex and disability. The film tells the true story of Mark O’Brien (Hawkes), a writer paralyzed since childhood by polio. He hires a sex surrogate (Hunt) in order to lose his virginity, and both start to develop romantic feelings for each other. The film’s director, Ben Lewin, a polio survivor, presents an honest, intimate, and erotic portrayal of sex for a character whose disability is a part of his identity, not its totality.

Olympus Pictures

#22. Beginners (2010)

- Director: Mike Mills
- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Votes: 84,630
- Metascore: 81
- Runtime: 105 min

Audiences found refreshing progress in the casting of Christopher Plummer as a gay man who comes out after his wife’s death and starts a relationship with a much younger man. Plummer, who won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for the role, is perhaps best known as the iconic, uptight Captain Von Trapp from “The Sound of Music.” Ewan McGregor plays his son, a man working on a project about the history of sadness and starting a new romance of his own as he makes sense of his parents’ lives in flashbacks. The autobiographical film bases, in part, on director Mike Mills’s own father who came out late in life. 

Twentieth Century Fox

#21. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)

- Director: Ben Stiller
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Votes: 279,494
- Metascore: 54
- Runtime: 114 min

This film adapts the classic 1939 James Thurber short story about a daydreamer who avoids real life with his epic imagination. In this film version, Ben Stiller plays Mitty, a timid corporate cog in love with a coworker (Kristen Wiig) and inspired by the daring life of an adventure photographer (Sean Penn). The threat of getting fired propels Mitty to take off on an adventure of his own to find the photojournalist. By confronting his fears, he finds the courage to save his job and get the girl. The update suggests that the theme of the original story (a crisis of masculinity) still has contemporary resonance. 

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The Weinstein Company

#20. Submarine (2010)

- Director: Richard Ayoade
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Votes: 80,998
- Metascore: 76
- Runtime: 97 min

This British rom-com follows a teenage boy who falls for a female classmate while at the same time dealing with his parents’ struggling marriage. The film brims with stylish humor and a cinematic hilarity that captures not only the difficulty of adolescence, but the thrill of young love that can only be captured with tender, eccentric style.

Exclusive Media Group

#19. Begin Again (2013)

- Director: John Carney
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Votes: 132,450
- Metascore: 62
- Runtime: 104 min

“Begin Again” restyles rom-com sensibility by capturing the layers and complexities of producing music. The film pairs music producer (Mark Ruffalo) with the dejected girlfriend (Keira Knightley) of a rock star. Adam Levine plays the rock star who catapults to stardom, cheats on his girlfriend, and sells out the song they co-wrote. Ruffalo and Knightley aren’t quite a romantic fit, but the two bond while co-producing a record in a movie that’s ultimately about people who share a love for making music. 

Carousel Productions

#18. Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011)

- Directors: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Votes: 443,525
- Metascore: 68
- Runtime: 118 min

Ryan Gosling, rom-com dreamboat extraordinaire, plays an expert womanizer who takes on Steve Carell (at the height of his “Office” fame), who plays a man starting over in the love department after his wife (Julianne Moore) leaves him for her coworker (Kevin Bacon). The romantic plots heighten when Gosling’s character dates the estranged couple’s daughter played by Emma Stone.

Pine District Pictures

#17. Frances Ha (2012)

- Director: Noah Baumbach
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Votes: 62,026
- Metascore: 82
- Runtime: 86 min

Noah Baumbach directed this black and white comedy-drama that was co-written with Greta Gerwig, who also stars. Gerwig was an indie film “it girl,” and “Frances Ha” was a notable tour de force performance before her directing career took off in the late 2010s with “Lady Bird” and “Little Women.” Gerwig plays Frances, a woman with an ambition to become a professional dancer who struggles to pay basic living expenses. The film conveys the romantic soul of millennial adulting as Frances is waylaid by reality but keeps dancing.

K5 International

#16. Paterson (2016)

- Director: Jim Jarmusch
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Votes: 58,095
- Metascore: 90
- Runtime: 118 min

Adam Driver’s signature intensity works well in this romantic drama about a week in the life of a working-class bus driver who’s also a poet. Directed by Jim Jarmusch, the film‘s title references poet William Carlos Williams’ epic poem “Paterson,” which is also the bus driver’s name. His poems appear graphically on screen as the words are recited in voiceover in a story that’s ultimately about the romance of the artist as a young man. Paterson’s lines offer fragmented observations about such things as cigarettes, smoldering kisses, and the experience of being a fish. After Paterson’s wife’s dog destroys his poems, he has a random encounter with a sage stranger who offers him a new notebook. 

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Universal Pictures

#15. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)

- Director: Edgar Wright
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Votes: 347,046
- Metascore: 69
- Runtime: 112 min

With its kinetic, nostalgic video game style, “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” makes overt the idea that love is a game of conquest and rivalry. The notion of fighting over damsels has roots in medieval literature, and in this case, Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) must defeat the ex-boyfriends of his object of affection, Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). Geek boy meets pixie dream girl, but this round the women get in on the fight.

Fox 2000 Pictures

#14. Love, Simon (2018)

- Director: Greg Berlanti
- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Votes: 86,201
- Metascore: 72
- Runtime: 110 min

The high school rom-com finally gets a progressive update in this sweet outsider story about being gay when everyone assumes you’re straight. With a touch of “You’ve Got Mail”-style plotting, Simon (Nick Robinson) starts a relationship with another gay student through anonymous emails. When a dorky villain discovers the correspondence, he threatens to out Simon unless he sets him up with his friend—romantic mishaps abound. The big reveal takes place on a Ferris wheel and triumphs with genuine, heartwarming sparks during the first kiss between two teen boys.

Summit Entertainment

#13. 50/50 (2011)

- Director: Jonathan Levine
- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Votes: 304,170
- Metascore: 72
- Runtime: 100 min

This rom-com starred Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Anna Kendrick—all three stars’ careers would take off in the 2010s. The film mixes bromance humor with the conventional illness plot of Hollywood romances. Illness plots allow for high melodrama around deep loss in which a central character usually emerges much better off. Audiences get to feel the same tear-jerking, but ultimately pleasurable, range of emotions. 

Apatow Productions

#12. The Big Sick (2017)

- Director: Michael Showalter
- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Votes: 108,092
- Metascore: 86
- Runtime: 120 min

Kumail Nanjiani co-wrote the screenplay with his wife Emily V. Gordon, and the film dramatizes the couple’s real life story. Nanjiani also stars in the film as a Pakistani-born comedian who falls for a white American woman (Zoe Kazan) who suffers a devastating illness right after their break-up. Gordon and Nanjiani reportedly went through a similar scenario with an illness at the beginning of their courtship. The movie also presents the cultural issues and family clashes around interracial romance the couple dealt with as well. 

Castle Rock Entertainment

#11. Flipped (2010)

- Director: Rob Reiner
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Votes: 76,286
- Metascore: 45
- Runtime: 90 min

This adaptation of the hit novel of the same name by Wendelin Van Draanen drips with nostalgia in its telling of a meet-cute between 7-year-olds that blossoms into teenage love. Like the novel, the movie alternates between he-said-she-said narration, allowing the audience to notice alternating perspectives. Rob Reiner, who directed classic rom-coms like “The Princess Bride” and “When Harry Met Sally...” transfers the novel from contemporary times to the 1950s, casting it with a sentimental glow with a sense of innocent love. 

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Walt Disney Animation Studios

#10. Tangled (2010)

- Directors: Nathan Greno, Byron Howard
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Votes: 375,004
- Metascore: 71
- Runtime: 100 min

Disney’s “Tangled” inaugurated a new kind of princess who paved the way for far more empowered royal heroines like those who emerged later in “Brave,” “Frozen,” and “Moana.” In “Tangled,” Rapunzel busts out of captivity and basically saves herself after teaming up with cute boy Flynn Rider. Though the villain is a woman terrified of aging, “Tangled” brought a sense of agency to a Disney princess who goes brunette and opts for a practical shaggy haircut by the end. 

Indian Paintbrush

#9. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015)

- Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Votes: 115,089
- Metascore: 74
- Runtime: 105 min

This indie romantic comedy has a conspicuous sense of hipster style in its focus on a young, white, male high schooler with a “400 Blows” poster on his bedroom wall. He has a black best friend and a friendship with a dying girl. Both supporting characters facilitate the white hero’s coming-of-age liberation—he gains the gumption to apply to college while the more compelling stories of his friends get pushed to the side.


#8. Midnight in Paris (2011)

- Director: Woody Allen
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Votes: 362,838
- Metascore: 81
- Runtime: 94 min

Nostalgia always interlaces with romance, giving it a bittersweet edge that comes with the realization that one can never go back to the perfect moment they missed while living through it. Such ideas play out in Woody Allen’s comedy about a novelist (Owen Wilson) who transports from his modern-day life to 1920s Paris where he hobnobs with the literati and assorted artistic geniuses. He falls for a woman (Marion Cotillard) who’s even more nostalgic than he is and longs for an earlier era, showing that yearning for a lost past infuses present moments.

The Weinstein Company

#7. Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

- Director: David O. Russell
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Votes: 629,238
- Metascore: 81
- Runtime: 122 min

Dance features prominently in romantic comedy plots because it puts visual ideas around partnering and moving in synchronicity. In “Silver Linings Playbook,” a dance competition becomes the central goal for two people starting over after devastating losses in love. Jennifer Lawrence stars as young widow who converts her parents’ garage into a dance studio. Bradley Cooper plays the man she connives to be her dance partner after he’s released from the psychiatric hospital where he was placed after discovering his wife’s affair.


#6. About Time (2013)

- Director: Richard Curtis
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Votes: 273,498
- Metascore: 55
- Runtime: 123 min

Romantic comedies regularly dabble in fantasies about time travel because getting love right (and wrong) is a focal point of such plots. Audiences often love the idea of do-overs and replays. In “About Time,” Domhnall Gleeson plays a man with the power to return to a moment he’s already lived through. As a result, he gets courtship matters exactly right with his love interest (Rachel McAdams). This hit film pulls heartstrings in such a way that the power doesn’t feel like controlling manipulation.

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Pathe UK

#5. Pride (2014)

- Director: Matthew Warchus
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Votes: 47,696
- Metascore: 79
- Runtime: 119 min

“Pride” is part of a progressive cinematic wave during the 2010s that brought LGBTQ+ history and representation to greater visibility. This true story sets during the British miners’ strike in the mid-80s when LGBTQ+ activists offered support to strikers and eventually built a strong alliance with unions. “Pride” mixes political advocacy with the daring, moving love at the heart of romantic comedy. The ensemble cast features Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, Dominic West, and Andrew Scott.

Indian Paintbrush

#4. Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

- Director: Wes Anderson
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Votes: 296,993
- Metascore: 84
- Runtime: 94 min

Wes Anderson’s quirky, eccentric style has a glib sweetness that works well in this tween love story set on a New England island where two 12 year olds run away together with a suitcase of hardcover books, a record player, and other delightful, but impractical supplies. An all-star cast (Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, and Frances McDormand) play the grown-ups who track down the missing pair in this ironic and twee story about the amusing melancholy at the heart of romance.

Studio 37

#3. The Artist (2011)

- Director: Michel Hazanavicius
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Votes: 219,599
- Metascore: 89
- Runtime: 100 min

This critically acclaimed Best Picture Oscar winner became popular with audiences even as a silent film set in 1920s Hollywood and using the production style of films of that era, such as intertitles and black-and-white cinematography. “The Artist” looks at the transition between silent film and talkies with the premise that images (accompanied by a musical score) are superior to words, dialogue, and other noise. Films like “Singin’ in the Rain” and “Cinema Paradiso” also play with this idea, and “The Artist” was a notable revamp of the same theme about the love affair between audiences and the first movies.

Cosmo Films

#2. Sing Street (2016)

- Director: John Carney
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Votes: 76,986
- Metascore: 79
- Runtime: 106 min

Set in 1985 Dublin, “Sing Street” brims with ‘80s nostalgia as a group of high schoolers struggle to put together a band, escape adolescent angst, and risk everything for love. This indie rom-com infuses familiar pop hits by Duran Duran and Hall & Oates with originals that capture the melancholy and fierce rebellion that guides first love—especially back in the era of new wave punk.

Summit Entertainment

#1. La La Land (2016)

- Director: Damien Chazelle
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Votes: 451,808
- Metascore: 93
- Runtime: 128 min

“La La Land” may be best known for the Oscar night blunder when it was mistakenly announced as Best Picture instead of the rightful winner “Moonlight.” The retro musical takes place in Los Angeles, land of broken dreams that sometimes come true. Emma Stone stars with “Hey Girl” meme hunk Ryan Gosling, and the two aspiring artists, an actress and musician, waltz among stars in scenes buoyed by a magic that overlays modern cynicism with retro glamour and nostalgia.

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