Top 20 Romance Movies of the Century So Far

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Top 20 Romance Movies of the Century So Far

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Savannah Sher
Love is always in the air while watching the most romantic movies of the century so far. For this list, we'll be looking at our favorite romance movies (both comedies and dramas) that were released in 2000 or later. Our countdown includes “A Star Is Born,” “Call Me By Your Name,” “A Walk to Remember,” and more!
Transcript
Love is in the air! Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 20 Romance Movies of the Century (So Far).

For this list, we’ll be looking at our favorite romance movies (both comedies and dramas) that were released in 2000 or later.

#20: “Definitely, Maybe” (2008)


We’re a sucker for a love story with a fun framing device, and “Definitely, Maybe” certainly fits the bill. Will (Ryan Reynolds) is the father to precocious Maya (played by Abigail Breslin, obviously) and is going through a divorce from her mother. He starts to share stories with her about his romantic past, interweaving tales of all the women who have been important in his life. Maya tries to figure out which one is her mother, and the audience tries to figure out who Will truly belongs with in this heartwarming film.

#19: “The Proposal” (2009)


Oh you want more Ryan Reynolds? Well we can deliver! The year after “Definitely, Maybe”, Reynolds starred in “The Proposal” alongside Sandra Bullock. He plays Andrew Paxton, a guy trying to make it in the publishing industry who works for an extremely demanding boss. So demanding in fact that when she finds out she’s about to be deported, she crafts a lie about being engaged to Andrew to be able to stay in the country. What follows is a hilarious slapstick-style comedy that takes an emotional turn just when you think all hope is lost.

#18: “The Holiday” (2006)


There are plenty of great Christmas romance stories, but this 2006 film has to be one of our favorites. Starring Kate Winslet as Iris and Cameron Diaz as Amanda, “The Holiday” is about two women who switch houses when they’re both at low points in their lives. We get to see Diaz settle into a cozy English cottage and Winslet sprawl out in an LA mansion and of course both of them find love along the way. Alongside the romance stories, there’s also an inspiring subplot about Iris’ friendship with an elderly screenwriter, played by the late great Eli Wallach.

#17: “Serendipity” (2001)


Another holiday love story is told in “Serendipity”, a movie that asks questions about whether fate can really bring two people together. Jonathan and Sara have a chance encounter and end up spending an evening together but decide to let chance decide if they’ll ever see each other again. As years pass, they each become equally enamored with the idea of finding one another, but it’s a task that they’ve made difficult for themselves. This movie will have you yelling at your TV screen during their near misses and desperately crossing your fingers hoping that destiny is real.

#16: “A Star Is Born” (2018)


One of the more recent entries on our list crushed audiences when they saw it, despite the fact that they probably knew what was coming given how many times this film has been remade. But Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga had a magnetic connection that made this version of the well-worn tale come alive for modern viewers (and convinced many that they must be together in real life as well). The main track from the film, “Shallow”, was everywhere at the end of 2018 and no one was surprised when it took home the Oscar for Best Original Song.

#15: “The F Word” (“What If”) (2013)


Known as both “The F Word” and “What If” depending on where it was released, this quirky modern romance starring Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan took a standard romantic comedy formula and updated it for 2013. Radcliffe may have had a difficult time breaking out from his role in the “Harry Potter” franchise, but this established him as a believable romantic lead. If you’re looking for a realistic portrayal of dating in the 21st century, this is a movie that doesn’t sugarcoat or create a fantasy about what love most often looks like today.

#14: “Brooklyn” (2015)


Many films that focus on romance don’t receive critical acclaim, but 2015’s “Brooklyn” was a major exception. Telling the story of a young Irish girl who tries to make it in America, this movie stars Saoirse Ronan, who’s proven to be one of the most prominent actresses of the century so far. She’s forced to choose between the love she finds in New York and a more stable life back home. It was nominated for three Oscars (Best Picture, Best Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay) and a slew of other awards.

#13: “Amélie” (2001)


It’s not often that an international film achieves such high popularity in North America. But “Amélie”, the French film starring Audrey Tautou, is a notable exception. And how could people not love it? This story about a whimsical woman in Montmartre, Paris, trying to make the lives of those around her slightly better in small ways is about as charming as they come. Amélie herself is an unforgettable character who reminded us to take a moment to enjoy life’s small pleasures. Don’t let the subtitles scare you off, this one is totally worth it.

#12: “Call Me By Your Name” (2017)


Based on the novel by André Aciman, “Call Me By Your Name” was an awards season darling that told the quiet love story between a teenage boy and the older and more mature object of his affection. We may be used to gay love stories focusing primarily on things that set them apart, but this is a classic tale of first love and the loss that comes along with it. The lush Italian setting in the 1980’s will make you want to jump through your screen and be a part of it yourself.

#11: “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (2004)


If you’re sceptical that Jim Carrey could carry a romantic movie, you probably haven’t seen “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”. This is one of the most emotionally tumultuous films on our list, entering into darker places than your average romance movie does. The story exists in a world where technology can erase memories - which Joel and Clementine take advantage of after going through a heart-wrenching breakup. Its unique concept won it the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and while it may not have been a huge box office hit, it’s amassed a cult following over the years.

#10: “Crazy Rich Asians” (2018)


One of the biggest surprises of 2018 had to be this over-the-top romantic comedy. In a way, “Crazy Rich Asians” helped revive a genre that had been languishing for years, bringing back the unapologetically bright and colorful love story for the modern day. Set in Singapore, and based on a novel by Kevin Kwan, it was the first modern Hollywood movie to feature a majority Asian cast. As touching as it was hilarious, “Crazy Rich Asians” took the classic formula of the rom com and made it feel new again.

#9: “Brokeback Mountain” (2005)


We wish we knew how to quit them! “Brokeback Mountain” is a beautiful love story, as well as a major tearjerker. Ennis and Jack are herding sheep in Wyoming together when their acquaintance turns into something much more that changes their lives forever. However, because it’s the 1960s, they risk violent repercussions if anyone finds out. While it may have controversially lost out on Best Picture at the Oscars in favor of “Crash”, it’s become a modern classic, in no small part thanks to stellar performances from Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal.

#8: “A Walk to Remember” (2002)


Nicholas Sparks sure knows how to write a movie that’ll have you reaching for tissues throughout. Jamie and Landon are teens who couldn’t be more different, considering she’s the good girl minister’s daughter and he’s been mixed up with the bad kids at school. They find themselves spending more and more time together and falling in love despite Landon’s promise that they wouldn’t. Of course, what sets this story apart is the reveal that Jamie’s days are limited because she’s suffering from leukemia. Seeing Landon help Jamie work through her bucket list still brings tears to our eyes.

#7: “Moulin Rouge!” (2001)


Baz Luhrmann sure knows how to create something spectacular. The auteur co-wrote and directed this musical extravaganza starring Nicole Kidman as a cabaret dancer (and courtesan) and Ewan McGregor as a penniless writer living in a fantastical version of Paris in 1900. “Moulin Rouge!” is a dazzling production that features much-loved love songs from many different genres as well as jaw dropping set pieces that will make you unable to look away. It became one of the few modern musicals to get a nod for Best Picture at the Oscars, also pulling in seven other nominations.

#6: “Bridget Jones's Diary” (2001)


Despite all her flaws, we can’t help but love Bridget Jones just as she is. Whether she’s making blue soup or putting her foot in her mouth for the millionth time, Renée Zellweger plays this role perfectly (in an imperfect way of course). While Bridget may not have a ton of self-confidence, she finds herself between two men, the charming but womanizing Daniel Cleaver and the annoyingly perfect Mark Darcy. While it may be obvious to the audience who she should choose, we have to watch her make many bad decisions before she finally gets there.

#5: “The Notebook” (2004)


You knew we couldn’t possibly leave this movie off the list. “The Notebook” is probably the most ubiquitous romance film of the century so far, with a seemingly equal amount of fans and detractors. The format is undeniably appealing, with an elderly man reading to his sweetheart, who’s suffering from Alzheimer's, about how they fell in love. While some of Noah’s antics (like threatening to throw himself off a ferris wheel) are decidedly less charming upon current rewatchings, we still have a soft spot in our hearts for this one.

#4: “500 Days of Summer” (2009)


From the very beginning, the narrator makes it clear that “500 Days of Summer” isn’t your typical love story, and the audience knows from early on that it doesn’t have a happily ever after to look forward to. But that doesn’t make us any less invested in the romance between Tom and Summer, with the achronological narrative only adding to the appeal. It’s rare to have a story like this told from a male point of view, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the perfect actor to pull it off. Does it over utilize the manic pixie dream girl trope? Yes. Do we still love this movie? Also yes!

#3: “Pride & Prejudice” (2005)


Does it get any more romantic than Jane Austen? There have been several on-screen adaptations of her most popular work, “Pride & Prejudice”, but in our humble opinions, none stands up to the 2005 version starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen. Despite the fact that it’s set in the 18th century, there’s something refreshingly modern about this take on Austen’s much-loved tale about the romance between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. Even though everyone knows how this story ends, it never seems to get old - and is still worth a rewatch today.

#2: “La La Land” (2016)


There is perhaps no more appealing modern movie couple than Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. We loved them in 2011’s “Crazy, Stupid, Love”, but there’s no competing with their musical turn in 2016’s “La La Land”. This movie brought some color and brightness to an otherwise dour year when audiences needed it most. It follows some of the tropes and formatting of an old school Hollywood musical, showing an idealized version of Los Angeles. But it isn’t all sunny dance numbers, and this movie has a surprising amount of heart behind it.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

“Love Rosie” ( 2014)

“Her” (2014)

“Me Before You” ( 2016)

“Silver Linings Playbook” (2012)

“Carol” (2015)

#1: “Before Sunset” (2004)


There’s really nothing comparable to Richard Linklater’s “Before” trilogy, which has seen actors Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy return to the same story approximately nine years. Staring in the mid ‘90s with “Before Sunrise”, fans finally got to see whether Celine and Jesse re-united in Vienna in 2004. The second movie takes place in Paris, and shows us a snapshot of what our characters’ lives have become. “Before Sunset” ends on an ambiguous note, and viewers had to wait a decade to find out what happened between Celine and Jesse when “Before Midnight” was released in 2013 and caught us up with the pair.
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