If you need a little romance in your life and your Netflix queue is filled with nothing but true crime series and sci-fi thrillers, then you’ve come to the right place for Netflix romance movies. A quick look below might have you scratching your head, as I’ve included a lot of movies that don’t fit the traditional bill of a romantic movie. But romance isn’t always pretty, doesn’t always end happily, and never presents itself in the same way twice.
However, just to show that I didn’t completely misunderstand the assignment, I’ve included a second list further down the page with some more vanilla fare. If you’re ready to add a little twist to your romantic movie consumption, though, these are the the 10 best romance movies on Netflix.
Blue is the Warmest Color (Preview NSFW)
Netflix romance movies come in all different flavors, and this one is certainly worth your attention. The list of award nominations and wins — including the Palme d’Or — for Blue is the Warmest Color can be counted off in the dozens, and for good reason. This intimate and deeply passionate film explores the budding sexuality of 15-year-old Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos) who is learning to accept herself in the face of prejudice from her peers. With the help of a new friend-turned-lover, Emma (Léa Seydoux), Adèle learns about the deep ties of a first love, and the heartbreaking loss of moving on from that love.
The film is beautifully shot, and renowned for its explicit and beautiful love scenes, but its moving story should not be dismissed because of this notoriety.
She’s Gotta Have It (1986)
Spike Lee’s first feature film, She’s Gotta Have It is the story of a young woman, Nola Darling (Tracy Camilla Johns) who must navigate the social, familial, and personal norms of sex, relationships, and love — all while dating three different men.
True of most Lee films, the story is dialogue heavy with a strong emphasis of personal experience set against community standards.
And if you like the film, check out Lee’s 2017 series remake of She’s Gotta Have It, also on Netflix.
Like Water for Chocolate
Filled with deep traditions of Mexican mysticism, spirituality, familial ties, and food, Like Water for Chocolate is the story of forbidden love told through the use of metaphors. Tita (Lumi Cavazos) and Pedro (Marco Leonardi) fall deeply in love, but she is not allowed to marry because of family tradition. Instead, Tita’s mother offers her older sister to Pedro, who acquiesces to the marriage only to be close to Tita.
Despite this arrangement, their love burns strong, and they must navigate their own desires in the unlikely position in which they find themselves. The film is an adaptation of the novel by Laura Esquivel, who also wrote the screenplay. This is one of the best Netflix romance movies you’ll find, at least when it comes to out of the box options.
Y Tu Mamá También
One of the best Netflix romance movies, and in fact one of the best films on Netflix period. This is a personal favorite of mine. Alfonso Cuarón’s masterpiece, Y Tu Mamá También, is a meditation on life and death, love and loss, the politics of globalization, and the corruption of the ruling class — and on filmmaking itself.
Utilizing documentary-like voiceovers to deepen both the personal and political background of the characters and the world, the movie challenges standard narrative structures while also weaving a beautiful and heartbreaking story of personal growth. High school friends (Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal) befriend an older woman (Ana López Mercado) and take an unforgettable trip to the beach to try to seduce her. With a blend of bildungsroman, American road movie, and political commentary, Y Tu Mamá También presents an erotic, timeless, unforgettable story that is a definite must-see.
(The video and sound quality of the trailer linked above is absolutely not indicative of the film.)
Eyes Wide Shut (Preview NSFW)
The final film of Stanley Kubrick’s illustrious career, Eyes Wide Shut is one of the famed director’s least acclaimed. I’ve always loved it, though, and am happy to be able to include it in this list (perhaps as an anti-romance).
The story follows a wealthy doctor, William Harford (Tom Cruise) through a night of misguided sexual forays. After his wife, Alice (Nicole Kidman), tells him about a dream she had detailing a sexual fantasy with another man, the doctor decides that a real sexual encounter is the only way to make up for his wife’s dream. This mission ends up challenging his puritanical thoughts on fidelity and sex far more than Alice’s dream, though, as he realizes he is in over his head.
A meticulously crafted and stunningly shot film, Eyes Wide Shut is a scathing critique of the fragile male ego, and condemns the lengths to which men will go to help solidify their power over women and their sexual lives.
Netflix has a fairly extensive collection of Bollywood movies, but the style and length of these films can be a bit overwhelming. If you’ve never waded into the anything-goes fray of India’s finest, Dil Se.. is a pretty good starting place.
It is the story of a radio producer, Amarkanth Varma (Shah Rukh Khan) who falls in love with Meghna (Manisha Koirala) during a chance meeting. Despite the attraction, the two are unable to be together, until Meghna shows up again after Varma agrees to marry another.
Intertwining this love story with political intrigue, Dil Se.. has become a classic of Bollywood and is a good introduction to the style, as the narrative is relatively easy to follow and the music and dance numbers are both entertaining and enjoyable.
Nymphomaniac I & II (Trailer NSFW)
Like all of Lars von Trier’s work, the Nymphomaniac (Volume I and Volume II) movies are meticulously constructed, beautifully shot, deeply complex, and more than a little troubling. If this sounds similar to my description of Eyes Wide Shut above, it should; this, too, is another entry in the anti-romantic movie list.
But it is not simply a story of love gone bad. Instead, the films make for an epic, harrowing look at years of relationships and the permutations, joys, dysfunctions, and revelations that these interactions with others reveal about us and our partners.
Coming in at a full four-hour running time (the director’s cut is nearly 5.5 hours!), the Nymphomaniac films follow a young woman, Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) as she recounts a life driven by sexual compulsion. Woven throughout the film’s incredibly acted and (sometimes painfully) explicit scenes is a commentary on gender roles vis-a-vis sexuality, the power dynamics of sex and desire, and the dangers of desire for women.
An adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Price of Salt, Carol is the story of a young department store clerk, Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara), who meets an older woman, Carol (Cate Blanchett), who is stuck in a loveless marriage. As their chance acquaintance blossoms into a love affair, they must navigate social norms of 1950s New York and Carol’s jealous husband.
The film has beautiful and complex cinematography to match its poignant story and an incredible 95 metascore on MetaCritic. With all that in mind, it’s a no-brainer to find this on our best Netflix romance movies list.
God’s Own Country
God’s Own Country is the directorial debut for screenwriter Francis Lee, and he takes the opportunity to tell a brutal, touching story of two men’s (Josh O’Connor and Alec Secareanu) troubled love on a farm in the stark Yorkshire countryside.
The emotionless filming style works well to highlight the suppressed desires that burst forth from the desolate farmland, while the smallest gestures become immensely meaningful for family and neighbors alike. This movie is not for the faint of heart, as it depicts all the realities of farm life, including butchering.
Perhaps the only movie on this list that doesn’t require a decent amount of clarification as to why I included it, Amélie is the story of a young Parisian girl — played with almost unbelievable charm by Audrey Tautou — who is forced to learn to deal with the world around her in peculiar ways so as to stave off sadness, loneliness, and boredom.
The film is saccharine and overly stylized, making it generally quite polarizing, but if you are looking for something that is both aesthetically different and a truly uplifting rom-com, Amélie fits the bill to a T.
So, I’m assuming you’ve gotten this far in my list because you either a) love my twisted taste in movies and don’t care about the list below; b) were aghast at nearly everything above and just kept reading to fuel whatever rant you are going to leave in the comments; or c) you skipped right on over all the good movies and want to see what else is on here.
Whichever option best fits you, below are some of the more “traditional” Netflix romance movies. Now, just to reassure you that my heart isn’t just a mouldering lump of offal, I will admit that How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days is probably one of my favorite rom-coms (behind The 40 Year Old Virgin), and I’ve see it about a dozen times (thanks, basic cable from 2005!). Guess Who is also pretty good, and Cold Mountain and Young Victoria will fill your historical drama needs once you get through Carol and Like Water for Chocolate.
The Vanilla List
- How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days
- 50 First Dates
- Definitely, Maybe
- Forgetting Sarah Marshall
- Guess Who
- Love Actually
- Cold Mountain
- The Young Victoria
Those are our picks for the best Netflix romance movies. Did we miss any of your favorites? Let us know in the comments.
For those who want even more to watch on Netflix, we are just scratching the surface! Be sure to check out our guides for the best Netflix comedies, best Netflix action movies, and best Netflix gangster movies. Or if you have a taste for a little bit of everything, check out our guide to the very best show on Netflix.