By Andrea Park
Fact: There are very few situations that can’t be made better by settling into your couch, glass of wine in hand, and watching a romantic comedy. Feeling hopeless, heartbroken or happy about love? A rom-com will commiserate or celebrate with you. (That’s the “rom” part.) Feeling sad or excited about life in general? A rom-com will either cheer you up or bolster your good mood. (That’s the “com” part.)
Basically, they’re a foolproof cure-all; a balm for the soul. Not to mention, watching beautiful people stumble their way into love is objectively entertaining, no matter your mood. With Valentine’s Day a popular rom-com release date—for obvious reasons—2020 has already seen its fair share of films that are equal parts charming and hilarious. There’s the latest film adaptation of the Jane Austen classic Emma, the highly-anticipated sequel to Netflix’s To All the Boys I Loved Before, and Downhill, an indie film starring Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus as a struggling married couple.
But that’s not all: 2020 also promises to be the year we are finally blessed with the third entry in the Legally Blonde canon; a J.Lo and Owen Wilson match-up that harks back to the golden age of rom-coms (a.k.a. the early 2000s); and an action-comedy-romance starring Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani as a couple whose relationship is tested when they find themselves at the scene of a murder. Relatable.
Below, find these and several more of what promise to be the best romantic comedies of 2020.
Release date: February 21
Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy, Johnny Flynn, Josh O’Connor, Callum Turner, Mia Goth, Miranda Hart, Bill Nighy
Nobody knows rom-coms like Jane Austen, and Emma may be her best. To refresh your memory: The “handsome, clever, and rich” Emma Woodhouse has an eye for matchmaking and a knack for manipulating the people around her. But somehow she can’t see the great romance that’s been budding between her and George Knightley. TL;DR: Emma is the novel that inspired Clueless. Enough said.
Release date: February 14
Starring: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Will Ferrell
A movie about a couple trying to find their way back to each other after discovering they wouldn’t instinctually try to save one another in a disaster sounds like the plot of a very sad drama. And while Downhill holds that sad situation at its core, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell ensure you'll at least laugh through the pain.
To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You
Release date: February 12
Starring: Lana Condor, Noah Centineo, Jordan Fisher, John Corbett, Holland Taylor
Nothing could ever live up to the absolute phenomenon that was Netflix’s 2019 adaptation of YA novel To All the Boys I Loved Before, but the sequel comes pretty close. This time around, Lara Jean, despite finally being securely coupled up with Peter Kavinsky, finds herself wondering whether she should give another recipient of one of her iconic love letters a try. Bonus: John Corbett is back as Lara Jean’s doting dad, and this time around he gets a love story of his own.
Release date: TBD
Starring: Issa Rae, Kumail Nanjiani, Paul Sparks, Anna Camp, Kyle Bornheimer
The Lovebirds will likely land much closer to the “com” of rom-com, since it stars Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani as a couple who get mixed up in a murder mystery. (The trailer alone is loaded with hilarious moments, start to finish.) But since the plot also includes the couple attempting to suss out where their relationship stands, we’ll go ahead and label it a rom-com.
Release date: November 25
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Mackenzie Davis, Alison Brie, Dan Levy, Aubrey Plaza, Mary Steenburgen
Clea DuVall, a.k.a. Marjorie in Veep, directed and co-wrote this movie, in which Kristen Stewart plays a woman planning to propose to her girlfriend (Mackenzie Davis) in front of her parents before realizing said parents don’t yet know their daughter is gay. With Aubrey Plaza, Alison Brie, Mary Steenburgen and Schitt’s Creek’s Dan Levy among the rest of the ensemble cast, Happiest Season just might have the potential to upstage The Family Stone as your go-to holiday rom-com about a dysfunctional family.
Release date: TBD
Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Owen Wilson, Sarah Silverman, John Bradley, Michelle Buteau
The world rejoiced when J.Lo returned to the realm of rom-coms with 2018’s (truly delightful) Second Act, and it appears she’s on a roll with her next entry in the canon. Here’s what we know about Marry Me: Lopez will play a pop star who learns that her fiancé is cheating on her moments before their wedding at Madison Square Garden, then plucks a random man (Owen Wilson) out of the crowd to marry instead. It’s been described as “Notting Hill meets The Proposal,” and will come equipped with a soundtrack of bangers from J.Lo and Maluma–a recipe for rom-com success.
The High Note
Release date: May 8
Starring: Tracee Ellis Ross, Dakota Johnson, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Zoë Chao, Ice Cube, June Diane Raphael
Trace Ellis Ross as a glamorous, aging pop star; Dakota Johnson as a personal assistant with big dreams. The pair team up to produce a new album that, of course, serves both women’s creative aspirations and helps them find love along the way. It’s like a rom-com Mad Libs sent from above and I, for one, will be first in line at the theater.
Legally Blonde 3
Release date: May 8
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Coolidge
Nearly two whole decades after Elle Woods first taught the world that, in fact, getting into Harvard Law School isn’t hard, we’re finally getting an update on how that illustrious J.D. degree is serving America’s favorite Gemini vegetarian. Pretty much everything about the third film in the series has been kept under wraps, including which of the first two films’ stars will be returning and any plot details. But my money is on a Woods 2020 campaign for the White House, with Elle showing off her inner Tracy Flick (too meta?).
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