There are some nights when all you want is to get dressed up with your besties, head to the nearest bar, and dance the night away. Other times, you'd rather stay in for the night, don your most comfortable pajamas, scarf down a buffet of unhealthy snacks, and gossip over endless glasses of wine. For the evenings when you prefer to stay in and kick it with your girlfriends, it's essential that you gather around your television screen for one of the best movies that will inevitably leave you in stitches or in tears (maybe both). What you need in this situation is one of the best chick flicks.
According to Merriam-Webster, a chick flick is a “motion picture intended to appeal especially to women.” And if you Google “chick flicks,” you’ll find a sea of rom-coms and movie posters covered in pink. Gross. While there’s nothing wrong with liking the color pink or enjoying a good rom-com (we're definitely obsessed with Barbiecore pink and the best rom-coms at MC!), we’d argue that women have far more varied interests than just romance when it comes to film.
For your next night in, we movie lovers at Marie Claire have gathered the essential films to watch and relax to. These are the best feel-good movies to watch with other women as a way to decompress, meaning they aren’t too subject-heavy and are crowd-pleasers. From dramas like Titantic that will leave you clutching your Kleenex to films that are a bit on-the-nose (*cough* Magic Mike *cough*), this list has something everyone in your viewing party is going to enjoy. And, of course, you can expect to see lots of rom-coms because, seriously, who doesn’t love rom-coms? Call them chick flicks or simply “films,” the below, arranged by genre, are the best movies to watch during your night in with your squad.
Best Chick Flick Rom-Coms
'You've Got Mail' (1998)
Before there was Catfish, there was You've Got Mail, the original rom-com about people falling in love while low-key lying to each other over the internet. But, in all seriousness, you can't go wrong with the combination of Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, and Nora Efron. It's just a fact.
'10 Things I Hate About You' (1999)
On paper, 10 Things I Hate About You should not work. A very 1990s remake of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, it's essentially a zanier version of the "guy makes bet to date girl" trope that was everyone at this time in filmmaking. And yet, it does work—on almost every level. Heath Ledger is mind-boggling lovable as the brute-turned-loverboy, the riot grrl soundtrack is to die for, and it really works as a believable romance. A must-watch '90s movie with the girls.
'Bridget Jones's Diary' (2001)
Elsewhere on this list you will find Pride and Prejudice, truly one of the greatest romances ever put to paper and then onto film. Bridget Jones's Diary, also excellent, is in fact an homage to that classic Jane Austen tale, transported to early-2000s London. This movie is both laugh-out-loud funny, swooningly romantic and, in retrospect, kind of sad for how it embodied the body-shaming of the time in which it was made. But don't worry: The self-deprecation, hilariously horrific soundtrack, and sexy smooching still totally hold up.
'The Proposal' (2009)
In The Proposal, Sandra Bullock plays a hardass workaholic boss lady who's facing deportation back to Canada and Ryan Reynolds plays her long-suffering assistant who's just trying to get back to Alaska for his grandmother's birthday. Guess what happens? Oh, you already know.
'When Harry Met Sally' (1989)
Quite possibly the greatest romantic comedy of all time, When Harry Met Sally turned novel set pieces into classic rom-com tropes ("I'll have what she's having.") as it tried to answer the question, "Can men and women really be friends?" Of course, we know that they can (not the conclusion the movie comes to, but different times), and yet it's always fun to watch Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal will-they-or-won't-they for two hours.
'Pretty Woman' (1990)
Not only will Pretty Woman ignite your inner urge to stage a fashion makeover montage, but it's infinitely quotable—all the makings of a perfect girls' night pick. Let's just say not putting this on the list would be a big mistake. HUGE.
Of the many Judd Apatow movies, this might be the most traditionally rom-commy. Amy Schumer's "Amy" doesn't do monogamy, until she meets Bill Hader. I mean, technically, she meets his character Aaron, but who wouldn't want to be with Bill Hader? (NO ONE.)
Alicia Silverstone became a pop culture icon for her role in the 1995 classic Clueless as lovable but offbeat Cher Horowitz, a rich girl with a killer closet navigating life as a high schooler in Beverly Hills. The coming of age film is a loose adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma; like Austen's protagonist, Cher is a well-meaning matchmaker who doesn't quite see the big picture.
'To All the Boys I've Loved Before' (2018)
Jenny Han really was onto something when she wrote up everyone's dream boyfriend, Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo). He's tall, dreamy, and always down to make his girl Lara Jean feel special. It doesn't matter that you've probably already watched this Netflix original too many times to count—it'll give you and your friends the warm fuzzies like it's the very first time.
'Love Jones' (1997)
The '90s gave us its fair share of truly amazing films, but Love Jones manages to stand out with its simple but scarily relatable story about two people who can't seem to figure out what their relationship is. Turn your girls' night in into a girls' night out to your local open mic night so you can find your own Darius Lovehall.
'Sex and the City' (2008)
Carrie and friends hit the big screen in 2008, and their drama followed them: our heroine is still trying to manage her complicated relationship with Mr. Big, Miranda is raising her son with Steve, Charlotte is toying with the idea of having another child, and Samantha...well, she's still being Samantha.
Will Smith proved that he's everyone's dream man in the 2005 romantic comedy Hitch, playing a matchmaker for men who are unlucky in love. But the teacher becomes the student when he finds himself getting schooled in matters of the heart after coming across Sara, a gossip columnist with a chip on her shoulder. Has this movie aged particularly well? No, but Smith is so charming that it's still watchable.
'The Princess Diaries' (2001)
Nerdy and unpopular high school student Mia Thermopolis gets the biggest surprise of her life when she finds out that she's actually Amelia Mignonette Grimaldi Thermopolis Renaldo, Princess of Genovia. You may not be a princess with Julie Andrews as your grandmother—life is so unfair—but you can live that fantasy vicariously through The Princess Diaries. And once you're done with the original, check out the sequel, which also stars a baby-faced Chris Pine.
'Crazy Rich Asians' (2018)
A billionaire bachelor falls in love with a New Yorker and whisks her away to meet his family in Singapore. Not only is Crazy Rich Asians a visual masterpiece, but the cast is pretty damn good-looking, too.
'Miss Congeniality' (2000)
FBI agent Grace Hart takes the main stage when she transforms into beauty queen Gracie Lou Hart to investigate a terrorist threat in an international beauty pageant. Sandra Bullock is everything as the hardheaded tomboy with a heart of gold, and her relationships with fellow pageant queens will remind you of your connection with your besties.
'Legally Blonde' (2003)
After being dumped by her ambitious boyfriend for not being studious enough, sorority girl Elle Woods sets her eyes on a new goal: Harvard Law School. But as she leans more into her studies and away from her relationship, Elle learns that there's more to life than just being a successful man's wife. A lesson in girl power.
'13 Going on 30' (2004)
Mark Ruffalo has always been fine, but before he was the silver-streaked Daddy™ that we know and love today, he was playing Jennifer Garner's sensitive love interest in 13 Going on 30. The film is funny, sweet, and complete with a full dance sequence to the tune of "Thriller."
'She's the Man' (2006)
In this modern-day adaptation of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, Viola (Amanda Bynes) dons a short wig to sneak into her brother's elite boarding school and play on its male soccer team. Things get complicated when she starts developing feelings for Duke (Channing Tatum), the sexy team captain. Ahead of its time, a bit dated now, but absolutely worth it for the best Bynes performance of her career.
'A Cinderella Story' (2004)
Chad Michael Murray is peak '90s hottie in A Cinderella Story as Austin Ames, the secret crush of a down-and-out high schooler (Hilary Duff) with an insufferable step-family. You probably didn't forget how good he looked back then, but just in case you forgot, turn this on.
'Never Been Kissed' (1997)
This premise of this movie is a tad bit sketch when you get to thinking about it (fake identities? a teacher falling in love with a student?), but Never Been Kissed really does have all of the qualities of a classic romantic comedy: a plucky protagonist who works hard despite the odds, a very hot love interest, and a helpful fairy god[brotha] who feeds her lines from his van.
'Friends with Benefits' (2011)
Remember in 2011 when two different movies came out that featured hot superstars trying to navigate a friends-with-benefits scenario, and each movie respectively starred a member of the real-life couple that is Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher? Well, this is the far superior of the two of those movies—Justin Timberlake is an emotionally unavailable douche, Mila Kunis is a "pick me" girl who can't get her act together, and they start hooking up in order to maintain consistent companionship without having to , IDK, actually go to therapy? You can guess what happens next, of course, but it's a fun ride to get there.
'500 Days of Summer' (2009)
While this movie gets some guff for representing a very "twee" moment in history—and it is adorable—that description doesn't encompass everything 500 Days of Summer actually stands for. Beneath the meet-cutesiness, karaoke-fied, Regina Spektor-backed montages of hot people dating, it's actually a meditation on why finding someone who checks off the arbitrary list of qualities you want in another person doesn't necessarily equal compatibility. Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Tom finds out the hard way that just because he likes someone in theory doesn't mean she's who he thinks she is in practice—nor does it mean she is obligated to like him back. A good lesson for all men!
'Crazy Stupid Love' (2011)
Some chick flicks make you laugh, others make you cry. This one does both, with stellar performances from Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Steve Carrell, and Julianne Moore about different people at different phases of life navigating the same questions about love and sharing your life with other people.
'Love Actually' (2003)
What's that? You say that Love Actually is a Christmas movie and shouldn't be on this list? Well we think you should reconsider that opinion. Here's why: First, this film's relation to Christmas is tangentially at best. Second, it's got all the trappings of a rom-com in an all-star ensemble format that was so novel at the time that it proceeded to inspire a ton of other rom-coms. Third, it's a classic (albeit perhaps a problematic fave) and anytime is a good time for a classic.
'Breakfast at Tiffany's' (1961)
If you want to go truly classic for girls' night, cue up Breakfast at Tiffany's, starring Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly, a woman working as an escort and looking for real love. There are...some real problems with the film, but wrangling with that is an important part of watching it. Especially if you love it.
'The Big Sick' (2017)
Based in large part on Kumail Nanjiani's early relationship with his wife Emily Gordon, this is one of those where you'll Google it afterwards wondering, Is this really true? Emily (Zoe Kazan) is struck with an illness that leaves her in a coma after Kumail (played by Nanjiani himself) dumps her. And believe it or not, the film's as funny as it is heart-wrenching and sweet.
'How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days' (2003)
This 2003 rom-com starring Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey is a modern screwball masterpiece and a damn good time that mostly holds up. In the film, Kate plays a magazine writer tasked with driving away a new flame in 10 days flat using the most stereotypical lady-in-love mistakes she can think of, while Matthew plays an ad exec determined to prove he can make any woman fall madly in love with him during the same timeframe (because that will mean he can sell diamonds, apparently). What ensues is some true early-aughts rom-com gold.
'Confessions of a Shopaholic' (2009)
Ok, maybe this is a little bit on-the-nose in terms of chick flicks, but I think everyone can see themselves (a least a little bit) in shopping-obsessed Rebecca Bloomwood (Isla Fisher). After losing her job, she gets in over her head when she starts writing for a financial magazine, offering budgeting advice when she doesn't really have the business to do so. Her antics are laugh-out-loud funny and the fashion is *chef's kiss.*
Chick Flick Dramas
Unfortunately most well-known as "the film where J. Lo literally worked her ass off and got snubbed for an Oscar nom," this one's also a perfect one to watch will girlfriends. Which stripper-turned-con artist would you be in this riveting rags to riches to jail time story?
'About Time' (2013)
There are movies that you know the moment you hear about their existence are going to be great, and there are movies that sound kind of insane, but turn out to be surprisingly delightful. About Time is the second type. The fantasy-romance-drama follows a young man (Domhnall Gleeson) who learns that the men in his family inherit the ability to time travel when they turn 21. He uses said power in his quest to woo Mary (Rachel McAdams) and somehow doesn't creepily veer into being a story about a man using magic to rob a woman of her agency and choice.
'Me Before You' (2016)
If you're in the mood for a good cry, check out 2016's Me Before You, starring Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin. The movie follows a young woman named Louisa, who takes a job caring for a wealthy young man who left paralyzed after an accident. We won't give the ending away, but—TEARS.
'The Notebook' (2004)
Allie and Noah's love story in The Notebook makes for the perfect girls' night movie. It's got romance, a few steamy love scenes, and a forever quotable moment: "If you're a bird, I'm a bird." *sighs*
'Thelma and Louise' (1991)
Thelma and Louise is, in some ways, probably the ultimate girls' night movie. The movie follows best friends who go on the run after Louise (Susan Sarandon) shoots and kills a man who tried to rape Thelma (Geena Davis). Brad Pitt also makes a notable early (and very sexy) appearance in the film.
'Pride & Prejudice' (2005)
Yes, there have been many Pride and Prejudice remakes over the past few years, but this one stands out among the rest because the chemistry between Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen is out of this world.
'The Devil Wears Prada' (2006)
Meryl Streep has been acting since 1977, but her role as Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada is an absolute fave. Whether you think she's the true villain of the plot or Andy's trash boyfriend Nate (spoiler alert: It's Nate), you're going to enjoy this one.
'For Colored Girls' (2010)
If you and your girlfriends are in the mood of a deep emotional release, For Colored Girls will do the trick. Adapted from Ntozake Shange's 1975 original choreopoem, the drama connects the heartbreak of ten women, reminding us that sisterhood is about lifting each other up when we're down.
From the film's iconic theme song sung by Celine Dion herself to that steamy scene in an automobile, Titanic is an almost perfect masterpiece. My one beef with the movie to this day? Everyone knows that Jack could have fit on that wooden panel. Hmph.
Bollywood hit Barfi! is a heartwarming dramedy about a deaf and mute man navigating life with a smile on his face and falling in love on the way. The film stars Bollywood favorites Ranbir Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra, and it will absolutely make you weep. But like, in a totally good way.
'Love & Basketball' (2000)
Two childhood friends experience love and loss over the course of a decade, with basketball bringing them together at every turn. Sorry, but you can't have a girls' night without watching Love & Basketball—I don't make the rules.
'Dirty Dancing' (1987)
A poor little rich girl falls for the sexy dance instructor at her summer resort, even as society (okay, mostly her dad) tries to keep them apart. Plus dancing. It's a classic that will energize everyone in attendance at your girls' night film festival.
'Waiting to Exhale' (1995)
One of the most defining moments in every friend circle is the moment when you have to gather around the girlfriend whose ain't-shit man finally exposes his true colors. In Waiting to Exhale, four women try to navigate the stress of marriage life brought on from their equally trifling partners, strengthening their bond as friends in the process.
Best Chick Flick Comedies
'What a Girl Wants' (2003)
First of all, Colin Firth. Enough said. But here's some more: This sweet tale of a teenager who goes in search of her father—and finds him in England, as an up-and-coming aristocrat running for higher office—is funny, super weird, and extremely charming. Amanda Bynes is on this list numerous times for a reason.
'Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar' (2021)
Watch this with your bestie right now, because it's about two (adorkable) besties (adorkably) on vacation together. The plot is honestly just a vehicle for IRL best friends Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo to chirp sweetly at each other and be funny, so just roll with it. Get ready to not be able to explain why you love this film and yet love it so, so much.
'Forgetting Sarah Marshall' (2008)
Perhaps the only film on this list in which the protagonist is a straight, cis male, Forgetting Sarah Marshall might be the best Judd Apatow movie in his oeuvre (he produced and co-wrote it, alongside Jason Segel). On its face, it may seem like a bro-centric tale of breaking up, but it's so much more than that. In addition to being one of the most laugh-per-minute comedies ever, it's also a strikingly relatable story about the rose-tinted glasses we use when someone dumps us, and how getting over heartache means we have to grow ourselves. Perfect for when you or one of your buddies is going through it.
'John Tucker Must Die' (2006)
Girl power conquers all in this film, even a narcissist serial cheater. When three girls learn that they have been seeing the same guy and are all dumped by said guy, they are out for revenge. They team up with the new girl in town (Brittany Snow) to fake fall in love with their former boyfriend and break his heart. Out of all the teen comedies to come out of the aughts, this one will never get old.
'I Am Not an Easy Man' (2018)
This underrated gem is on Netflix for super-easy watching, and it really delivers on a "god, if only" premise. A chauvinist accidentally bangs his head and wakes up in a world where the women are in charge (dream of dreams). Watching a jerk get a taste of his own medicine is the revenge fantasy you didn't know you needed.
'The First Wives Club' (1996)
Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn, Diane Keaton star in this hilarious lady-centric comedy about three middle-aged women who reunite at the funeral of a friend who died by suicide after her husband left her for a younger woman. Realizing they've all been seriously taken for granted by their own ex-husbands as well, they set about getting their well-deserved revenge.
'Spice World' (1997)
Do your inner pre-teen a favor and rewatch 1997's stunning masterpiece, Spice World, in which the Spice Girls play very meta versions of themselves, trying to decide if they should do a Spice Girls movie.
'Easy A' (2010)
This might have been made over a decade ago, but it had smart, timely things to say about the pressures women face to be sexy and not sexual. Helping her gay friend pretend to be straight via a fake tryst, Olive finds her, uh, skillset both in demand and punished at her high school. Easy A cemented Emma Stone's rise to superstardom, and it's because she's so relatable.
It's every high school nerd's fantasy: Finally prove yourself cool to the entire school with your best friend at your side. Booksmart is raunchy and silly and funny—and also way funnier than your REAL high school years could ever be.
'Isn't It Romantic' (2019)
It's the anti-rom com rom com! Natalie (Rebel Wilson) has grown up to loathe romance, then gets knocked out and wakes up in an alternate romantic comedy universe (complete with ultra-hottie Liam Hemsworth vying for her affection). It plays with alllll the tropes and then, actually, becomes a really sweet and endearing romantic movie.
Another Apatow-directed movie, Kristen Wiig hilariously stars in this 2011 comedy as Annie, a thirty-something trying to balance her existential crisis with her role as a bridesmaid in her best friend's wedding. The only problem? She's a pretty terrible bridesmaid, and—hot take here—kind of a bad friend.
'Girls' Trip' (2017)
Thought your last girls trip to Cabo was crazy? Think again. The impromptu vacay that Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Regina Hall, and Tiffany Haddish go on in Girls Trip probably puts yours to shame. The four friends travel to New Orleans to attend Essence Fest, and they get into some serious hijinks along the way, including one particularly lascivious situation with a certain citrus fruit. Grapefruit, anyone?
'Mean Girls' (2004)
Raise your hand if you've ever been personally victimized by Regina George. Now, raise your hand if you're going to binge watch Mean Girls and quote the 2004 teen comedy word for word.
'Bring It On' (2000)
Two rival cheerleading squads battle it out in this pop culture staple featuring Kirsten Dunst and the never-aging Gabrielle Union, almost making us wish that we too could have been cheerleaders in the past.
'Someone Great' (2019)
Ever been dumped at the worst possible time in your life? Music writer Jenny can totally relate. Thankfully, she's got the unconditional love and support of her best friends Erin and Blair to help her get back on straight and narrow, even if that means dragging her kicking and screaming.
'Mystic Pizza' (1988)
This early entry on Julia Roberts' IMDb page follows three waitresses/best friends during the summer after graduation as they work in a local pizza shop (and, of course, navigate the turbulent waters of young life and love).
'Magic Mike' (2012)
Channing Tatum goes from soccer star to stripper legend in Magic Mike, a dramedy that has no real plot but somehow still manages to keep its audiences captivated from beginning to end. Alongside Tatum are Hollywood hotties Matthew McConaughey, Joe Manganiello, Matthew Bomer, and Adam Rodriguez. Whew.
'Magic Mike XXL' (2015)
We really didn't deserve a sequel to Magic Mike, but the universe blessed us with the follow-up to the original stripper saga, this time following Mike and friends on a wild roadtrip to the biggest stripper convention in the country. Again, there's not actual plot, but who really needs a tangible storyline with a cast like this?
'Romy and Michele's High School Reunion' (1997)
This gem stars Mira Sovino and Lisa Kudrow as two of the most believable best friends in film history. When Romy and Michele get the invitation to their 10-year high school reunion, they start to feel self-conscious about what they've accomplished since graduation. In the gloriously pre-Facebook world of 1997, the two hatch a plan to lie their way to reunion glory, claiming to have invented Post-It Notes. Predictably, the lie-to-everyone-we-used-to-know plan doesn't go off without a hitch.
Love it or love to hate it, 2002's Britney Spears vehicle Crossroads is a (sometimes poorly-written, but still endearing) love letter to female friendship. If you're in the mood to be unabashedly uncool, this road trip film (which also stars Zoe Saldana and Taryn Manning) hits the spot.
'The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants' (2005)
A group of besties have the best shopping trip ever when they find a pair of jeans that somehow manages to flatter all of their bodies (what witchcraft is this, and where can I get a pair?!), and they share custody of the magic pants over the course of the summer. The jeans help them reunite with family, battle deep emotional trauma, and even find true love.
Best Chick Flick Musicals
'Moulin Rouge!' (2001)
We need to take a moment to appreciate the costume department for Moulin Rouge! There was not a single moment Nicole Kidman didn't look stunning as courtesan Satine. She stars opposite a young Ewan McGregor who plays Christian, a poet who's come to Paris to follow the Bohemian revolution. He meets Satine and breaks the number one rule of the bohemians: to never fall in love.
'Mamma Mia' (2008)
Question: Is there a better way to spend a night with your nearest and dearest than belting out ABBA hits at the top of your lungs? Answer: No, there is not. The 2008 movie Mamma Mia (a big screen version of the hit Broadway jukebox musical) is always a crowd-pleaser.
'Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge' (1995)
If you're not familiar with Bollywood films, snag this and revel in the songs and settings. If you are, then why haven't you watched one of the classics of all time? It's best enjoyed with friends, giggling at the corniness, swooning over the romance, and dancing/singing along.
'Coyote Ugly' (2000)
Aspiring songwriter Violet (Piper Perabo) is just another girl who moved to New York City with big dreams...and has to pay for basic life necessities with a day job in the meantime. Her day job, however, is more of a night job, working as a bartender at Coyote Ugly, where she makes friends, makes drinks, and learns to come out of her shell. Plus there's a lot of bar top dancing that you will 100 percent daydream about reenacting.
Amy Adams, who can basically do anything, is a princess literally out of a fairytale and stuck in miserable, cynical New York City. It's relatable for anyone who's ever lived in the Big Apple, but it's also a really stunning cartoon musical/live action hybrid. It also features major eye candy, with not just McDreamy but James Marsden too.
The costumes. The makeup. CHER! There's so much to love about Burlesque. Christina Aguilera stars as an aspiring burlesque dancer at an aging L.A. club, but has to deal with the club's headstrong owner (played by Cher) and a few jealous dancers. Soon she meets a cocky businessman (McSteamy himself, Eric Dane) who wants to buy the club and turn it into luxury condos.
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Brooke Knappenberger is the Associate Commerce Editor at Marie Claire, where she writes across the board from fashion and beauty to books and celebrities. As a pop culture junkie, Brooke obsessively consumes and writes about the latest movie releases, streaming TV shows, and celebrity scandals. She has over three years of experience writing on fashion, beauty, and entertainment and her work has appeared on Looper, NickiSwift, The Sun US, and Vox Magazine of Columbia, Missouri. Brooke obtained her Bachelor's Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism with an emphasis on Magazine Editing and has a minor in Textile and Apparel Management.