Sometimes, you really just want to get all dressed up with your BFFs, head to the nearest bar, and dance the night away. Other times, you'd rather stay in for the night, clad in your most comfortable pajamas, scarfing down a buffet of unhealthy meals, and gossiping with your friends over endless glasses of wine. For the evenings when you prefer to stay in and kick it, it's essential that you gather around your television screen for a mandatory viewing of some feel-good film that will inevitably leave you in stitches or in tears, or both. Chick flicks can be beautiful rom-coms, messy dramas, empowering stories—or sometimes all three at the same time. Yes, Legally Blonde is one of those. Yes, it is on this list. No further questions.
Now is the perfect time to select one of these sweet, balm-for-the-soul films to brush off the work week and relax. Ahead, the best movies to watch during your night in with your squad.
'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.
'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.
'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.
'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.)
'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.
'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.
'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.
'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.
'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).
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?
'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.
'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.
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/live action hybrid. It also features major eye candy, with not just McDreamy but James Marsden too.
'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.
'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.
'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.
'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.
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.
'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.
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.
'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.
'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.
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.
'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*
'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.
'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.
'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?
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.
'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.
'Crazy Rich Asians' (2018)
A billionaire bachelor from 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.
'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.
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.
'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.
'Magic Mike' (2012)
Channing Tatum goes from soccer star to stripper legend in Magic Mike, a movie 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?
'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.
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.
'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.
'Seventeen Again' (2000)
After interacting with an anti-aging chemical, exes Cat and Gene find themselves 50 years younger in their teenage bodies. The estranged couple embraces the change and set out to give themselves a do-over, but life as a teenager in the millennial age is a lot harder than they could have ever imagined it would be.
'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.
'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.
'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.
'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.
Kayleigh Roberts is the weekend editor at Marie Claire, covering celebrity and entertainment news, from actual royals like Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle to Hollywood royalty, like Katie Holmes and Chrissy Teigen. She’s a Ravenclaw who would do great things in Slytherin. To learn more about her, google “Leslie Knope eating salad GIF.
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