The 75 Best Rom-Coms of All Time

Your ultimate guide to the (arguably) best film genre: the romantic comedy.

some of the best romantic comedies including clueless and crazy rich asians
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Romantic comedies: Love them or tolerate them—and let's be honest, you can't hate a rom-com—they're always good for a cozy evening in and a life lesson or two. They're also versatile: As with all the best movies, you can enjoy a good romantic comedy with almost anyone in your life, from your partner to your parents to your best friend. For when nothing but a good rom-com will do, those of us obsessed with the genre at Marie Claire have put together our list of the best romantic comedies of all time.

On this list, you’ll find picks from the genre’s queens, a.k.a. Julia Roberts and Nora Ephron. And while rom-coms are all generally funny and romantic (duh!), the films on our list feature a wide variety of plots and classic tropes. Are you looking for an enemies-to-lovers romance? We got you—The Proposal made this list. Love watching a couple fake date only to fall in love à la 10 Things I Hate About You style? Same. Stressing over who two teenagers will take to the prom? (Plot twist: They'll meet each other there.) That's our favorite activity! 

Our point is, rom-coms are the butter of the movie world—they just go perfectly with whatever you're craving. We've ordered our list of the 75 best rom-coms by genre, from laugh-out-loud rom-coms to teen versions to bittersweet rom-coms that will make you laugh and shed a tear or two. Last, you’ll find our final section dedicated to the absolute best of this genre.

The Best Laugh-Out-Loud Rom-Coms

'50 First Dates'

Director: Peter Segal

Stars: Drew Berrymore, Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider

Rom-com tropes: Fantasy/vacation setting 

Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler's chemistry is undeniable in the feel-good movie 50 First Dates (2004), where Henry (Sandler) falls in love with a woman named Lucy (Barrymore) who has short-term memory loss. Every day, Henry tries to get Lucy to fall in love with him until she remembers him.

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'Knocked Up'

Director: Judd Apatow 

Stars: Katherine Heigl, Seth Rogan, Leslie Mann

Rom-com tropes: Friends to lovers

Let's all take a moment to acknowledge Knocked Up is 15 years old. (Ugh, now we feel old.) Never forget Katherine Heigl and Seth Rogen who play, respectively, a rising journalist and an irresponsible slacker who have a one-night stand and, well, you get it...

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'Forgetting Sarah Marshall'

Director: Nicholas Stoller

Stars: Jason Segal, Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell 

Rom-com tropes: Trouble with the ex, fantasy/vacation setting

Jason Segel stars as Peter, who is completely shattered when he's dumped by his famous, TV star girlfriend, Sarah Marshall. In an attempt to get over her, he goes to Hawaii, only to find that he's staying in the same hotel as Sarah and her new, obnoxious boyfriend.

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'The Parent Trap'

Director: Nancy Meyers

Stars: Lindsey Lohan, Dennis Quaid, Natasha Richardson

Rom-com tropes: Old flames reignited, third-act declarations of love 

Come for Lindsay Lohan being absolutely iconic in her role as twins Hallie Parker and Annie James trying to get their parents back together, stay for Daddy Dennis Quaid who broke all of our late '90s hearts. 

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'Some Like It Hot'

Director: Billy Wilder

Stars: Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon

Rom-com tropes: The makeover, third-act declarations of love 

Marilyn Monroe plays a member of a traveling jazz band who believes she's fallen in love with a millionaire, when in fact she's being duped by one of her fellow band members (a man on the run who's pretending to be a woman). Some Like It Hot features one of the steamiest kisses in film history and lots of great Marilyn Monroe song numbers.

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'27 Dresses'

Director: Anne Fletcher

Stars: Katherine Heigl, James Marsden, Malin Akerman

Rom-com tropes: Opposites attract, third-act declarations of love

Come for the gorgeous dresses, stay for the "Bennie and the Jets" bar duet between Katherine Heigl and James Marsden. For anybody out there who feels like a forever bridesmaid, this 2008 movie will have you laughing and crying all at once.

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'The Proposal'

Director: Anne Fletcher

Stars: Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds, Betty White

Rom-com tropes: Opposites attract, enemies to lovers, fantasy/vacation setting

A hotshot book editor (Sandra Bullock) facing deportation to Canada forces her younger male assistant (Ryan Reynolds) to marry her for a green card. During a trip to visit his family and sell the lie, they really fall in love. Yes, it's a #MeToo nightmare, but rom-coms sometimes live in their own special alternate universe.

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'Something Borrowed'

Director: Luke Greenfield 

Stars: Ginnifer Goodwin, Kate Hudson, John Krasinski 

Rom-com tropes: Friends to lovers, third-act declarations of love 

What happens when you're in love with your best friend's fiancé and you don't know what to do about it? Allow Something Borrowed (2011) to show you! Things get messy and multiple declarations of love ensue. 

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'Deliver Us From Eva'

Director: Gary Hardwick

Stars: Gabrielle Union, LL Cool J, Essence Atkins

Rom-com tropes: Fake dating 

Two men hire a sweet-talking Casanova named Ray to temporarily court their no-nonsense sister-in-law, but things go awry when Ray also wins over the hearts of their lady loves. Deliver Us From Eva hits all the necessary points of a good rom-com: a contract relationship, insane chemistry, and a kidnapping plot.

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'Coming to America'

Director: John Landis 

Stars: Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, Shari Headley, 

Rom-com tropes: Opposites attract

There's a literal royal romance at the heart of this classic Eddie Murphy film. Prince Hakeem of the fictional nation Zamunda (Murphy) travels to Queens, NY, to find his true love, rather than have an arranged marriage. He falls for local beauty Lisa (Shari Headley), but he has to win her away from her Jheri-curl sporting boyfriend.

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The Best Bittersweet Rom-Coms

'Waitress'

Director: Adrienne Shelly

Stars: Keri Russell, Nathan Fillion, Jeremy Sisto

Rom-com tropes: Forbidden romance

Before it was a hit Broadway musical, Waitress was a charming indie rom-com. Both tell the story of a small-town waitress who begins an affair with her OBGYN after she accidentally becomes pregnant by her no-good husband. 

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'500 Days of Summer'

Director: Marc Webb

Stars: Zooey Deschanel, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Geoffrey Arend

Rom-com tropes: The meet-cute

All of the millennial angst of meeting someone who you believe to be the one, followed by disillusionment and despair, is captured in this excellent *non-romance* starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel. Bookmark this to watch alone, and experience all the feels.

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'Silver Linings Playbook'

Director: David O. Russel 

Stars: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro

Rom-com tropes: Trouble with the ex, third-act declarations of love

It's about mental illness, and it also manages to be sweet and incredibly funny. It doesn't hurt that the two leads, played by Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, are giving some of their best work (Lawrence won an Oscar for the role). Come for the snappy banter, stay to watch two people who are imperfectly perfect for each other fall in love.

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'Love and Basketball'

Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood

Stars: Sanaa Lathan, Omar Epps, Jedd Williard

Rom-com tropes: Friends to lovers 

This movie includes one of the sexiest scenes ever, a good old fashioned friends-to-more-than-just-friends storyline, and some heart-wrenching heartbreak. Oh, and Omar Epps.

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'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind'

Director: Michael Gondry 

Stars: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst

Rom-com tropes: Memory-loss

With a comical air, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind dives into breakups, breakdowns, and breakthroughs. When Clementine (Kate Winslet) decides to forget her painful relationship with Joel (Carrey) through a new procedure, Joel decides to do the same thing. As his memories with Clementine fade, he realizes he may be making a mistake. Its sweet message, outstanding performances, and trippy visuals will stay with you long after the credits roll. 

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The Best Teen Rom-Coms

'Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist'

Director: Peter Sollett

Stars: Michael Cera, Kat Dennings

Rom-com tropes: Fake dating

Michael Cera was basically the king of the mid-aughts rom-coms. In Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, Cera stars as high school student Nick who meets Norah after she asks him to pretend to be her boyfriend. Throughout the night, they bond over their love for music.

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'Juno'

Director: Jason Reitman

Stars: Elliot Page, Michael Cera, Jennifer Garner

Rom-com tropes: Friends to lovers

Featuring gorgeous performances by Elliot Page and Michael Cera, Juno features an unplanned pregnancy between high school besties, the journey towards adoption, and the cutest (unconventional) on-screen romance since...ever?

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'She's All That'

Director: Robert Iscove

Stars: Freddie Prinze Jr., Rachel Leigh Cook, Matthew Lillard

Rom-com tropes: Opposites attract

A jock bets his friends that he can turn any girl into the prom queen and they choose the ultimate challenge: Rachel Leigh Cook with glasses and paint on her clothes. Problematic teen comedy tropes aside, it's a quintessentially '90s rom-com.

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'To All the Boys I've Loved Before'

Director: Susan Johnson

Stars: Lana Condor, Noah Centineo, John Corbett

Rom-com tropes: Fake dating, opposites attract

Number one on the very short list of good things to come out of 2018: To All the Boys I've Loved Before, the rom-com starring Lana Condor and my boyfriend Noah Centineo. We broke down why it's so damn good here (opens in new tab).

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'Love, Simon'

Director: Greg Berlanti

Stars: Nick Robinson, Katherine Langford, Jennifer Garner

Rom-com tropes: The meet-cute

Love, Simon has been praised for its long-overdue Hollywood storyline about a gay teenage romance starring Nick Robinson, Katherine Langford, and your faves Josh Duhamel and Jennifer Garner. While dealing with a blackmailer who has threatened to "out" Simon to the entire school, the teen is also attempting to balance home life and the classmate he fell in love with online. You know, the usual!

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'Say Anything'

Director: Cameron Crowe

Stars: John Cusack, Ione Skye, John Mahoney

Rom-com tropes: Opposites attract, third-act declaration of love

An '80s classic film, from the famous Peter Gabriel boombox scene to the teenage coming-of-age love story. You'll never look at trench coats and sneakers the same way.

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'Grease'

Director: Randal Kleiser

Stars: John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing

Rom-com tropes: Opposites attract, the makeover

Okay, so you don't immediately shout "ROM-COM!" when Grease (1978) appears on your screen, but it is a romantic musical movie that has a lot of snarky comedy throughout. Plus, it's just iconic!

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'She's the Man'

Director: Andy Fickman

Stars: Amanda Bynes, Channing Tatum, Laura Ramsey 

Rom-com tropes: The makeover

I don't care if you've seen this once or 100 times (like myself), this underrated gem is guaranteed to make you laugh. Amanda Bynes stars as Viola, a soccer star who impersonates her brother to make the team at an elite boarding school. There, she meets the swoon-worthy jock, Duke, played by none other than Channing Tatum, and things get complicated. The chemistry between Tatum and Bynes is off the charts and Bynes' take on how girls think guys act is nothing short of comedy gold (The tampon-in-the-nose bit still makes me giggle just thinking about it). 

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The Best Classic Rom-Coms

'His Girl Friday'

Director: Howard Hawks

Stars: Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, Ralph Bellamy

Rom-com tropes: Trouble with the ex

If you like witty banter and dialogue so fast it would make the Gilmore Girls tongue-tied, then His Girl Friday is the rom-com classic for you. 

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'Love Jones'

Director: Theodore Witcher

Stars: Larenz Tate, Nia Long, Isaiah Washington 

Rom-com tropes: Trouble with the ex

In this classic, a poet (Larenz Tate) and a photographer (Nia Long) fall in love in '90s Chicago, but their ambitions and exes get in the way of their relationship.

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'Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon'

Director: Sooraj R. Barjatya

Stars: Hrithik Roshan, Kareena Kapoor, Abhishek Bachchan

Rom-com tropes: Friends to lovers, third-act declarations of love

A girl gets set up with the heir to a multi-million dollar company and falls in love with him only to discover that he's not at all who everyone thought he was. This iconic Bollywood rom-com is considered a classic for a reason, complete with dreamy, longing gazes and killer dance sequences.

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'Serendipity'

Director: Peter Chelsom

Stars: John Cusack, Kate Beckinsale

Rom-com tropes: Old flames reignite, Christmas-time

Rom-coms are all ultimately about fate bringing two perfect-for-each-other people together, and Serendipity takes that idea and runs with it. This quintessential winter movie stars Kate Beckinsale and John Cusack as strangers who share a perfect, romantic night together in New York City and then, instead of exchanging contact information, put their phone numbers on random objects and send them out into the universe, trusting fate to bring them back together if it's truly meant to be. 

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'The Shop Around the Corner'

Director: Ernst Lubitsch

Stars: Margaret Sullavan, James Stewart, Frank Morgan

Rom-com tropes: Enemies to lovers

If you love You've Got Mail, you'll love The Shop Around the Corner, which is the movie the Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan classic is based on (but, you know, pre-AOL). 

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'The Seven Year Itch'

Director: Billy Wilder

Stars: Marilyn Monroe, Tom Ewell, Evelyn Keyes

Rom-com tropes: Forbidden romance

The Seven Year Itch is about a man who considers cheating on his wife with his gorgeous, model neighbor. Marilyn Monroe and Tom Ewell show that infidelity (or at least the idea of it) can be more hilarious than you'd imagine. 

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'It Happened One Night'

Director: Frank Capra

Stars: Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert, Walter Connolly

Rom-com tropes: Enemies to lovers

This 1934 classic rom-com from acclaimed director Frank Capra focuses on a spoiled heiress named Ellie who marries a scheming man. Her dad then does the only logical thing and kidnaps her away on his yacht. Ellie, being the free spirit she is, jumps ship and meets up with a hardened newspaper reporter played Clark Gable, who sets off to help her link back up with her husband, but ends up catching feelings.

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'Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge'

Director: Aditya Chopra

Stars: Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol, Amrish Puri

Rom-com tropes: Fantasy/vacation setting

The longest-running Hindi film ever literally rewrote the rom-com, as a modernized Romeo-and-Juliet tale with a celebration of Indian culture and an exploration of important issues like liberalization. All that, plus catchy songs and gorgeous dancing in perfect Bollywood fashion. Marie Claire's Neha Prakash did an oral history of the iconic movie (opens in new tab).

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'Bringing Up Baby'

Director: Howard Hawks 

Stars: Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, Charles Ruggles 

Rom-com tropes: Opposites attract

In this classic screwball comedy, Cary Grant stars as a paleontologist who needs a donation from a wealthy benefactor for his museum. Things get complicated when he meets said benefactor's wacky niece (Katherine Hepburn), who pulls him into an adventure involving, among other things, a dinosaur and a (kind of) tamed leopard.

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'While You Were Sleeping'

Director: Jon Turteltaub

Stars: Sandra Bullock, Bill Pullman, Peter Gallagher

Rom-com tropes: Memory-loss

A woman named Lucy (Sandra Bullock) saves her secret crush from being hit by a train. She goes to the hospital with him and accidentally implies to his family that they're engaged (oops). When he wakes up and doesn't remember her, everyone assumes he has amnesia and he just...is engaged to her. But then—awkward—Lucy starts to fall for Mr. Right's brother (Bill Pullman, in peak awkward-adorable form).

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'The Wedding Planner'

Director: Adam Shankman

Stars: Jennifer Lopez, Matthew McConaughey, Judy Greer

Rom-com tropes: The meet-cute 

Two words: Jennifer Lopez. The actress/singer/goddess takes us back to 2001 when she stars opposite Matthew McConaughey in The Wedding Planner. If you can get past the white male savior complex at the start of the movie (McConaughey saves Lopez from getting run over by a huge cart and also happens to be the doctor who takes care of her in the hospital), the plot will completely throw you for a loop.

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'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes'

Director: Howard Hawks 

Stars: Marilyn Monroe, Jane Russel, Charles Coburn

Rom-com tropes: Opposites attract

In this classic, Marilyn Monroe plays a showgirl who gets engaged to a wealthy man—much to the chagrin of his family. The man's father hires a private detective to tail Monroe's character during a cruise with a girlfriend, looking out for anything that might ruin the marriage.

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'The Philadelphia Story'

Director: George Cukor

Stars: Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, James Stewart

Rom-com tropes: Love triangle, third-act declarations of love

A rom-com for the ages, this classic from 1940 stars Carey Grant and Katharine Hepburn as a married couple on the rocks. Hepburn plays Tracey Lord, a socialite who attempts to remarry after throwing out her ex-husband (Grant). That is, until he shows up to her nuptials with an investigative journalist who's clued in on her dark family history.

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'Moonstruck'

Director: Norman Jewison 

Stars: Cher, Nicolas Cage, Olympia Dukakis 

Rom-com tropes: Forbidden romance

The full moon sometimes makes us do crazy things—or, at least, that's what we'd like to blame—which is the central theme of this film about a widow (played by the fabulous Cher) who travels with her fiancé to Sicily to meet his family. She ends up falling for his baker brother (Nicolas Cage) while her father and mother engage in extra-marital affairs. The romantic hijinx won over critics who awarded the film three Oscars, including a Best Actress award for Cher.

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'Groundhog Day' 

Director: Harold Ramis

Stars: Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Chris Elliott

Rom-com tropes: The player falls in love

This classic rom-com starring Bill Murray set the premise for a ton of modern films. Murray stars as a conceited weatherman named forced to relive February 2, aka Groundhog day. After spending what may be months reliving the day, Phil decides to pursue Rita (Andie McDowell) and devotes the repeating day to becoming the best version of himself for her. This one features a lot of hilarious and moving moments. 

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'Jerry Maguire'

Director: Cameron Crowe 

Stars: Tom Cruise, Renée Zellweger, Cuba Gooding Jr.

Rom-com tropes: The player falls in love 

In this classic '90s movie, the titular sports agent (Cruise) has a crisis after he's suddenly fired at the top of his game. Desperately clinging to his career. Maguire starts his own management firm with the only employee who would leave, a single mother named Dorothy (Zellweger). While struggling to make the business work, the two grow closer than ever before in this sweet, corny-at-times rom-com. Cruise earned an Oscar nomination with his performance, but we'd argue Zellweger deserved a nom, too. 

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'Something's Gotta Give'

Director: Nancy Meyers

Stars: Diane Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Keanu Reeves

Rom-com tropes: Enemies to lovers

There's something about sticking the enemies-to-lovers trope in a couple in their golden years to make a rom-com really special. In Something's Gotta Give, womanizer Harry (Nicholson) shows up at his young girlfriend's Hamptons home only to find her disapproving mother (Keaton) residing over. The two come to blows over the age-inappropriate relationship but they soon find their heated arguments make way to love. 

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The Best Modern Rom-Coms

'Think Like a Man'

Director: Tim Story

Stars: Gabrielle Union, Kevin Hart, Regina Hall 

Rom-com tropes: Multiple storylines, the player falls in love, opposites attract

This rom-com based on Steve Harvey's best-selling advice book considers what happens when single women start acting more like the men they date. Instead of focusing on one romance, we get to follow multiple couples in a star-studded cast, including Gabrielle Union, Michael Ealy, Regina Hall, and Megan Good.

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'Sleeping With Other People'

Director: Leslye Headland 

Stars: Jason Sudeikis, Alison Brie, Jordan Carlos

Rom-com tropes: Old flames reignited, friends to lovers, the player falls in love

This subversive rom-called, often called the "raunchy When Harry Met Sally," stars Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie as college exes who reconnect and decide to stay platonic friends as they look for love with super-messy consequences (both are prone to cheat and they meet again outside a sex addiction meeting). 

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'The Beauty Inside'

Director: Jong-Yeol Baek 

Stars: Han Hyo-joo, Park Seo-joon, Juri Ueno

Rom-com tropes: Third-act declarations of love, fantasy/vacation setting

This sweet Korean film follows Woo-jin, who wakes up every day in a different body. No matter if he's a man or a woman, an adult or a child, one thing never changes: he's in love with Yi-soo. Once she falls for him as well, the couple has to figure out how to find their happily ever after within this strange situation.

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'Set It Up'

Director: Claire Scanlon 

Stars: Zoey Deutch, Glen Powell, Lucy Liu

Rom-com tropes: Enemies to lovers

Nothing's better for our nostalgic hearts than a new film that takes inspiration from the best rom-coms of all time. Underlings Harper (Zoey Deutch) and Charlie (Glen Powell) use all the tricks from the book to set up their demanding bosses Kirsten (Lucy Liu) and Rick (Taye Diggs), with interesting results for both of the pairs.

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'Always Be My Maybe'

Director: Nahnatchka Khan

Stars: Ali Wong, Randall Park, Daniel Dae Kim

Rom-com tropes: Friends to lovers

It may be a new release, but Always Be My Maybe is so good that you're definitely going to want to watch it as many times as humanly possible. The Netflix production stars comedians Ali Wong and Randall Park as childhood sweethearts who reconnect after 15 long years. Heartthrob Daniel Dae Kim makes an appearance, as does Keanu Reeves—pretty much playing himself. The perfect new movie for girls' night.

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'Happiest Season'

Director: Clea DuVall

Stars: Kristen Stewart, Mackenzie Davis, Dan Levy 

Rom-com tropes: Christmas-time

This film nails a lot of things simultaneously: It's a funny rom-com, an adorable, sweet, sensitive love story between two women, and a painfully relatable story about complicated family dynamics and how we present ourselves to the world. And it's a perfect holiday movie?? It's got everything!

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'Trainwreck'

Director: Judd Apatow

Stars: Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, Tilda Swinton

Rom-com tropes: Opposites attract 

Bill Hader should be the leading man in everything. Forever. And Amy Schumer's immense writing and acting skills are on full display. This movie is a perfect storm of a great script, great casting, and great chemistry.

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'Just Wright'

Director: Sanaa Hamri

Stars: Queen Latifah, Common, Paula Patton

Rom-com tropes: Friends to lovers

Queen Latifah plays a down-on-her-luck physical therapist who finds herself in the employ of a hotshot basketball player (played by Common) after he suffers from a career-threatening injury. The chemistry in this one is something—prepare to swoon.

WATCH IT (opens in new tab).

'Long Shot'

Director: Jonathan Levine 

Stars: Charlize Theron, Seth Rogan, O'Shea Jackson

Rom-com tropes: Old flames reignited 

Who knew Seth Rogen would be the ideal rom-com lead? This seemingly odd couple pairing between him and Charlize Theron makes perfect sense once you get the two of them in a room for five minutes. Pair it with sharp, literally laugh-out-loud dialogue and this becomes an underrated gem. 

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'Palm Springs'

Director: Max Barbakow

Stars: Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, J.K. Simmons

Rom-com tropes: Fantasy/vacation setting 

Palm Springs is both a perfect analogy for the pandemic and one of the best modern-day rom-coms. Two guests at a wedding (Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti) have to relive the same day over and over again, in true Groundhog Day style. If you've ever had to go to multiple weddings in the same year, it's even more relatable. 

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'Crazy Rich Asians'

Director: Jon M. Chu

Stars: Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh

Rom-com tropes: Fantasy/vacation setting, opposites attract

For the first time, Asians are finally getting the representation and recognition they deserve on the big screen. Twenty-eighteen's buzziest rom-com is based on Kevin Kwan's best-selling novel (opens in new tab) Crazy Rich Asians, and stars Constance Wu and Henry Golding. Rachel Chu (Wu) visits her boyfriend's (Golding) family on a summer trip to Singapore and notices he fails to mention a few details...like the fact that they're mega rich, hard to please, and, oh yeah, that he's the country's most eligible bachelor.

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'Definitely, Maybe'

Director: Adam Brooks 

Stars: Ryan Reynolds, Rachel Weisz, Abigail Breslin

Rom-com tropes: Old flames reignited

A father going through a divorce is thrown for a loop when his 11-year-old daughter asks about his romantic past. As Ryan Reyonlds narrates a sanitized version of a 1992 bachelor lifestyles, we get to guess along with Abigail Breslin on which woman becomes her mom.

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'The Big Sick'

Director: Michael Showalter

Stars: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter

Rom-com tropes: Forbidden romance

Romances are always sweeter when they're based on real-life stories, which is why this rom-com from Kumail Nanjiani is such a breath of fresh air. It grounds the typical rom-com tropes in a time of Uber and dating apps, portraying an interracial romance between stand-up comic Kumail (played by himself) and his wife Emily (played by indie rom-com queen Zoe Kazan). They face their biggest challenge when Emily develops a sudden sickness that lands her in a coma.

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The All-Time Best Rom-Coms

'When Harry Met Sally'

Director: Rob Reiner

Stars: Meg Ryan, Billy Crystal, Carrie Fisher

Rom-com tropes: Friends to lovers

This quintessential rom-com begs the question: "Can guys and girls ever truly be friends?" Rom-com queen Meg Ryan goes toe-to-toe with Billy Crystal in a story about an 11-year friendship between two friends who (hilariously) try to keep the line between friends and lovers separate. Nora Ephron's immaculate screenplay is poetry.

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'Clueless'

Director: Amy Heckerling

Stars: Alicia Silverstone, Stacey Dash, Paul Rudd

Rom-com tropes: The makeover, forbidden romance

Obviously you have seen this, so you don't need to read a description. (Okay okayyyy if somehow you haven't, here you go: This modern update of Jane Austen's Emma sees a California high-school girl as she balances her social life, bettering herself and others, and keeping up her expansive closet.)

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'How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days'

Director: Donald Petrie

Stars: Kate Hudson, Matthew McConaughey, Kathryn Hahn

Rom-com tropes: Fake dating

A lady mag journalist wants to take on more serious pieces, so her boss assigns her one last fluff piece as a final challenge: a story on how to lose a guy in 10 days. She uses all of the behavior men have been calling women "crazy" for for ages, but ends up falling for the guy she's trying to get rid of. What she doesn't know is that he's taken a bet that he can make her fall in love with him, so it's a classic conflict of interests.

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'13 Going on 30'

Director: Gary Winick

Stars: Jennifer Garner, Mark Ruffalo, Judy Greer

Rom-com tropes: Friends to lovers

All Jenna Rink wants to be is "30, flirty, and thriving" until she actually gets what she wishes for. The bewilderment of being 13 in a 30-year-old's body is played pretty much perfectly here by Jennifer Garner, and this film captures the exact moment where the world truly fell in love with Mark Ruffalo.

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'Mamma Mia'

Director: Phyllida Lloyd

Stars: Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried, Pierce Brosnan

Rom-com tropes: Fantasy/vacation setting, old flames reignited

If you need a reminder of how great of an actress Amanda Seyfried is, watch Mamma Mia!, then bask in the glory of Meryl Streep who plays her mother in the film. The premise: Sophie (Seyfried) goes on a quest to find her birthfather to walk her down the aisle and decides to invite all of the potential suitors (read: her mother's exes) without telling her. The Greek setting will make you want to book a vacation ASAP...and the soundtrack will make you want to download several ABBA albums.

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'My Big Fat Greek Wedding'

Director: Joel Zwick 

Stars: Nia Vardalos, John Corbett, Michael Constantine

Rom-com tropes: Forbidden romance

You'll never look at Windex the same after watching this movie. But in all seriousness, this classic 2000s film stars Nia Vardalos and John Corbett (during his SATC days). Vardalos, who plays a young Greek woman who comes from a—you guessed it—insanely big Greek family, falls in love with a non-Greek man. Things get...complicated.

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'The Holiday'

Director: Nancy Meyers

Stars: Kate Winslett, Cameron Diaz, Jude Law

Rom-com tropes: Multiple storylines, fantasy/vacation setting, Christmas-time

Two women from opposite sides of the pond who are unlucky in love decide to swap home and, in the process, maybe totally find their soulmates.

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'10 Things I Hate About You'

Director: Gil Junger

Stars: Heath Ledger, Julia Stiles, Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Rom-com tropes: Fake dating, third-act declarations of love, opposites attract

One of the most clever teen comedies of all time, 10 Things I Hate About You is a classic for its whip-smart script and hilarious camaraderie between the actors (see: a young Heath Ledger and Joseph Gordon-Levitt). Not to mention all the signature rom-com moments, from epic dance and song scenes (honestly, it's worth watching just to see Heath Ledger's immortal dance number with a marching band) to public declarations of love.

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'Crazy, Stupid, Love'

Directors: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa

Stars: Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone 

Rom-com tropes: Multiple storylines, trouble with the ex, the player falls in love

Hopefully there'll be many more romantic movies (opens in new tab) to come from Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, because they're irresistible as a pair. Gosling plays a ladies' man who falls for the deadpan, unsinkable Hannah (Stone), while he's also trying to help a hapless divorce (played by Steve Carrell) get his manly groove back.

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'The Princess Bride'

Director: Rob Reiner

Stars: Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin, Robin Wright

Rom-com tropes: Fantasy/vacation setting

Equal parts fairytale romance and laugh-out-loud comedy, The Princess Bride is a classic for all ages—with its self-described best kiss of all time. 

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'Four Weddings and a Funeral'

Director: Mike Newell

Stars: Hugh Grant, Andie MacDowell, James Fleet

Rom-com tropes: The meet-cute 

Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell in this rom-com classic about an Englishman and an American woman who meet at a wedding...and then (just like the title says) three others and a funeral.

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'Pretty Woman'

Director: Garry Marshall

Stars: Richard Gere, Julia Roberts, Jason Alexander

Rom-com tropes: Fake dating, opposites attract

Clearly this is a requirement. Julia Roberts is epic in this movie about a wealthy businessman (Richard Gere) who becomes smitten with a prostitute he hires on a whim.

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'How Stella Got Her Groove Back'

Director: Kevin Rodney Sullivan

Stars: Angela Bassett, Taye Diggs, Whoopi Goldberg

Rom-com tropes: Fantasy/vacation setting

Stella (Angela Bassett) goes on vacation to Jamaica and meets a hot man almost half her age (Taye Diggs). The two hit it off—obviously—but can their love make it outside of the vacation bubble?

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'Love Actually'

Director: Richard Curtis

Stars: Kiera Knightley, Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson

Rom-com tropes: Multiple storylines, friends to lovers, third-act declarations of love, Christmas-time

The gift that keeps on giving. Love Actually is a go-to comedy during the holiday season, and everyone has their favorite plot line from the many diverging love stories that take place.

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'Sleepless in Seattle'

Director: Nora Ephron 

Stars: Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, Rita Wilson

Rom-com tropes: The meet-cute

When Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan come together, rom-com magic happens. (Not-so-spoiler alert: This isn't the only film with them on this list.) In this classic, a recent widower's son calls in to a radio show to find his dad a new love.

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'Bridget Jones's Diary'

Director: Sharon Maguire

Stars: Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, Hugh Grant

Rom-com tropes: Love triangle, friends to lovers 

The hilarious and uncensored Bridget Jones (played by Renée Zellweger) forever has our loyalty as a news anchor caught in a love triangle with her boss and her childhood friend Mr. Mark Darcy (naturally modeled off the brooding Pride & Prejudice suitor). The British humor is pitch perfect and glorifies the idea of waiting for someone who likes you "just as you are."

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'My Best Friend's Wedding'

Director: P.J. Hogan

Stars: Julia Roberts, Dermot Mulroney, Cameron Diaz

Rom-com tropes: Friends to lovers

No movie captures the frustration of being in love with your best friend quite like My Best Friend's Wedding, a sublime rom-com starring '90s screen queens Cameron Diaz and Julia Roberts. Roberts plays a 27-year old food critic who realizes she's in love with her best guy friend. When he announces he's getting married to a college-aged student, she decides to subtly sabotage their wedding.

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'Breakfast at Tiffany's'

Director: Blake Edwards

Stars: Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard, Patricia Neal 

Rom-com tropes: Opposites attract

This Audrey Hepburn classic spawned a million dorm room posters and it's an enduring classic in the rom-com genre to this day. The movie follows Holly Golightly, a young woman looking for a rich, older man to marry—but finds herself falling for a young man in her apartment building instead. Some aspects have aged poorly, but Hepburn's performance is timeless.

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'Notting Hill'

Director: Roger Michell

Stars: Hugh Grant, Julia Robert, Richard McCabe

Rom-com tropes: Opposites attract 

This rom-com is just the story of a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her—after a long, complicated love story, that is. Julia Roberts plays a world-famous actress (a stretch, right?) who falls for an average London bookshop owner (played by Hugh Grant).

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'You've Got Mail'

Director: Nora Ephron

Stars: Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, Greg Kinnear

Rom-com tropes: Enemies to lovers

You've Got Mail is another Marie Claire favorite—so much so that we had our Gen-Y and Gen-Z co-workers watch the movie (opens in new tab) in honor of its 20th anniversary to see what still holds up. Set in '90s NYC, Meg Ryan plays Kathleen, the owner of a small children’s bookstore, and Tom Hanks plays rival bookstore owner. They meet online and, well, we won't spoil the rest for you.

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'Roman Holiday'

Director: William Wyler 

Stars: Gregory Peck, Audrey Hepburn, Eddie Albert

Rom-com tropes: Fantasy/vacation setting

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's love story is only the second most romantic tale of European royalty falling for an American. The first is Roman Holiday, which stars Audrey Hepburn as an overwhelmed princess who runs away from her responsibilities on a trip to Rome and ends up romantically entangled with an American reporter.

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Brooke Knappenberger
Editorial Fellow

Brooke Knappenberger is the Editorial Fellow at Marie Claire, where she writes across the board from books and celebrities to fashion and beauty. As a pop culture junkie, Brooke obsessively consumes and writes about the latest movie releases, streaming TV shows, and celebrity scandals. Brooke is a proud St. Louis native and is currently living in New York City. Outside of work, you can find her either jamming out to Drake, reading a Sarah J. Maas novel, or shamelessly online shopping.