Narrowing down the greatest love stories, of any era, may very well be aerrand. After all, practically every movie has a romantic subplot of one kind or another. It doesn’t matter if it’s a horror movie, an action movie, a biopic or a conventional rom-com; it seems like Hollywood doesn’t even know how to tell a story that doesn’t have a little love in it

That means there’s a lot of competition for the best romantic movies of the 21st century. Whittling the list down to 25 was an agonizing process, like assembling a puzzle that came with way too many pieces. No matter how we assembled it something noteworthy got left out

So before we get started, let’s offer up our sincerest apologies to the celebrated Gosling Triad;
 The Notebook** *and* **CrazyLove **just barely missed the cut. The same goes for feel-good Disney flicks like** *La La Land* **and** *Enchanted*superhero blockbusters like** *WALL-E* **and** *Wonder Woman*and Oscar-winners like** *Spider-Man 2* **and** *The Shape of Water*It seems like** *Lost in Translation* **had just a few too many faults. And we sincerely hope we haven’t offended too many vampires by omitting both** *The Fault in Our Stars* **or** *Only Lovers Left Alive**The Twilight Saga*
But what remains is, we feel, a rich assortment of romances from a variety of perspectives. Each one of these films will make you swoon, laugh or cry, and probably a combination of all three. If hard-pressed, yes, we think these are the best romance movies of the 21st century (so far)

## Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
**Ang Lees ** isn’t, as many films are, an action movie with a love story in it. It’s a love story with an action movie in it. What’s more, it’s oneof a love story, and oneof an amazing action movie. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon** **Michelle Yeoh**and **Chowas martial artists who are in love but, through a stroke of fate, cannot allow themselves to be together. When they encounter a young martial artist, played by **Zhang Ziyi who refuses to abide by the rules that kept them apart, it sparks a heated conflict with lots and lots and LOTS of amazing sword fights. *Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon* plays like a Merchant Ivory film, the kind where everybody holds their emotions back except for young people who, inevitably, create chaos by following their hearts. That those emotions are unleashed in astounding fight choreography by the legendary **Yuen Wo Ping** only elevates Lee’s film further. It’s a glorious ballet of love and war

## In the Mood for Love (2000)
It’s a cliché to use the word “aching” when describing a forbidden romance, but there’s no other way to adequately describe
**Wong Kar-wais masterpiece. ** stars In the Mood for Love** **Maggie Cheung**and **Tony Leung**as people who discover that their spouses are having an affair. Over time, theycloser and closer, and have to decide whether to let themselves fall in love as well. *In the Mood for Love* takes place in a conservative era, where any relationship our protagonists have will draw scrutiny, and even condemnation. Being together would ruin their happiness. Being apart would be just as miserable. And so they ache, in a world gorgeously photographed to emphasize the power of their connection and the depths that separate them. Cheung and Leung are astounding, and few romances before or since have captured such a profound sense of longing

## Love & Basketball (2000)
**Gina Prince-Bythewoods directorial debut is more gloriously assured than the films of many industry veterans and remains one of the high water marks for romance movies over the last 20 years. **Sanaa Lathan** and **Omar Epps** star as Quincy and Monica, next-door neighbors since childhood who both dream of playing professional basketball. Over the course of their lives, they fall in and out of love, they get swept up in their ambitions and their family struggles, and eventually, they always find their way back to each other. * never plays like a romance built on contrivance or manufactured melodrama. It’s full of thoughtfully drawn, rich characters who attract and repel each other naturally, making good and bad choices, and never once ringing false. Lathan and Epps feel just right together; their chemistry is phenomenal throughout, whether they’re on or off the court. Gina Prince-Bythewood’s film never rings a false note. Love &Basketball*
## Amélie (2001)
Lots of romantic movies aim for “quirky” and wind up somewhere in the vicinity of “cloying” by accident. Not so with
**Jean-Pierre Jeunets charmingly weirdstarring Amélie** **Audrey Toutou**as a seemingly timid waitress who has a hidden streak of wild imagination. She gets it into her head to improve the lives of everybody around her, and she insists on doing it in whimsical ways like sending their garden gnomes on holiday without them or tricking her friends into delightful romances

Along the way she winds up finding true love herself, and it’s easy to imagine why. Jeunet’s film is pure love itself, a passionate ode to eccentricity, taking place in a cinematic realm where the kooky can thrive. Toutou captures our imaginations through her impish fascination with the people around her, and through her eyes, we appreciate all the wonders of the world

## Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)
There were a couple of great adaptations of
** Jane Austens *Pride and Prejudice* in the early 2000s, but it’s this charming modern update that stands out the most. ** stars Bridget Jones’s Diary** **Renée Zellweger**stars as Bridget, a woman caught in a love triangle between the dashing Daniel, played by **Hugh Grant and the seemingly disinterested Mr. Darcy, played by **Colin Firthwho, in a bit of stunt casting, famously played Mr. Darcy in a straightforward *Pride and Prejudice*adaptation six years prior)

It’s Zellweger’s film - she earned an Academy Award nomination for her performance - but director
**Sharon Maguire** has wonderfully furnished it for her. *Bridget Jones’s Diary* brings all the smoldering romance and biting commentary of Austen’s novel into the modern-day, finding the tale just as relevant as ever and contemporary romantic expectations just as ripe for cunning commentary as those of the 19th century

## Secretary (2002)
Not everybody loves each other the same way, and yet, few romantic movies seem genuinely interested in truly exploring a lifestyle ofkink. At least we have
**Steven ShainbergsSecretary** **Maggie Gyllenhaal**stars as a young woman who discovers, through an unexpected BDSM relationship with her new boss, that she’s a submissive who yearns for just the right dom. **James Spader**plays her new lover, but even he doesn’t seem wholly comfortable with who he is and what he really wants. *Secretary* is an unusual film about people with very specific needs who find each other. Their desires may be specific but their fantasy is universal: they’re looking for someone who loves them for who they are, who can provide what they need, and with whom they can be mutually happy. That’s a dream that should not merely be reserved for the sensually milquetoast. The kinky deserve true love too, and *Secretary* is that rare love story that respects that everyone has unique needs and tells a lovely story that suggests there’s someone out there for everybody

## Love Actually (2003)
**Richard Curtiss ** seemed to come and go, and then come back again as a perennial yuletide classic. It’s easy to see why Love Actually** *Love Actually*didn’t find an audience right away: it’s astoundingly schmaltzy. It’s also easy to see why the film eventually became a holiday cult favorite: it’s astoundingly schmaltzy. *Love Actually* tells a variety of short romantic stories, loosely connected, if only by geography. People fall in love, people fall out of love, and people make hit Christmas music. Each story is pretty thin on its own but Curtis’s film intercuts between them so sharply that the film practically becomes a deadly weapon. If you can’t stand one tale, another is bound to charm you. And if you happen to like them all, they take on a genuine grandeur as a whole. (And if you don’t like any of these tales, you may very well be a Grinch.)
## Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
*Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind* **Kate Winslet has her ex-boyfriend, Joel ( **Jim Carrey completely eradicated from her mind

In retaliation, Joel decides to have the same thing done, but Clementines proves difficult to forget. The film does not contain any Shakespearean monologues, no chase scenes through Grand Central Station. It’s a story about two people who walk the arduous path of a breakup, which at some point, brings them back together, but it’s technically a fresh start. It’s a surreal, sad, heartfelt, and utterly original love story. And with subplots drawing out even harsher truths about romance and love, led by
**Kirsten Dunst *Eternal Sunshine *is a must-see for any romance fan, even if it doesn't offer the same fuzzy feeling as a **Nicholas Spark**s picture. *- Emma Kiely*
## Before Sunset (2004)
Nine years after making waves with his enchanting love story,
 Before Sunrise** **Richard Linklater**returned with his stars, **Julie Delpy**and **Ethan Hawke to find out what Celine and Jesse have been up to. After spending one perfect night together, meeting and falling in love, and then saying goodbye, they reunite for a few short hours. Did their love story continue when we weren’t looking? And if not, is there any chance to rekindle their romance, or will they write off the whole beautiful first film as a young fling? ** somehow manages to feel light-footed and serious at the same time. Delpy and Hawke have the kind of on-camera connection that few actors could ever dream of, but they have such a short amount of time together, and nearly a whole decade of each other’s questions to answer. Linklater’s film reminds us why we loved them and, perhaps, why they should love each other, but the answer to what happens next is reserved only for the very end, which may very well be the best ending to any romantic tale this century. Heck, maybe even the last century too. Before Sunset**
## Brokeback Mountain (2005)
**Ang Lees powerful Oscar-winning romance ** is one of the most resonant modern westerns. Brokeback Mountain** **Heath Ledger**and **Jake Gyllenhaal**star as mid-20th century cowboys who fall in love on the job and then go their separate ways, each settling for heterosexual marriages that bring them social safety but no happiness. They reconnect and rekindle their romance but each clandestine meeting comes with the danger of discovery

Told with elegiac restraint, adding even more significance to a love affair where little is said,
*Brokeback Mountain* relies on an overwhelming ensemble of performances. Ledger’s quiet dignity and Gyllenhaal’s energy seem to capture lightning, and **Michelle Williams** and **Anne Hathaway** both steal key moments as the women who come to realize they married men who always wanted something else

## The Holiday (2006)
The films of
**Nancy Meyers** tend to portray the lives of the bourgeoisie in fairy tale terms and never was it more successful than inThe Holiday** **Cameron Diaz**and **Kate Winslet**play women who, searching for a change of pace after failed relationships, decide to switch houses. Winslet ventures into Southern California, moving into a palatial mansion next to a charming Golden Age of Hollywood screenwriter and starts to fall for a film composter played by a pitch-perfect **Jack Black Meanwhile, Diaz moves into Winslet’s cozy, super expensive cottage and romances the dapper **Jude Law who turns out to be Winslet’s brother

The perfection on display in
*The Holiday* would be suspect if the title didn’t perfectly frame it: this is an exceptional vacation from everyday life. The problems are emotionally intense but solvable, and the characters have the freedom to worry about their foibles without serious concerns to distract them;little things like bills, for example. And the whole cast is just so unimaginably delightful that you cannot begrudge them this happiness. You can only revel in it, fall a little in love, and then begrudgingly go back to real life. Like thosebills

## Once (2007)
**John Carney** is famous the world over for making passionate, character-driven films full of awesome music, like ** and Begin Again**But his masterpiece is still this infectiously low-key, lovely romance *Sing Street* **stars** *Once* **Glen Hansard**as a busker in Ireland, working in his father’s vacuum cleaner repair shop when he isn’t singing songs about his latest breakup in the street. When his music catches the ear of a Czech immigrant played by **Markéta Irglov they strike up a friendship based on mutual, musical appreciation

And naturally, they fall in love, but sadly, there’s nothing they can do about that. All they can do is scrape together whatever money they can, write some songs, and cut a record. Carney understands that the real thrill of watching their tale play out lies in watching the art his characters make, not in the contrived machinations of a story pushing them this way and that. There’s an intoxicating realness to
*Once*, revelry in the power of music to connect with other human beings, that shines through and makes it truly special

## They Came Together (2014)
There’s a specific brand of romantic comedy that doesn’t get made much anymore but was a box office powerhouse in the 1990s. Fans of films like
 You’ve Got Mail** **and** *While You Were Sleeping* **can recognize every gloriously hackneyed storytelling convention from a mile away, and if they have any sense of humor whatsoever about that *Notting Hill* **David Wains brilliant parody **is just about the perfect comedy *They Came Together* **Paul Rudd** and **Amy Poehler** star as people who are so different they couldn’t possibly get together, who discover they have something in common when they realize they share a unique passion for “fiction books.” But will their love surviveplot points, twee digressions, and wacky supporting cast members? Will it almost be like New York City is a character in the film? You know the answers, but that just makes it more hilarious to Wain and his wacky cast go through those motions in the weirdest, most self-aware ways imaginable

And yet,
*They Came Together* doesn’t feel vicious or condescending. The only way you’d even get all these jokes at the romantic comedy genre’sis if you genuinely loved the romantic comedy genre. Wain’s film is a wonderful comedy roast of the genre, giving it endless guff for its foibles, but hugging it out when the act is done

## Carol (2015)
**Patricia Highsmiths groundbreaking novel **was transformed into one of the most stunning romances in decades. The Price of Salt **directed and adapted by** *Carol* **Todd Haynes stars **Rooney Mara**as a clerk at a department store who meets, quite by chance, a rich socialite played by **Cate Blanchett Their relationship grows into a romance but social mores and the effect a scandal could have on a divorce threatens to tear them apart

Few films are as stunningly photographed and elegantly designed as
*Carol*. It’s a film that understands the effect of affect, where style becomes substance and substance is, itself, a certain manner of style. Haynes’ film cuts through its own aesthetic and sinks into the difficult decisions and stymied inner lives of its heroines. Their story is profound and beautiful, and the harsh realities of conventional and conservative society can only hold them back for so long

## Sleeping With Other People (2015)
There haven’t been a lot of great,rom-coms in the 21st century, but
**Leslye Headlands ** would have stood out even if the competition were stiff. Sleeping With Other People** **Jason Sudeikis**and **Alison Brie**star as Jake and Lainey, two sexually overactive people who realize that their drives are ruining their lives. So they vow not to sleep with each other no matter how aroused they get. And they get very, very aroused. Sudeikis and Brie keep thechemistry at a low boil for all of *Sleeping With Other People*, and yes, we know where this is going and yes, it’s only a matter of time. But Headland’s spry screenplay and winning sense of humor work wonders, and she constantly mines the strong set-up and delightful characters for laugh-out-loud jokes and genuine romance

## Deadpool (2016)
Quite a lot of superhero movies have a love story to tell amidst all the costumed crimefighting, but for some reason it’s the one about a mass murderer who knows he’s in a movie that stands out

** stars Deadpool** **Ryan Reynolds**as a mercenary who finds the love of his life, Vanessa ( **Morena Baccarin a hilarious and sensitive and intelligent and sensual partner who makes his life worth living. So when he finds out he’s dying ofhe flees to spare her the horror of watching himand he runs headlong into a secret government program that tortures him ruthlessly, in the hopes it will cure him and restore his life

It is, of course, a devil’s bargain, and Deadpool emerges with superhuman healing powers but permanently marred skin, which only makes him more self-conscious about reuniting with his partner after so much of their relationship was physical. And at that point yes, there’s lots of action and violence and potty humor, but
*Deadpool* would merely be a lark without a genuine, human story to ground it. And the story of a man whose insecurity nearly robs him of the relationship he wants, who ignores what his lover is telling him because he’s terrified that it’s not what she really needs, is far more thoughtful, accessible, and real than most of the other films in its genre

## Southside With You (2016)
**Richard Tannes intimate and absorbing ** would be one of the best romantic movies of the decade if its subjects were fictional. That it’s also based on the true story of Southside With You** **Barack Obama**and **Michelle Robinsons first date is but another intriguing selling point. *Southside With You*follows Robinson, played by **Tika Sumpter as a young lawyer and Obama’s supervisor, who agrees to meet the summer associate for a community meeting. She hesitantly agrees to meet up earlier, but has no interest in an office romance. *Southside With You* takes place over the course of the afternoon and early evening as these two individuals with powerful personalities share their thoughts on life, on politics, on race, and find a connection building between them. It’s not love at first sight, and it’s not a passionate love affair. It’s two complex individuals with big ideas and serious dreams coming to realize, for the first time, that they could be more. Tanne’s film may not be able to fully escape a sense of mythologizing, and yet few romance movies in recent memory approach love and dating with the same confident maturity, regardless of the context

## The Big(2017)
**Kumail Nanjiani** and **Emily V. Gordon** wrote the screenplay for this observant and extremely funny romance, which is based on their own true story. Nanjiani plays a version of himself, a standup comedian who falls in love with a woman named Emily ( **Zoe Kazan who, suddenly, falls into a coma due to a mysterious ailment. While she’she strikes up an uneasy friendship with her parents, played by **Holly Hunter** and ** Ray Romano ** isn’t afraid to show Kumail in a pretty harsh light, when he deserves it, and it’s that brutal honesty that makes this otherwise humorous film so richly emotional. It’s the kind of movie that uncorks your tear ducts, sometimes without warning, and yet it leaves you feeling nourished and warm and fulfilled. The Big
## Call Me By Your Name (2017)
A teenager finds his first true love, and it’s fleeting, in
**Luca Guadagninos sumptuous romanceCall Me By Your Name** **Timothée Chalamet**stars as Elio, a young man whose father enlists the dashing Oliver, played by **Armie Hammer as his research assistant for the summer. It’s a summer of longing glances and will-they-or-won’t-they suspense until it finally consummates in a passionate love affair they won’t soon forget, even if fate has other plans for their future. *Call Me By Your Name*is a love letter to practically everything. The film’s glorious Italian villa locale is the ideal setting for a romantic drama, the music is intoxicating, and the cast has never been more ethereally captured on camera

## God's Own Country (2017)
Set in rural Yorkshire,
**follows the relationship between a sullen young farmer, Johnny ( God's Own Country ** **Josh O'Connor and Gheorghe ( **Alec Secăreanu a Romanian immigrant who comes to help with the farm. Johnny spends his days estranged from his father, drinking to oblivion, and having secretrendezvous with other men, as he is still not out. He feels left behind as his friends went on to university, escaping their small, isolated town. It seems as though Johnny has acquiesced to the fact that he'll live a sad, lonely life, but Gheorghe's arrival changes everything. From resentment, to slowtension to finally, a burst of passion that sees the men unable to keep their hands off each other, Johnny and Gheorghe's road to love is a windy one, but that's what makes it all the more rewarding when we see the two finally embrace their feelings for each other. *God's Own Country*depicts the journey of self-discovery that one needs to embark on to feel like they deserve the love they want. Miles away from the sunny Italian setting of *Call Me By Your Name,*this