The Best Romance Movie In Each Of The Last 10 Years (According To Letterboxd)

There’s nothing quite like a beautifully made romance movie. Whether it’s a tear-jerker like Before Midnight or a lighthearted film like Night Is Short, Walk On Girl, the best onscreen love stories leave a mark on viewers and on cinema as a whole.

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Users on Letterboxd – a social media platform for film buffs – have made it easy for fans of the genre to add the must-see romance movies to their to-watch lists. The highest-rated romantic films from each of the last ten years represent the best that the genre has to offer, and highlight the way it has evolved and improved over the past decade.


Before Midnight (2013) – 4.1

Celine and Jesse walk through a Greek village in Before Midnight

Available to stream on Hulu.

Often considered among the best romance movie franchises, the Before trilogy ends the captivating love story between Céline and Jesse in Before Midnight. Directed by Richard Linklater and set almost two decades after their fateful meeting on a train, the film depicts the pair’s experiences as a more mature couple with children.

Unlike its prequels, the movie takes on a more serious tone, with the duo often questioning if they would have fallen for each other had they met later in life. It doesn’t shy away from portraying problems that don’t usually fit the idealized relationships audiences expect from romance movies. The film wraps up the iconic trilogy in a heartfelt and bittersweet way, leaving fans with a realistic image of the latter years of Céline and Jesse’s relationship.

The Way He Looks (2014) – 4.0

Available to rent on Apple TV+.

Director Daniel Ribeiro’s The Way He Looks gives viewers an unforgettable love story between Leonardo and Gabriel. Leonardo’s struggles with his overprotective parents and challenging plans to move abroad are shattered when the exchange student, Gabriel, walks into the classroom one day.

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The coming-of-age romantic drama depicts the budding romance between the two high school students in a lighthearted but meaningful way. It unapologetically comments on the absurdity of discriminating against such genuine love, as it’s impossible not to root for the pair and feel invested in their will-they-won’t-they dynamic.

Carol (2015) – 4.0

Carol Roony Mara Cate Blanchett

Available to rent on Apple TV+.

With its mesmerizing visuals, well-written lines, and moving story, director Todd Haynes’ Carol is a romance movie fans won’t soon forget. Set in the 1950s, it’s centered on the forbidden affair between Therese Belivet, a department store clerk, and Carol Aird, an older woman going through a divorce.

Audiences who have seen the film know that something about its slow pace, purposeful stretches of silence, and meaningful glances from its protagonists all combine to create a genuinely unique viewing experience. It captures the vibe of the 50s but tells a contemporary and important story about two women who want nothing more than to be together.

The Handmaiden (2016) – 4.4

Handmaiden and heiress in the forest in The Handmaiden

Available to stream on Amazon Prime.

Director Park Chan-Wook’s The Handmaiden is one of the best movies about queer women of color. The romantic psychological thriller blends the genres perfectly, telling a riveting story about the pickpocket Nam Sook-hee who becomes a handmaiden in an attempt to con a rich family.

Things get messy when she inadvertently falls for her boss, Lady Hideko, and her original plans with Count Fujiwara soon unravel. The romance movie somehow mixes jarring violence with its overarching feel of elegance, which is a theme that’s sustained all the way to its powerful ending.

Night Is Short, Walk On Girl (2017) – 4.1

Girl Watching Book Fair

Available to stream on HBO Max.

Night is Short, Walk on Girl is the ideal film to put on for viewers who want to feel a bit nostalgic. The premise of the animated romcom is simple – it follows an unnamed man and woman as they hop from one bookstore to another, have a few drinks, and meet interesting people.

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Director Masaaki Yuasa perfectly captures the feeling and the beauty of youth, and in turn, of being young and in love. There’s a sense of carefreeness about the characters that makes it easy for audiences to connect with them.

Pariyerum Perumal (2018) – 4.1

Pariyan and Jo in Pariyerum Perumal.

Mari Selvaraj wows critics and audiences alike in his directorial debut, with Pariyerum Perumal quickly becoming an iconic drama film praised for its bold social commentary. It tells the story of the titular protagonist who becomes close to his classmate, Jothi Mahalakshmi – the only problem is that Jo is from a higher caste.

Pariyan is shocked by the discrimination and endless lectures he receives from his family, especially considering how they were reacting terribly to an innocent friendship. The budding love story takes a backseat when Pariyan finds himself dealing with atrocious acts of violence and degradation, which further take him out of his naivety.

Portrait Of A Lady On Fire (2019) – 4.4

Portrait Of A Lady On Fire Women touching foreheads

Available to stream on Hulu.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire has rightly become part of contemporary LGBTQ+ cinema essentials. Directed by Céline Sciamma and set in 18th century France, it revolves around the romantic affair that forms between Marianne, a painter, and Héloïse, an aristocrat who has been living on a distant island.

The pair’s love story has become legendary, as viewers are helplessly drawn in by their raw, genuine passion for each other that develops as they spend time on the island together. It’s a deeply emotional film that leaves a lasting impression on fans who are touched by Marianne and Héloïse’s plight.

My First Summer (2020) – 4.0

Two girls having a picnic on the ground in My First Summer

Director Katie Found transports viewers to their younger years with My First Summer. The film is centered on the charming relationship between its protagonists, Claudia and Grace, who meet in the former’s garden one fateful summer day.

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It’s a criminally underrated movie that will remind fans the best parts of being young and in love. It’s impossible not to smile during one of the many sweet scenes between the two as they pick fruits, mess with the laundry, and generally have fun with their summer fling. These lighthearted moments serve to balance the movie’s darker themes and underscore the way love can restore and heal during the darkest times of one’s life.

The Worst Person In The World (2021) – 4.2

Available to rent on Apple TV+.

Already considered one of the best international movies of 2021, director Joachim Trier caps off his Oslo trilogy with The Worst Person in the World. The third and final film in the series depicts the protagonist Julie, as she deals with the seemingly never-ending issues in her love life and the even more pressing problems with her career.

It’s as much a film about a romantic relationship as it is about Julie’s attempts at finding and loving herself. She’s an exceptionally relatable character with realistic problems, which is why fans are likely thankful that they’re able to say goodbye to her and her story in a bittersweet but rewarding way.

Cha Cha Real Smooth (2022) – 4.0

A man and woman enter a room in Cha Cha Real Smooth

Director Cooper Raiff delivers a stirring love story in his latest and already acclaimed work, Cha Cha Real Smooth. The comedy-drama film follows the story of the 22-year-old Andrew, who finds himself feeling lost after graduating from college. He unexpectedly begins an unusual friendship with the charming Domino, an older woman with a teenage daughter.

With its sweet conversations and hard-hitting questions, it becomes difficult to take one’s eyes off the screen once viewers realize how quickly Andrew is falling in love with each new meeting. The movie is an excellent example of an onscreen romance done right, with all its faults, honesty, confusion, emotionality, and rawness.

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