25 finest love movies of the 21st century up to now

Narrowing down the greatest love stories of all time can be a breeze. After all, practically every movie has a romantic subplot of one type or another. It doesn't matter if it's a horror film, an action film, 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.

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That said, there's a lot of competition for the best 21st century romantic films. Reducing the list to 25 was an excruciating process, like putting together a puzzle that came with way too many pieces. No matter how we put it together, something noteworthy was left out.

Before we begin, we would like to sincerely apologize to the famous Gosling Triad. The notebook, Crazy stupid love, and La La Land just missed the cut. The same goes for feel-good Disney films like Bewitched and WALL-E, Like superhero blockbusters Wonder woman and Spider-Man 2and Oscar winners like The shape of the water and Lost in translation. As it appears The fault in our stars just had a few too many mistakes. And we sincerely hope we haven't offended too many vampires by leaving out both of them Only lovers are still alive or The Twilight Saga.

What remains, in our opinion, is a rich selection of romances from different perspectives. Any of these films will make you pass out, laugh or cry, and likely a combination of all three. When the going gets tough, we think these are the best love movies of the 21st century (so far).

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)


Image via Sony Pictures Releasing

Ang Lee’S Crouching tiger, hidden dragon is not like many other films an action film with a love story. It's a love story with an action movie. Plus, it's a damn good love story and a damn great action movie. Michelle Yeoh and Chow Yun fat Star as martial artists who are in love but cannot allow themselves to be together because of a stroke of fate. When they meet a young martial artist, played by Zhang Ziyiwho refuses to obey the rules that kept them apart starts a heated conflict with many, many, and many amazing sword fights.

Hidden Dragon plays like a Merchant Ivory movie, where everyone withholds their emotions except young people who inevitably create havoc by following their hearts. That these emotions are unleashed in the amazing battle choreography of the legend Yuen Wo Ping only enhances Lee's film. It is a wonderful ballet of love and war.

In The Mood For Love (2000)

in the mood for love

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It is a cliché to use the word "pain" when describing a forbidden romance, but there is no other way to adequately describe it Wong Kar-waiMasterpiece. In the mood for love Stars Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung as people who discover their spouses are having an affair. Over time, they grow closer and closer together and have to decide whether they want to fall in love too.

A conservative era is playing out in the mood for love, where every relationship our protagonists have is subject to scrutiny and even condemnation. To be together would ruin their happiness. To be apart would be just as miserable. And so they hurt in a world that has been beautifully photographed to highlight the power of their connection and the depths that separate them. Cheung and Leung are amazing, and few romances before or since have captured such a deep sense of longing.

Love & Basketball (2000)

Love and basketball

New Line Cinema

Gina Prince-BythewoodThe directorial debut is more glorious than many industry veterans' films and remains one of the romance highlights of the past 20 years. Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps Star like Quincy and Monica, neighbors since childhood who both dream of playing professional basketball. In the course of their lives they fall in love with each other and fall in love with their ambitions and family struggles and eventually find their way to each other again and again.

Love & Basketball never plays like a romance based on fiction or melodrama. It's full of thoughtfully drawn, rich characters who naturally attract and repel each other, make good and bad decisions, and never ring the bell wrong once. Lathan and Epps feel just right together; Their chemistry is phenomenal throughout, whether on or off the pitch. Gina Prince-Bythewood's film never rings wrong.

Amélie (2001)


Image via Miramax

A lot of romantic films target "quirky" and accidentally end up close to "cloying". Not so with Jean-Pierre JeunetIs charmingly funny AmélieWith Audrey Toutou as a seemingly shy waitress with a hidden streak of wild imagination. She gets it on her mind to improve the lives of everyone around her, and she insists on doing it in quirky ways, like sending her garden gnomes on vacation without them or enticing her friends into adorable romances.

On the way she finds true love herself and it is easy to imagine why. Jeunet's film is pure love itself, a passionate ode to eccentricity set in a cinematic realm where the madman can thrive. Toutou captures our imaginations through her mischievous fascination for the people around her and through her eyes we appreciate all the wonders of the world.

Bridget Jones & # 39; Diary (2001)

Bridget Jones Diary

Image via Universal Pictures

There have been some great adjustments to the Jane Austen"Pride and Prejudice" in the early 2000s, but it's this charming modern update that gets the most attention. Bridget Jones & # 39; diary Stars Renée Zellweger plays Bridget, a woman caught in a love triangle between dashing Daniel Hugh Grantand the seemingly disinterested Mr. Darcy played by Colin Firth (who played Mr. Darcy in a stunt casting six years earlier in an uncomplicated Pride and Prejudice adaptation).

It's Zellweger's film – she received an Oscar nomination for her performance – but it's a director Sharon Maguire set it up wonderfully for her. Bridget Jones' diary brings all of the smoldering romance and biting commentary of Austen's novel into the modern age, finding the story as timely as ever and contemporary romantic expectations as widespread as those of the 19th century.

Secretary (2002)


Image via Lions Gate Films

Not everyone loves each other the same way, and yet few romantic films seem genuinely interested in truly exploring a sexual kink lifestyle. At least we have Steven Shainberg’S secretary. Maggie Gyllenhaal plays a young woman who, through an unexpected BDSM relationship with her new boss, discovers that she is submissive and that she longs for exactly the right Dom. James Spader plays her new lover, but even he doesn't seem entirely 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 imaginations are universal: they are looking for someone who loves them for who they are, who can deliver what they need, and with whom they can make each other happy. This is a dream that should not only be reserved for the sensual Milquetoast. The kinky deserve true love too, and Secretary is that rare love story that respects that everyone has their own needs and tells a beautiful story that suggests there is someone for everyone.

Love Actually (2003)

Love actually

Image via Universal Pictures

Richard Curtis’S Love actually seemed to come and go and then come back as a perennial Christmas classic. It's easy to see why Love Actually didn't find an audience right away: it's amazingly messy. It's also easy to see why the film eventually became a vacation cult favorite: it's amazingly patty.

Love actually tells a multitude of romantic short stories that are loosely linked, if only geographically. People fall in love, people fall in love, people make successful Christmas music. Each story is pretty thin on its own, but Curtis' film cuts back and forth between them so sharply that the film becomes practically a deadly weapon. If you can't stand one story, another will charm you. And if you just like them all, they all take on real greatness as a whole. (And if you don't like any of these stories, you might be a Grinch.)

Before Sunset (2004)


Image via Warner Independent Pictures

Nine years after making waves with his adorable love story Before sunrise, Richard Linklater returned with his stars Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke to find out what Celine and Jesse were up to. After spending a perfect night together, meeting and falling in love, and then saying goodbye, they meet again for a few short hours. Did their love story continue when we weren't looking? And if not, is there a chance to relive your romance, or will you, as a young boy, write off that whole beautiful first film?

Before sunset somehow manages to feel light-footed and strict at the same time. Delpy and Hawke have the kind of on-camera connection few actors could ever dream of, but they have so little time together and almost a whole decade to answer each other's questions. Linklater's film reminds us why we loved them and why they maybe should love each other, but the answer to what happens next is only reserved for the ending, which can arguably be the best ending to a romantic story this century . Damn it, maybe even the last century.

Brokeback Mountain (2005)

Brokeback Mountain

Image via focus functions

Ang LeeThe powerful Oscar-winning romance Brokeback Mountain is one of the most resonant modern westerns. Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal Starred as mid-20th century cowboys who fall in love at work and then go their separate ways, each settling for heterosexual marriages that bring them social security but no happiness. They reconnect and rekindle their romance, but every secret meeting carries the risk of discovery.

Told with elegiac restraint that adds even more meaning to a love affair in which little is said, Brokeback Mountain relies on an overwhelming ensemble of performances. Ledger's calm dignity and Gyllenhaal's energy seem to catch the lightning, and Michelle Williams and Anne Hathaway Both steal key moments when the women realize they've married men who always wanted something more.

The Holiday (2006)

the holidays

Image via Sony Pictures Releasing

The films of Nancy Meyers tend to portray the life of the bourgeoisie like a fairy tale, and never has it been more successful than in The holidays. Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet Play women who, in search of a change of pace after failed relationships, decide to move houses. Winslet ventures to Southern California, moves into a palatial mansion next to a charming screenwriter from Hollywood's Golden Age and falls in love with a film composter played by a pitch perfect Jack Black. In the meantime, Diaz moves into Winslet's cozy, super expensive cottage and plays the romance Jude Lawwho turns out to be Winslet's brother.

The perfection shown in The Holiday would be suspect if the title didn't frame it perfectly: This is an extraordinary vacation from everyday life. The problems are emotionally intense but solvable, and the characters have the freedom to worry about their weaknesses without serious concern about distracting them. silly little things like bills for example. And the whole line-up is so unimaginably delightful that you cannot grant them this happiness. All you can do is indulge in it, fall in love a little, and then reluctantly return to real life. Like those stupid bills.

Once (2007)


Image via Buena Vista International

John Carney is known around the world for making passionate, characterful films full of great music Start all over again and Sing Street. But his masterpiece is still that infectiously low-key, lovable romance. once Stars Glen Hansard As a street musician in Ireland, he works in his father's vacuum cleaner shop when he's not singing songs about his last breakup on the street. When his music catches the ear of a Czech immigrant played by Markéta IrglováThey form a friendship based on mutual musical appreciation.

And of course they fall in love, but unfortunately there is nothing they can do about it. All they can do is scrape up all the money, write a few songs, and cut a record. Carney understands that the real thrill of watching her story play out is watching the art that his characters make, rather than the fabricated machinations of a story that drives them back and forth. It is an intoxicating reality in Once that indulges in the power of music to connect with other people, that shines through and makes them something very special.

They Came Together (2014)

they came together

Image via Lionsgate

There is a certain brand of romantic comedy that isn't done much anymore but was a box office hit in the 1990s. Fans of movies like You got an email, While you were sleeping and Notting Hill can spot any gloriously hackneyed narrative convention from a mile away, and if they have any sense of humor at all, David WainBrilliant parody They came together is just about the perfect comedy.

Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler Star as people who are so different that they may not get together and discover that they have something in common when they find that they share a unique passion for "fiction books". But will their love survive story wrong points, two digressions, and wacky supportive actors? Will it be almost like New York City is a character in the movie? You know the answers, but that only makes it funnier for Wain and his insane cast goes through those moves in the strangest and most confident way imaginable.

Yet they don't feel mean or condescending. The only way to get all of these jokes at the expense of the romantic comedy genre is to really love the romantic comedy genre. Wain's film is a wonderful comedy roast of the genre that gives him endless weaknesses for his weaknesses, but hugs him when the act is done.

Carol (2015)

Christmas carol

Image via The Weinstein Company

Patricia HighsmithThe groundbreaking novel The price of salt has been turned into one of the most beautiful romances in decades. Carol, directed and adjusted by Todd Haynes, Stars Rooney Mara as a clerk in a department store who happens to meet a wealthy celebrity who is being played by Cate Blanchett. Their relationship turns into a romance, but social mores and the impact of a scandal on a divorce threaten to tear them apart.

Few films are as impressively photographed and elegantly designed as Carol. It's a film that understands the working of affects, where style becomes substance and substance itself is a certain type of style. Haynes & # 39; film cuts through its own aesthetic and sinks into difficult decisions and hinders the inner workings of its heroines. Her story is deep and beautiful, and only so long can the harsh realities of conventional and conservative society hold her back.

Sleep with other people (2015)

sleep with other people

Image via IFC films

There weren't a lot of great, naughty rom-coms in the 21st century, however Leslye headland’S Sleep with other people would have stood out even if the competition had been tough. 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 swear not to sleep together no matter how aroused they get. And they get very, very aroused.

Sudeikis and Brie keep sex chemistry low for sleeping with other people and yes we know where that is going and yes it's only a matter of time. But Headland's zippy script and engaging sense of humor work wonders, and she's constantly mining the strong setup and adorable characters for laughing jokes and real romance.

Deadpool (2016)

dead Pool

Image via 20th Century Fox

Lots of superhero films have a love story to tell, but for some reason it's a mass murderer who knows he's in a movie that gets noticed. Dead Pool Stars Ryan Reynolds as a mercenary who finds the love of his life, Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), a fun and empathetic, intelligent and sensual partner who makes his life worth living. When he finds out he is dying of cancer, he flees to save her the horror of seeing him die and comes across a secret government program headlong that ruthlessly tortures him in the hope that it will cure him and restore his life becomes.

It's a devil's bargain, of course, and Deadpool is created with superhuman healing powers but permanently damaged skin, which only makes him more confident when he reunites with his partner after so much of their relationship was physical. And yes, there is a lot of action and violence and a lot of humor at this point, but Deadpool would just be a lark without a real, human story to back it up. And the story of a man whose insecurity almost robs him of the relationship he wants, who ignores what his lover is telling him because he is afraid it won't be what she really needs, is far more thoughtful, approachable and real than most other films in its genre.

Southside With You (2016)

South side with you

Image via Miramax / Roadside Attractions

Richard FirIs intimate and fascinating Southside with you would be one of the best romantic films of the decade if its subjects were fictional. That it is also based on the true story of Barack Obama and Michelle RobinsonThe first date is just another fascinating selling point. Southside With You follows Robinson, played by Tika Sumpter, as a young lawyer and Obama's boss who agreed to meet his summer partner for a community meeting. She hesitantly agrees to meet earlier but has no interest in office romance.

Southside With You takes place during the afternoon and early evening as these two people with powerful personalities share their thoughts on life, politics, race and find a bond between them. It's not love at first sight and it's not a passionate love affair. It is two complex people with big ideas and serious dreams who realize for the first time that they could be more. Tanne's film may not completely escape a sense of mythologization, and yet few romantic films in the recent past approach love and dating with the same confident maturity, regardless of context.

The great sick man (2017)


Image via Amazon Studios

Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon wrote the script for this attentive and extremely funny romance based on its own true story. Nanjiani plays a version of himself, a comedian who falls in love with a woman named Emily (Zoe Kazan) who suddenly falls into a coma due to a mysterious illness. While she is sick, he makes an uncomfortable friendship with her parents, played by Holly Hunter and Ray Romano.

The big sick one isn't afraid to show Kumail in a pretty harsh light if he deserves it, and it's this brutal honesty that makes this otherwise humorous film so emotional. This type of film uncorks your tear ducts, sometimes without warning, and still leaves you feeling nourished, warm, and fulfilled.

Call me by your name (2017)

Call me by your name

Image via Sony Pictures Classics

A teenager finds his first true love, and it is fleeting Luca GuadagninoMagnificent romance Call me by your name. Timothée Chalamet Stars like Elio, a young man whose father hires the dashing Oliver, played by Armie Hammeras his research assistant for the summer. It's a summer full of wistful looks and tension until they finally turn into a passionate love affair that they won't soon forget, even if fate has other plans for their future.

Call Me By Your Name is a love letter to just about anything. The movie's glorious Italian mansion locale is ideal for romantic drama, the music is exhilarating, and the cast has never been captured so ethereally on camera.

A Star Is Born (2018)


Image via Warner Bros.

By the time Bradley Cooper came to remaking A star Is BornIt was the fourth adaptation of the story. (Possibly the fifth, do you think the original 1937 film is suspiciously similar to What Price Hollywood of 1932?) Once again, it is the story of an aspiring artist who is under the wing of an alcoholic who uses his clout, to raise her to fame only to fall in love with him as he sinks into alcoholism and scandal. And once again the story really works.

A Star is Born is a love letter to the entertainment industry as well as a malicious floor against it, which depicts the entire environment as an exploitative cave of selfish behavior and lifelong human sacrifice. Cooper's rendition, in which he plays with a star Lady Gaga, maintains this contrast in the front and middle, but never loses track of the fact that nothing works if the love story doesn't work. Cooper and Gaga have a four-alarm fire chemistry with each other, and the Oscar-winning music that accompanies their rise and fall also tells their story beautifully.

Crazy Rich Asians (2018)


Image via Warner Bros.

Jon M. Chu& # 39; S charming and funny adaptation of Kevin KwanNovel stars Constance Wu as Rachel, a Sino-American professor who travels to meet her friend's family in Singapore to discover they are amazingly rich. And so begins a familiar tale of class conflict when a young working class woman suddenly plunges into fabulous privileges and glorious excesses. Not to mention the constant disapproval.

Crazy rich Asians is an old-fashioned throwback to Hollywood romantic films, larger than life, full of memorable character actors and adhering to a feel-good formula. But it's more than that, it's a distinctive and transporting romantic comedy, with performances that would highlight any material, and an appreciation for a culture that mainstream Hollywood rarely tries to explore. It's one of the best rom-coms in the last 20 years.


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About the author

William Bibbiani
(8 articles published)

William Bibbiani is a professional critic who has written for publications such as The Wrap, Fangoria, Collider and Bloody Disgusting and who hosts multiple podcasts each week on The Critically Acclaimed Network. He is a member of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, a connoisseur of esoteric pop culture, cult film enthusiast and horror film fanatic. Most importantly, he just loves movies, damn it.

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