Best Netflix romantic movies: love in all its forms on the small screen

The best Netflix romantic movies, like Malcolm and Marie
(Image credit: NETFLIX © 2021)

Want the best Netflix romantic movies? The streaming service is definitely not short of romantic comedies – especially when Christmas is involved – but they're not all created equal. 

In this list, which we'll keep updated to make sure you've got the best and comprehensive array of recommendations, we've mostly gone for Netflix's big-hitters, but there a couple of leftfield choices, too, if you're in the mood for something a little edgier. 

We've kept this list of the best Netflix romance movies to originals on the service and ignored the movies that will be, at some point, leaving Netflix, ensuring that no matter where you're reading this, you'll be able to check out the selections below. If you want an at-a-glance look at all the Netflix romantic content where you are, including movies licensed by the streamer from other studios, try searching the secret Netflix codes for romantic favorites (502675), steamy romantic movies (35800), classic romantic movies (31273) and romantic comedies (5475). 

With such a wealth of choice on offer on Netflix, there’s something for all romantic persuasions. Here are our top picks available via the streaming service, whatever your language of love… 

Love Hard

Love Hard

(Image credit: Netflix)

The Vampire Diaries' lynchpin Nina Dobrev tops the bill in this festive romantic-comedy from Netflix. 

Dobrev plays Natalie Bauer, a dating columnist who has made a living documenting her disastrous dates from a series of dating apps in print. After deciding to expand her app's search radius, Natalie matches with a man named Josh Lin and the pair start to fall in love over the phone. 

Hoping this is something worth pursuing, Bauer to travel to his hometown in Lake Placid, New York to surprise him for Christmas, but sadly, she ends up being catfished, with Josh having used photos of another man, Tag Abbott, to woo her. 

Distraught, Bauer makes plans to leave, but Josh makes her an unexpected offer. He will work with her to score a date with the real Tag. Naturally, there are complications...

The plot and the outcome are nothing new, but this has some nice festive charm and a good modern twist on a classic set-up.

He's All That

He's All That

(Image credit: Netflix)

The much-loved 1999 romantic-comedy She's All That was turned on its head by Netflix to produce, He's All That, in 2021. 

Whereas in the original, itself a modern take on George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion, Freddie Prinze Jnr's  Zack Siler accepts a bet to turn any random girl from his high school into the Prom Queen within six weeks. In the end, he works from Rachel Leigh Cook's Laney Boggs and a thousand hearts began fluttering, 

In this new take on the story, Addison Rae's Padgett Sawyer is a TikTok influencer in her final year of high school, who is dumped by her boyfriend and sees her social media profiles crash after a filmed outburst results in her loss of followers and sponsorship deals.

To redeem herself, she accepts a challenge to turn the school's least popular boy, Cameron Kweller, an antisocial photography student, into prom king. You know the rest. 

It doesn't have the original's charm, but it's a nice watch and there are some nice cameos from the original movie too. 

Set It Up

Set it up

(Image credit: K C Bailey / Netflix)

In Set It Up, two 20-something overworked assistants in New York City plan to set up their bosses on dates, in order to get them both off their backs. But as you might have guessed, there’s more than one fledgling love story at work here. Taking inspiration from classic romcoms such as When Harry Met Sally, Zoey Deutch and Glen Powell make for a cute and extremely likeable lead coupling, while the movie hits all the romcom tropes we know and love – it’s perfect Valentine’s viewing, and one of the best Netflix original movies full stop.

Malcolm & Marie

Malcolm & Marie

(Image credit: DOMINIC MILLER/NETFLIX © 2021)

If there’s one romantic movie everyone was talking about in 2021, it was Malcolm & Marie. The Hollywood-set drama, filmed entirely in black and white, stars John David Washington (Tenet) and Zendaya (Spider-Man) as a director and his girlfriend, who face some hard truths about their relationship after he forgets to thank her for her work on his latest film in a speech – a drama based on a real-life faux pas by director Sam Levinson, the man behind megahit drama Euphoria

Boasting captivating central performances, the film is also notable in that it was written, financed and filmed during the Covid-19 pandemic, with its stars even responsible for their own makeup and wardrobe due to the film’s contained set.  

Always Be My Maybe

Always be my Maybe

(Image credit: Netflix)

Is there anything better than cosying up with a romcom on a date night? This modern favorite stars Randall Park and Ali Wong as childhood sweethearts who rekindle their teenage fling as adults. As well as starring in the movie, Park and Wong also co-wrote the script together and are actually old friends, so perhaps it’s no surprise that their on-screen chemistry feels so real. Mixing irresistible charm with contemporary social commentary and a fabulous Keanu Reeves cameo, this is certainly a romcom worth adding to your watch list.   



(Image credit: Aleksandar Letic)

If your idea of the perfect night in is more Galentine’s than Valentine’s, Ibiza is the romcom for you. The movie, starring Love's Gillian Jacobs, Phoebe Robinson and Saturday Night Live regular Vanessa Bayer, follows a 30-year-old New Yorker who heads to Barcelona on a work trip – which ends up being a whirlwind trip to Ibiza filled with club-set chemistry. Think of this as the next best thing to actually being able to travel and hitting the clubs with your friends.  

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

to all the boys I've loved before

(Image credit: Netflix)

The teen romcom has achieved proper cult status thanks to its relatable, likeable leads, and fun and flirting in equal measure. Based on Jenny Han's 2014 novel of the same name, the movie centres on shy high-schooler Lara Jean Covey, who writes letters to her crushes and locks them away, for her eyes only. 

But, in what would be every teen’s worst nightmare, the letters are accidentally exposed when they’re mailed out to every unwitting recipient, including her former school crush, Peter Kavinsky. Things go from excruciating to exciting when Lara Jean and Peter enter into a mutually beneficial pretend relationship… but as these things tend to go in romcoms, it doesn't stay pretend forever. Look out for Lara Jean’s phone wallpaper in the movie, which is of her and Peter asleep – it’s actually a real photo, taken by a crew member, of the actors relaxing together off-set.  

Our Souls At Night

our souls at night

(Image credit: Kerry Brown/Netflix)

Romantic movies don’t have to be about teenagers. Our Souls At Night casts the iconic Jane Fonda and Robert Redford as romantic leads, sharing more chemistry than a pair of high-school crushes could ever dream of. Based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Kent Haruf, the film tells the story of a lonely widow and widower who are neighbors and agree to combat their loneliness by spending their nights together. A powerful reminder that new love has no age limit. 

Marriage Story

marriage story

(Image credit: Netflix)

At first glance, a story about a tumultuous break-up may not sound the best fit for Valentine’s Day. But, if getting emotional, being totally at one with your feelings, and appreciating the nature of love and relationships sound like your sort of thing, then this Oscar-winning drama will be right up your street. As well as covering divorce, director Noah Baumbach’s movie also examines themes of family love and of new beginnings, with Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson at their most moving in its dramatic lead roles.  

Someone Great  

someone great

(Image credit: Walter Thomson)

Not only is this romcom lots of fun, it’s differentiated from the others on this list because its real focus is the love between friends, which makes it just as fitting for a Valentine’s viewing with pals as it is with someone you fancy. When music journalist Jenny (Gina Rodriguez) lands her dream job at Rolling Stone magazine – meaning she’ll be moving from New York to San Francisco – she is dumped by her boyfriend (Lakeith Stanfield). 

To help mend her broken heart, her best friends Blair (Brittany Snow) and Erin (DeWanda Wise) take her on one last adventure around the city. As well as being part of the plot, the film is intrinsically linked to pop music: Taylor Swift’s album 1989, and the track ‘Clean’ in particular, are said to have inspired the film, while the movie apparently in turn inspired the track ‘Death by a Thousand Cuts’ on Swift’s 2019 album, Lover.  

The Incredible Jessica James

The Incredible Jessica James

(Image credit: Netflix)

Lakeith Stanfield makes an excellent hot ex-boyfriend. So much so, that not only does he take on that role in Someone Great, he does so in The Incredible Jessica James too. In this romcom, he’s joined by Jessica Williams (The Daily Show) and Chris O’Dowd (The IT Crowd). The plot here is fairly typical romantic comedy fare, but where it really shines is in its cast, with Jessica Williams playing an incredible romantic lead. 

Gerald’s Game

gerald's game

(Image credit: Netflix)

Sexy stuff and scary stuff: it’s a winning date night combination. Admittedly, this is significantly more of the latter – but that’s all the better for recoiling in horror into your date’s shoulder. In Gerald’s Game, a bondage fantasy turns into horror in mere minutes; while on holiday in an isolated house, a husband dies of a heart attack, leaving his wife handcuffed to the bed, without the all-important key. Constrained and with no hope of rescue, she must somehow find a way to survive. The Stephen King book on which this film is based was long thought to be unfilmable, but Doctor Sleep director Mike Flanagan pulls off creepy, small-scale suspense here like the pro we know he is.

Rebecca April May

Rebecca is a Journalist and broadcaster, writing and presenting on entertainment and lifestyle topics, and specialising in high-profile celebrity interviews, for a wide variety of the UK's biggest publications, including The Guardian, Metro, Shortlist, Cosmo, Yahoo, Digital Spy, Stuff, and many more - both online, in print, and on-air. She is an experienced live event host for panel discussions and interviews for wide variety of entertainment brands, available for conventions and live events.

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