54 of the best romantic comedies to make you believe in love

54 of the best romantic comedies to make you believe in love
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When you are feeling a little low and need an escape from reality, a romantic comedy will add just the right amount of charm and laughter to brighten up your day.

The American Film Institute defines a romantic comedy as “a genre in which the development of a romance leads to comic situations.” Colloquially known as the rom-com, the beloved movie genre is the equivalent of a cozy blanket.

Essentially, every film introduces two main characters who are determined to be together despite all the funny and slightly absurd obstacles that are thrown their way, creating quintessential feel-good movies.

Although the formula has been replicated for decades, it never gets old, and films find new ways to reinvent the genre and its classic tropes, like the meet-cute, the enemies-to-lovers dynamic and the fake relationship experiment.

From the genre's golden eras in the 1980s and '90s to now, there are hundreds of fairy tale romances to fall in love with. As self-described rom-com experts, we have compiled a list of the most touching and whimsical love stories you can watch or stream across platforms. Take a look at TODAY.com's best rom-coms of all time, ranked in no particular order, below.

'Somebody I Used to Know' (2023)

A workaholic TV producer named Ally (Alison Brie) begins to doubt everything about her life when she revisits her hometown and reminisces with her former partner, Sean (Jay Ellis). The she finds out Sean is getting married, and wonders what might have happened if she'd stayed.

'Meet Cute' (2022)

Sheila (Kaley Cuoco) finds out that a tanning bed in a nail salon can travel back in time. She uses her newfound powers to try and shape her boyfriend (Pete Davidson) into the perfect man, not realizing that interfering with the past could destroy the future.

'He’s Just Not That Into You' (2009)

A friend group in Baltimore attempts to make sense of the complicated nature of contemporary relationships. While Neil (Ben Affleck) finds nothing wrong with the status quo, Beth (Jennifer Aniston) desires commitment. Mary (Drew Barrymore) has a large group of sympathetic and straight male friends, but no special someone. Gigi (Ginnifer Goodwin) is sick of waiting by the phone for a guy to call. Janine (Jennifer Connelly) struggles with trusting her husband, Ben (Bradley Cooper), around other women. The list goes on!

La La Land’ (2016)

Known for its sweeping score and whimsical cinematography, “La La Land” is a film beloved by many. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling play two young performers trying to make it as an actor and a jazz musician (respectively) and fall in love as their friendship grows. For a truly cinematic experience, we recommend viewing “La La Land” with the lights off, a big bowl of popcorn and a box of tissues at the ready.

‘Always Be My Maybe’ (2019)

Have you ever had a lifelong friend people assume you’ll end up marrying? This is the not-so-unfortunate case for Marcus (Randall Park) and Sasha (Ali Wong). As they rekindle their friendship in their adult years, they start to wonder if perhaps everyone was right all along.

‘Along Came Polly’ (2004)

Reuben Feffer (Ben Stiller) has played his whole life safe — in fact, he's literally made a career out of assessing risk. But when Polly (Jennifer Aniston) collides with him on the street after Reuben is unexpectedly cheated on, Reuben starts to let down his guard big time.

‘Someone Great’ (2019)

Starring Gina Rodriguez of “Jane the Virgin,” this Netflix rom-com follows one woman's last night in New York after a devastating breakup with her boyfriend of nine years. This story touches on what it means to let go of your 20s, the power of friendship and the importance of Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts.”

‘Spanglish’ (2004)

Adam Sandler is no stranger to a rom-com, including the likes of “Spanglish” — a frankly underrated movie. Flor (Paz Vega) and her daughter emigrate from Mexico and move into the home of a chef (Sandler) and his insecure wife. This one will actually make you LOL, we promise.

'How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days' (2003)

New York's resident "how to" journalist Andie Anderson, played by Kate Hudson, takes on a new assignment at work: An article entitled "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days." When Andie sees Benjamin Barry, played by none other than Matthew McConaughey, at a bar one night, she targets him as her prey. Chaos and romance ensue.

'Bridget Jones’s Diary' (2001)

Bridget Jones, played by Renée Zellweger, is ... messy — and she's also an unforgettable heroine. Between wearing inappropriate office clothes to work, sleeping with her boss and generally just having lots of chaotic energy, she's the heart and soul of the film. When she eventually has to choose between her boss and a family friend (Hugh Grant and Colin Firth) on her journey to find love, things get even zanier. You don't want to miss this classic, irreverent British rom-com (or its two sequels).

Forgetting Sarah Marshall’ (2008)

Peter Bretter (Jason Segel) thinks he scored big time by landing superstar bombshell and actress, Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell) — until Sarah breaks up with him. Peter takes a solo trip to Hawaii to forget about Sarah — but oh wait! She's also vacationing in Hawaii, with her new boo. So the whole "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" thing becomes pretty hard — until he meets Rachel (Mila Kunis).

‘Hitch’ (2005)

Not everyone is a dating pro — and Hitch (Will Smith) plans to capitalize off of this lack of finesse. Smith stars in this irreverent rom-com alongside Kevin James and Eva Mendes as New York's "date doctor," with a mission to help the clueless men of New York be less clueless. When Hitch sets out to help Albert (James) win his dream girl, Allegra (Amber Valletta), gossip columnist Sara (Mendes) hears about this "date doctor." But what she doesn't realize is that she's dating him herself.

‘The Wedding Planner’ (2001)

Jennifer Lopez has worn many wedding dresses in rom-coms over the years. But in "The Wedding Planner," she plays a woman who's more concerned with making other people's wedding dreams come true. Over the course of the movie, she learns to put her own needs first.

‘50 First Dates’ (2004)

What would you do if you found out the girl you wanted to date had short-term memory loss? That's exactly what Henry (Adam Sandler) tries to figure out in this hilarious rom-com as, day after day, he attempts to win over Lucy (Drew Barrymore).'

‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’ (2002)

Toula's (Nia Vardalos) large Greek family wants her to get married — but Ian Miller (John Corbett), a long-haired American, was not who they had in mind. Toula must convince her traditional Greek father that her non-Greek, vegetarian fiancé is good enough for her — which proves to be hilariously difficult. The beloved film sparked two sequels, including "My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3" which came out in September 2023.

‘Something’s Gotta Give’ (2003)

Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton star in this summer-set rom-com. When Erica, an accomplished author, notices that her daughter's boyfriend is old enough to be her father, shenanigans ensue in their beautiful summer home in the Hamptons. This Nancy Meyers movie practically invented the coastal grandmother aesthetic.

When Harry Met Sally’ (1989)

Fans of Nora Ephron know that this flick, which was directed by Rob Reiner, is among her greatest screenwriting triumphs. Harry Burns (Billy Crystal) and Sally Albright (Meg Ryan) start an unlikely friendship when driving from Chicago to New York right after graduating college. Over the course of about 15 years, Sally and Harry push the boundaries of the film's key question: Can men and women just be friends? This irreverent romance holds many of cinema's most iconic lines (For example: "I'll have what she's having.")

‘Brown Sugar’ (2002)

Sidney (Sanaa Lathan) and Dre (Taye Diggs) both witnessed the birth of hip-hop on a New York street corner at a young age, which solidified their long-lasting friendship and life paths. Fifteen years later, she is a revered music critic, and he's a music executive. Both come to realize that their true passions will only come to the surface by remembering what they learned on the street corner as kids — and maybe by getting on a deeper level with each other.

‘The Big Sick’ (2017)

"The Big Sick" is one of those rom-coms that gives you big, obnoxious belly laughs and some seriously lengthy sob sessions all within 10 minutes. Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan star in this film, centered around the two of them navigating their cross-cultural relationship — until Emily (Kazan) becomes severely ill. Based on Nanjiani's real-life courtship with his wife Emily V. Gordon, this flick combines the fanciful and exciting parts of love with the harsh realities that sometimes come with it.

‘Clueless’ (1995)

"Ugh, as if" you would skip this rom-com. This classic flick starring Alicia Silverstone as Cher quickly became a cultural cornerstone for its hilarious one-liners and larger-than-life characters. And technically, it's a Jane Austen adaptation, so you can feel intellectual while watching.

‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ (1994)

"Four Weddings and a Funeral" centers around Charles and his pals, who attend (you guessed it!) four weddings and one funeral throughout the duration of the movie. Hugh Grant is at his floppy-haired finest as he tries to romance Carrie (Andie MacDowell), a hard-to-get American.

‘Moonstruck’ (1987)

Loretta Castorini (Cher) is a bookkeeper from Brooklyn, going through the motions of preparing to marry her dull boyfriend, Johnny. When he goes to visit his mom in Sicily, Loretta has to deliver the news of their impending wedding to his estranged younger brother Ronny (Nicolas Cage). The connection she doesn't have with Johnny, she finds with Ronny — and then some. Fall in love with the silliness and sweep-you-off-your-feet romance of "Moonstruck."

‘Notting Hill’ (1999)

She's just a girl, he's just a boy — only it's not that simple. Julia Roberts plays an actor who develops a connection with a London bookseller (Hugh Grant). Can sheer affection bridge the gap of status and celebrity? This rom-com is sure to hit every mark you need it to. Genre legends Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant? Check. Beautiful scenery of London? Check. Romantic scenes that could make you cry? Check.

‘My Best Friend’s Wedding’ (1997)

You know that really awkward moment when your best friend gets engaged and then you realize you're in love with him? That's exactly what happens to Julianne (Julia Roberts) in this subtly subversive rom-com. It might not give you the ending you're expecting, but it'll give you something true.

‘500 Days of Summer’ (2009)

Summer (Zooey Deschanel) is elusive, flighty and absolutely alluring, and Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) makes it his mission to win her over. The ending is one you're likely to debate, and the movie — especially Tom's pursuit of Summer — is one you're likely to analyze.

‘The Best Man’ (1999)

Harper Stewart (Taye Diggs) is a shy writer and the best man at the wedding of Lance (Morris Chestnut) and Mia (Monica Calhoun). As reticent as he is in real life, he's vocal in his writing: In his forthcoming book, Harper chronicles his college life with his friends in a less-than-glowing light. Bad timing. As the wedding weekend nears, scandalous secrets begin to reveal themselves.

‘Sleepless in Seattle’ (1993)

Another Nora Ephron triumph, this story features Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan as two singles looking for love across the radio waves. Sam (Hanks) is a widower, and his son is worried about him. Jonah (Ross Aaron Malinger) calls a talk radio station to find a new wife for his dad. Annie (Ryan) hears Sam get vulnerable on the radio, and quickly falls for him, despite living on the other side of the country.

Jerry Maguire’ (1996)

Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise) has it all: he's a successful sports agent making his way up the ladder. But when he suddenly gets fired, he goes through a crisis and decides to start his own firm, with only one employee (Renée Zellweger) helping him keep his business afloat.

'10 Things I Hate About You' (1999)

"10 Things I Hate About You," based loosely on Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew," is a teen rom-com starring Heath Ledger, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Julia Stiles and Larisa Oleynik. Kat and Bianca (Stiles and Oleynik) are the high school's most guarded girls, with an overprotective dad to blame. When Bianca wants to start dating, their father strikes a deal: Bianca can date when Kat, the more rebellious and difficult of the sisters, starts, too.

‘13 Going on 30’ (2004)

Have you ever woken up one day only to find you've become your 30-year-old self? No? Well, that's precisely what happens to Jenna (Jennifer Garner) in this time-bending movie. After the teen wishes she was 30, she wakes up to find herself not only in an adult body but also in her dream job and her dream apartment. What she also learns, however, is that a lot has changed — including her relationship with her childhood best friend Matt (Mark Ruffalo).

‘Crazy, Stupid, Love’ (2011)

This eminently quotable rom-com features a line-up of A-listers (Steve Carrell, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Julianne Moore) all navigating the messy, crazy (and stupid!) world of dating. After Emily (Moore) asks Cal (Carrell) for a divorce, Cal looks to his new friend Jacob (Gosling) to help him navigate the dating world.

‘Crazy Rich Asians’ (2018)

Rachel (Constance Wu) accompanies her perfect boyfriend Nick (Henry Golding) to a friend's wedding in Singapore. She's shocked when she arrives in Singapore and finds out that Nick's family is extremely wealthy, and that some of the women in his life (like his mom, played by Michelle Yeoh), would do anything to break them up. With its extravagant visuals, "Crazy Rich Asians" is a portal into another world — but the family dynamics might strike you as relatable.

‘Love Actually’ (2003)

Love it or hate it, "Love Actually" is a rom-com legend — simply for how divisive and enduring it's become since its 2003 release. A movie of intertwining stories, actors like Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Keira Knightley, Colin Firth and Liam Neeson play characters trying to navigate the complexities of love in the midst of the holiday season.

‘The Holiday’ (2006)

This Nancy Meyers movie features two women who swap houses and in doing so, get a new lease on life. Cameron Diaz's Amanda leaves L.A. for Iris' (Kate Winslet) cottage in England. When they both meet local men (Jude Law and Jack Black) in their respective places and eventually fall in love, the two women must decide what they'll do when they eventually must return home.

‘You've Got Mail’ (1998)

Another Nora Ephron film, "You've Got Mail" features the classic combo of Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks on a journey toward love in the city of New York. Ryan, who plays small business owner Kathleen, meets Joe (Hanks) — and realizes later that he owns Fox Books, Kathleen's store's biggest competitor. In a tale of irreverent competition and a slow-burning romance, this flick is perfect for those who love a classic, perfect rom-com and the Hanks-Ryan combo.

‘Pretty Woman’ (1990)

This modern Cinderella story features Julia Roberts as Vivian, a sex worker who ends up in the right place at the right time. That right place ends up being the hotel room of business mogul Edward (Richard Gere), who helps her see her full potential.

‘27 Dresses’ (2008)

This movie takes "always a bridesmaid, never a bride" to a literal level. Katherine Heigl plays Jane, whose closet is full of bridesmaids dresses — 27, to be exact. But she longs to find love for herself. When a charming journalist (James Marsden) uncovers Jane's bridesmaid escapades, he pursues her story — and, in turn, her.

‘The Proposal’ (2009)

In this enemies-to-lovers flick, editor-in-chief Margaret Tate (Sandra Bullock) is one of the world's meanest bosses. She spends her days terrorizing her employees, particularly assistant Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds). When the book publishing exec learns that her visa application has been denied and she is being deported back to Canada, she lies and tells upper management that she and Andrew are engaged. To fool an immigration agent, Margaret joins Andrew on a trip back to his hometown in Alaska, where he shares the surprising engagement news with all of his friends and family.

‘Love at First Sight’ (2023)

Jameela Jamil narrates this sweet Netflix film about an American student named Hadley Sullivan (Haley Lu Richardson) who meets British student Oliver Jones (Ben Hardy) on their flight to London. The two spend the plane ride watching movies together, opening up about their families and falling asleep on each other's shoulders. When they land, Oliver gives Hadley his number, but she immediately drops and breaks her phone, losing his contact information. Although they both have important events to attend on opposite sides of the city, fate might bring the two back together.

‘Bend it Like Beckham’ (2002)

Jess (Parminder Nagra) is a rebellious teenager who spends her days playing soccer (football in the UK) and dreaming of being as good as her favorite player, David Beckham. One day when she is playing in the park, Jules (Keira Knightley), who is on a women's semi-pro team, asks Jess to try out. Jess lands a spot on the roster and starts developing feelings for her coach, Joe (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), a former player who suffered a leg injury. Jess tries to keep her feelings and her team a secret from her strict parents.

‘To All The Boys I've Loved Before’ (2018)

Many great rom-coms begin with two people pretending to date before they actually fall for each other. In the first part of this trilogy, based on the novels by Jenny Han, Lara Jean Covey (Lana Condor) is a shy high school student who secretly pens love letters to all her crushes. Her current crush is childhood bestie Josh (Israel Broussard), who is dating her older sister, Margot (Janel Parrish). But when popular jock Peter (Noah Centineo), another crush, receives one of Lara Jean's letters, they devise a plan for her to avoid the awkwardness that follows professing love to your sister's boyfriend.

‘Set It Up’ (2018)

Harper (Zoey Deutch) and Charlie (Glen Powell) are both assistants to demanding bosses who are seemingly never satisfied. Both desperate to reclaim their personal lives, they plan a meet-cute moment for Kirsten (Lucy Liu) and Rick (Taye Diggs) to get them to fall in love with each other. Harper and Charlie realize that they'll have to keep working together to prevent Kirsten and Rick from breaking up and discovering their assistants were behind the relationship all along.

‘The Notebook’ (2004)

In one of the best films based on a Nicholas Sparks novel, Allie (Rachel McAdams) and Noah (Ryan Gosling) meet in 1940 at a carnival. He spots her and instantly wants to take her out on a date. As their romance continues, Noah's father is supportive, while Allie's parents think she needs to date a wealthier man. Through the film in the present, an elderly man named Duke (James Garner) recounts Noah and Allie's love story to a female patient in a nursing home (Gena Rowlands).

‘Boomerang’ (1992)

Marcus Graham (Eddie Murphy) is a textbook Lothario and top advertising executive at a wealthy company. He essentially runs the office until Jacqueline Broyer (Robin Givens) is hired as his boss. Marcus tries to romance Jacqueline, but she isn't interested, and he starts to feel like the countless women he's seduced and forgotten about over the years. Meanwhile, Jacqueline's assistant, Angela (Halle Berry), and Marcus form a connection as he attempts to woo her boss.

‘Penelope’ (2006)

This rom-com adds a touch of fantasy with a story about a wealthy woman named Penelope (Christina Ricci) who is born with a pig nose due to a curse placed on her family. To break the spell, Penelope must marry a fellow "blue blood." So, her family invites the wealthiest men in town to their mansion where Penelope speaks to them behind a one-way mirror. After all the potential suitors flee, Max (James McAvoy) is the final man remaining. But he might not have the best intentions...

‘About Last Night’ (1986)

In this Chicago-based film, Dan Martin (Rob Lowe) and Debbie Sullivan (Demi Moore) meet at his softball game and exchange flirty banter. They hit it off and spend a romantic evening together. The two commitment-phobes then decide to go on a second date. But with a history of failed relationships and two best friends who despise each other, Dan and Debbie's spark seems destined to flame out.

‘Think Like a Man’ (2012)

Based on Steve Harvey's 2009 book, "Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man," in this movie, a group of friends (Michael Ealy, Jerry Ferrara, Terrence J and Romany Malco) can't find a lasting relationship. They discover that women are purchasing Harvey's novel and applying his advice. The friends work together to use Harvey's advice for their own benefit as they pursue relationships with Lauren (Taraji P. Henson), Candace (Regina Hall), Kristen (Gabrielle Union) and Mya (Meagan Good).

‘Coming to America’ (1988)

"Coming to America" puts its spin on the classic "fish-out-of-water" storyline in a film that follows Prince Akeem Joffer's (Eddie Murphy) journey to America to find a wife. Akeem is the prince of a fictional African nation called Zamunda. On his 21st birthday, his parents ask Akeem to pick a bride for an arranged marriage. Hoping to find true love instead, Akeem runs away from home to New York City with the help of his best friend, Semmi (Arsenio Hall). There, he bumps into the woman of his dreams named Lisa McDowell (Shari Headley).

‘Miss Congeniality’ (2000)

FBI agent Gracie Hart (Sandra Bullock) is put on desk duty after making a mistake during a sting operation. Her partner, Eric Matthews (Benjamin Bratt), is given a case about a bomb threat at the upcoming Miss United States beauty pageant. When Gracie suggests that an agent goes undercover to find out who is behind the threat, Eric chooses her. Gracie receives elite beauty pageant as she prepares to compete as Miss New Jersey.

‘The Broken Hearts Gallery’ (2020)

When Lucy (Geraldine Viswanathan) loses her job and gets dumped by her boyfriend (Utkarsh Ambudkar) during the same night, she hops into Nick's (Dacre Montgomery) car thinking it is the ride service she ordered. He listens to her problems, and the two become friends. Nick, who is renovating a boutique hotel, takes Lucy to his job where she comes up with the idea to include a "Broken Hearts Gallery" in the hotel, featuring memorabilia from failed relationships.

‘She's the Man’ (2006)

This modern take on William Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" follows Viola Hastings (Amanda Bynes), a teenager who plays soccer at her high school. When her team is cut, the coach refuses to allow girls to play on the boys' team. So, Viola impersonates her twin brother at his school to prove she is just as good as the boys. She attempts to keep her real identity a secret from roommate Duke (Channing Tatum) and her new classmates.

‘Last Holiday’ (2006)

During the day, Georgia Byrd (Queen Latifah) works long hours at a department store. At night, she dreams of becoming a professional chef and cooks elaborate meals while saving her money for a restaurant. She also has a crush on her co-worker, Sean (LL Cool J). After falling at work, Georgia learns that she has a terminal brain tumor and only has a few weeks to live. She quits her job and decides to use her savings for a luxury vacation she always wanted.

‘Sixteen Candles’ (1984)

Samantha Baker (Molly Ringwald) wakes up on her 16th birthday excited to enter the next chapter of her life. But, her cheerfulness dissipates when her entire family forgets about her birthday and focuses on her older sister's upcoming wedding. At school, she avoids freshman Ted (Anthony Michael Hall) who has a crush on her and pines after senior Jake Ryan (Michael Schoeffling).

‘Can't Buy Me Love’ (1987)

Ronald (played by People's 2023 Sexiest Man Alive Patrick Dempsey) is an outcast. He helps popular cheerleader Cindy (Amanda Peterson) replace her mom's expensive designer outfit that she accidentally ruined. In return, he asks Cindy to pretend to be his girlfriend for one month so that he can experience high school popularity.

This article was originally published on TODAY.com