The Best Romantic Films On Netflix Right Now

Tom Nicholson
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From Esquire

It happens to us all. Valentine's Day rolls around, and you've done the sensible thing by dodging trying to book anywhere nice on the big day itself – and it's a Friday this year, so double jeopardy there – and instead you and your partner have had A Nice Night In.

Nice wine: check. Nice meal: check. Nice Gü pudding ramekins: rinsed and ready for some as-yet-undetermined kitchen job. So what to watch? Something romantic, obviously. But after five minutes of flicking through Netflix, it somehow becomes impossible to tell your When Harry Met Sally from your A Christmas Prince 2: The Royal Wedding.

So, pick one of these seven titles ahead of time, and keep the vibes going. If nothing else, consider this an attempt to stop you panicking and accidentally watching Click. It'll ruin Uncut Gems for you. Don't do it.

Only You (2019)

You might have missed this fairly low-key drama last summer, but it's more than worth seeking out. The 35-year-old Elena (Laia Costa) and 26-year-old Jake (Josh O'Connor) think they've just had a one night stand, but it rapidly snowballs into something a lot more, with his puppyish enthusiasm melting her jaded, cynical heart. It's passionate, witty and understated – and pretty much perfect.

Call Me By Your Name (2017)

It's hard to imagine a world in which Timothée Chalamet had yet to exist now, and yet that's exactly where we were in 2017. It was a colder world, with much worse hair. But then he starred opposite Armie Hammer in Call Me By Your Name, Luca Guadagnino's swooning, sweltering story of a love affair conducted in secret over a summer in northern Italy, and everything changed.

Howl's Moving Castle (2004)

Now that nearly all of Studio Ghibli's films are on Netflix, you really ought to catch up. Start here: a young woman, Sophie, is turned into a 90-year-old by a witch, and she falls for young hunk Howl, who's trying not to get caught up in an unfolding war. It's director and Ghibli co-founder Hiyao Miyazaki's personal favourite of his studio's films, which is saying something. "I wanted to convey the message that life is worth living, and I don't think that's changed," he once said. What could be more romantic?

The Incredible Jessica James (2017)

Recently single and very, very much not ready to move on yet, Jessica James (Jessica Williams) gets set up on a blind date with a man called Boone (Chris O'Dowd). (A man called BOONE. Played by CHRIS O'DOWD.) Things don't quite kick off between them, but they do take a hit for each other and agree to follow each other's exes on Instagram in an attempt to help each other ween themselves off their last loves. Fun, light, daft, and almost entirely carried by how great Jessica Williams is.

Long Shot (2019)

Sadly under-loved at the box office last summer, this one's about a genuinely fresh take on the glamorous-woman-schlubby-man thing which bounces along on the strength of the bond between Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen. It does hinge on you believing US Secretary of State Charlize Theron would be in any way interested in unemployed writer Seth Rogen, but their odd couple energy and a pleasingly layered story – she turns to him to punch up her speeches, and he reminds her to prize principle over pragmatism – carries it along tidily.

Groundhog Day (1993)

Already seen it? Watch it again. In short: cantankerous weatherman (Bill Murray) gets trapped in the arse-end of Nowheresville, then gets trapped in a single day in the arse-end of Nowheresville. The way out? Erm, not sure. It turns out not to be ice sculpting, boogie woogie piano playing, card-throwing, watching Heidi 2, learning French, saving a man from choking or becoming an expert chiropractor. He does unravel the mysteries of love, though.

Phantom Thread (2017)

Paul Thomas Anderson's portrait of an obsessive and fastidious couture designer, Reynolds Woodcock, turns into a deeply strange pseudo-love triangle between Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis, in what he says will be his last ever film role), his sharp-tongued sister Cyril (Lesley Manville, on career-best form) and young waitress Alma (Vicky Krieps). Jonny Greenwood's gorgeous score is the first thing you'll fall head over heels for though.

Scott Pilgrim Vs The World (2008)

Edgar Wright's explosion of 8-bit-styled, comic book-inspired effects and fuzzed-up garage rock is several leagues away from your usual romance, but that's what it is: if young Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cena) wants to hang out with Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) he needs to defeat her seven evil exes. Cue spectacular fights and lessons about learning to love yourself, and loads of Wright's trademark zip and eye for a gag.

When Harry Met Sally (1989)

The single greatest rom-com ever made, by an absolute country mile. Yes, yes, yes, you know Meg Ryan's big scene in Katz's Deli, I'll have what she's having, etc – but that's not why When Harry Met Sally endures. Nora Ephron's script remains as playful, meaningful and nuanced as it was 30 years ago, and the easy warmth between Billy Crystal and Ryan is as deeply watchable too. Harry and Sally meet on a road trip from Chicago to New York after uni, cross in and out of each other's lives, and over the years figure out the knotty entangling of love, sex and friendship.

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