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10 Best Romantic Movies of 2021

the best romantic movies of 2021

Courtesy Netflix and IFC Films

Watching movies has looked a little different in 2021, with the COVID-19 pandemic still putting a significant dent in moviegoing. Even now that theaters have started to cautiously reopen, many studios like Warner Bros. have embraced simultaneous releasing in cinemas and online, making their slate available for at-home viewing at the same time as their theatrical launch. But whether you’re comfortable going back to the theater, or prefer to stay home, there are few things better than watching a truly great love story unfold on screen. From blockbuster musicals like West Side Story, to long-awaited Netflix threequels, to indie gems you might have missed, here are 10 romantic movies from 2021 you need to see, if you haven’t already.

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West Side Sotry

Steven Spielberg’s big screen remake of the Romeo & Juliet-inspired Broadway musical was one of many highly anticipated 2020 movies delayed by the pandemic. Ansel Elgort and newcomer Rachel Zegler play star-crossed lovers Tony and Maria, whose passionate romance is torn apart by a decades-old gang feud involving both of their families; but on the plus side, there are some absolute bangers along the way.

We Broke Up

Cult TV fans will want to take note of this under-appreciated gem, which stars The Good Place‘s William Jackson Harper opposite You’re The Worst‘s Aya Cash. Harper and Cash play Doug and Lori, a couple who end their 10-year relationship right before her younger sister’s wedding. Trying to avoid upsetting anyone, they decide to pretend to still be together, and wacky, romantic hijinks ensue.


Yet another big-screen Cinderella, just five years on from the 2015 version starring Lily James, may not seem super exciting on its face. But this version of the classic fairytale is a musical reimagining, directed by Kay Cannon (who wrote and produced the Pitch Perfect series), and starring Camilla Cabello in the title role. If that’s not whetting your appetite, how about Billy Porter as Cinderella’s gender-neutral fairy godparent, and Idina Menzel as her evil stepmother?

Malcolm & Marie

This black-and-white romantic drama was shot in secret last summer, and become the first Hollywood feature to be entirely written and filmed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Zendaya and Tenet‘s John David Washington star a couple whose relationship is put to the test after they return from a big movie premiere. Without spoiling too much, the inciting incident is that Washington’s character, a writer-director, neglects to thank his girlfriend in his speech. Revelations and painful truths spiral from there.

Blithe Spirit

Dan Stevens stars in this adaptation of a Noel Coward play with a truly wild love triangle at its center. A socialite and author struggling with writers block, Stevens’ protagonist invites a clairvoyant to his house to try and gather inspiration for his next book. But he gets more than he bargained for when the ghost of his late wife begins haunting him after the séance, which complicates his current marriage somewhat.

To All The Boys: Always and Forever

The third and final chapter in Netflix’s delightful coming-of-age series sees Lana Condor’s Lara Jean struggling to decide which college to attend, in light of her deepening relationship with Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo). And if you’ve been saving up this last installment because you don’t want it to be over, fear not–Netflix has confirmed a spinoff series, XO, Kitty, which will focus on Lara Jean’s younger sister, Kitty (Anna Cathcart).

Single All the Way

If you’re one of the many people who religiously watches Love, Actually every Christmas, then a) well done, you’re doing it right, and b) you’ll probably want to check out this festive gay romantic comedy. Directed by Michael Mayer, the Tony Award-winning director of the Broadway show Spring Awakening, Single All the Way follows Peter (Michael Urie), who persuades his best friend to pose as his boyfriend for the holidays, to avoid admitting that he’s single to his family. But things get complicated in classic rom-com fashion when Peter’s mother sets him up on a blind date with her handsome personal trainer (Luke MacFarlane). After Hulu’s Happiest Season last year, we’re extremely here for more queer holiday romances.

The Ultimate Playlist of Noise

The synopsis of this off-kilter tearjerker sounds like High Fidelity meets The Fault In Our Stars, AKA a must-watch. The story centers on Marcus, an audio-obsessed teenager who’s diagnosed with a brain tumor that will eventually destroy his hearing. Determined to record as many sounds as he possibly can before becoming deaf, Marcus enlists a musician (played by The Handmaid’s Tale’s Madeline Brewer) to help him on his quest.

Dating & New York

Like many rom-coms, Dating & New York starts out from a familiar premise: after a spectacular one-night stand, two people agree to pursue a strictly friends-with-benefits relationship, but things don’t go entirely to plan. But the witty script and charismatic leads ensure it’s never quite predictable. Jaboukie Young-White and Francesca Reale play the millennial New Yorkers trying to navigate this treacherous romantic terrain.

Sounds Like Love (Fuimos canciones)

There’s nothing quite like a Mediterranean getaway to make the winter pass more quickly—and if actual travel is off the table, this Spanish rom-com is probably the next best thing. Set in Madrid, Fuimos canciones centers on a young woman who’s finally beginning to get her life together, with a little help from her trusty two BFFs, until her ex shows up to complicate things. The movie is based on a popular book series by Elísabet Benavent, and comes from a female writer-director team, Laura Sarmiento and Juana Macías.

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