The 15 Best Romantic Comedies You Can Stream Right Now

Sarah Shatz, Lionsgate
Sarah Shatz, Lionsgate

Romantic comedies don’t always get their due. The genre is as old as cinema itself, and has been making large audiences in dimly lit rooms flush with the sweeping highs and cringe-happy awkwardness of wuv (twue wuv) for more than a century. Rom-coms been through boom times and busts. They have made progress and been problematic. They've made hearts warm and eyes roll.

It also turns out that looking for the best romantic comedies available through online services is a sign of weakness for our streaming overlords. It’s not hard to find a few dozen gems, but the severe lack of any movies made before 1980 and a more general focus on schlock over substance is enough to make you want to call your congressperson. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, it’s time to up your rom-com game.

What’s more, if you don’t see a movie you absolutely love featured here, check your streaming service again. Chances are it’s not available anymore (au revoir, Amélie). Fortunately, there’s more than enough to crush a 24-hour rom-com marathon for any particular romance-centric days that might be coming up on the calendar.

Let’s cutely meet 15 of the best. (In alphabetical order.)

1. 2 Days In New York (2012)

It’ll help if you’ve seen its predecessor, 2 Days in Paris, but it’s not necessary to enjoy the all-too-real comedy at the heart of Julie Delpy’s canny sequel. The first film explored a minefield of sexual politics with a healthy side order of fragile male ego, but the second features Chris Rock as Marion’s (Delpy) new boyfriend, a fun visit from French family, and an awkward dance around casual racism. Delpy is deft at handling third-rail comedy topics while staying grounded in what it means to be human.

Where to watch it: Hulu

2. The Big Sick (2017)

Boy and girl meet. Boy and girl break up. Girl gets sick. Boy sticks around to hang with girl’s parents in a hospital waiting room. A tale as old as time. Based on their own relationship, Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani’s Oscar-nominated script was rightly hailed as a breath of fresh air when it hit Sundance, as it's filled with an overwhelming amount of emotion. In toying with the genre (by injecting real life), they’ve made a rom-com that begins with two young people falling in love but leads to a young man proving himself to her parents … who just happen to be played by a top-of-their-game Holly Hunter and Ray Romano.

Where to watch it: Amazon

3. Her (2013)

It’s possible that Spike Jonze’s sci-fi love story is sad. Maybe even depressing. But the ending is more sweet than bitter, and there’s way more silver lining than dark cloud if you squint. The movie features the stirring relationship between Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) and an AI virtual assistant (“Alexa, do you maybe wanna go out sometime?”). Scarlett Johansson voices Samantha the AI who lives on the internet and appears at whim on Theodore’s smart device. He teaches her to love, she proves that he’s worthy of it, and they both get an operating system upgrade.

Where to watch it: Netflix

4. Hitch (2005)

Truly living his Willennium to the fullest, Will Smith starred in this slapstick throwback as a dating consultant who can’t get his own love life in order. He braved water skis and an explosive fish allergy to win Eva Mendes’s character’s heart, all while helping the schlubby good guy Albert (Kevin James) stay true to himself and win an out-of-his-league crush Allegra (Amber Valletta). Even with its modern slant (which thankfully isn’t about negging women at bars), it’s still about sweetness beating cynicism.

Where to watch it: Amazon

5. The Incredible Jessica James (2017)

There’s nothing like this odyssey through dating life in the App Era. Former The Daily Show correspondent Jessica Williams owns the hyper-confident, profoundly magnetic main role as a woman with ambitions in every corner of her life. Her unlikely romance with divorcee Boone (Chris O’Dowd) is predicated on refusing to obsess over their exes’ social media accounts anymore, but it blossoms into exactly the best kind of supportive, frantic affair that the genre promises.

Where to watch it: Netflix

6. Jerry Maguire (1996)

This movie completes this list. Without it, there would be a Jerry Maguire-shaped hole. The most sprawling of the modern rom-coms, Cameron Crowe’s film is over two hours of Tom Cruise playing a character trying to climb back up the mountain after jumping into the ocean. Dorothy Boyd (Renée Zellweger) is the only one who sticks by him, setting up a fraught relationship about staying fiercely loyal and rejecting hollow status symbols. Would they have stayed together without the Tidwells’ (Cuba Gooding Jr. and Regina King) loving partnership as a guide? You tell me.

Where to watch it: Amazon

7. Kicking And Screaming (1995)

Noah Baumbach’s directorial debut is a new classic of angsty Gen X relationships. The kicking and screaming in the title refer to a group of recent graduates refusing to cut the academic umbilical cord completely as they head into the “real world.” It flashes between the meet-cute of Grover (Josh Hamilton) and Jane (Olivia d’Abo) in a college writing class and the relationship’s ultimate failure to weather a post-diploma adulthood. They’re dry and witty and compare their parents to presidents a lot. They’re also charming and unforgettable—especially if you’re constantly craving '90s nostalgia.

Where to watch it: Netflix

8. The Lobster (2015)

Yorgos Lanthimos’s absurdist dystopia is a romantic black comedy that envisions a world where you’re either with someone or you’re turned into an animal. At least you get to choose your animal. David (Colin Farrell) eventually falls for a shortsighted woman (Rachel Weisz) rebelling against the whole system, determined to remain single and living in the woods with like-minded friends. If you need tons of sugar in your rom-com, this may not be for you. But if you can laugh at the sheer horror of finding a permanent partner and the pressure society places on all of us to do so, there’s nothing funnier than this.

Where to watch it: Netflix

9. Mamma Mia! (2008)

Like an antidote to despair, this insanely popular jukebox musical features a fantastic cast that looks like they were paid to drink fruity drinks and party on a Greek island for a few months. Undoubtedly the singing and dancing were hard work. It’s the story of Sophie Sheridan (Amanda Seyfried), who invites three of her mother’s (Meryl Streep) former lovers (Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan, and Stellan Skarsgård) to her wedding in the hopes of learning which one is her father. It’s as upbeat as snorting a line of breakfast cereal, goes big on the poppy musical numbers from ABBA, and tosses in a ton of love stories because one just isn’t enough.

Where to watch it: Netflix

10. Meet The Patels (2014)

It’s rare for a documentary to fall into this genre, but this movie is a real-life rom-com. Directed by siblings Geeta V. Patel and Ravi V. Patel, it focuses mostly on Ravi (an actor with bit parts in TV shows and movies), who—after breaking up with an American woman named Audrey—acquiesces to his parents’ wish that he find a partner through traditional, arraigned marriage. What results is a charismatic young man’s journey to discover himself by finding out what he really wants in a wife. It’s an absolutely charming movie that’s as realistic as it gets.

Where to watch it: Netflix

11. Moonstruck (1987)

This Oscar winner is all about personality. Cher won an Academy Award for playing Loretta Castorini, the widow who falls hard for her fiance’s younger brother Ronny (Nicolas Cage). Loretta is a slice of perfection and Ronny is a sweaty baker with a hot temper. Naturally, they look great at the opera together. Yes, it’s about falling head over heels, but it’s also about family so aggravating you’ve gotta love ‘em. It also serves as a potent reminder that Olympia Dukakis is the best.

Where to watch it: Amazon

12. Obvious Child (2014)

Tackling a topic other rom-coms are afraid to go near, Gillian Robespierre’s debut features a star-making performance by Jenny Slate as a comedian named Donna who discovers she’s pregnant and has to schedule an abortion on Valentine’s Day. Instead of hand-wringing about the choice itself, the film focuses on other elements of Donna’s life and features a grounding conversation where Donna’s mother reveals she had an abortion before giving birth to her daughter. It’s an incredibly funny movie featuring a romance that’s built on support and respect instead of mere compatibility.

Where to watch it: Netflix

13. Sabrina (1995)

It may be hard to find true classics on streaming services, but it’s slightly easier to find remakes of those classics. In this one, Sydney Pollack remade Billy Wilder’s three-way romance with Harrison Ford in the Humphrey Bogart role, Julia Ormond in the Audrey Hepburn role, and Greg Kinnear in the William Holden role. Though it's impossible to live up to the 1954 version, it’s still a delightful tale of a chauffer’s daughter enchanting two polar opposite billionaire brothers.

Where to watch it: Amazon

14. She’s Gotta Have It (1986)

There’s a new(ish) series on Netflix based on it, but you can also stream Spike Lee’s raucous movie about a young woman’s battle against monogamy. Tracy Camilla Johns stars as Nola Darling, a Brooklynite having sex with three different men who can’t handle the idea that she’s having sex with three different men. Their insecurity sparks a profound change which Lee mines for depth, heartache, and laughs with his cutthroat genius. It’s an evocative masterpiece featuring one of the most revolutionary modern characters and a healthy subversion of harmful rom-com tropes.

Where to watch it: Netflix

15. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018)

Based on Jenny Han’s wildly popular novel, Susan Johnson’s adaptation is a thoroughly modern rom-com with nods to the 1980s classics as well as a powerful reminder that, if you’re going to write love letters to all your crushes, make sure your precocious little sister doesn’t mail them. That’s exactly what happens to Lara Jean Covey (Lana Condor), a shy teen trying to keep her head down while harboring strong feelings for her life-long friend Josh (Israel Broussard), who’s off-limits because he dated Lara Jean’s sister. After the letters go loose in the wild, Lara Jean agrees to fake a relationship with latter-recipient Peter (Noah Centineo) so she can pretend her feelings for Josh aren’t real and so he can win his ex-girlfriend back through jealousy. It’s a tangled web worthy of Shakespeare that’s funny, sweet, and as enriching as drinkable yogurt.

Where to watch it: Netflix

10 Dramatic Downton Abbey Fan Theories

Jim Carter as Mr. Carson in Downton Abbey (2019).
Jim Carter as Mr. Carson in Downton Abbey (2019).
Focus Features

Despite its exhaustively polished veneer, Downton Abbey was always a soap opera. Julian Fellowes's historical drama about a family of aristocrats and their many servants could never resist a good shocker, and it deployed plenty of them over the course of six seasons. The valet was suspected of murder (twice). One of the Crawley sisters got knocked up by her older married boyfriend, who promptly went missing. And another sister’s first sexual encounter ended in death. Considering all this, it should come as no surprise that fans have developed similarly wacky theories about the show. These fan theories include secret parentage, undercover spies, and, of course, poison.

Brush up on the best of them before the Downton Abbey movie hits theaters—just in case the whole miscarriage curse comes up.

1. Mr. Carson is Lady Mary’s father.

This theory all comes down to eyes. As you may recall from science class, certain genes are dominant and others are recessive. This is perhaps most easily understood through eye color, where brown eye color, a dominant gene, is expressed as BB and blue eye color, a recessive gene, is expressed as bb. A parent with brown eyes might carry the recessive blue eye gene (i.e. Bb), but if you plot out genetic probabilities on a basic Punnett square, two blue-eyed parents with double bbs have seemingly no shot at producing a Bb baby. Now, what does any of this have to do with Downton Abbey? Both Lord and Lady Grantham have blue eyes, but their eldest daughter, Mary, has brown eyes. This has led some fans to speculate that Lady Mary is actually the daughter of Carson, the family’s beloved butler who has always acted as as sort of second father to Mary. As debunkers have noted, two blue-eyed people can have a brown-eyed child, because recessive genes aren’t that simple. But isn’t it wild to think of Carson and Cora having an affair?

2. Thomas Barrow poisoned Kemal Pamuk.

One of the soapiest subplots of Downton Abbey's first season involved “poor Mr. Pamuk,” the dashing Turkish diplomat who makes a fateful visit to the Abbey. After enjoying a day of fox hunting and an evening of sparkling conversation, Kemal Pamuk drops dead ... right in Lady Mary’s bed. The cause, it is later revealed, was a heart attack, but many viewers suspected something more sinister. Earlier in the episode, the Crawleys’ closeted footman, Thomas Barrow, made a pass at Pamuk, which the diplomat rejected quite forcefully—so much so that he threatened to get Thomas fired. That placed the footman in a tricky situation, but it was nothing a little poison couldn't fix, and that’s exactly why some fans believe Thomas slipped something into Mr. Pamuk’s dinner.

3. Lady Grantham’s miscarriage started a curse.

In the Season 1 finale, tragedy strikes. The newly pregnant Lady Grantham slips on a bar of soap, falling onto the bathroom tiles and inducing a miscarriage. It’s a sad moment, but it’s also, Reddit claims, the source of the house’s future misfortune. According to this theory, the miscarriage kicks off a curse of deadly pregnancies: Lady Sybil dies in childbirth; Matthew Crawley dies in a car accident soon after the birth of his son; and when the maid Ethel Parks becomes pregnant with Major Bryant’s child, he dies, too.

4. Mr. Bates is actually a bad guy.

Brendan Coyle and Joanne Froggatt in Downton Abbey (2019).
Brendan Coyle and Joanne Froggatt in Downton Abbey (2019).
Focus Features

Downton Abbey invests a lot of time and effort in convincing us that John Bates, Lord Grantham's trusty, is a great guy—despite his checkered past and multiple murder allegations. But what if everyone’s assumptions about Bates are exactly right? Some Redditors believe Bates is just a remorseless serial killer, pointing to his intense hatred of his first wife and “creepy vibes” as evidence. Anna had better watch out.

5. Michael Gregson is a spy.

Lady Edith’s boss and lover Michael Gregson is the publisher of a London magazine, The Sketch. Thanks to his job, he knows tons of important people, travels all over the world, and speaks multiple languages. He eventually disappears inside Germany in season 4, and later dispatches to the Crawley family imply that he was a victim of Adolf Hitler’s “thugs.” (The show timeline places Gregson in Munich right around the time of the Beer Hall Putsch.) Or at least, that’s the official story. Another one suggests that Gregson was a British spy gathering intel on the insurgent Nazis—and he might not have died at all. His superiors simply needed to feed Edith a lie that would discourage her from poking around, so they made up a cover story that someone who follows the news would believe.

6. Lady Rosamund Painswick is Lady Edith’s mother.

When Lady Edith becomes pregnant with Michael Gregson’s child, she finds a strong support system in her aunt, Lady Rosamund Painswick. Upon learning Edith’s secret, Rosamund travels to Downton Abbey to help her niece through her pregnancy, and suggests adoption options as the due date draws near. Some fans have interpreted this empathy as a clue that Rosamund, not Lady Grantham, is Edith’s true mother. It could also explain why Edith looks (and behaves) so different from her sisters. Or it could just be a sign that Rosamund cares about her niece.

7. Lady Mary’s “operation” was IVF.

In season 3, Lady Mary claims to have undergone a “small operation” that will help her start a family with Matthew. It’s maddeningly unclear what this operation entails, but one wild guess is that she had an early version of IVF. The complete crackpot theory is that this was a cover for Matthew’s infertility, which the doctors wouldn’t disclose to him, presumably to preserve his 1920s masculinity.

8. Lady Mary’s son George becomes a Royal Air Force pilot in World War II.

Lady Mary’s son George is only five years old in the series finale of Downton Abbey. But that means he would theoretically be 18 in the fall of 1939, which is exactly when World War II broke out in Europe. He would almost certainly enlist, as show creator Julian Fellowes himself has suggested. But Decider has more specifically theorized that George would join the Royal Air Force (RAF), “with a desire to rebel against his emotionally distant mother and find purpose in a greater cause.” Sounds like George would be taking part in some dangerous missions, putting the entire family’s future at risk.

9. Public tours keep the estate alive.

The Crawleys spend much of Downton Abbey fretting about the future management of their estate—partially because Lord Grantham is kind of bad at it. But Lady Mary has taken over when the series ends, and Fellowes believes she’d find savvy ways to keep her family’s home in their hands. “She would probably have opened the house to the public in the 1960s, as so many of them did,” Fellowes told Deadline. “And she’d have retreated to a wing, and maybe only occupied the whole house during the winters. My own belief is that the Crawleys would still be there.”

10. The Dowager Countess keeps Denker and Spratt around for the drama.

Gladys Denker is a maid to the Dowager Countess. Septimus Spratt is her butler. These two do not like each other, and they’re quite public about it. Denker and Spratt’s unprofessional squabbles would’ve gotten plenty of other servants fired, but fans believe the Dowager Countess keeps them employed for her own amusement.

You Can Rent This Wizard of Oz-Themed Cottage in North Carolina

Airbnb
Airbnb

This year marks the 80th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz, the classic 1939 adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s book. In addition to watching the film, you can opt for a more immersive way to celebrate the occasion. As Travel + Leisure reports, a cottage in West Jefferson, North Carolina offered on Airbnb is perfect for any traveling Oz fan—and it’s only $35 a night.

The studio cottage is considered a glamping destination and is slim on amenities—it has a breakfast nook, porch, sofa bed, and a Porta John—but the Oz-themed details more than make up for the lack of luxurious perks.

A pair of stockinged feet are visible under the home, hinting at a witch’s untimely demise; a character mural of Dorothy and her three escorts, the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion, appears on the side of the cabin; inside, various other decorations pay homage to Baum's books, including a pair of ruby slippers and a few stuffed Totos.

A cottage with a 'Wizard of Oz' theme in West Jefferson, North Carolina is pictured
Airbnb

If you go, you’ll have to act quickly. The cottage is open only in the spring, summer, and fall, as it has no heat.

The Airbnb listing has a perfect score across 16 reviews. You can book it here.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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