The 80s gave us Dirty Dancing, Sixteen Candles and When Harry Met Sally. The 90s blessed us with 10 Things I Hate About You, Pretty Woman, Sleepless in Seattle and Clueless. In the 2000s we fell in love with How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, 27 Dresses, (500) Days of Summer, The Wedding Planner and so many more swoon-worthy romantic comedies. In the 2010s, things got a little complicated, with rom-coms leaning more towards the com aspect, even getting a bit supernatural or sci-fi-esque at times. That’s not to say the 2010s were without rom-com hits. We had the No Strings Attached vs. Friends With Benefits fiasco, the Zombie-craze-driven Warm Bodies, a whole lineup of Ryan Gosling vehicles and too many Netflix originals to even count (let alone watch). But four years into the 2020s I feel confident enough to say that I sense we’re approaching another rom-com heyday.
And no, I’m not just talking about the success of Sydney Sweeney’s Anyone But You. It feels like we’ve finally recovered from what the Fifty Shades trilogy did to Valentine’s Day movies, and romance is back, baby! We got Meg Ryan’s return to rom-coms late last year, a new Gina Rodriguez Netflix movie dropping this V-Day, Cole Sprouse remaining seen and not heard in the newly released Lisa Frankenstein, and yet another Ryan Gosling vehicle pulling into theaters later this year.
So, to celebrate love, here’s a recap of the 10 best rom-coms of the 2020s (so far, and in my opinion).
An NYC-based sports writer passes her time helping all her male best friends pick up women using her “playbook.” But when she meets a man she’d like to do more than just score with, her whole game has to change. Gina Rodriguez, Damon Wayans Jr. and Tom Ellis star alongside The Kissing Booth’s Joel Courtney, Liza Koshy and SNL’s Ego Nwodim in Players, which drops on Netflix this Valentine’s Day.
What Happens Later (2023)
Meg Ryan, the 90s rom-com queen, returns to her kingdom in What Happens Later. This quiet, reflective rom-com follows two decades-ago exes who wind up snowed in overnight in a small regional airport, and pass the time unpacking their past — and present — feelings. David Duchovny stars opposite Ryan in What Happens Later, which you can rent on Amazon.
The Lost City (2022)
If a simple, straightforward rom-com just isn’t for you, try one that includes a maniacal, multi-millionaire played by Daniel Radcliffe and some Indiana Jones vibes. Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum star as a reclusive author and her space-case of a cover model, who wind up on one of the very adventures she details in her romance novels in The Lost City, which you can currently stream on Paramount+.
Fire Island (2022)
Yet another way to watch Pride and Prejudice again… Things heat up on Fire Island when a queer friend group’s annual summer trip takes an unexpected turn. Joel Kim Booster and Bowen Yang star alongside Conrad Ricamora, James Scully and Margaret Cho in Fire Island, now streaming on Hulu.
I Want You Back (2022)
When two strangers get dumped on the same day and bond over their breakups, they decide to team up to sabotage their exes' new relationships. Charlie Day and Jenny Slate star alongside Gina Rodriguez, Scott Eastwood, Manny Jacinto, Clark Backo and Mason Gooding in this hilarious and heartwarming comedy that includes a riveting rendition of "Suddenly Seymour" from Little Shop of Horrors. I Want You Back is on Amazon Prime Video.
To All the Boys trilogy (2018-21)
Although they technically started back in 2018, the To All the Boys trilogy feels quintessential to the 2020s rom-com revival — and the rise of Jenny Han’s teen romance empire. Lara Jean has always felt safer in her sister’s shadow, writing secret love letters to her crushes (including her sister’s boyfriend) instead of ever acting on her feelings. But with her big sister off to college and her little sister meddling in her love life, Lara Jean’s world is about to be turned upside down by the dreamy Peter Kavinsky (Enter: Noah Centineo). You can watch all three movies (and the spinoff, XO, Kitty) on Netflix.
A happily single woman and happily single man team up to be each other’s platonic dates for every holiday to get their families off their backs. Obviously, romance ensues. Emma Roberts and Luke Bracey star alongside Jake Manley, Jessica Capshaw, Andrew Bachelor, Frances Fisher, Manish Dayal and Kristin Chenoweth in Holidate, currently streaming on Netflix.
The Lovebirds (2020)
As he so-adorably established in The Big Sick (2017), Kumail Nanjiani can totally carry a romantic comedy. And carry The Lovebirds (opposite the always-stunning Issa Rae) he does. Like any classic rom-com, The Lovebirds has two leads with great chemistry, lots of swoon-worthy moments and … murder? When a couple finds themselves caught at the scene of a crime they did not commit, it’s up to them to clear their own names, and stay together along the way. You can stream The Lovebirds on Netflix.
Sure, you could just rewatch Matthew Macfadyen do The Hand Thing in Pride and Prejudice (2005), or, you could give another Jane Austen adaptation a chance. Anya Taylor-Joy stars as the titular heroine in the 2020 adaptation of Emma. The precocious and beautiful Emma navigates her way through high society in Regency-Era England, eventually finding love in the most unexpected of places. Johnny Flynn, Mia Goth, Bill Nighy and Callum Turner round out the cast of Emma. which you can stream now on Peacock.
Palm Springs (2020)
Perhaps one of the most perfectly timed romantic comedies (release-wise), Palm Springs is the 2020s Groundhog Day with a desert-chic aesthetic, Andy Samberg’s irresistible heart-eyes and Cristin Milioti’s subtle complexities. When two wedding guests get trapped in some sort of supernatural time loop, sparks — and existential thoughts — fly. But is love enough to sustain the pair through an infinite number of maid of honor speeches? You can find out for yourself by streaming Palm Springs on Hulu.
Bonus: Set it Up (2018)
While not technically released in the 2020s, this 2018 film did feel like a palette cleanser before the turn of the decade. Plus, dare I say, it’s the rom com that introduced Glen Powell to the genre he was born to star in. Set It Up follows two burnt-out assistants to high-powered NYC professionals who handle everything for their bosses — even love. Powell stars alongside Zoey Deutch, Lucy Liu, Taye Diggs and Pete Davidson in Set it Up, currently streaming on Netflix.
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