25 Romantic Movies For Viewers That Think

I’m just as much a romantic as the next guy. Heck more so! But I will not suffer a sappy, unthinking romantic movie. Not even a little bit. Won’t do it. Just because there are emotions involved doesn’t mean we turn our collective brains off and become lumbering idiots. No. So, heading into the holidays, I figured, what better than a top ten list of the best romantic movies for thinkers. And obviously this isn’t comprehensive. It isn’t probably even representative. But when I sat down to think about it these ten came unbidden. Literally give it 12 seconds of thought. But I knew right away these were the ten. So, if you’d like to help me expand the list, feel free to add even more in the comments.​

In A World… – 3.5/5
An underachieving voice coach finds herself competing in the movie trailer voice-over profession against her arrogant father and his protégé. THiNC. Take – Totally a take you by surprise brilliant little film. Loved absolutely every moment of it. Only problem? Can’t remember if there is a romantic relationship here at all. Let’s just say there is one and call it good.
To The Wonder – 3.5/5
After falling in love in Paris, Marina and Neil come to Oklahoma, where problems arise. Their church’s Spanish-born pastor struggles with his faith, while Neil encounters a woman from his childhood. THiNC. Take – Terrence Malick is his own tornado movie experience. If he doesn’t suit you, there is zero my explaining the brilliance of his movie making will do to make up for this chasm. But if you dig his style, I can’t recommend his movies any higher.
A Ghost Story – 4.5/5
In this singular exploration of legacy, love, loss, and the enormity of existence, a recently deceased, white-sheeted ghost returns to his suburban home to try to reconnect with his bereft wife. THiNC. Take -Not 100% sure that you’ll consider A Ghost Story a romance movie, but I definitely, DEFINITELY do. Which may just mean I’m weird. But you should know that already by now.
Once – 4.5/5
A modern-day musical about a busker and an immigrant and their eventful week in Dublin, as they write, rehearse and record songs that tell their love story. THiNC. Take – Dublin? Busking? Music? Romance? This is a total left field love story. And for bonus points? Get the soundtrack.
Her – 3.5/5
In a near future, a lonely writer develops an unlikely relationship with an operating system designed to meet his every need. THiNC. Take – A love story between a man and an operating system? Is this possibly not even supposed to be on this list? You are going to have to watch in order to find out. Can’t give spoilers away now can we?
Knight of Cups – 4.5/5
A writer indulging in all that Los Angeles and Las Vegas has to offer undertakes a search for love and self via a series of adventures with six different women. THiNC. Take – Another Terrence Malick flick. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. But there is no central couple, no central romantic theme… oh, but there is. It’s just a story between a prodigal son and his father instead. It’s worth a really really deep dive. Loved this movie.
Frequencies – 4/5
In an alternate reality, children learn how lucky they will be (their “frequency”), knowledge which shapes their destiny. The unluckiest boy must parse the mysteries of free will in order to pursue his forbidden love of the luckiest girl. THiNC. Take – Sort of a sci-fi, star crossed lovers movie where two people – one truly lucky, the other cursed, struggle against the ‘natural’ order to find love. Fantastic movie for this list.
Ruby Sparks – 3/5
A novelist struggling with writer’s block finds romance in a most unusual way: by creating a female character he thinks will love him, then willing her into existence. THiNC. Take – Could be, at turns, a little more, um unsettling than most of the movies on this list. But it is definitely a fascinating take on the romantic movie genre.
I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore – 3.5/5
When a depressed woman is burglarized, she finds a new sense of purpose by tracking down the thieves alongside her obnoxious neighbor. But they soon find themselves dangerously out of their depth against a pack of degenerate criminals. THiNC. Take – One of the best movies of the year in my book. Not just romantic movies. But any movies. Utterly fantastic flick.
Glass House – 3.5/5
A lonely doctor, who once occupied an unusual lakeside house, begins exchanging love letters with its former resident, a frustrated architect. They must try to unravel the mystery behind their extraordinary romance before it’s too late. THiNC. Take – surprisingly clever for a movie as mainstream as this. I mean Bullock and Reeves? All kinds of props for this film even getting made. Very clever premise.
It’s About Time – 4/5
At the age of 21, Tim discovers he can travel in time and change what happens and has happened in his own life. His decision to make his world a better place by getting a girlfriend turns out not to be as easy as you might think. THiNC. Take – Possibly one of the tightest scripted time travel movies ever crafted. Choices have repercussions and those repercussions have their own resulting impacts. Very insightful movie.
Before Midnight – 4.5/5
The final film in the Before trilogy… We meet Jesse and Celine nine years on in Greece. Almost two decades have passed since their first meeting in that train bound for Vienna. THiNC. Take – Oscar award candidate for best film, this is the film that brought the Before trilogy out into the mainstream mindset. It is the most real of the movies three and the most heartfelt as well.
Four Weddings and a Funeral – 3.5/5
Over the course of five social occasions, a committed bachelor must consider the notion that he may have discovered love. THiNC. Take – With amazing writing from Richard Curtis (It’s About Time was another of his) and great acting (minus a Andie MacDowell), this movie is the epitome of pithy, and clever dialogue throughout.
The Lobster – 2.5/5
In a dystopian near future, single people, according to the laws of The City, are taken to The Hotel, where they are obliged to find a romantic partner in forty-five days or are transformed into beasts and sent off into The Woods.  THiNC. Take – This movie is for everyone. Heck, it might just not be for anyone! But it does with the idea of singleness and couples and romance… of a sorts. On second thought, just forget I ever mentioned it.
Safety Not Guaranteed – 4/5
Three magazine employees head out on an assignment to interview a guy who placed a classified advertisement seeking a companion for time travel.  THiNC. Take – Mark Duplass. Enough said. Oh, his movie, the One I Love is here too. Enough for you? Anyway, this is a great quirky little film about unstable people and what might just be possible.
The Big Sick – 5/5
Pakistan-born comedian Kumail Nanjiani and grad student Emily Gardner fall in love but struggle as their cultures clash. When Emily contracts a mysterious illness, Kumail finds himself forced to face her feisty parents, his family’s expectations, and his true feelings.  THiNC. Take – Only movie on this list I haven’t actually seen yet, but it comes on good authority from several of you. So it’s good enough for me. I’ll be watching it as soon as my movie backlog dwindles a bit.
Arrival – 5/5
When twelve mysterious spacecrafts appear around the world, linguistics professor Louise Banks is tasked with interpreting the language of the apparent alien visitors.  THiNC. Take – One of the single best sci-fi movies of the last decade. Romantic? Sort of. Definitely deep, and profound observations on love and communication in the face of the potential end of the world. Brilliant movie.
La La Land – 5/5
While navigating their careers in Los Angeles, a pianist and an actress fall in love while attempting to reconcile their aspirations for the future.  THiNC. Take – If you haven’t seen this one yet, the ending alone is worth it… let alone all the fantastic singing and dancing. It’s a sure fire home run on the romantic movies for thinkers scale.
Midnight In Paris – 4/5
While on a trip to Paris with his fiancée’s family, a nostalgic screenwriter finds himself mysteriously going back to the 1920s everyday at midnight. THiNC. Take – this movie inverts on itself like some of the most complicated movies we discuss here on taylorholmes.com. And yet it stays light and fun and most importantly? Romantic. And heck, it’s Paris at night. You can’t get more romantic than that.
Before Sunset – 4.5/5
Nine years after Jesse and Celine first met, they encounter each other again on the French leg of Jesse’s book tour. THiNC. Take – One of the most amazing things this movie does is answer outstanding questions from Before 1 while continuing to keep the questions open at the end of Before 2. It is a marvelous balancing act unseen anywhere else. It’s another magical movie.
Comet – 4/5
Set in a parallel universe, Comet bounces back and forth over the course of an unlikely but perfectly paired couple’s six-year relationship. THiNC. Take – This is a fast talking, dialogue driven, romantic comedy that may or may not be happening in real life. The only glitch here is that it might be trying just a little too hard? But I’d rathe that than the alternative.
10 Things I Hate About You – 5/5
A pretty, popular teenager can’t go out on a date until her ill-tempered older sister does. Does the plot sound familiar? It should, unless you were asleep in Lit. class during the Shakespeare section. Taming of the Shrew much? THiNC. Take – Two words, “Joseph Gordon-Levitt” and “Heath Ledger” before either were anyone. The wordplay here is beyond the pale. I only wish I had written the screenplay. “You can be overwhelmed and underwhelmed… but can you just be whelmed?”
The One I Love – 5/5
A troubled couple vacate to a beautiful getaway, but bizarre circumstances further complicate their situation when they discover identical copies of themselves there at the retreat. THiNC. Take – This movie single handedly legitimizes this website. It completes me. But who walked out of the retreat at the end of the day?!?
Before Sunrise – 4.5/5
A young man and woman meet on a train in Europe, and wind up spending one evening together in Vienna. Unfortunately, both know that this will probably be their only night together. THiNC. Take – This is the movie that started it all. It skews towards the romantic, but to say the dialogue here isn’t for thinkers would be a gross understatement.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – 5/5
When their relationship turns sour, a couple undergoes a procedure to have each other erased from their memories. But it is only through the process of loss that they discover what they had to begin with. THiNC. Take – I highlighted this movie in a top 5 mind bending movies list, so it is obviously taking today’s prize place home with it. Unbelievably great film on every front.

Can’t think of a more romantic pile of movies to watch with a significant other this holiday season. And better yet? If you don’t happen to have someone super special to watch these movies with I have the solution for you! Just trip on out to the fantastic online dating site cupid.com! They even have special services for us older folks wanting to watch these movies, just visit dating over 40 – and tell them THiNC. sent ya!

That is a fantastic list of goodness right there. I mean Spotless Mind, 10 Things, Midnight in Paris?!? Hours of romantic goodness right there! And don’t forget, if you have more movies that fit on this list, I want to hear about them in the comments. We can just keep adding to this list until the cows come home.

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10 Responses

  1. Dan T

    No fair counting a trilogy as three different movies.

    Still haven’t seen the 2nd and 3rd yet but I loved the first… have you watched a lot of Eric Rohmer movies?

    Guess the quote: “I saw a Rohmer film once… it was kind of like watching paint dry.”

    • Taylor Holmes

      Hahaha, I even almost justified it… but they are each so different and each so good I didn’t feel that I had to! hahaha. YOU HAVENT SEEN THEM YET?!? Go. Now. Go watch. I’ll be here when you get back. Promise. Aren’t you curious what happened at the end of 1? And whether they got back together again a year later? Or if they didn’t why? Go! Watch!

  2. Aristotle

    Actually, thank you for keeping the trilogy separate. They are different movies altogether. Intrinsically linked, but each stands on its own. Before 2 is what I imagine people hope for when they say, “I love a good conversation.”

    My problem with this list is that I’ve seen all of them already. I need mooooaaar!!!! 🙂

    • Taylor Holmes

      The Sound of My Voice is sort of romantic? The OA? Is that romantic? Not really. I’ll have to come up with more I guess. I’ll think about it.

  3. Dan T

    Well, the mere existence of a #3 mean sort of tells me what’s gonna happen in #2 (yeah, yeah, I know, it’s all about the dialogue). I always find the middle parts of trilogies kind of superfluous… aren’t they just time killers? Why not just jump to #3? Why waste the time? I’m just being facetious… I’m dying to see all 3 one after the other… just need to get the wife on board… this post should help.

    Okay… everybody who loves this trilogy… why haven’t you seen any Rohmer films? Before Sunrise woudn’t exist without Rohmer! Claire’s Knee was my gateway (actually saw it first in a dubbed-English version on TV… yucch ptooie!!) but they all are pretty much equal in quality. French people talk-talk-talking about love… endless talk-talk-talking.

    The quote is from the also-fabulous Gene Hackman ’70s thriller Night Moves… see, his estranged wife is a movie snob and he just has to get a dig in at the nouvelle vague art film auteur that her new boyfriend is into.

    I was always hoping Rohmer would get a lifetime achivement award from the Oscar academy and they would play that clip after the obligatory montage of movies that no one in the viewing audience has ever seen…

    • Taylor Holmes

      All my friends (not you guys friends, real world friends) make fun of me for being a movie snob. Actually, they think if a majority of people like it I will disdain it. And conversely. So yeah, I don’t fault you for being a total movie snob. Actually quite delightful really. I’m intrigued. Nothing better than a good dialogue movie. Nothing. So yeah, if you point me at one that you like I’ll give it a shot.

      Now as to the viability of Before Sunset. Remember, there was one, and nine years later there was two and there was no indication that there would be a three. So if you like the first, you are basically guaranteed to like the second. It’s like returning to old friends and finding out what happened, how things went, but also forging new ground simultaneously. The ending of two is similar to one and the overall feel of 1 and 2 are identical. Three is the groundbreaking movie in that the first two were all about two flirting friends and the third is all about a married couple and the inevitabilities of life. But maybe that’s just me.

      Sitting here trying to think of other romantic movies to add to this list. More Woody Allen could make it up there. Hrmmm. A Ghost Story, is that a romantic movie? Definitely love involved. Oh definitely La La Land. Ooh oh, Frequencies for sure. Oh I could blow it up by adding The Lobster! hahah. Or some Terrence Malick? Knight of Cups, Tree of Life, To the Wonder? Are those even romance movies? They are romantically disturbing anyway. Still thinking… and heck, Dan, tell me a Rhomer film worth adding and I’ll just add it.

      • Dan T

        (Sorry, I broke your website… accidentally posted this on the wrong thread… here it is where it belongs…)

        Probably the most *romantic* Rohmer movie (they all deal with love and relationships but I wouldn’t necessarily call some of them *romantic*) would be Le Rayon Vert (The Green Ray) which, for American consumption was re-titled Summer (not to be confused with Rohmer’s later film A Summer’s Tale, which is also probably worthy viewing but I haven’t seen it yet). Very good place to start… the heroine will tug at your heart or annoy the ever-loving bejesus out of you.

    • Aristotle

      I haven’t seen Rohmer mainly because I have very little exposure to non-English films. I will take a look. Thank you for the recommendation.

  4. Dan T

    And, sorry, but I cannot endorse La La Land as a successful romantic movie. I was *convinced* when I saw the first trailers and promos that I was going to *love* this movie (being that I am a HUGE fan of musicals)… but when I finally saw it… it just didn’t work for me. One brilliant scene (“What A Waste of a Lovely Night” which should have been a classic Fred Astaire or Bing Crosby tune) but he rest of it just seemed too pleased with itself. Not that it was terrible… just didn’t seem authentic to me. The choreography never seemed organic… it was just too…. choreographed… especially in that opening number. So… I would YouTube that “Lovely Night” scene and then go watch Singin’ In The Rain instead.


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