The Best Romance Movies of the 21st Century, from ‘High Fidelity’ to ‘Carol’

Get your creamed spinach and poached eggs ready. From "Carol" and "Brokeback Mountain" to "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and "Punch-Drunk Love," these are the romances to watch for Valentine's Day 2023.
The Best Romance Movies of the 21st Century
(Clockwise from bottom left): "If Beale Street Could Talk," "The Big Sick," "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," "Moonlight," "The Handmaiden," and "Carol"
Courtesy Everett Collection

15. “Take This Waltz” (2011)

Michelle Williams and Luke Kirby in "Take This Waltz"
“Take This Waltz”Magnolia Pictures/Everett Collection

Michelle Williams acts opposite Seth Rogen and Luke Kirby in this charming love triangle from writer-director Sarah Polley. “Take This Waltz” examines the mundanity of domestic love by challenging its protagonist with a charming new friendship. Margot meets Daniel (Kirby) and their chemistry is instant. But so was her chemistry with husband Lou (Rogen). As Margot picks through her feelings, a resonant display of turmoil, insecurity, and impatience unfolds. Plus, Sarah Silverman delivers one of the better scenes in her dramatic acting career as Lou’s sister Geraldine. —AF

14. “Enough Said” (2013)

Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini in "Enough Said"
“Enough Said”Searchlight

Writer-director Nicole Holofcener’s fifth feature is her most accessible: witty, sharply observed, painful and entertaining. It also provides a perfect vehicle for smart comedy actor Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Eva, an L.A. divorcee and masseuse trying to get back into the dating scene. In the opening party sequence, Eva meets sweetly lovable Albert (James Gandolfini, in one of his last movie roles), also divorced, as well as poet Marianne (Holofcener regular and muse Catherine Keener), who becomes a client and friend. They all have daughters heading for college. Things get tangled when it turns out that Marianne is Albert’s still-angry ex-wife. Does Eva confess, or mount a cover-up? Therein lies the tale. —AT

13. “Only Lovers Left Alive” (2013)

Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston in "Only Lovers Left Alive"
“Only Lovers Left Alive”Soda Pictures

Jim Jarmusch’s best movie in decades is a vampire love story shot for $7 million in the noirish ruins of Detroit and the narrow alleys of Tangier. Both deadpan funny and visually delightful, the movie follows melancholic musician vampire Adam (Tom Hiddleston), holed up in a frayed Detroit house in a decaying neighborhood, who joyfully reunites with his centuries-long mate Eve (Tilda Swinton) when she flies in from Africa. They’d rather acquire black-market blood than prey on humans. But those rules don’t necessarily apply to Eve’s feral younger sister vampire (Mia Wasikowska), who fancies Adam’s human link to the outside world (Anton Yelchin). Swinton and Hiddleston define cool and sexy, and Wasikowska has never been so delightfully devilish. —AT

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