2023 was a great year for romance on the big screen. Even with a double Hollywood strike that rendered a lot of talent in front of and behind the camera unavailable to promote these films, many still found their way into the hearts of audiences — and such a varied bunch, too.
From LGBTQ+ love stories to action rom-coms to stories that tackle how diversity affects love in America, these 15 romance movies captured our hearts this year.
Here are the 15 best romance movies of 2023 and where to stream them.
Similar to 2022’s “Ticket to Paradise,” Jennifer Lopez and Josh Duhamel play a couple whose relationship gets tested both mentally and physically on the eve of and during their destination wedding ceremony in “Shotgun Wedding.” Jason Moore (“Pitch Perfect”) manages to infuse heartfelt themes with comedy and action with the help of a star-studded cast — Jennifer Coolidge, Lenny Kravitz, D’Arcy Carden, Cheech Marin and Sonia Braga. The music choices add even more flare once the adrenaline and tension kick up a notch because of a hostage situation. “Shotgun Wedding” is available to stream on Prime Video. – Dessi Gomez
Sophie Wilder (Monica Barbaro) is an actress working on the “Super Society” film franchise but her life changes when she finds out her costar and boyfriend Adam Clark (Anders Holm) cheated on her. Sophie heads to Mexico City to film the next installment for her superhero character Firephina, and while her publicist and manager try to cover up the cheating scandal, she gets close with Alejandro (Diego Boneta) who manages the hotel where she stays. Dancing lessons, family drama and stunts make this romance film a must-watch.
“At Midnight” is streaming on Paramount+.
“One True Loves“
Based on another best-selling book by Taylor Jenkins Reid (author of “Daisy Jones and the Six”), Emma (Philippa Soo) marries the love of her life Jesse Palmer (Luke Bracey), but she has to undergo a process of painful transformation after news that he has gone missing (and is assumed dead) following a tragic helicopter crash over the ocean. Enter Sam (Simu Liu), who was friend-zoned by Emma early on when they first met, but who has carried a torch for her this whole time. Emma starts her career as a travel journalist, and then she moves home to run her parents’ bookstore after Jesse is presumed dead. But Jesse didn’t die! When he resurfaces and comes back into Emma’s life wanting things to pick up right where they left off, she has to ask herself who she fits better with — Jesse her one true love, or Sam her second chance.
“One True Loves” is streaming on Hulu.
Priyanka Chopra Jonas stars as Mira Ray (Chopra Jonas), a children’s books illustrator still reeling from the loss of her boyfriend in a car accident two years prior. To get herself through her grief and get back on the dating scene, Mira starts texting her dead lover’s phone number. On the receiving end of those texts is Rob Burns (Sam Heughan), a music critic at the New York Chronicle who is given a work phone from his boss — incidentally one with the same phone number as Mira’s late ex. Rob connects emotionally to the messages from Mira, and he eventually uses context clues to find her and meet her “organically.” Rob also gets an earful from Celine Dion about love when he asks her why she writes so much about it in her songs. Dion challenges him in many ways once she finds out about Mira. Celine Dion’s guest guru role in the film makes it the ultimate love story, as does the soundtrack featuring new songs from the artist. Nick Jonas has a great cameo role.
“Love Again” is streaming on Netflix.
Nora (Greta Lee) and Teo Yoo (Jung Hae Sung) grew up together in South Korea before Nora’s parents moved their family to the United States. Nora and her sister picked new American names and assimilated into the American way of life. Nora later thrived as a blossoming writer, when she reconnected with Hae Sung over Facebook after he reached out to her 20 years later. Their daily phone and Skype calls stretched into all hours with the time difference between America and South Korea before they broke things off because it got too challenging to maintain the relationship. More years pass as Nora marries Arthur Zaturansky (John Magaro) whom she meets on a writers’ retreat, but she and Hae Sung still manage to reunite in person.
“Past Lives” is available to rent on VOD.
The Perfect Find
In the Netflix adaptation of Tia Williams’ book, “The Perfect Find,” Jenna Jones (Gabrielle Union) and Eric Combs (Keith Powers) fall in love, but their age gap presents challenges. Jenna, 40, wants to get married and have a family, but Eric, 22, just graduated from the University of Southern California with a Masters in film, eager to start his career. The fact that Eric’s mother Darcy (Gina Torres) technically brought them together by hiring them at her magazine only complicates things. Despite the almost 20-year age difference between the two, they keep gravitating towards each other.
“The Perfect Find” is streaming on Netflix.
While Pixar films are largely defined by the hallmarks of the buddy movie, romance is just as much a part of the studio’s DNA, whether that means one of the undoubtedly Oscar-nominated short films (“The Blue Umbrella,” “Lava”) to larger projects like “Toy Story 4,” which revealed itself to be a big-hearted romance and then broke your heart accordingly. What makes “Elemental,” which became a sleeper hit over the summer after a shaky start, so special, is how much of a romantic comedy it really is. There aren’t any larger threats or implications. Instead, it’s a literalization of the “opposites attract” trope – in a world where the elements are sentient creatures, a sappy water guy named Wade (Mamoudou Athie) falls in love with a flinty fire gal named Ember (Leah Lewis). Sure, there are minor bumps along the road, but the movie is so refreshingly invested in the mechanics of their romance; in the way that they compromise or go out of their way to accommodate and support one another. There’s no villain threatening the life of the city, no ex-boyfriend (or girlfriend) that jeopardizes their romance. The movie’s biggest obstacles are the slow-moving wheels of bureaucracy and the inherent creakiness of governmental oversight. And those certainly can’t dim the shine of two characters that are as visually dazzling as they are deeply felt. It’s hard not to fall in love with “Elemental.” You can’t help but swoon.
“Elemental” is streaming on Disney+.
“Happiness for Beginners“
Adapted from Katherine Center’s book, “Happiness for Beginners” stars Ellie Kemper as Helen and Luke Grimes as Jake. Ellie, who has recently divorced her husband after infidelity and a miscarriage, hopes to start over on a hiking trip through the Appalachian Trail, but it turns out Jake has signed up for the same trip. Jake has been friends with Helen’s younger brother Duncan (Alexander Koch) since childhood, nursing a small crush on Helen all the while. They grow closer over the hiking journey, guided by Bennett (Ben Cook), before realizing their true feelings for each other. The ensemble cast, including Hugh (Nico Santos), Windy (Shayvawn Webster), Mason (Estebon Benito), Sue (Julia Shiplett) and Kaylee (Gus Birney), turns the comedy up quite a few notches. The film is written and directed by Vicky Wight.
“Happiness for Beginners” is streaming on Netflix.
“Red White & Royal Blue“
Adapted from Casey McQuiston’s best-selling novel “Red, White & Royal Blue,” the LGBTQ+ rom-com film follows an enemies-to-lovers romance between Taylor Zakhar Perez’s Alex, son of the first woman president of the United States (Uma Thurman), and Nicholas Galitzine’s Prince Henry George Edward James Hanover-Stuart-Fox, spare (heir) to the throne. The two young men follow their sparks to pursue a secret relationship, safe from the public eyes of both the crown and the presidency. It’s heartfelt and humorous with just the right amount of spice.
“Red, White & Royal Blue” is streaming on Prime Video.
“Love in Taipei“
Sent by her parents to a cultural immersion program known as loveboat in Taiwan for the summer, Ever (Ashley Liao) gets in better touch with her heritage while embarking on her own journey of self-discovery. As she struggles through Mandarin calligraphy classes, Ever blossoms socially with the help of Sophie Ha (Chelsea Zhang), and she further solidifies her desire to pursue dancing as her dream career, not the practical path of medical school that her parents have coached her into since they came to the United States from Taiwan. She also meets two very different young men who relate to her obstacles in various ways — Boy Wonder Rick Woo (Ross Butler) and troublemaker Xavier Yeh (Nico Hiraga). The love triangle and self-discovery plots intertwine to tell a compelling story about love and friendship as well as following one’s passion. The film, directed by Arvin Chen, is adapted from the first novel (“Loveboat Taipei”) in Abigail Hing Wen’s trilogy.
“Love in Taipei” is streaming on Paramount+.
One of the highlight comedy films of the summer — Emma Seligman’s “Bottoms” (2023) tells a queer love story mixed with the plot of “Fight Club. Co-written by Seligman, who directs, and Rachel Sennott, who stars as main character PJ, the comedy follows two unpopular teens — PJ and Josie (Ayo Edebiri) — as they plot a way to win over their popular crushes, Brittany (Kaia Gerber) and Isabel (Havana Rose Liu). They ultimately decide that a fight club is the best way to do this. The antics of the Rockbridge Falls football team — led by Jeff (Nicolas Galitzine) and Tim (Miles Fowler) — also factor into this laugh-out-loud comedy. – Dessi Gomez
“Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe“
Adapted from Benjamin Sáenz’s young adult novel by director Aitch Alberto, “Aristotle and Danté” is the film the queer Hispanic and Latino community needs. Ari Mendoza (Max Pelayo) embarks on a journey of self-discovery with the help of Dante Quintana (Reese Gonzales) the day they meet. Dante, an artistic and sensitive soul, helps Ari come out of his shell in more ways than one. Alberto took the foundations of Sáenz’s award-winning book and made a cinematic masterpiece for Young Adult film canon.
“Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” is streaming on Hoopla.
“Love at First Sight“
Based on “The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight” by Jennifer E. Smith, the Netflix romance “Love at First Sight” stars Haley Lu Richardson as Hadley Sullivan and Ben Hardy as Oliver Jones. Hadley’s habit of running late usually complicates her life, but when she misses her flight by four minutes, it might be the one time that fate dealt her a good hand. Of course, she happens to align with Oliver Jones at the airport, a boy who never gets taken by surprise and is prepared for every situation. Directed by Vanessa Caswill with a script by Katie Lovejoy (“To All the Boys: Always and Forever”), the film tackles not only the possibility of love at first sight but timing, fate and many more concepts of the human condition. Jameela Jamil serves as narrator of the romantic comedy.
“Love at First Sight” is streaming on Netflix.
“What Happens Later”
Meg Ryan returned to her reigning genre of rom coms in “What Happens Later” from Bleecker Street Films. Ryan portrays Willa, a gypsy-like woman who runs into her ex-boyfrind Bill (David Duchovney) in a small airport as the two both have layover flights landing there. A blizzard traps them and only them in the airport, which seems as Fate wants it to be because they hash out their past disagreements and come to an understanding of why they didn’t end up together.
“Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes”
The “Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” prequel film based on Suzanne Collins’ novel matches the energy and grandiosity of the first four films, with a twisted take on romance at its core as Young Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth) and Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler) strike up a friendship based on need. How real are the sparks between the two and how much is opportunity? That’s up for debate, but as the story unfolds you’ll find yourself landing on both sides of the fence at different times.