After the life-altering year that was 2020, movie studios and audiences alike are finally getting their ~synergistic~ groove back. And while 2021 hasn’t exactly been a banner year for much, it’s a nice lil treat that we get twice 👏 as 👏 many 👏 movies 👏 this year as studios reshuffle release dates originally slated for last year.
Fortunately for all of us hopeless romantics, 2021 has been quite bountiful in the romance movie category. Case in point, the year isn’t even over yet, and we’ve already got a list of 16 butterfly-inducing blockbusters worth watching. That’s right, baby, romance is back in full swing. From the newest installment of Netflix’s To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before franchise to the box office splash In The Heights, these are the best romance movies that came out in 2021 (so far). Ready to finally open up your heart again?
To All the Boys: Always and Forever
You can’t mention modern-day rom-coms without referencing To All The Boys, one of Netflix’s most beloved franchises. We all know the story: Lara Jean’s life gets flipped upside down when her younger sister mails out secret letters she wrote to all the boys she used to ~love~. Fast forward to the third (and final) installment, and we catch up with Lara Jean and Peter as they decide their futures after high school and whether they can stay together for the long haul.
In the Heights
The year’s most-talked-about musical, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights, follows a young storeowner from Washington Heights and his neighborhood friends as they juggle their heritage, love, and wanting more for themselves outside of the Heights. It’s a sweet story about never leaving who you are and where you came from behind.
Indian-Nigerian restaurant owner Hamisha Daryani Ahuja’s multicultural rom-com stars Russlan Mumtaz and Ini Dima-Okojie as Raj and Didi, two lovers whose drastically different families threaten to rip them apart. But like other rom-coms, the film needs spend no time trying to convince us that these two belong together.
Originally attached to Raya and the Last Dragon, Us Again follows a couple that rekindles their passion for each other in a six-minute film that’s short and sweet.
The Right One
Cleopatra Coleman stars as Sara, a novelist struggling with writer’s block who finds much-needed inspiration from Godfrey, a grief-stricken 30-something whom she meets one night at an art museum. Finishing a novel and finding love? Sara’s our inspiration.
Dating & New York
Dating in New York is hard. Juggling dating and New York? Even harder. But, millennial New Yorkers Milo and Wendy manage to do it in this sweet last-gen rom-com that revels in the new possibilities that come with the 21st-century swipe-right era. It’ll have you waxing nostalgic about the one-night-stands that didn’t work out.
The Kissing Booth 3
Can high school romances last? Better yet, can they last when they’re with your best friend’s brother? That’s the question that’s put to the test in the final installment of The Kissing Booth, originally a popular Wattpad novel. With expert casting and lovely pacing, the Kissing Booth makes us want to love again and proves your Wattpad novel can make it to the big screen. Take notes, fanfic writers.
Summer of ’85
Based on the 1982 YA novel Dance On My Grave by British author Aidan Chambers, Summer of ’85 follows a pair of teens summering at a seaside resort in Normandy. It strikes a delicate balance between the awkward and the heartfelt moments of first loves, blending the energy and optimism of youth with the disappointments of fate and love. It’s sunny and sad, but above all, it will make you believe in the excitement of love again, no matter how short and tragic.
Long Story Short
Another one of those time-bender movies, the title is apt. Rafe Spall stars as Teddy, whose life is suddenly stuck in fast-forward the day after his wedding, and each year of his life starts passing every few minutes. As what is technically a years-long marriage starts tumbling towards free-fall in a matter of minutes, Teddy tries to make every second count (literally) and win back his wife.
Sweet & Sour
This vibrant South Korean rom-com delivers an emotionally charged adaptation of Kurumi Inui’s novel Initiation Love about the hardships of a long-distance relationship that two lovers are unexpectedly thrown into. It plays delicately on the love-at-first-sight trope, but in a way that drives home the reality of trying to make something work when you’re really just at two different places in life.
Sand Dollar Cove
Do you believe in magic? Well, Sand Dollar Cove is here to remind you that you should. Chad Michael Murray 😍 is Brody, the charming local who’s hellbent on saving the town’s beloved pier, and Aly Michalka is real estate development project manager Elli, who ruffles his feathers as she’s sent to scout the area for a new resort. Please note that this is a Hallmark movie, however, so not even conflicts of (business) interest can stand in the way of love. It’s a delightful, lighthearted romp that makes us long for the joy of lake-front living and reminds us of the magic of romance. And Chad Michael Murray in, well, anything is always worth a watch.
Good On Paper
This movie revolves around a budding “friend”-ship that forms between a comedian (Andrea) and hedge fund manager (Dennis), the latter of which manages to keep his own life entirely under wraps while finagling his way into hers. Things get hot and heavy as Dennis makes himself an indispensable part of Andrea’s life, but as she discovers the many, many skeletons in his closet, she starts to wonder whether they’re good for each other, or only good on paper?
We Broke Up
Are relationships doomed? Perhaps. That’s what it seems in this sad-but-sweet rom-com that offers a peek into Lori and Doug’s breakup just days before Lori’s little sister’s wedding. But after the wedding and a series of emotionally-charged events, the couple eventually reconvenes to figure out just what they want for their lives. Yes, this is a love story 😉
The Last Letter From Your Lover
This vibrant, time-hopping British double-romance is an absolute must-see. Starring Shailene Woodley opposite a very British cast, the film hops between the 1960s and modern-day London. Reporter Ellie Haworth is tasked with writing an obituary article about the editor of her paper. She and the paper’s archivist grow closer as they discover a few love letters from years past and are able to track down the senders, who are both still alive, encouraging them to write one last letter to each other.
Resort To Love
In this steamy tale of forbidden love, Christina Milan plays Erica Wilson, an aspiring pop star amid a career meltdown, who lands a gig to perform at her ex-fiance’s lavish AF wedding. But get this— his bride-to-be has no idea who she is. Cue the chaos of trying to hide a past relationship and rekindled feelings for her ex-lover, and you get the charming masterpiece that is Resort To Love. And it’s as romantic as Sinqua Walls is hot. So yes, very.
The Map of Tiny Perfect Things
If you’re looking for a light weekend watch, look no further than this cute indie movie about two teens stuck in a time loop. As they spend more and more time together, they inevitably fall for each other (one before the other, though— you know how it goes) as they set out to make a map of tiny perfect moments in their infinite time loop. Somewhere along the way, they discover that their inability to leave the loop is due to an unresolved past trauma. It’s like Groundhog Day, but way, way cuter.
Malcolm & Marie
Euphoria creator Sam Levinson’s superb film stars John David Washington and Zendaya as Malcom and Marie, a Hollywood filmmaker destined for greatness, and his girlfriend, whose story was the focus of his groundbreaking film. An intimate narrative told in black and white, it’s a rollercoaster of a film that follows these two for just one night, the night after Malcolm’s movie premiere, laying bare their relationship’s complicated dynamic and critiquing the often thankless relationship between artist and muse.
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