En español | As Marlene Dietrich might sing: Falling in love again ... Because let’s face it, love springs eternal, and date nights never fall out of fashion. Ready for a romantic sofa session with your longtime love, or looking for a flirty flick to take in with a new special someone? Our critics are here to the (emotional) rescue, with 19 fabulous affairs to remember — tearjerkers, romantic comedies, star-driven blockbusters and seductive indies — all available to stream whenever you’re in the mood.
For when you know they’re the one: An Affair to Remember (1957)
The American Film Institute anointed this tearjerker by Leo McCarey as one of Hollywood’s most romantic films. While on a luxury cruise, swoony Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr fall madly, deeply in love, despite being engaged to others. When the ship docks, they part, setting a future day and time to meet at the Empire State Building. What happens next is so memorable it inspired the ending of Sleepless in Seattle.
For love and laughter: Moonstruck (1987)
The fact that Cher, 75, and Nicolas Cage, 58, make no sense as a couple and yet we root for their lips to meet in a kiss is one of the many pleasures of the spaghetti romance between a Brooklyn bookkeeper and an opera-loving baker from director Norman Jewison, 95. The marriage may not last — but what a honeymoon!
For BBC junkies: The Duke (2020)
Notting Hill director Roger Michell, who died last September at 65, leaves behind this last delightful fiction feature. Pairing the incomparable Helen Mirren, 76, and spry Jim Broadbent, 72, this bio-charmer is a based-on-a-true-story romantic caper. Set in 1961, Broadbent is lovable working-class Londoner Kempton Bunton. The unlikely art thief steals Goya’s portrait of the Duke of Wellington from the National Gallery, holding it for ransom for charity. It’s never about the money, because he has true gold in the love of his wife, played by Mirren. Is he a Robin Hood or an idiot husband? A delightful bit of both.
Where to watch: Roku
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For Lucy Lovers: Being the Ricardos (2021)
Writer-director Aaron Sorkin, 60, goes behind the scenes of I Love Lucy to reveal how the sitcom sausage was made. At its center is perfectionist Lucille Ball (Nicole Kidman, who has grown on the audience) and her Cuban-American bandleader husband Desi Arnaz (Javier Bardem). We see them in a moment of crisis — the tabloids say he’s cheating, the government accuses her of Communist leanings — and they’re pregnant, too. Thanks to Sorkin, the dialogue pops and the pair sizzles while making comedy history at CBS.
Where to watch: Amazon Prime
For turning up the heat: Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005)
Nothing says I’m leaving my wife for my costar more than Brad Pitt, 58, and Angelina Jolie playing married assassins trying to kill each other. Doug Liman’s 2005 espionage actioner generates so much sexual heat, it’s no wonder that Pitt’s then-wife and Friends star Jennifer Aniston, 52, couldn’t keep up — and ultimately Brad couldn’t either.
For turning up the heat some more: Love and Basketball (2000)
Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan take a shot at love as two basketball players who share a love of the game — and each other. Can their affection and ambitions survive and thrive from the playground to the big leagues? This delightful, award-winning and sexy indie came from director Gina Prince-Bythewood, whose Charlize Theron supernatural actioner The Old Guard is currently a major hit on Netflix.
For wild romantics: Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)
Last year’s biggest Oscar snub was ignoring Celine Sciamma’s lushly romantic, dazzlingly rendered meditation on love, passion and art. The French period piece pairs portrait painter Marianne (Noémie Merlant) and her beautiful subject, reluctant bride Héloise (Adèle Haenel), on a remote French island in 1770. As Marianne captures Héloise on canvas, her subject in turn captures the artist’s heart. Their union is a masterpiece in miniature with big performances from both actresses and seductive filmmaking from Sciamma.
For hopeless romantics: Before Sunrise (1995)
In the “your regiment leaves at dawn” tradition of urgent romance, this talky 1995 drama from Richard Linklater, 61, pairs writer Jesse (Ethan Hawke, 51) and grad student Celine (Julie Delpy, 52). After meeting on a European train, they disembark in Vienna and spend the next 24 hours falling for each other. Will their passion endure? For the answer, rent Before Sunset and Before Midnight.
For brazen romantics: In the Mood for Love (2000)
The title reflects the main thrust of Wong Kar-wai’s lyrical love story: It puts audiences in a mad loving mood. In 1960s Hong Kong (Those dresses! That hair!), illicit lovers Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung dispense with all reticence and begin a passionate affair once they realize that their respective spouses have already been seeing each other romantically. Both gorgeous and stirring.
For self-proclaimed sentimental fools: Love Actually (2003)
London during the holidays is the setting for this feel-good ensemble comedy from Richard Curtis, 65. Hugh Grant, 61, is at his most disarmingly charming, alongside Emma Thompson, 62, Laura Linney, 58, Bill Nighy, 72, Alan Rickman, Liam Neeson, 69, Colin Firth, 61, and Rowan Atkinson, 67 — a veritable herd of talent in this evergreen about the ups and downs of romantic entanglements. Can you ever have too much cheese at Christmas (or any time of year, for that matter)?
RELATED: Love a Hallmark Movie romance? We hear you. Which is why we tapped our Hallmark Movies experts to name the best romances to stream on everyone’s favorite sentimental channel. Get the full list, and get out your hankies, here: 11 Hallmark Movies That Will Make You Believe in Romance Again
For that “opposites attract” special someone: Say Anything (1989)
Cameron Crowe, 64, casts John Cusack, 55, and Ione Skye, 51, as a high school slacker and a valedictorian who become smitten — much to her father John Mahoney’s disapproval — in this beloved opposites-attract romantic comedy.
For optimists: Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper fall together in this charming Oscar-bait from David O. Russell, 63. While they’re often at odds — he’s just out of the mental ward and she’s a wackadoodle widow — they become one when he signs on as her competitive dancing partner. Smart, joyful and hopeful, this dramedy was nominated for eight Oscars, including Best Picture, and scored one: Lawrence as Best Actress.
For longtime couples (plus those who want to be): Penny Serenade (1941)
My go-to vintage cry film from George Stevens follows a perfect couple — Cary Grant (nominated for Best Actor for this role) and Irene Dunne — who reach a marital impasse, look back over their married life together and decide ... well, you have to watch the movie unfold to see whether they stay together or split.
For when you’re trying to go from friends to something more: When Harry Met Sally (1989)
Meg Ryan, 60, and Billy Crystal, 73, are pitch perfect in this chemistry lesson of a rom-com from director Rob Reiner, 74, and writer Nora Ephron. The stars play Manhattan besties Harry and Sally whose friend-zone relationship becomes threatened by the specter of romantic love.
For cool kids (at any age): 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
The high school-set romantic smash stars Julia Stiles, Heath Ledger, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Larissa Oleynik. Loosely based on William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, 10 Things never fails to charm as opposites attract and true loves unite after a reasonable amount of comic friction.
For seducing your nerdy crush: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)
Geek love gets a witty hero in teen Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera). The nerdy charmer must vanquish all seven of his dream girl’s villainous exes in order to gain the heart of Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) in director Edgar Wright’s award-winning action comedy.
For making believers out of romantic cynics: Hitch (2005)
Suave New York matchmaker Will Smith, 53, doubles down on love in this 2005 romantic comedy from Andy Tennant, 66, of Sweet Home Alabama fame. He woos Eva Mendez’s sexy tabloid reporter while giving an assist to shy bachelor Kevin James, 56, in his pursuit of Amber Valletta’s nearly unreachable heiress.
RELATED: Ready for some more Will Smith in your life right now? (Who isn’t?) Check out our critics’ high-wattage ranking of the superstar’s best films, cue up your own Will Smith marathon, and see if our number one lines up with yours, here: The Best Will Smith Movies (So Far), Ranked
For dreamers: Lost in Translation (2003)
Sofia Coppola, 50, directs this sophisticated, bittersweet romance coupling recently married Scarlett Johansson and fading movie star Bill Murray, 71. The strangers meet in a Tokyo luxury hotel and then drift toward, and away from, a meaningful intimate relationship. Coppola won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.
For feeling good about your quarantine date-night options: Date Night (2010)
If your date night seems to be too much work, check out Steve Carell, 59, and Tina Fey, 51, as a married suburban couple who plan a big adult evening away from the kids, then have a wilder night in Manhattan than they ever expected.
Thelma M. Adams, the former film critic for Us Weekly and the New York Post, is a novelist who writes on film for AARP, The New York Times, The Hollywood Reporter and Variety.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on Aug. 6, 2020. It has been updated with additional movies and links where you can stream the films on this list.