20 Romantic Movies for a First Date

20 Romantic Movies for a First Date

February 22, 2024

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Looking for a love story that’ll help set the tone for you and your cinephile crush or equally filmy date? If you’ve made sure that there’s already a spark there that they wouldn’t mind pursuing, have a look at agoodmovietowatch’s picks for little-known but high-quality movies that’ll get you giddy and give you lots to talk about for hours after. Remember that no single film can ever lead you to a happily ever after unless you work for it, but if all you need for now is that little flutter at the beginning of a promising connection, these romances ought to give you the butterflies you’re looking for.

11. 303 (2018)

best

8.3

Country

Germany

Director

Hans Weingartner

Actors

Anton Spieker, Arndt Schwering-Sohnrey, Caroline Erikson, Hannah Schröder

Moods

Discussion-sparking, Easy, Feel-Good

A sweet and romantic German movie about two Berliners who meet randomly and go on a road trip to the south of Europe. It might seem like a silly premise but it’s actually a philosophical movie, one that feels very realistic. The two characters debate human nature, politics, relationships, etc; almost throughout their trip. And they’re played by excellent newcomers who ooze charisma and make the question of what will happen between them incredibly thrilling.

12. Fallen Leaves (2023)

best

8.3

Country

Finland, Germany

Director

Aki Kaurismäki

Actors

Alina Tomnikov, Alma Pöysti, Anna Karjalainen, Eero Ritala

Moods

Easy, Feel-Good, Lovely

Simple but lovely movies like Fallen Leaves are hard to come by these days. While others rely on complicated dialogue or overly ambitious premises to be deemed deep or important, Director Aki Kaurismäki trusts that his material is strong enough. After all, its silence speaks volumes; the characters don’t say much but when they do, you can be sure it’s something hard-hitting or funny. The plot doesn’t contain a lot of surprises, but when it makes a turn, it moves you instantly. And the leads, Ansa (Alma Pöysti) and Holappa (Jussi Vatanen) barely move their features, but their eyes convey more emotion, more longing and ache and joy, than one can hope for. Some movies can be challenging, exhilarating, or exhausting to watch. This one is simply delightful. 

13. The Big Sick (2017)

best

8.2

Country

United States of America

Director

Michael Showalter

Actors

Adeel Akhtar, Aidy Bryant, Alison Cimmet, Andrew Pang

Moods

Easy, Feel-Good, Funny

A revelation of a movie, both in filmmaking and commercial success. While little-known abroad, it has made more than $42 million in US Box Office revenue out of a tiny $5 million budget. Kumail Nanjiani, stand-up comedian and star of the show Silicon Valley, tells his own story of romance with his now-wife Emily V. Gordon (who co-wrote the movie). Because it is based on a true story, and because it is the product of the love of both its writers and stars, this movie is incredibly heartfelt. It is also timely, addressing heavy themes such as identity, immigration, and family relationships. Not to mention it is absolutely hilarious. And it’s produced by Judd Apatow. Trust me and go watch it.

14. Love, Simon (2018)

best

8.2

Country

United States of America

Director

Greg Berlanti

Actors

Alex Sgambati, Alexandra Shipp, Bryson Pitts, Cassady McClincy

Moods

Easy, Feel-Good, Romantic

An easy yet original coming-of-age story about Simon, a high-schooler with great parents, great friends, and one big secret he’s not telling either. It’s not a particularly complex movie, and it may not be one you’ll remember forever, but it’s very easy to have a pleasant time watching it. And if you’re OK with that, its takes on finding one’s identity and the negative impact of keeping secrets from our loved ones might surprise you in their depth. Love, Simon is a reminder that movies don’t have to be religiously realistic to get a heartfelt new story across. It’s entertainment with a message, the same way Juno or The Perks of Being a Wallflower were.

15. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)

best

8.2

Country

France

Director

Céline Sciamma, Céline Sciamma

Actors

Adèle Haenel, Adèle Haenel, Armande Boulanger, Christel Baras

Moods

Heart-warming, Romantic, Well-acted

This unique romance is set during a time when a man would be sent the painting of the woman he was to marry before the wedding could take place. Héloïse, secluded with her mother and a maid on a remote island, doesn’t approve of her upcoming wedding and refuses to be painted. Her mother sends for a new painter, Marianne, to try to paint her without her noticing. Marianne has to take on this near-impossible task when she starts having feelings for Héloïse. This makes for a riveting romance where Marianne has to choose between her heart and her art while keeping a huge secret from her love interest.

16. Ruby Sparks (2012)

best

8.1

Country

United States of America

Director

Female director, Jonathan Dayton

Actors

Aasif Mandvi, Alia Shawkat, Annette Bening, Antonio Banderas

Moods

Romantic, Smart, Well-acted

Calvin Weir-Fields (Paul Dano), a young and promising novelist imagines and writes about his idea of a perfect female companion. Somehow, his words manifest into reality – the beautiful and corky Ruby Sparks (Zoe Kazan). Soon, however, his magical love turns shallow as his creation begins to think for herself and wrestle against her creation. This romantic comedy has the right amount of wit and emotion with a deep message of loving people just the way they are.

17. Columbus (2017)

best

8.1

Country

United States of America

Director

Kogonada

Actors

Alphaeus Green, Jr., Caitlin Ewald, Erin Allegretti, Haley Lu Richardson

Moods

Easy, Feel-Good, Romantic

What goes well with a love story? Creative architecture. Columbus the movie is such a great and genuine exploration of this idea, filmed in Columbus the city – a weird experimental hub for architecture that actually exists in real life! After his architect father goes into a coma, Jin (John Cho), a Korean-born man finds himself stuck in Columbus without a foreseeable end. In Korean tradition when a parent dies, the son should be in the same place physically otherwise they can’t mourn. While waiting to see what will happen to his father he meets Casey (Haley Lu Richardson), an aspiring architect herself, who’s also stuck in Columbus because of her mother. This is a beautiful movie with real-life issues and situations, to be especially appreciated by viewers who don’t mind a slow narrative in exchange for a meticulously-crafted movie.

18. Begin Again (2013)

best

8.0

Country

United States of America

Director

John Carney

Actors

Adam Levine, Andrew Sellon, Aya Cash, Catherine Keener

Moods

A-list actors, Easy, Feel-Good

John Carney, who directed the critically and commercially successful Once, may be the world’s best captor of charm. Begin Again tells the story of a broken-hearted singer who gets discovered by a failed showbiz executive. Their ideas and love for music are all they have to face their failures and bring their creativity to life. The original songs are charming and from Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo to Yasiin Bey (Mos Def), Adam Levine, and Cee-Lo Green, the cast generate sparkling chemistry and portray the story beautifully. Begin again is a sweet and effortless watch, yet far from being your classic rom-com.

19. Strictly Ballroom (1992)

best

8.0

Country

Australia, UK, United States of America

Director

Baz Luhrmann, Baz Lurhman

Actors

Antonio Vargas, Armonia Benedito, Barry Otto, Bill Hunter

Moods

Heart-warming, Romantic, Sweet

Strictly Ballroom is an energetic, fun and hilarious movie. Baz Lurhman does an incredible job telling the story of a rebellious young dancer who just wants to dance his own steps in the face of conformity. When he finds an inexperienced yet determined dance partner it’s the beginning of an unexpected love story like no other. This movie isn’t like the usual rom-com, it has colour, vitality and passion. It’s a Moulin Rouge but with even more character, and the work that put Lurhman on the map for everyone.

20. Little England (2013)

7.9

Country

Greece

Director

Pantelis Voulgaris

Actors

Aineias Tsamatis, Andreas Konstantinou, Angeliki Papathemeli, Anneza Papadopoulou

Moods

Dramatic, Emotional, Gripping

Little England is one of those rare cases in small-nation cinemas, where a film was equally appealing to mainstream and arthouse audiences. Upon its release, it was box office success and 2013’s Oscar submission for Best International Feature. Festival darling Pantelis Voulgaris equipped this interwar romantic drama with the attributes of an epic: it’s two hours and a half long, spans across decades, and is based on a novel of a notable size. Written by renowned author Ioanna Karystiani, who is also Voulgaris’s wife, “Little England” the novel was adapted in a riveting screenplay where love, jealousy, passion, and betrayal sizzle in a dangerous mix. As any good period drama, the emotional range is high, and the beauty in the premise—forbidden love—is a gift that keeps on giving. The film features two stellar lead performances, as Pinelopi Tsilika and Sofia Kokkali make their acting debuts as the two sisters, the latter being the face of a new, even more daring phase of Greek cinema today. 

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