Whether you’re looking for a light rom-com (maybe one with some murder sprinkled in for kicks) or a tear-jerking relationship drama, this year’s romantic films will deliver. Watch, relate, feel the catharsis. —Hilary Weaver
The High Note
Tracee Ellis Ross stars as Grace Davis, a superstar singer who hasn’t released new music in a decade. Her overworked assistant, Maggie (Dakota Johnson), has dreams of becoming a music producer, but she’s too busy running Grace’s errands to pursue her goal. A series of fateful events (and a little romance) lead Maggie down the path of making her producing dreams happen—while potentially giving Grace’s career the boost it deserves. —HW
This adaptation of Jane Austen’s 1816 novel, a coming-of-age satire on class and society, follows Emma Woodhouse (Anya Taylor-Joy), a wealthy English socialite who fancies herself a matchmaker. But meddling in the love lives of her friends comes with mistakes that might just cost her a chance at her own love and happiness. —HW
Ayanna (Zora Howard) is spending her last months at home in Harlem before she goes away to college. She meets Isaiah (Joshua Boone), a music producer who’s new to the city, and they fall into a deep, heady romance—complete with emotions and consequences neither are prepared for. —HW
Come As You Are
In this joyful indie, three young disabled men (Grant Rosenmeyer, Hayden Szeto, and Ravi Patel) journey to Montreal with nurse Sam (Gabourey Sidibe) to lose their virginity at a brothel serving people with special needs. —HW
Holly Slept Over
Noel (Josh Lawson) and Audra (Britt Lower) are trying to have a baby. When Audra’s college roommate Holly (Nathalie Emanuel) comes to stay for the weekend, Audra tells Noel she and Holly once had sex in college. Holly’s visit gives the couple new insight into—and possibilities for—their relationship. —HW
Based on the 2000 book by Jerry Spinelli, this film about a quiet boy and an otherworldly girl was made into a feature-length film for Disney+. When Leo Borlock (Graham Verchere) meets Stargirl (Grace VanderWaal), he becomes entranced by her magical spirit, and realizes she might be the source of a series of positive happenings in his life. Watch Now
The Roads Not Taken
In this Sally Potter-directed film, Molly (Elle Fanning) goes to New York to visit her ailing father (Javier Bardem), who begins reliving his life with his ex-wife (Salma Hayek) through flashbacks . —HW
Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani play a couple framed for murder who go on a wild journey to clear their names—all while trying to figure out their own relationship. This is Nanjiani’s second collaboration with director Michael Showalter, who also helmed 2017’s Oscar-nominated The Big Sick. —Vanessa ParedesWatch Now
The Half of It
Ellie Chu (Leah Lewis) is a shy, smart girl who keeps to herself and writes papers for her fellow students to save money and help pay for the bills at home. When jock Paul (Daniel Diemer) asks Ellie to help him win over popular girl Aster Flores (Alexxis Lemire), she writes notes that make Aster laugh and blush—probably because, Ellie realizes, she’s got a pretty big crush on Aster too. This delightful film is loosely based on the 19th-century play Cyrano de Bergerac. —HWWatch Now
Wesley (Nasim Pedrad) has been unlucky in love until, after a failed blind date, she meets a charming man named Jared (Robbie Amell). Wesley starts hiding the true parts of herself to keep Jared enamored with the “normal” girl he met, but when he doesn’t answer her texts for several days, she sends him a long email with every insult she can think of. When Jared calls Wesley to tell her he’s in a coma in Mexico, she convinces her friends to travel from L.A. to Mexico to help her delete the email before Jared sees it. —HWWatch Now
To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You
In the sequel to 2018’s Netflix adaptation of Jenny Han’s young adult novel To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Lara Jean Covey (Lana Condor) and Peter Kavinksy (Noah Centineo) are enjoying the early days of their relationship. But when Lara Jean signs up to volunteer at a senior center, she runs into John Ambrose McClaren (Jordan Fisher) who, it turns out, did receive the love letter she wrote him in middle school. Now she’s torn between the boy she’s with and the boy who’s suddenly come back into her life. —HWWatch Now
When famed photographer Christina Eames (Chanté Adams) dies unexpectedly, her daughter Mae (Issa Rae) is broken-hearted and searching for answers. Mae finds an old photograph tucked in her mother’s safety deposit box and tries to piece together her mother’s past. Along the way, she meets Michael (Lakeith Stanfield), an investigative journalist, and the two fall in love as they try to solve the mystery of Christina. —HW
Inside the Rain
College filmmaker Aaron (Benjamin Glass) is bipolar and has ADHD and Borderline Personality Disorder, but that’s not stopping him from following his dreams. When Emma (Ellen Toland), a sex worker he meets outside a strip club, offers to help with his project, the two form a deeper bond than either expected. —VP
The Thing About Harry
Sam’s not exactly lucky in the love department. But when he finds himself on a road trip to his hometown with the former high school bully, Harry, the two realize they’re falling for each other—until Harry reunites with his ex-girlfriend. Over the course of the following year, Sam and Harry keep running into each other, even as more complications arise. These two are clearly meant to be, but will they get the love story they deserve? —HWWatch Now
The Kissing Booth 2
The wait is almost over for the highly-anticipated sequel to Netflix’s The Kissing Booth. Jacob Elordi and Joey King will reprise their roles as Noah and Elle, and rumor has it the movie’s storyline will closely follow the book series on which it’s based. —VPWatch on Netflix July 24
Amazon Studios is releasing a new romantic drama titled Chemical Hearts, based on the novel by Krystal Sutherland, later this year. Riverdale fans will be pleased to learn Lili Reinhart stars in this coming of age tale set in high school, alongside The Walking Dead and Euphoria’sAustin Abrams. —VPAvailable on Amazon Prime August 21.
The Princess Switch: Switched Again
Another Netflix obsession getting its own sequel this year is 2018’s The Princess Switch, starring Vanessa Hudgens as a Chicago baker named Stacy and her doppelgänger, a royal duchess from the kingdom of Belgravia. The new movie adds a third look-alike to the mix, “party girl” Fiona. —VPRelease Date TBD.
Hilary Weaver is a freelance writer based in New York who writes about politics, queer issues, Meryl Streep, Glenn Close, and every woman the Queen has ever made a dame.
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