Romance is a crucial genre in American cinema. Versatile and reliable, romance is the perfect companion for numerous genres — indeed, most modern films have a romantic component in their plots, from anxious thrillers to large-scale superhero fare. However, romance arguably goes best when accompanying drama.
The 21st century has produced many incredible romantic dramas that earned near-universal critical acclaim and strong fan support. Whether in the past or the present, in rural Wyoming or 1950s Brooklyn, these pictures are passionate and often heartbreaking portrayals of love that will leave audiences experiencing every feeling at once.
Jane Austen’s oeuvre has received numerous adaptations throughout the years. However, the new millennium’s Austen legacy has been largely defined by Joe Wright’s 2005 take on Austen’s seminal novel Pride and Prejudice. Keira Knightley stars as Elizabeth Bennet, a willful and stubborn young woman who develops a complicated relationship with the proud and stoic Fitzwilliam Darcy,
Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut, A Star Is Born, stars himself and Lady Gaga. The fourth remake of the now-timeless Hollywood story, A Star Is Born follows Jackson Mayne, a popular singer struggling with alcoholism, who develops a passionate romance with the young and talented Ally. With her career taking off as his wanes, their love is put to the test.
Timothée Chalamet stars in Luca Guadagnino’s intimate coming-of-age romantic drama Call Me By Your Name. Based on André Aciman’s eponymous novel, the film depicts the romance between seventeen-year-old Elio Pearlman and his father’s graduate assistant, twenty-four-year-old Oliver, while staying at a lush Italian villa in the summer of 1983.
The uncompromising and insightful romantic drama Blue Valentine stars Oscar nominees Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams. Centering on the years-long relationship between Dean and Cindy, the film alternates between past and present to depict their initial courtship, troubled marriage, and eventual divorce.
Four-time Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan shines in John Crowley’s period romantic drama Brooklyn. The actress plays Ellis Lacey, a young Irish immigrant who finds love in 1950s Brooklyn. When life calls her back to her native Ireland, Ellis must decide whether to embrace tradition or make a new path for herself.
Nine years after the game-changing Before Sunrise, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy reunite for Richard Linklater’s romantic drama Before Sunset. The film features Jesse and Celine meeting in Paris nine years after spending an unforgettable night in Vienna. Once again constrained by time, the duo walks around the City of Lights, talking about life and love in an increasingly intimate and honest conversation.
Joachim Trier’s romantic dramedy, The Worst Person in the World, is a work of pure genius. The film stars Renate Reinsve as Julie, a young woman struggling with her love and professional lives as she tries to carve a path for herself.
LGBTQ+ cinema underwent a groundbreaking shift thanks to Ang Lee’s 2005 romantic drama Brokeback Mountain, starring Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal. The film chronicles the decades-long romance between two male cowboys in rural Wyoming.
Romance and science fiction might not be two genres that instantly go together. However, the daring, boundary-pushing mind of Charlie Kauffman expertly brings them together to produce the brilliant Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, arguably the closest thing to cinematic perfection to come out of the 2000s. Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet star as a couple who undergo a groundbreaking procedure to erase their memories from the relationship, only to find themselves again after their memory loss.