The 40 Best Romantic Movies on Netflix

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The 40 Best Romantic Movies on Netflix

Ahhh…romance. There are few things more hard-wired in all of us than the desire to find a soulmate, and few more common motivating principles in movies. We’ve dug through all 649 of the romantic movies on Netflix to find the best, including rom-com classics, tear-jerkers, Netflix originals, Bollywood romances, LGBTQ+ love stories and more.

Here are the 40 best romantic movies streaming on Netflix:

1. She’s Gotta Have It

shes-gotta-have-it-poster.jpg Year: 1986
Director: Spike Lee
Stars: Tracy Camila Johns, Spike Lee, John Canada Terrell, Tommy Redmond Hicks
Rating: R
Runtime: 85 minutes

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An explosively frank feature debut that immediately announced Lee’s brave, fresh new voice in American cinema, She’s Gotta Have It, shot like a documentary, is a levelheaded exploration of a young black woman named Nola (Tracy Camilla Johns) trying to decide between her three male lovers, while also flirting with her apparent bisexuality, in order to, first and foremost, figure out what makes her happy. What’s refreshing about the film is that Lee always brings up the possibility that “none of the above” is a perfectly viable answer for both Nola and for single women—a game changer in 1986. The DIY indie grainy black-and-white cinematography boosts the film’s in-your-face realism. —Oktay Ege Kozak


2. The Piano

the-piano.jpg Year: 1993
Director: Jane Campion
Stars: Holly Hunter, Harvey Keitel, Sam Neill, Anna Paquin
Genre: Drama
Rating: R

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Without ever saying a word, Holly Hunter still has one of the great performances of the early ‘90s. The Piano also introduced the rest of the world to New Zealand’s Jane Campion, creator of Top of the Lake, and to actress Anna Paquin (True Blood). Set in 1850s New Zealand, the film tells of a mute, young mother trapped in arranged marriage and the farmworker (Harvey Keitel) who falls for her.


3. Atlantics

atlantics.jpg Year: 2019
Director: Mati Diop
Stars: Mame Bineta Sane, Amadou Mbow, Nicole Sougou, Aminate Kane
Rating: NR

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Atlantics is quite the announcement for writer-drector Mati Diop. She takes the magic realism of a peer like Alice Rohrwacher and carries it to the world’s margins, examining class struggle in a Senegalese city by the Atlantic. Through the gritty, blustery opening images shot as artful document of the Dakar shore (outstanding work by cinematographer Claire Mathon) and the hypnotic electronic score by Fatima Al Qadiri, Diop is able to evoke an incomparable mood and sense of place. That it might look and sound so alien to an American watching this film on Netflix is perhaps a sharp enough indictment of the ways in which we intellectually seclude ourselves from realities beyond our own. Atlantics is about that and it’s about the breaking of that. It’s about the mystery of identity and how one can find identity by taking on the identity of something other, or can find it when looking in a mirror—not for the physical self but for the spirit. Congruously, it’s also about losing the identities that are culturally prescribed, that we may have been born with, nurtured and/or limited by. Love, the film posits, is a catalyst; love helps reform identities in transgressive and transcendent ways. And the film is at its best when it avoids being programmatic, lets its visuals pulse before you. It is yet another sad ghost story amongst many, but where it differs is finely drawing the distinction that sometimes the things that haunt the living most are not the things that were but the things that should have been. The film’s protagonist embraces that haunting as a form of hope; she loses something important and fills the hole by expanding her own self with the self that was touched by others. Though Atlantics feels elliptical in many ways, Diop has the bravery to end her film with a pretty resounding period. It’s a statement, both for itself and for its creator, and it’s a convincing one. —Chad Betz


4. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

to-all-the-boys-ive-loved-before-poster.jpg Year: 2018
Director: Susan Johnson
Stars: Lana Condor, Noah Centineo, Janel Parrish
Rating: NR
Runtime: 100 minutes

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To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, the teen scene’s newest runaway hit, is a flat-out excellent film. It is not excellent “for a teen flick.” It is not excellent “for a romantic comedy.” It is excellent for a film. TATBILB fully inverts the 80/20 ratio: Within the first 20 minutes, all five of the deeply private love letters our daydreamy, emotionally buttoned-up protagonist Lara Jean (Lana Condor) has written to her childhood crushes over the years have been stolen and mailed out—including the one to her neighbor and best friend, Josh (Israel Broussard), who just happens to also be her older sister’s just barely ex-boyfriend. This swift puncturing of any protracted emotional dishonesty Lara Jean might have hoped to indulge in, well, forever, leaves the film’s final eighty minutes free for her to embrace some really radical emotional honesty. That TATBILB allows Lara Jean to accomplish this not in spite of but through the fanfic-favorite trope of “fake dating” another, less-risky letter recipient (Noah Centineo’s ridiculously charming Peter Kavinsky) is a story strength. Of course, all the emotional honesty in the world wouldn’t matter if TATBILB’s leads didn’t burn with chemistry. Fortunately, Lana Condor and Noah Centineo can get it. Condor and Centineo are undeniably the stars of the show, but TATBILB doesn’t rest on their charismatic laurels: Mahoro as Lucas is a foxy ball of friendliness; Madeleine Arthur as Lara Jean’s best (girl) friend, Chris, is just the wide-eyed punk weirdo she needs to be; Janel Parrish plays against type as the sweet and steel-spined Margot; Anna Cathcart steals every scene as Lara Jean’s meddling little sis, Kitty; and John Corbett plays the healthily engaged version of Kat Stratford’s single OBGYN dad with a discernible glee. The importance of Lara Jean and her sisters being half-Korean, and the majority of the cast (along with Mahoro) non-white, is hard to overstate, but it isn’t the most impressive thing about the cast by a long shot. In a genre that can so often see its characters lean too far into caricature, Lara Jean’s world is instead populated with teens—and through them, love—you can believe in. —Alexis Gunderson


5. Howard’s End

howards-end.jpg Year: 1993
Director: Jane Campion
Stars: Holly Hunter, Harvey Keitel, Sam Neill, Anna Paquin
Rating: R

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James Ivory’s 1992 classic Howards End, starring Anthony Hopkins, Vanessa Redgrave, Helena Bonham Carter and an Academy Award-winning Emma Thompson, returns to theaters this weekend in a beautifully restored print. It’s tempting to call the film, which was nominated for nine Oscars and won three, the pinnacle of the Merchant-Ivory films catalog, but the more you dig, the harder it is to choose from the 50 years of excellent work. How do you ignore The Remains of the Day, possibly Hopkins’ best role of all? Or the lush romanticism of A Room with a View? Or a brilliant young Daniel Day-Lewis in Maurice. E.M. Forster’s novel Howard’s End has so much plot in it that in the hands of a lesser filmmaker, or lesser screenwriter, might have ended up feeling like all plot, but no character. But in Ivory’s Howards End, every one of the characters lives and breathes so much we get to know them intimately. —Michael Dunaway


6. The Half of It

half-of-it.jpg Year: 2020
Director: Alice Wu
Stars: Leah Lewis, Daniel Diemer, Alexxis Lemire
Rating: NR

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Netflix’s The Half of It begins somewhat deceptively, with a highly stylized animated retelling of an old Greek myth in which the four-armed, four-legged, two-headed humans of ancient times are sundered by the gods and wander about forever in search of the other half of their single heart. It ends with a scene between a boy and a girl, something that normally would come right out of a dopey rom-com, but in a way that subverts the trope on every level, from the inversion of its meaning to the quiet, intimate naturalism with which it is filmed. It’s a fitting juxtaposition because the film sandwiched between the two moments is about the fallacies that drive our neat and tidy narratives about love. Love is messy is the point, one called out aloud by main character Ellie Chu (Leah Lewis) in Alice Wu’s short little film about a Chinese-American high schooler whose incredible writing skills find her hired to help her classmate, the kindhearted but far less charming Paul (Daniel Diemer), woo another girl. Paul does not realize that Ellie shares his unrequited desire for Aster (Alexxis Lemire), and that every sweet late-night text and smoldering note passed in class is tearing Ellie apart. If the story borrows its central conceit from Cyrano de Bergerac, it at least puts a few interesting spins on it: Ellie is an outsider in unique ways. She is the only Asian student at her school, an immigrant whose underemployed and linguistically challenged father struggles to run her household. She is the student who is so good at writing that she runs a side hustle writing papers for her entire class. And then there’s the other little matter of her feeling same-sex attraction in a stiflingly small, overwhelmingly Christian town. It’s a unique twist on a familiar story in a film that universalizes feelings of otherness for the audience, whether they come from being the runt of the litter or the child of an immigrant struggling to make it in America. —Kenneth Lowe


7. The Artist

the-artist.jpg Year: 2011
Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Stars: Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, John Goodman
Rating: PG-13

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In his black-and-white ode to the Golden Age of Hollywood, Gallic writer-director Michael Hazanavicius honors form as well as content, packaging his romantic melodrama about the rise of a new ingénue and the fall of a silent movie star in 1920s and ’30s Los Angeles in luxurious black, white, and shades of shimmering silver. It’s a beautiful, ambitious, nostalgic endeavor that demonstrates its makers are, indeed, artists. —Annlee Ellingson


8. Always Be My Maybe

always-be-my-maybe-210.jpg Year: 2019
Director: Nahnatchka Khan
Stars: Ali Wong, Randall Park, Keanu Reeves, Michelle Buteau, Vivian Bang, Karan Soni
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 102 minutes

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A film written by and starring Ali Wong and Randall Park was always guaranteed to be a home run, but the endlessly funny and charming Always Be My Maybe truly exceeds all romcom expectations. The duo (who penned the script with Michael Golamco) play childhood friends who lose touch after an impulsive teenage romance ends badly. From there, Wong’s Sasha becomes a celebrity chef as Park’s Marcus continues to live at home and work for his father’s blue collar business after his mother’s tragic passing. They each have things to learn from one another, sure, but Always Be My Maybe doesn’t just end when romance blossoms; it leans into the complications of two adults with independent lives choosing to be together and figuring out how to make it all work. Part of that, crucially, includes both Marcus and Sasha playing supportive roles in one another’s careers rather than compromising and giving up their passions to be together. Director Nahnatchka Khan keeps the stylish film moving at a pleasant comedic clip throughout, and there’s a killer cameo appearance you will not want spoiled before you see the movie. Seriously, you should watch it right now. —Allison Keene


9. Omar

omar.jpg Year: 2014
Director:Hany Abu-Assad
Stars: Adam Bakri, Leem Lubany, Waleed Zuaiter
Rating: TV-MA
Runtime: 98 minutes

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More trenchant as a political allegory than a character drama, Omar is more interested in the ideas within this slow-burn thriller than in plot machinations. To writer-director Hany Abu-Assad, maniacal twists and cunning action set pieces would simply get in the way—better that we spend our time thinking about why the characters find themselves in this situation at all. Nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, Omar stars Adam Bakri as the titular young Palestinian, who must daily scale the imposingly tall security wall that separates him from his girlfriend, Nadia (Leem Lubany). Though very much in love, they haven’t yet revealed their relationship to her brother (and Omar’s good friend) Tarek (Eyad Hourani), who is planning with Omar and another close pal, Amjad (Samer Bisharat), to kill an Israeli soldier. The three friends’ mission is a success—it’s Amjad who pulls the trigger—but soon after, Omar is snagged by Israeli forces, led by Agent Rami (Waleed F. Zuaiter). Threatening Omar with imprisonment, Rami promises him freedom if he’ll deliver Tarek, the group’s leader, to them in exchange. What’s most resonant in Omar is that, just as we can’t always gauge the characters, they’re, too, concealing parts of themselves from each other, a byproduct of living in a part of the world where distrust is commonplace and secrecy a necessity. Which is why Omar’s startling ending is both somewhat mystifying and also oddly perfect—we don’t see it coming, and yet deep down, we’re not surprised at all that it happened. —Tim Grierson


10. Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

eurovision_netflix.jpg Year: 2020
Director: David Dobkins
Stars: Will Ferrell, Rachel McAdams, Dan Stevens, Pierce Brosnan
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 121 minutes

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Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga is—let’s be honest here—a bit on the thin side, and a little confusing. It’s got just enough sincerity to undermine its own satirical impulses and just enough pandering snark to undermine its own sincerity. It runs long, and it leans on a trope, Ferrell’s master trope and the common denominator in most of his best performances—the lovable but fundamentally clueless and self-absorbed man-baby who can’t get out of his own way. It’s a trope that, thanks to Ferrell himself, we have mined pretty thoroughly in comedy over the last few decades. And yet, even as Eurovision Song Contest makes a number of perplexing moves in its two-hour-plus runtime, you kind of can’t help rooting for it, and for its principal characters, because its refusal to be cynical operates as a vital, oxygenating escape hatch right now.—Amy Glynn


11. Loving

loving-poster.jpg Year: 2016
Director: Jeff Nichols
Stars: Ruth Negga, Joel Edgerton, Marton Csokas
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 123 minutes

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How well you like Jeff Nichols’ Loving will partially depend on what you look for in courtroom dramas. If you prefer judicial sagas made with potboiling slickness and little else, you’ll probably like Loving less than Nichols likes filming landmark legal proceedings. His film isn’t about the case of Loving v. Virginia as much as its two plaintiffs, Richard Loving (Joel Edgerton) and Mildred Jeter Loving (Ruth Negga), the married couple at the center of the 1967 civil rights victory over the United States’ anti-miscegenation laws. As an effect of Nichols’ focal point, the movie speaks little to no lawyer jargon and takes place almost entirely outside of the court rather than within. So if you’re sick to death of courtroom dramas that insist on pantomime, and if you think those kinds of stories demand more restraint, then you’ll probably dig on Loving. It so studiously avoids the clichés of its genre that it feels fresh, original, a completely new idea based on a very old, very formulaic one. It’s a disciplined, handsome, unfailingly serious screen reproduction of an important real-life moment in the nation’s ongoing fight for civil rights; it’s hitting theaters at a time when we’re still having cultural arguments about who gets to marry; and it’s directed by one of the critical darlings of contemporary cinema. This is the kind of anti-prestige movie critics yearn for, a product stripped away of non-artistic pretensions and ambitions, leaving only the art. —Andy Crump


12. I Lost My Body

i-lost-my-body.jpg Year: 2019
Director: Jérémy Clapin
Stars: Hakim Faris Hamza, Victoire Du Bois, Patrick d’Assumçao
Rating: TV-MA
Runtime: 81 minutes

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While we’re on board, at least passively, for however many sequels Pixar wants to give Toy Story, patient for however long another one takes, I Lost My Body is a singular animated film, increasingly of the kind that, frankly, don’t get made anymore. Partly because hand-drawn features made by small studios are rarer than ever, but mostly because it’s a defiantly adult animated film, wreathed in oblique storytelling and steeped in grief. Ostensibly about an anthropomorphic hand climbing and skittering its way across the city to find the person to whom it was once attached—the story of its severing slowly coming to light—the beauty of director Jérémy Clapin’s images, often limned in filth and decay, is in how revelatory they can be when tied so irrevocably to the perspective of a small hand navigating both its nascent life in the treacherous urban underground and the traumatic memories of its host body’s past. I Lost My Body is an unassuming, quietly heartbreaking achievement, one the Academy needs to prioritize now more than ever over expectedly competent big studio fare. —Dom Sinacola


13. Silver Linings Playbook

silver-linings-playbook.jpg Year: 2012
Director: David O. Russell
Stars: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro
Rating: R
Runtime: 122 minutes

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With leads as winning as Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, aas well as David O. Russell’s signature mix of clever and sincere dialogue, the hook is set. Every single detail doesn’t gel—Chris Tucker’s role as Danny, Pat Jr’s escape-prone friend from the treatment facility, seems a bit extraneous—but it doesn’t need to. By the end of the dance competition finale (yeah, there’s that), the audience, actors and director are on exactly the same page in Russell’s playbook. —Michael Burgin


14. Love Jones

love-jones.jpg Year: 1997
Director: Jérémy Clapin
Stars: Larenz Tate, Nia Long, Isaiah Washington
Rating: R
Runtime: 108 minutes

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Love Jones feels just as refreshing now as it did in 1997: It’s a romantic drama filled with realistic relationships and conversations, focused on a group of Black writers, artists and intellectuals. Nina (Nia Long), a photographer just out of a long relationship, meets Darius (Larenz Tate), a writer and spoken-word artist (oh hey, the ‘90s) who meets her at a show and pursues her—carefully but quite ardently—until they fall into on-again, off-again love. Aside from the naturalistic performances (from the two leads as well as their easygoing group of friends, including Isaiah Washington and Lisa Nicole Carson), the greatest delight of Love Jones is the way its soundtrack (which seamlessly blends Charlie Parker with Lauryn Hill with Coltrane with Maxwell) syncs with its Chicago scenery for a kind of hipper Woody Allen feel. The film opens on Chicago through Nina-the-photographer’s eyes, from black-and-white shots of the El and the skyline to close-ups of the faces of the city’s Black community. While Love Jones features Chicago movie staples like Buckingham Fountain and Union Station, it comes alive in its specifics—such as Nina and Darius’s meeting at the jazz/spoken word club Sanctuary (not real, but it feels it), and then their subsequent “first date”: Chicago-style stepping at the Blackstone Hotel. Carefully rendered, the City of Love Jones is truly multi-dimensional. —Maura McAndrew


15. As Good as It Gets

as-good-as.jpg Year: 1997
Director: James L. Brooks
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt, Greg Kinnear
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 139 minutes

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Jack Nicholson is not exactly the first person who comes to mind when you think romantic leading man. Certainly, when we first meet Melvin Udall, the mean-tempered, OCD-afflicted curmudgeon at the center of James L. Brooks’ As Good As It Gets, it’s clear he’s no Tom Hanks. That is, until he is one day forced to take care of his neighbor’s dog. This event serves as the catalyst for a poignant Scrooge-like transformation: More in touch with his feelings, Melvin soon grows close to the single-mother/waitress (Helen Hunt) at his favorite restaurant and, in the end, overcomes his self-centeredness and lets her know how highly he thinks of her. Cheesy? Yes. But damn if it doesn’t work. —Mark Rozeman


16. Lagaan

lagaan.jpg Year: 2001
Director: Ashutosh Gowariker
Stars: Aamir Khan, Gracy Singh, Rachel Shelley
Rating: PG
Runtime: 223 minutes

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You may have heard of Lagaan, one of the most easy entryways into Bollywood. The film famously received India’s third-ever Academy Award nomination in 2001 and is rooted in a rich entanglement of a high-stakes sports game and a forbidden romance. An epic sports drama based in colonial India, Lagaan is the story of a group of Indian villagers who challenge their British colonizers to a game of cricket in exchange for the removal of their increasing burden of taxes. We get recruiting and training montages, drama amongst teammates, an intercultural flirtation, and a bangin’ soundtrack from the legend A.R. Rahman. It has everything and has been rightfully hailed as one of India’s most entertaining and thoughtful productions that seems to only get better with age. —Radhika Menon


17. Serendipity

serendipity.jpg Year: 2001
Director: Peter Chelsom
Stars: John Cusack, Kate Beckinsale, Molly Shannon
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 90 minutes

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Not exactly a heavy-hitter, Serendipity plays with an idea many of us find very seductive: The notion that there is someone out there who’s perfect for you and fate will see to it that you find each other. This seldom happens in real life, so we love it when it happens in movies. John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale play strangers who are inescapably drawn to each other, but after a brief tryst go back to their own lives—except their own lives just seem to have something incalculably missing. The plot’s beyond predictable, but projecting brooding romantic hero depth even in the total absence of script assistance is John Cusack’s superpower. Somehow that, plus great Valentine-to-New-York settings, plus putting Jeremy Piven to especially helpful use, combined with a core idea that just seems fundamentally resonant to a lot of humans—well, it just works, even if there are no surprises to be found in this thing at all. —Amy Glynn


18. Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara

zindagi.jpg Year: 2011
Director: Zoya Akhtar
Stars: Hrithik Roshan, Abhay Deol, Farhan Akhtar
Rating: TV-14
Runtime: 154 minutes

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Cashing in on quarter-life anxiety and existential crises, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara is Bollywood’s Euro Trip, except with more heart and fewer dick jokes. Three childhood friends go on a transformational bachelor party/road trip in Spain where they immediately butt heads over the lives they’ve separately built. Arjun (Hrithik Roshan) is a workaholic who can’t chill, Imran (Farhan Akhtar) is a copywriter who had an affair with Arjun’s ex-girlfriend, and Kabir (Abhay Deol) is a groom-to-be second-guessing his decisions. The three reconnect over a series of extreme events—ranging from skydiving to a run with the bulls in Pamplona—and they ultimately return to their old lives completely changed. Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara literally means “You won’t get this life again,” aptly infusing a feeling of urgency into an otherwise standard coming-of-age story. Through humor and drama alike, Akhtar’s film will make you want to call your friends and plan your own life-altering getaway. —Radhika Menon


19. Lust Stories

lust-stories.jpg Year: 2018
Directors: Anurag Kashyap, Zoya Akhtar, Dibakar Banerjee, Karan Johar
Stars: Vicky Kaushal, Bhumi Pednekar, Radhika Apte
Rating: TV-MA
Runtime: 120 minutes

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An anthology film from four of India’s most prominent directors, Lust Stories explores the themes of sex and attraction in its many forms, and places them in modern-day India where these types of conversations don’t normally occur so openly. Each director’s short film focuses on a stigma—whether it’s a possessive relationship between a teacher and student, a forbidden tryst between members of two different social classes, an adulterous marriage, or an exploration of sexual satisfaction—and dives deep into the various perspectives at play. The format makes Lust Stories easily digestible, and the films themselves are excellent slices of progression within the industry and culture at large. That it premiered as a Netflix original is just another hat tip to the dynamism of the decade’s art. —Radhika Menon


20. Blue Jay

BEST-ROMANTIC-MOVIES-NETFLIX-blue-jay.jpg Year: 2016
Director: Alex Lehmann
Stars: Sarah Paulson, Mark Duplass, Clu Gulager
Rating: NR
Runtime: 85 minutes

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Sarah Paulson is one of the most vital actors working today, and at this particular moment she’s damn close to ubiquitous; here she shows up as one of two leads in newcomer Alex Lehmann’s lovely romantic comedy Blue Jay, a compact and unassuming film about big, life-changing things that’s presented in a beautiful monochrome package. Think of it as a palate cleanser for Paulson after a year spent maneuvering productions of grander scope and ambition. But scale and quality exist in two separate zip codes, and what Blue Jay lacks in import it makes up for with effervescence and melancholy. As though to put Paulson’s luminous talents to the test, Lehmann has cast her alongside Mark Duplass, a man primarily known for making tons of low-fi mutter-fests and whose range allows him comfortably to play himself. Paulson and Duplass make such a great pair that the film’s relative nothingness is pleasurable rather than painful. Blue Jay only clocks in at about an hour and twenty minutes (less, counting the credits scrawl), so it should breeze along by its very nature, but it feels like it only runs about half as long as that. It’s well crafted, well mannered and very well acted, though you may decide for yourself if all credit should go to Paulson. She draws out Duplass’ best merits as an actor, much as Amanda draws out the best in Jim: The more the film progresses, the brighter and more enthusiastic Duplass becomes, relishing every second he gets to be on screen with her. Their chemistry is palpable. —Andy Crump


21. Dil Chahta Hai

dil-chahta.jpg Year: 2001
Director: Farhan Akhtar
Stars: Aamir Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Akshaye Khanna
Rating: TV-14
Runtime: 184 minutes

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A story of youngsters finding themselves, Dil Chahta Hai set the stage for many contemporary Bollywood films when it premiered at the start of the decade. The film is an exploration of mid-20s angst and unrest, of following unconventional desires, of finding happiness amidst the madness. Sameer (Saif Ali Khan) chases a girl out of his league; Siddharth (Akshaye Khanna) lusts after an older divorcee; Akash (Aamir Khan) tries to reconnect with someone from his past. Their decisions test each other and themselves, and cause rifts in their seemingly unbreakable friendship. Dil Chahta Hai is about the bonds of friendship, and just how far they can be stretched. —Radhika Menon


22. Titanic

titanic.jpg Year: 1997
Director: James Cameron
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 194 minutes

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Decades after its theatrical debut, James Cameron’s blockbuster epic is still so ubiquitous in the pop culture zeitgeist, its filmmaking marvels are drowned out by young Kate-and-Leo nostalgia and that damned Celine Dion caterwaul (not to mention the now late James Horner’s iconic score). Cameron’s ear for dialogue may be woefully leaden, but he’s a shrewd storyteller, plunking a Romeo-and-Juliet redux aboard the doomed ocean liner and flanking the fictional romance with historical details, groundbreaking special effects and jaw-dropping visuals. The narrative lapses are at times dumbfounding—let’s face it, old Rose, who tosses a priceless artifact into the abyss after waxing ad nauseam about herself, is a thoughtless jerk—and the aforementioned dialogue is awful (to say nothing of Billy Zane doing his best mustache-twirling silent movie villain) but Titanic remains a painstaking testament to the all-in Hollywood spectacle.—Amanda Schurr


23. Win It All

win-it-all.jpg Year: 2017
Director: Joe Swanberg
Stars: Jake Johnson, Aislinn Derbez, Joe Lo Truglio, Keegan-Michael Key, Nicky Excitement
Rating: NR
Runtime: 90 minutes

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Joe Swanberg, bless his unfailing tenacity, appears to get behind the camera and hope everything works out for the best. His style is chancy, but it’s hard not to admire his unabashed love of spontaneity. This is especially true when it does work out for the best, as it does in Win it All. Swanberg co-wrote the film with your underachieving dream boyfriend, New Girl’s Jake Johnson, ostensibly a direct result of their actor-director collaborations in Drinking Buddies and Digging for Fire; Johnson, perhaps unsurprisingly, is the star here, too, playing that aforementioned scruffy gambler, Eddie, a career loser who takes any wager-earning gig he can get by day before flinging his earnings down the crapper playing games of chance at incalculably grimy casinos by night. There is, in grand Swanberg tradition, a looseness to Win it All that remains for the duration of the film, hanging off of Johnson’s central performance. Whether because of his contributions on the page or on the screen, Johnson feels like a key component to Win it All’s success as a narrative: The story hangs off of him, off of his work, his emoting, the physical quality to his self-presentation before a lens. It means a lot that Swanberg and Johnson both care on a profoundly human level for Eddie. Who couldn’t? You probably have an Eddie figure in your life, whether you know it or not: The gregarious, amiable rascal, the kind of dude who just can’t slam the brakes when he’s careening toward trouble, and knows it. He’s a lovable schmuck, his own worst enemy. The people in his life care about him, his creators care about him, and so of course we care about him, too, even at his worst, even as he invites troubles and hazards into his life against all fair warnings given him by his support system. Win it All, in other words, is a Joe Swanberg movie, a domestically-focused tale about a slacker in conflict with his demons washed in the texture of 1960s and 1970s cinema. —Andy Crump.


24. Memoirs of a Geisha

memoirs-geisha.jpg Year: 2005
Director: Rob Marshall
Stars: Zhang Ziyi, Ken Watanabe, Koji Yakusho
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 145 minutes

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Zhang Ziyi plays the complex role of Sayuri, a young Japanese girl who first loathes, then covets the idea of being geisha. As she fulfills her dreams, every victory is laced with sadness, and the troubling, yet beautiful tale of her life is juxtaposed against Japan’s entry into World War II. At the end of the film, the voice of Sayuri reminds us that not all love stories have uncomplicated, fairy tale endings: “After all these are not the memoirs of an empress, nor of a queen…these are memoirs of another kind.” —Shannon M. Houston


25. White Christmas

white-christmas.jpg Year: 1954
Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney
Rating: TV-G
Runtime: 120 minutes

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For generations, this movie has held a kind of Yuletide nostalgia rivaled maybe only by It’s a Wonderful Life. But the funny thing about this Bing Crosby musical is that the warm feelings it still evokes today are mirrored in its own narrative: The war is over, their commanding officer (a “four-star general unemployed”) can’t make a living at the ski lodge, because even snow doesn’t fall the way it used to. But when the stage doors open at the end to reveal the swirling flakes, all the soldiers salute, leaving even us southerners yearning for a snow-laden Christmas. —Mary Kate Varnau


26. Cold Mountain

cold-mountain.jpg Year: 2003
Director: Anthony Minghella
Stars: Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Renée Zellweger, Brendan Gleeson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Natalie Portman, Donald Sutherland
Rating: R
Runtime: 154 minutes

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When Anthony Minghella adapted Charles Frazier’s gripping novel about a Civil War deserter from the Confederate Army and his long journey home to the woman he loves, he enlisted an all-star cast to bring it to life. Jude Law and Nicole Kidman led the marquee, but it was Renée Zellweger’s turn as Ruby Thewes, the woman who helps Kidman’s character survive on her farm as the nation was torn apart, who earned most of the plaudits. Gorgeously shot (with Romania mostly standing in for North Carolina’s Pisgah National Forest), Cold Mountain also introduced the world to the glorious sounds of sacred harp or shape-note singing. —Josh Jackson


27. Jodhaa Akbar

jodhaa-akbar.jpg Year: 2008
Director: Ashutosh Gowariker
Stars: Hrithik Roshan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Sonu Sood
Rating: TV-14
Runtime: 213 minutes

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Bollywood loves forbidden unions, be it religious, cultural, class or otherwise. An epic period drama based on a regal (and controversial) Hindu-Muslim union, Akbar (Hrithik Roshan), a Mughal king, is betrothed to Jodhaa (Aishwarya Rai), a Rajput princess, as an alliance between the two regions. But as their marriage becomes real, so does their love—despite external forces trying to break them apart. Jodhaa Akbar excels in its opulent visuals, rich costume design and original soundtrack borrowing its sound from Qawwali spiritual style. It’s a portrait of a loving relationship in a trying, war-stricken time, and paints a picture of 16th century India that can scratch any historical itch. —Radhika Menon


28. The DUFF

the-duff.jpg Year: 2015
Director: Ari Sandel
Stars: Mae Whitman, Robbie Amell, Allison Janney, Bella Thorne, Bianca Santos, Skyler Samuels, Ken Jeong, Romany Malco
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 101 minutes

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The DUFF opens with a John Hughes reference. Protagonist and resident DUFF Bianca Piper (Mae Whitman) explains that times have changed since The Breakfast Club—now the jocks take antidepressants and the brains rule the world. Her observation immediately clues the audience in to the fact that Bianca is a student of Hughes; she correlates his stories to those she observes on a daily basis. The interesting thing is that John Hughes would be proud to call Bianca his student. She’s a funny, fully realized, self-aware womean who holds her movie on her shoulders. At the center of the film’s charm is Mae Whitman. Bianca is best friends with Casey and Jess (Bianca Santos and Skyler Samuels), two girls who everyone agrees are much hotter and less approachable than Bianca. When Bianca’s neighbor, mega-jock Wesley Rush (Robbie Amell), informs her that she is the DUFF—the Designated Ugly Fat Friend—of her trio of friends, Bianca is devastated. Wesley explains that the DUFF needn’t be ugly or fat; rather, a good DUFF serves as a gateway to his or her hotter friends—the person to go to for information on said hotties. Bianca then decides to unfriend Casey and Jess, turning to Wesley for advice on how to be more alluring to men and less of a DUFF. In exchange, she will help him pass chemistry, as his football scholarship hangs in the balance. As you can probably imagine, Wesley and Bianca initially hate one another, but soon something deeper begins to blossom, much to the chagrin of Wesley’s ex, Madison (Bella Thorne), who happens to be the most popular girl in school. Yes, the plot of The DUFF is relatively familiar and predictable. Even though The DUFF offers up teen comedy plot points in abundance (Makeover montage! Nice guy who turns out to be horrible! Evil popular girl who gets what is coming to her!), it still wins as a teen comedy because it really cares about its lead characters. Mae Whitman is primarily to thank—her performance makes Bianca feel like someone we all know, because that someone is us. Bianca endures some blowing crushes to her self-esteem throughout the course of the movie, which makes her triumphant realization that everyone is a DUFF all the more rewarding in the end. —Andy Herren


29. Don Jon

don-jon.jpg Year: 2013
Director: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, Tony Danza, Brie Larson
Rating: R
Runtime: 85 minutes

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Joseph Gordon-Levitt makes an assured debut as a writer-director with Don Jon, a cultural critique of the expectations placed on relationships in an environment saturated with media misrepresentations of both women and men. It’s a comedy ostensibly about porn, but that’s really just the skin Gordon-Levitt puts on his examination of modern love, the hook that belies his trenchant commentary on how we objectify—instead of connect with—the opposite sex. Gordon-Levitt also stars as the titular Romeo, a sexy Jersey boy who brings home a different girl every weekend. He loves his bros and he loves his family, and he goes to church every Sunday, followed by a workout where he recites the Hail Marys he’s been assigned in confession in lieu of counting out reps. Gordon-Levitt is irresistible in the role, adopting the Situation’s swagger on-screen, donning it like a uniform before he joins his boys at the club. Don’s also addicted to porn, though the “A” word isn’t emphasized, if used at all. In his aggressive, aptly applied voiceover, he explains the appeal of pictures and video over the real thing in a way that almost makes sense. Which isn’t to say pornography is romanticized here—it’s not. In fact, it’s really rather ugly. Don’s streak with the ladies ends when he meets Barbara Sugarman (an alluring, gum-smacking Scarlett Johansson), a sexy Jersey girl who has her own screwed-up sense of what love should look like based on movies—not porn, but the romantic comedies she adores. She wants to meets his friends and family, for example—and see him enroll in night school—before she’ll get in the sack. And pornography? That’s a deal-breaker. Gordon-Levitt goes in a refreshingly unexpected direction with this setup—one that won’t be spoiled here. But he lays clues along the way that hint at what really will turn Don’s life around—even if he doesn’t know he needs it. —Annlee Ellingson


30. The Incredible Jessica James

incredible jessica james movie poster.jpg Year: 2017
Director: Jim Strouse
Stars: Jessica Williams, LaKeith Stanfield, Noël Wells, Taliyah Whitaker
Rating: NR
Runtime: 85 minutes

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Jessica Williams plays Jessica James, a twenty-something theatre fanatic who’s trying to get one of her plays produced while simultaneously dealing with a breakup. The ex? Damon, played by the equally wonderful Lakeith Stanfield (Atlanta, Short Term 12), who can’t manage to stay out of Jessica’s dreams. When she meets a new fling, played by the comically refreshing Chris O’Dowd, she begins to re-evaluate her love life while clinging to her life goals. When do you know you’ve made it? As lighthearted as the film can be, it’s rooted in an exploration of the deeper questions that any artist, or person for that matter, grapples with. Williams is hilarious, which we all know from her time on The Daily Show. She’s also incredibly powerful, showcasing a feminine strength that’s so crucial to this generation and a passion for her craft that’s the opposite of the indifference often associated with millennials. The film is perfect for a popcorn and beer night with the gals and guys. —Meredith Alloway


31. Cloudburst

cloudburst.jpg Year: 2011
Director: Thom Fitzgerald
Stars: Olympia Dukakis, Brenda Fricker, Ryan Doucette
Rating: TV-MA
Runtime: 93 minutes

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In the oddly raunchy and thoroughly satisfying septuagenarian lesbian road film Cloudburst, Oscar winners Olympia Dukakis and Brenda Fricker star as Stella and Dot, a lesbian couple who have spent the last 30 years living the classically Sapphic good life on the rugged coast of Maine. After Dot gets put into a nursing home by her uptight granddaughter, her lover breaks her out and instead takes her on a road trip, promising, “We’ll drive to Canada and then we can get legally married and no one can separate us.” The film suffers moments of significant clumsiness, including distractingly sitcomy one-liners. But the open road serves as a brilliant palette for writer-director Thom Fitzgerald to take scenic advantage of rolling hills and ocean. Nature itself becomes a key character in the film. The titular cloudburst, which drenches Stella and Dot in a moment of deep love and devotion to one another, serves as a sort of simultaneous protagonist and antagonist, celebrating and troubling the lovers at the same time. At its best, the film provides a venue for two revered talents to thoroughly buck the stereotypical roles available for older actresses and showcase the nuance and verve of their craft. —Nick Mattos


32. A Knight’s Tale

knights-tale.jpg Year: 2001
Director: Alex Lehmann
Stars: Heath Ledger, Rufus Sewell, Shannyn Sossamon
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 132 minutes

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A Knight’s Tale was the kind of movie your high school friends dragged you to on some muggy May evening, the kind of film of which you could predict every single story beat a good 10 minutes before it happened. This is how I experienced it. For some reason, though, I haven’t forgotten it in the 20 years since it came out, even down to incidental lines of dialogue. By virtue of its cast—which over the past two decades have become major stars—it has become an odd entry in the filmography of some highly visible actors. But it’s the beautifully ridiculous trappings of it, the manic love it evinces for some of the fustiest literary history you napped through in AP English, that makes it a bemusing curiosity. This is true even setting aside the fact you will see a buck-ass naked Paul Bettany in it. Young William (Heath Ledger) is the low-born squire of an old knight who, as we start the story, has unceremoniously died. He was not merely William’s mentor, but his meal ticket. With the help of fellow squires Roland (Mark Addy) and Wat (all-purpose goofball Alan Tudyk), William dons their deceased liege’s armor and manages to eke out a victory in the jousting tourney. Against the better judgment of his fellows, William convinces them all to help him train to compete in other tournaments. The catch is that as a peasant, William isn’t technically allowed to compete, so they’ll need to lie about his parentage. While tilting at his foes, William becomes enamored of the young Jocelyn (Shannon Sossamon) and makes an enemy of the Count Adhemar (a sneering Rufus Sewell). The film follows William’s quest to knock big dudes off their horses real good so as to impress Jocelyn and humble Adhemar. Nothing about the plot is important, anymore than anything about the plot of Dodgeball is. What is important is how the movie rejects everything that would have made this another too-serious period piece. Accept that instead the movie is a sports underdog story with period trappings intended to infuriate your history teacher. —Kenneth Lowe


33. Someone Great

someone-great-210.jpg Year: 2019
Director: Jennifer Kaytin Robinson
Stars: Gina Rodriguez, Brittany Snow, DeWanda Wise
Rating: R
Runtime: 92 minutes

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Netflix’s Someone Great plays out like the visual version of Lorde’s “Supercut.” The song, which is also cleverly placed in the film and promptly re-entered the U.S. iTunes charts last weekend following its release, recounts a magical relationship after the breakup. But instead of surveying the wreckage, Lorde presses play on the good times. “All the moments I play in the dark / Wild and fluorescent, come home to my heart,” she sings. Someone Great’s Jenny (played by Gina Rodriguez, world’s most likeable actress) finds herself in a similar situation. After landing her dream music writing job with Rolling Stone, she and her boyfriend of nine years, Nate (acted by a very hunky LaKeith Stanfield), call it quits, fearing they won’t survive a long-distance relationship split between New York City and Jenny’s future home, San Francisco. The pulsing pop tune from Lorde’s 2017 album Melodrama plays while a literal “Supercut” of Jenny’s and Nate’s relationship flashes before our eyes—Instagram posts, Facebook messages, texts, emails and exchanges with Jenny’s two best friends, Blair (Brittany Snow) and Erin (DeWanda Wise) serve as an intro to a film about reminiscing, reconnecting with friends and, ultimately, moving forward on your own. Rodriguez is, as always, loveable as hell. Wise gives an endearing performance as the romantically hesitant Erin, and the two women, along with Snow, master a refreshing version of the romantic comedy in which female friendship, not just love interests, serves as a plot centerpiece. And as much as I enjoyed watching an R-rated New York City spree complete with foul language, bathroom sex, fierce friendship and joints the size of baseball bats, Someone Great is most memorable for its music. A mixtape of indie stalwarts, pop bliss and Big Freedia, the soundtrack is heaps of fun, deeply meaningful and the most realistic aspect of the film—except maybe the girls’ struggle to get spots on the guest list. That battle is all too real. —Ellen Johnson


34. Main Hoon Na

main-hoon-na.jpg Year: 2004
Director: Farah Khan
Stars: Shah Rukh Khan, Sunil Shetty, Sushmita Sen
Rating: TV-14
Runtime: 171 minutes

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Situated in contemporary India-Pakistan tensions, Major Ram Prasad Sharma (Shah Rukh Khan) is assigned to “Project Milaap,” a top-secret mission that would release captured civilians from both countries in an effort to drive peace in the region. As part of this assignment, Sharma must go undercover at a school to protect his boss’s daughter, who has become a target of Project Milaap’s foe. On his father’s deathbed, Sharma finds out he has a half-brother—of course, another student at the same school—which further colors the mission for him. Though he makes some hilarious missteps, Sharma ultimately wins the two over until they find out the secrets he’s hiding. Main Hoon Na is a politically inclined action comedy, and a heartwarming look at love and family under the threat of warfare. —Radhika Menon


35. Set It Up

set-it-up-movie-poster.jpg Year: 2018
Director: Claire Scanlon
Stars: Zoey Deutch, Glen Powell, Lucy Liu, Taye Diggs, Pete Davidson, Tituss Burgess
Rating: NR
Runtime: 105 minutes

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One can never have enough Zoey Deutch in their moviegoing diet. She’s a treasure, multi-layered, ever hilarious. Want her to throw snark at you? Want her to project confidence without haughtiness? Want her to pull off “awkward with a side of charming” without tipping the scale too much in one direction or the other? She can do all of that. If you have room for just one Deutch movie this month, go for The Year of Spectacular Men, but if your schedule’s open, fit in Claire Scanlon’s Set It Up, a delightful, zippy, corny-and-loving it rom-com about beleaguered office assistant Harper (Deutch) teaming up with as-beleaguered office assistant Charlie (Glen Powell) to get their horrible bosses (respectively, Lucy Liu and Taye Diggs) into bed with one another. Maybe they’re horrible only because they’re undersexed; maybe they’re just horrible. Set It Up isn’t exactly a hard read in that regard (or any, really), but it’s a hoot all the way through, and Scanlon’s smart to hang the film on Deutch and Powell’s chemistry. —Andy Crump


36. Irreplaceable You

irreplaceable-you-poster.jpg
Year: 2018
Director: Stephanie Laing
Stars: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michiel Huisman, Christopher Walken
Rating: TV-MA
Runtime: 96 minutes

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Netflix has gifted us with two Gugu Mbatha-Raw movies in the same month. One of them is a creative disaster and a sign of bad things to come for the streaming giant’s philosophy on original releases. One of them is Irreplaceable You. Upfront, Irreplaceable You is aggressively mushy and cutesy as hell, but Mbatha-Raw is an effortless charmer, and director Stephanie Laing is clearly a wizard because she found a way to scrub Michiel Huisman of his typical stubbly hipster douchiness. He’s still a brooding hottie, but an awkward nerd brooding hottie, and he’s good at playing the part. He and Mbatha-Raw match up well as Sam and Abbie, childhood sweethearts newly engaged and also staring down her terminal cancer diagnosis. In medical terms, she’s a goner. So she does what any type-A person would do in her position and interviews candidates for her replacement after she dies. She loves Sam so much she can’t stand the idea of him being alone. If you’re diabetic this synopsis probably has you reaching for an insulin dose, but for all of its obvious manipulations, watching Irreplaceable You is the equivalent of downing a heart-shaped box of chocolates. You might go into sugar shock and you’ll need to brush your teeth when it’s over, but you won’t regret the indulgence all the same. —Andy Crump


37. Tramps

tramps.jpg Year: 2017
Director: Adam Leon
Stars: Callum Turner, Grace Van Patten, Michal Vondel, Mike Birbiglia
Rating: TV-MA
Runtime: 83 minutes

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For a guy who trades in intimate, small-scale narratives, Adam Leon sure does love working with distance. Wide shots pepper his films, his camera an eye in the heavens tracking the movements of his protagonists through busy open spaces. He can hover over an active street corner teeming with hubbub and still keep us focused on a pair of arguing teens. You don’t pull off that kind of stunt without caring, or without making your viewers care, and so we get down to what makes Leon special as a storyteller: He’s caring. He’s compassionate. Hell, he’s downright generous, a director who makes movies as gifts to his admirers and who gives gift after gift to his principals in the form of lucky breaks. Maybe, if you’re so inclined, you’d call that contrivance. Maybe you’d accuse Leon of making easy movies, of wrapping up his work with tidy little bows, instead of challenging himself, his leads, his audience. But the Netflix-backed Tramps is all about the tug between kindness and unkindness: Leon doesn’t pile ignominies on his characters more than he must because the world he constructs around them does that well enough on its own. Like his previous film, Gimme the Loot, Tramps is a love story-cum-fairytale set in a New York City summer about people living in the margins of society. The most profound similarity is its dual-thread approach to plotting, introducing Danny (Callum Turner) first, Ellie (Grace Van Patten) second, and setting them on a collision course with each other third. They’re both involved in the same small-time crime scheme, involving the swapping of a suitcase. Tramps is a minor effort loaded with small pleasures, but tallied together, those small pleasures add up to one great movie. —Andy Crump


38. Barfi!

barfi.jpg Year: 2012
Director: Anurag Basu
Stars: Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Ranbir Kapoor, Ileana D’Cruz
Rating: TV-14
Runtime: 143 minutes

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Priyanka Chopra is now a household name across America, but in 2012, her clout extended only to those who were aware of Bollywood. One of her best turns of the decade came in Barfi! where she plays Jhilmil Chatterjee (Chopra), an autistic woman born to a wealthy family who falls in love with the titular Barfi (Ranbir Kapoor), who happens to be deaf and mute. When Jhilmil is kidnapped and her fortune is threatened, Barfi is determined to do everything in his power to get her back. Part action thriller and part love story, Chopra and Kapoor deliver performances worthy of international attention. Even better, the story, which loosely resembles The Notebook, is sweet without being saccharine. —Radhika Menon


39. The Theory of Everything

theory-everything.jpg Year: 2014
Director: James Marsh
Stars: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Charlie Cox
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 123 minutes

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In The Theory of Everything, English thesps Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones play out an arc made from the stuff of fairly boilerplate romantic comedy tropes. Only, Redmayne and Jones are portraying Stephen Hawking and Jane Wilde, he one of the world’s greatest scientific minds, she his long suffering but deeply compassionate and empathetic wife. The Theory of Everything is the story of the life they lived together, from their first encounters in 1960s Cambridge, to their years spent enduring Hawking’s battle with Lou Gehrig’s Disease, to their current situation of amicable separation. The film so handsomely commemorates Hawking’s contributions to his field along the way that one could be forgiven for mistakenly assuming that the stage belongs to Redmayne alone, but he shares it quite happily with Jones. In point of fact, the picture accords them both richly deserved individual attention rather than focus foremost on its leading man. While The Theory of Everything is warily mushy, it’s earnest despite its formulaic trappings. Above all, it’s anchored by Redmayne’s and Jones’s outstanding performances as they recreate the many trials and tribulations the Hawkings endured throughout their marriage.—Andy Crump


40. About Time

about-time-210.jpg Year: 2013
Director: Richard Curtis
Stars:Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, Bill Nighy, Tom Hughes, Margot Robbie
Rating: R
Runtime: 123 minutes

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The enormous success of 1994’s Four Weddings and a Funeral, both the highest-grossing British film in history at the time of its release, as well as a $245 million worldwide box office smash, made a star of its screenwriter, Richard Curtis. The British-set romantic comedy About Time, starring Domhnall Gleeson and Rachel McAdams, is Curtis’ third film behind the camera, and it presents an amplified version of the triumphs and shortcomings most characteristic of his work. There is abundant charm, as well as a genuinely sweet-spirited view of the world; it is also dependent on plot turns that don’t withstand much scrutiny. On his 21st birthday, Tim (Gleeson) discovers from his father (Bill Nighy) that the men in his family have the ability to travel back in time. If they find a dark place, clench their fists and just focus their mind—poof, off they go! Naturally, Tim’s first instinct is to use his newfound power to try to snag a girlfriend. However, after a summer of futilely wooing the visiting friend of his older sister Kit Kat (Lydia Wilson), a still-single Tim heads off to London to pursue a career as a lawyer. There Tim meets Mary (McAdams), and falls head over heels in love. What’s that—she has a not-so-serious boyfriend met just before they crossed paths? Tim can rectify that situation, of course. Mostly, though, Tim and Mary’s love is sincere, born of shared interests and mutual regard. About Time is chiefly a comedic fantasy of wish fulfillment, an overstuffed casserole of cute riffs and beats structured around characters who unyieldingly exhibit ample portions of generosity and benevolence. If it rather awkwardly handles the delineation of its time travel rules, almost everything that is frustrating about the movie is also counterbalanced by moments of thoughtfulness and insightfulness. Instead of romance, per se, About Time is actually about family more broadly—and specifically about fathers and sons. The last 25 minutes tap into a rich emotional undercurrent related to the hard truths that so many men have difficulty discussing. Would that Curtis had the discipline to more artfully and substantively weave this material into his movie, or explore more honestly Tim and Mary’s relationship by having him share the burden of his secret. As is, About Time feels like a partially improvised fairytale. Brent Simon