It’s easy to be disillusioned by the corny rom-coms that seem to be more and more popular in recent years, but there are still plenty of 2000s films that put a realistic, inspiring love story at the forefront. Whether you’re single, dating, or it’s complicated, here are 10 romantic movie couples to make you believe in love again.
Mary and Tim from About Time
In the beginning of About Time, Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) experiences repeated romantic blunders, until his father (Bill Nighy) tells him that the men in their family can travel through time, and he uses this gift to mend his awkward mistakes. It’s not until he moves to London from the rural British seaside that he meets Mary (Rachel McAdams), a bright-eyed American with a “perfect” fringe, who Tim falls head over heels for. When Tim messes with time and erases his first date with Mary, he spends all day at a Kate Moss exhibit hoping he will run into her. From there, the couple’s love blossoms into a beautiful marriage, as we see them buy their first house, have their first baby, and experience loss together. Mary and Tim’s humorous yet steadfast love story is sure to warm your February-chilled heart.
Ally and Jackson from A Star Is Born
Though A Star Is Born is ultimately a tragic love story, the moments between Ally (Lady Gaga) and Jackson (Bradley Cooper) as they fall for each other and create music together are undeniably captivating. Songs like “Always Remember Us This Way” and “I Don’t Know What Love Is” will move you to your core, and even when the couple have their disagreements, you will root for them. Ally’s unwavering love for Jackson as he battles addiction, and the way his eyes light up when she performs, demonstrate a fervent devotion not seen in the kitschy rom-coms blazing their way through streaming services. If you’re looking for a heartbreak that’ll require tissues, A Star Is Born will surely deliver.
Tish and Fonny from If Beale Street Could Talk
Based on the novel by James Baldwin, If Beale Street Could Talk centers around Tish (Kiki Layne) and Fonny (Stephan James): two lovers who have been best friends since childhood. Tish carries Fonny’s child while Fonny sits in jail for a crime he didn’t commit, and Tish’s family tries to get him out. But Tish and Fonny’s love for each other exceeds the bounds of the system that tries to keep them down, and that’s clear from the very first scene of the movie. With the help of poetic dialogue and a beautiful score by Nicholas Britell, If Beale Street Could Talk is a poignant reflection on the black experience in America, and how that affects two people who just want to love each other freely.
Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy from Pride & Prejudice (2005)
The love story between Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) and Mr. Darcy (Matthew Macfadyen) is a century-spanning, time-enduring classic, but that doesn’t make the 2005 adaptation any less affecting. Knightley’s Elizabeth is just as stubborn and independent-thinking as her literary counterpart, and Macfadyen’s Mr. Darcy is mysterious and foreboding in all the right ways. What makes their story so enthralling is the defying of their time’s expectations: a “disobedient” woman from a poor family wins the affections of one of the richest, most desired bachelors around through her sheer wit and fearlessness. Set amidst the breathtaking landscapes of the English countryside, this period piece will have you swooning in no time.
Héloise and Marianne from Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Portrait of a Lady on Fire is a story of forbidden love and adoration. Marianne is a painter in 1700s France who is hired to paint the wedding portrait of Héloise, a reluctant bride-to-be who has repeatedly refused to pose for the painting. Héloise thinks that Marianne is there to be her companion, and Marianne must observe her throughout the day to paint her at night. Eventually, though, the two develop a fondness that goes beyond friendship. With beautiful cinematography and artful expressions of the women’s passionate connection, Portrait of a Lady on Fire will force you to ponder Héloise’s question to Marianne: “Do all lovers feel as though they’re inventing something?”
Mildred and Richard from Loving
Loving, based on the true story behind the 1967 U.S. Supreme Court decision Loving v Virginia, celebrates being able to love who you want to. When the state of Virginia forces Mildred (Ruth Negga) and Richard (Joel Edgerton) Loving to leave their home for being an interracial married couple, their world is turned upside down. The couple must stay in D.C., where they raise their three young children, until an ACLU lawyer (Nick Kroll) shows up willing to take their case to the supreme court. Loving illustrates a quiet kind of love: one that is displayed through acts of service and a need to protect one another. Despite their fears, Mildred and Richard end up winning their court case, and are able to live out the rest of their time together in the Virginia home that Richard built.
Ellis and Tony from Brooklyn
Ultimately a coming-of-age story for Ellis (Saoirse Ronan), a young Irish woman who moves to New York City, Brooklyn depicts young love in its purest form. Ellis meets Tony (Emory Cohen) at a dance, and from there —set against the poetic backdrop of New York in the ’50s — Tony shows Ellis parts of herself that she didn’t seem to know existed. As she struggles with the choice between Tony and those waiting for her in Ireland, Ellis learns the importance of trusting the new life she’s created for herself. With sincere performances from both Ronan and Cohen, the giddiness of Ellis and Tony’s first love bliss marks Brooklyn a must-watch before Valentine’s Day.
Juliet and Dawsey from The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Set in 1946, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (a film which deserves far more attention than it’s gotten), focuses on Juliet (Lily James), a young writer from London who is blown away by the bravery and comradery of a group of friends from the island of Guernsey, which was German-occupied during WWII. A charming pig farmer and member of the society, Dawsey (Michiel Huisman), begins a letter correspondence with Juliet detailing the events that they experienced under German rule, enticing her to visit the island. Despite her engagement to a wealthy, fun-loving American, Juliet can’t help but fall in love with the members of the society — especially Dawsey. If the stories from the society’s lovable misfits don’t make you weak in the knees, the palpable chemistry between James and Huisman will.
Kumail and Emily from The Big Sick
Based on the true story of Kumail Nanjiani and his wife, Emily V. Gordon, The Big Sick combines humor and honesty to recount the health scare that brought the couple together. When Kumail and Emily (Zoe Kazan) have a falling out after only a few months of dating, it seems like things are done for good. But when Emily is put in a coma due to an illness, Kumail spends almost the entire time by her — and her parents’ — side. While Emily is unconscious, Kumail comes to realize that she means more to him than he thought. Despite Kumail’s family’s objections to an unarranged relationship with a non-Pakistani woman, the two make amends after Emily’s recovery. The Big Sick details a modern-day romance, with realistic obstacles and expectations, and a willingness to make things work even when family and dreams get in the way.
Johnny and Ghoerghe from God’s Own Country
Johnny (Josh O’Connor), a despondent Yorkshire farmer living with his father and grandmother, drinks his troubles away and avoids meaningful connection until Romanian migrant Ghoerghe comes to work on his father’s farm. Johnny’s perspective on life changes and his fears of intimacy are overcome as the two spend time together in the vast Yorkshire countryside. A deeper, more refreshing take on gay love than Brokeback Mountain, God’s Own Country suggests that love between two men is just as natural as the nature and animals Johnny and Ghoerghe are surrounded by. Ghoerghe brings happiness into Johnny’s life, which ultimately makes him a better person, and makes for a love story that’ll certainly reignite the spark in your belly urging you to give love — and romantic movies — another shot.