20 best romantic movies of all time, from Brief Encounter to Notting Hill

Romantic comedies have long been a cinema staple. Louis Chilton ranks the best of the best

Clockwise from top right: Beauty and the Beast, Brief Encounter, Moonlight and Casablanca
Clockwise from top right: Beauty and the Beast, Brief Encounter, Moonlight and Casablanca

(This article was originally published in 2019)

There will always be an appetite for romance in cinema. Ever since the days of silent melodramas, studio filmmakers have capitalised on the simple fact that, in Hollywood, love sells.

With the invention of sound, the silent romances of the 1910s and 1920s gave way to a more sophisticated type of on-screen romance, and the romantic comedy was born.

Romcoms would continue to evolve across the 20th century, liberated in part by the increasingly lax restrictions for on-screen sex and nudity. Other age-old genres would also gain popularity, such as the romantic tragedy.

The past decade has seen a notable increase in the number of LGBTQ romances that reached mainstream audiences. The rules of who can and can’t be the subject of a Hollywood romance are gradually being rewritten.

Here are the 20 best romantic films ranked.

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