As entertaining as it is to watch movies with a lot of high-octane action sequences, sometimes it's nice to enjoy a quiet movie and watch two people fall in love. There's nothing wrong with that and there are so many great romance films that can really scratch that itch. But why not seek out some of the overlooked gems of the genre?
While certain romance movies find a huge audience and become iconic, there are a lot of great films that don't get the attention they deserve. Some of them are small films that didn't reach the larger public and others are unconventional romances that were ignored. However, these great films are all worth seeking out. Here are the most underrated romance films of the last 20 years.
10 Phantom Thread
The idea that Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul Thomas Anderson would be reteaming for a love story set in the world of fashion made it pretty clear that there was going to be more than meets the eye with this story. Phantom Thread follows Reynolds Woodcock, a renowned fashion designer who begins a relationship with his young muse, Alma (Vicky Krieps).
Obviously, with the talents involved, the film looks beautiful and is filled with great performances. It also has one of the most unusual romances in recent memory between the entitled Woodcock and the clever Alma. Their journey together is completely engrossing.
9 The Big Sick
It might seem like if you've seen one romantic comedy, you've seen them all. Then comes a totally unique movie like The Big Sick to breathe new life in the genre. The film stars Kumail Nanjiani as a Muslim stand-up comedian who begins dating a Caucasian woman (Zoe Kazan). As he struggles between love and religion, an unexpected event complicates things further.
The movie is one of the funniest films in recent years as well as one of the sweetest. It is not afraid to address complex issues, but always in a funny and entertaining way.
8 The Spectacular Now
The Spectacular Now is a great coming-of-age romance that was overlooked by many people. It stars Miles Teller as a popular high school kid who breaks up with his equally popular girlfriend. Looking to rebound, he begins a relationship with a more reserved classmate, played by Shailene Woodley.
Though the premise sounds like the typical cheesy movie where the cool kid dates the nerd, this film is a much more authentic teen romance. The relationship between the two leads is sweet and charming, yet there is always that underlying feeling that something will go wrong.
7 Drinking Buddies
While most romance movies explore what happens when two people try desperately to be with one another, Drinking Buddies is unique for exploring two people trying their best not to be a couple The film stars Olivia Wilde and Jake Johnson as two best friends who seem perfect for each other, despite both being with other people.
We've seen the tale of friends who should be together many times, but Drinking Buddies avoids clichés by never really showing the romance side. Though these two seem like the perfect match and we want to see them together, the film questions whether that's romance or just friendship.
6 Punch-Drunk Love
Adam Sandler has made plenty of romantic comedies, but nothing like Punch-Drunk Love. Paul Thomas Anderson created another unusual romance in the film about a lonely and awkward man whose life is turned around thanks to a new relationship with a unique woman, played by Emily Watson.
Sandler gives one of his best performances as the neurotic and rage-filled man who seeks someone to love. It is a funny and touching love story filled with beautiful moments and stellar performances.
5 Enough Said
A lot of romance movies explore two younger people falling in love, but it's not too often you get a story about a romance between middle-aged people. That aspect makes Nicole Holofcener's Enough Said feel like a refreshing addition to the genre in the story of a divorced woman who begins a relationship with a man while also becoming friends with his ex.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini star in the film and are such charming leads. The authentic, funny and touching script makes this simple little story so effective.
Once is probably the smallest film on this list, but it no less effective in telling its beautiful love story. The film is set in Ireland and follows a young street musician who meets a young immigrant woman. The two form a bond and begin creating music together while falling in love.
The small independent film is scored by the amazing music these two make together. The result is a sweet, funny and engrossing love story with one of the best soundtracks in recent memory.
3 Before Sunset
Richard Linklater's Before trilogy is a highly acclaimed series of films, yet there are so many moviegoers who have not seen any of them. It seems like the second film in the series, Before Sunset, gets overlooked the most as being the middle story. However, it remains one of the best movies of the 21st century.
The film picks up nine years after the events of the first film, with Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) spending a day together in Paris, reconnecting and talking about the last time they met. It is a simple story but so wonderfully done, as it captures the conversations people have as they fall for each other.
Brooklyn is a period-piece romance that stars Saoirse Ronan as a young Irish woman who immigrates to New York City in the 1930s. As she tries to get used to her new home, she meets a young man (Emory Cohen) and becomes conflicted between her new life in America and her old life back home.
Ronan carries the film is one of her best performances as the young girl torn between two homes. The romance is also quite touching with a sweet awkwardness to it as well as the excitement of two young people starting a life together. It's a movie that warms your heart.
Some of the best romance films revolve around a relationship that is forbidden by society. But that's only one of the things that makes Carol such an impressive film. Set in the 1950s, the film follows the growing relationship between an aspiring photographer (Rooney Mara) and an older woman (Cate Blanchett).
This bittersweet and intoxicating romance is brought to life thanks to the incredible performances from the two leads who completely sell this romance. The period piece also engrosses the audience, giving them a sense of how tortured life was for these women at the time.