Best of the Decade: Romance

This is a series called “Best of the Decade.” It’s a list including 10 movies that I found to be the best in a specific genre from 2010-2019.

Several great romantic relationships were brought to the big screen over the past decade, with some getting more attention than others. Here were my favorites.

Always Be My Maybe (2019)


“Always Be My Maybe” isn’t the most original romcom. Two characters coming together romantically from different lifestyles, especially when they were childhood friends, isn’t groundbreaking. But the execution here is just so good that the story’s familiarity isn’t a big flaw.

The writing is really strong here, the humor produces laughs and the emotional moments feel earned. This is also helped by the lead performers Ali Wong and Randall Park, who do fantastic work as the lead characters. The film also benefits from a hilarious cameo performance by Keanu Reeves.

Crazy Rich Asians (2018)


“Crazy Rich Asians” is a fantastic film that not only offers a charming romance, but an exploration of other subjects, too. The movie gives insight into another culture as well as perspective on how some view families and/or individuals who’ve immigrated to the United States from their home country. The topic of class is also touched on here in good fashion.

The movie delivers all of this in a fairly pedestrian manner with a familiar story. However, thanks to all of the subject matter explored, as well as an immensely sweet relationship at its core, and a powerful lead performance from Constance Wu, “Crazy Rich Asians” really works.

What If (2014)


Starring Daniel Radcliffe, “What If” is a wonderful, charming feature that unfortunately went largely overlooked. Whether it’s during the dramatic moments or during scenes with witty comedy, “What If” is a very compelling romcom.

The characters are absolutely lovable here. They’re honest, believable and the performers portraying them have great chemistry on screen. Somewhat formulaic, yes, but still very enjoyable to watch.

About Time (2013)

About Time trailer - video

“About Time” goes into fantasy territory with its time travel aspect, but it’s main focus remains the romantic relationship between the lead characters. The film is emotional and explores struggles that people go through in relationships, ultimately making for a very human experience.

On top of the main romantic relationship, the film is also very much about family and the importance of familial connections. The performances here are great, too, with a strong cast including Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams and Bill Nighy.

Don Jon (2013)


“Don Jon” features a really good romance but it’s not the main focus. Joseph Gordon-Levitt directs, writes and stars in this film that’s actually very much a character study. The movie features a fantastic character arc where Jon, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt goes from being a guy who’s fallen into an aimless routine of objectifying things to a person who decides to make personal changes to better himself.

The film does this by incorporating two relationships with Jon’s character. The first is his romance with his girlfriend Barbara and the second comes later with one of his classmates, Esther. The two relationships are representative of his life changes and work so well in the narrative. Jon’s relationship with Esther is especially well portrayed.

The movie has a fantastic cast, with Gordon-Levitt joined by Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, Tony Danza and Brie Larson.

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)


While “The Fighter” is still my favorite film from director David O. Russell, “Silver Linings Playbook” is still a fantastic entry. The film is quite dramatic, as it digs deep into subjects like living with a mental illness, but it also features a very emotionally powerful romance between its two lead characters.

Benefiting the film a lot is the fantastic cast including Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro. Lawrence rightfully won an Academy Award for her exceptional work here.

Before Midnight (2013)


Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy teamed up with Richard Linklater here for the third and final(?) film in the “Before” series. While the past two movies were very much about the vision of what a relationship could look like, “Midnight” is a picture all about reflection on what a relationship has been like over many years.

The film is very dramatic, and digs deep into the realities of how relationships, even those that appear fantastic, can have extreme hardships. Like the past two films, “Before Midnight” is beautifully shot and has an incredible script.

La La Land (2016)


“La La Land” may be remembered now as being the film involved in the Oscar night announcement mishap. However, it should be revisited for so much more. Damien Chazelle, who wrote and directed this feature, made an amazing picture with large scale moments of music and dance, as well as an intimate, emotional relationship.

At the end of the day, the movie is about two committed dreamers who fall in love, and it’s so charming to watch it develop. Plus, the way the film ends is perfectly bittersweet. The musical performances go a long way, but so does the relationship between the two main characters played by Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone.

Carol (2015)


“Carol” was easily one of the best films of 2015 and features another bittersweet romance. The rich story is heart-wrenching, showing the relationship between the two main characters and portraying Carol’s effort to remain involved with the lives of her family.

The relationship between the main characters is so loving and affectionate, that it makes the movie that much more endearing.

Call Me By Your Name (2017)


Winner of an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, “Call Me By Your Name” is a masterful exploration of youth and love. Using the gorgeous setting of rural Italy, Luca Guadagnino and his creative team do amazing work in crafting a heartfelt, emotionally-charged feature.

Helping the film be as good as it is are the two award caliber performances from the leads, Tomothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer. The two have a chemistry on screen and the relationship between their characters is powerful.


Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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