The genre of romance can be described as the “comfort food” of movies. Warm, fuzzy, and lighthearted, romantic films are a breezy watch, leaving the viewer with a pleasant aftertaste. Add to that, the infusion of other elements like comedy and drama, and you have a well-rounded narrative that’s got something for everyone.
The 2010s saw a slight shift in the genre, as old-school sensibilities evolved into a more modern-day approach, with the reflection of overt themes of sexuality and sexual identity. While the 2010s were predominantly overshadowed by blockbusters such as La La Land and The Fault in Our Stars, the decade also has a few underrated gems you might have not heard of. So without further ado, here are the 2010s’ 10 most underrated romance movies, ranked.
9 Crazy Rich Asians (2018)
Crazy Rich Asians caused quite a stir when it was released, combining modern-day romantic tropes with Asian sensibilities. The film follows Rachel (Constance Wu), who visits her boyfriend Nick’s (Henry Golding) home and comes in conflict with his mother, who’s disapproving of Nick’s relationship with Rachel, due to their cultural differences. Culture theatrics aside, Crazy Rich Asians blends uses themes of comedy and self-identity to get its point across, as it paints a picture of a love story that’s tethered in conscience over opinion.
8 Just Go With It (2011)
Dennis Dugan’s film is adapted from Cactus Flower, but unfortunately, didn’t do enough to please the critics. The film received a plethora of negative reviews, but was a fan favorite, raking in over $214 million at the box office. Banking on Adam Sandler’s goofball charm and Jennifer Aniston’s grace, Just Go With It is a feel-good romantic comedy that doesn’t require a lot of brain cells to process, making it the perfect background film when you’re in the mood for something warm and fuzzy.
7 No Strings Attached (2011)
Beautifully highlighting the modern-day struggle between casual sex and commitment, No Strings Attached starts off as a casual arrangement before turning into a bona fide love story. Natalie Portman gives a career-best performance, paving the way for casual-flirty movies that were still getting comfortable with their subject matter. Despite being predictable with its highs and lows, Ivan Reitman’s film is a light-hearted movie that’s an easy and fun watch.
6 Ruby Sparks (2012)
Playing on the trope of the dark side of wishes coming true, Ruby Sparks is the idealistic embodiment of struggling novelist Calvin’s (Paul Dano) imagination. Having struggled to find his ideal woman, Calvin writes her into reality and his fictional character Ruby Sparks (Zoe Kazan) literally comes off the page and into reality. But what initially feels like a dream come true, slowly begins to fester in the everyday realities of life and expectations. Written by Zoe Kazan herself, Ruby Sparks isn’t a light watch, but comments on important issues such as male-female relationship dynamics and the importance of self-identity.
5 Enough Said (2013)
Romantic films normally tend to focus on young couples trying to find love and navigate life. Nicole Holofcener’s Enough Said provides another angle to the genre by focusing on two divorced people looking for love. Enough Said sidesteps most romantic clichés and instead focuses on the authenticity of the narrative with a few genuine heartfelt moments. Apart from narrative sensibilities, the film has a string of memorable performances, with Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini at the heart of all things.
4 The Big Sick (2017)
Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, The Big Sick is much more than an average romantic flick. Written by Kumail Nanjiani and his wife, Emily V. Gordon, the film is loosely based on Nanjiani’s real-life-romance, and is rich with drama and depth as it deals with themes of love, identity, and familial interference.
3 Blue Valentine (2010)
While conventional romantic films paint a rosy picture of life after marriage, Derek Cianfrance’s film is a somber portrait of a toxic marriage, hanging on by a shard of self contrived and self-conscious effort. A claustrophobic and raw film that asks pertinent questions about relationships of “how do they fail?”, “Is there something that can be done to salvage the equation?”, or “Do certain relationships just have rotten chemistry that eventually sows the seeds of their own destruction?” Blue Valentine is essential viewing for everybody that wishes to look at life and relationships from a lens of reality, acknowledging the fact that love, much like life, requires attention and care.
2 Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)
Jim Jarmusch’s love letter to Detroit and rock and roll, Only Lovers Left Alive is more of a vibe than a film. Probably the most tasteful and evolved depiction of vampires in modern-day films, Jarmusch’s movie plays out as a slow-burn celebration of art, music, and style, doing away with the modern malaise of generic culture. With Only Lovers Left Alive, Jarmusch emphasizes style over subject, going to show that it’s not as much about the story as the person that tells it.
1 Her (2013)
Spike Jonze’s Her and Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation are two sides of the same story. Released 10 years apart, both films explore the themes of loneliness and human spirit, as both films are cut from the same fabric.
Jonze’s film creates a beguiling cinematic world that’s as welcoming as it’s alien. Centering around the cusp of AI involvement in everyday life, Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) falls in love with Samantha (Scarlett Johansson) his AI assistant, exploring a different side and meaning to love, one that can’t be touched or held but only felt.