The 20 Greatest Love Stories in Cinema History That’ll Make You Cry

Most love stories fail to earn their romance in one way or another. These heartfelt movies did it right.

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If you're like me, you love cuddling up with a hot mug of tea, a cozy blanket, and a well-made love story that'll melt your heart and make you cry rivers of tears. It's a very normal activity!

But finding a love story that fits the bill can be tough. There's nothing worse than settling in for a great romance only to realize your heart didn't even flutter once by the time the credits roll.

From the gentlest romances to the most epic of love stories, here are our picks for the greatest love stories in cinema history. If you consider yourself a romantic, these are must-watch films!

20. Love Actually (2003)

Love Actually is a Christmas-themed classic, one that'll make you cry. In this film, we witness nine intertwined stories between characters and their sentimental lives. All you have to do is pick a favorite!

A must-watch during every year's Christmas holiday season, Love Actually is a bittersweet film that's full of tears—both happy and sad. It's an easy watch with all kinds of endings to the characters' stories.

19. Before Sunrise (1995)

Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) meet for the first time on a train and their connection is immediate.

So immediate, in fact, that they decide to spend the entire day together, all before moving on with their normal lives.

Before Sunrise is a classic example of the successful indie romance film, and this one even leads into a trilogy. If you like this film, you should definitely follow it up with Before Sunset and Before Midnight.

Related: The Best Indie Movies of the 1990s, Ranked

18. Sabrina (1995)

Sabrina Fairchild (Julia Ormond) lives with a rich family, but she's not part of it—because she's the chauffeur's daughter. Even so, she can't help but fall in love with her father's employer's youngest son, David Larrabee (Greg Kinnear).

When her feelings are pretty much ignored, she tries to get over him by moving to Paris and pursuing a career in fashion. Eventually, she comes back a new person and meets David again. Will he notice her this time?

17. When Harry Met Sally (1989)

When Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan) met during college, they disliked each other right from the start. Years later, they stumble into each other again. And fall in love? Absolutely not!

What about when they eventually meet again? Third time's the charm, right? Well, maybe. Or maybe not.

When Harry Met Sally isn't just a love story; it's a story about friendship, attachment styles, and human psychology. Packed with clever dialogue and great mockumentary-style sequences, it's a classic masterpiece.

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16. Bread and Tulips (2000)

Bread and Tulips is an Italian romance film (originally titled Pane e Tulipani) about second chances.

When Rosalba (Licia Maglietta) is left behind at a gas station by her holiday bus, she decides to hitchhike back home. One of the hitchhikers is going to Venice, though, and she's always wanted to see Venice!

The unhappy housewife Rosalba finds herself in the mysterious city, where she may just make some new friends and even find true love—but her past life won't make it easy for her.

15. French Kiss (1995)

In French Kiss, Kate (Meg Ryan) flies across the Atlantic Ocean to win back her fiancé who fell in love with a younger French woman during a work trip. Combined with her fear of flying and distaste for French cuisine, it's all quite the nightmare for her.

But she's on a mission and she won't let anything stop her—at least, until she runs into a charming Frenchman with a secret. At the end of the day, France might reveal itself to be better than she thought.

14. The Holiday (2006)

Christmas-themed and wholesome, The Holiday tells the fateful story of two women who don't even know each other.

Amanda (Cameron Diaz) is a successful self-made overachiever living in Los Angeles, whose boyfriend ends up cheating on her. Iris (Kate Winslet) is a sensitive journalist who finds out that the man she loves led her on and married another.

Amanda and Iris both desperately need holidays, so they... switch homes? In separate countries? Yes! And, of course, they each end up meeting local guys who bring love with them.

Related: The Most Underrated 2000s Romcom Movies

13. The Notebook (2004)

Allie (Rachel McAdams) and Noah (Ryan Gosling) met when they were just teenagers. Her family didn't want them to be together, however, and did everything in their power to keep them apart.

But love always finds a way! They meet again years later and they still remember each other. Will love win this time? The Notebook is another classic romance film that'll make you cry all your tears.

12. The Tiger and the Snow (2005)

Attilio (Roberto Benigni) is a divorced older man with two teenaged daughters, and he's hopelessly in love with his journalist coworker Vittoria (Nicoletta Braschi).

He's constantly trying to win her over, doing things like following her around (as amicably as that can be) and manufacturing ways for them to talk. In return, she's evasive but full of mixed signals.

One day, Vittoria travels to Iraq to interview a subject, but she ends up wounded by the war in that country. Will he go there? Or will he let her go? The Tiger and the Snow is an odd love story that depicts how desperate we can become when we're afraid of losing a loved one.

11. About Time (2013)

About Time is the story of Tim Lake (Domhnall Gleeson), a young man whose entire life flipped on its head on his 21st birthday. Why? Because he learns a secret: the men of the Lake family can time travel!

The film takes us along with Tim in his pursuit of love and happiness. He makes mistakes and use his supernatural ability to fix them. He has a good heart and ultimately makes good choices.

But About Time is far deeper than you might expect from its premise, as this sentimental film explores themes of grief and family.

10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

Charlie (Logan Lerman) is socially awkward. To his surprise one day, two older students—Sam (Emma Watson) and Patrick (Ezra Miller)—decide to befriend him.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a coming-of-age story that engages with themes of sexuality, identity, and belonging. It may talk about romantic love, but also about friendship and platonic attachments to people.

Related: The Best Movies About Social Anxiety

9. Uomo d'Acqua Dolce (1997)

Uomo d'Acqua Dolce is an Italian comedy film about a man named Antonio, who goes to the store to buy mushrooms for his pregnant wife. While there, he gets hit in the head and loses his memory.

He makes it back home five years later, unaware that time has passed—and he finds out that everything has changed. He's lost his family and he'll do everything he can to get them back.

8. Marriage Story (2019)

Not all romantic films are about newly born love stories. Some of the best romantic movies about love stories coming to an end.

That's the case with Marriage Story, which follows the divorce proceedings of Charlie (Adam Driver) and Nicole (Scarlett Johansson).

They loved each other a lot at one point in time, but their marriage has broken and they must navigate that while keeping their family intact. It's heartbreaking yet beautifully compassionate.

Related: The Best Movies About Divorce and Breakups

7. Titanic (1997)

What a classic! Rose (Kate Winslet) is a wealthy girl who's pressured to marry a man she despises, while Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a poor artist with a heart of gold.

The two of them embark on the Titanic's maiden voyage and set out on a transatlantic cruise that'll change their lives forever.

Titanic is a must-watch romantic film that's eager to explore the depths of this unexpected relationship across social classes. The historic shipwreck is just the backdrop to this drama-laden tale.

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6. The English Patient (1996)

Set toward the end of the Second World War, The English Patient centers on a young nurse named Hana (Juliette Binoche) as she tends to the wounds of a badly burned plane crash victim (Ralph Fiennes).

Through a series of flashbacks, the man recalls his life, his regrets, and his lost love. It's a poetic rendition of the pilot's story, who narrates his past while Hana overcomes her own grief through his tales.

5. Amour (2012)

Most of us want to grow old with someone by our side, but many of us don't know what all those years will have in store for us.

Amour is a bittersweet French film about a long-lasting couple who have to face down the troubles and difficulties of old age.

Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) are both in their eighties and have been together forever. One day, Anne suffers a stroke—and their bond is tested in ways unlike ever before.

What is love truly about? Amour shows you plainly on screen, and you won't be able to forget. Beware: this is not an easy watch.

4. Saturn in Opposition (2007)

Saturn in Opposition (originally titled Saturno Contro) is an Italian-Turkish film about a group of friends and their shared stories in the aftermath of one of their member's sudden death.

One couple in particular, Davide (Pierfrancesco Favino) and Lorenzo (Luca Argentero), have been together for a while and even now share an apartment. However, things take a sharp turn when an irreversible tragedy befalls one of them.

Saturn in Opposition is far from a happy film as it engages with themes of grief, death, and loss. Yet, its take on life is quite optimistic, and by the end you'll be bawling as you call your loved ones.

3. Atonement (2007)

Unjustly charged with a crime he didn't commit, Robbie (James McAvoy) will have to leave his beloved Cecilia (Keira Knightley).

Why was he charged? Because his lover's sister, Briony (Saoirse Ronan), saw something she didn't understand and misinterpreted.

Convinced that she's doing something right, Briony changes the futures of both lovers forever—and then must live with guilt and remorse for it.

Atonement is a devastating love story that engages with heavy themes. While it's an incredible movie, it's not an easy watch.

Related: The Best British Movie Actresses of All Time

2. A Star Is Born (2018)

In A Star Is Born, Ally (Lady Gaga) dreams of being a singer, but her career has never taken off like she hoped it would.

One day, destiny comes knocking on her door when the troubled-but-successful musician Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) asks her to join him for a concert. It's an opportunity she can't refuse.

A Star Is Born is partly about Ally's singing career, but more importantly about her love story with Jack. It's not a lighthearted movie and should be picked carefully if you are extremely sensitive.

Related: The Best Movies Starring Famous Musicians

1. Brokeback Mountain (2005)

Brokeback Mountain centers on Ennis (Heath Ledger) and Jack (Jake Gyllenhaal), who are two ranch workers who spend a season up on Brokeback Mountain only to fall in love.

But open love isn't easy for two men in their position, with Ennis particularly frightful of embracing his homosexuality ever since he was a kid and saw a man tortured and killed for suspected homosexuality.

Brokeback Mountain isn't just a contender for greatest cinematic love story of all time, but it's deservingly remembered as one of the best movies ever made, period.

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