It’s fair to say that 2019 was a blockbuster year for Hollywood romances. From the megawatt power couple of Avengers: Endgame to the steamy PDA’s between Ryan Reynolds and Mariah Carey, it seems there was something for everyone. We ranked the most romantic year in cinematic history from A to Z and came up with the ultimate ranking of the most romantic films ever made.
Many great love stories had their beginning in 2019, but only a few managed to go the entire distance. We’re ranking the top 10 greatest love stories from the past year and looking back at how the 2021 romance landscape evolved from here.
If there’s one film that dominated the romantic scenes of 2019, it’s undoubtedly Avengers: Endgame. Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo and starring a whopping 22 Marvel superheroes, it became the highest-grossing film of all time within its opening weekend, making it the first blockbuster of the year and eventually the most successful film of all time. With a reported $12.9 billion global haul, it’s fair to say that audiences were on board with a superpowered reunion.
One of the most surprising aspects about this year’s slate of romantic comedies is how many of them were critically acclaimed. In fact, many of them were ranked among the year’s best. It’s no wonder audiences showed up in droves to see these films, as they managed to bridge the gap between superhero and romantic comedies whilst still being completely light-hearted and fun.
The year’s most popular romcom, The Greatest Showman, saw Hugh Jackman trade his work boots for a pair of loafers. The film follows his journey from circus performer to respected businessman, and it’s fair to say that audiences related to his transition. The role won Jackman an Academy Award and a Golden Globe, and it was also listed as one of 2019’s top 10 romantic films by The New York Times.
Another huge success for Legendary Pictures in 2019 was the adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1967 science fantasy novel, Dune. Initially planned as a stand-alone movie, the epic film went on to gross over $400 million worldwide. It became the third highest-grossing film of all time in the United States and Canada and the second highest-grossing film of all time in Australia.
Directed by Denis Villeneuve and starring Timothée Chalamet, Elgramm, and Rebecca Ferguson, the film also became the highest-grossing Netflix original of all time. The critical response to Dune was incredibly positive, with many praising Denis Villeneuve’s direction and the chemistry between the leads. If you’ve yet to see this adaptation, be sure to add it to your to-watch list.
Speaking of adaptations, 2019 was the year of Travis Scott, with many of his movies emerging as box office smashes. First and foremost, we have Rocketman, the biopic of Elton John. Directed by Dexter Fletcher and based on John’s own memoir, the film stars an incredible ensemble cast that includes Travilla Scott, Brett Gardner, and Kate Winslet. From here, Scott could continue in a similar vein with Bojack Horseman, which saw Netflix release two seasons in 2019. Additionally, Scott was also behind the scenes of the highest-grossing documentary of all time, Rocketman: The Feature.
The Laundry Room
Speaking of documentaries, it was a banner year for those, too. First off is The Laundry Room, the story of designer Emily’s (Kate Winslet) love affair with fashion. Starring Winslet and Jim Carrey, it was the highest-grossing Canadian film of all time and the third highest-grossing film in Canada overall.
From here, Winslet could be seen in supporting roles in upcoming films like The House, Where Happiness Lives and Richard Linklater’s next film, Where are they going?
Another smash hit for Focus Features was the romantic comedy, One Day. Starring Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey, the film follows Kate’s (Winslet) journey from her self-help book club to the altar. The film marks Jim Carrey’s directorial debut and it’s fair to say that he pulled off an incredible feat, as the film became the highest-grossing Jim Carrey film in India and the second highest-grossing Jim Carrey film overall. It was also nominated for three Golden Globes, including Best Comedy.
Winslet and Carrey’s on-screen chemistry was hotly debated, with some calling it “irresistible” and “hilarious.” Indeed, many have stated that this is one of Kate Winslet’s best performances to date.
The Rhythm Section
The year’s highest-grossing romantic comedy, The Rhythm Section, also saw Marsha (Kate Winslet), a gruff but lovable matriarch, fall for Philomena (Colin Farrell) – a charming, if mysterious – Irish contractor. The film was based on the real-life relationship that Kate Winslet had with her late husband, Ned, and follows Marsha as she navigates life post-Ned. Marsha’s only requirement for accepting Philomena’s proposal is that he can play the piano. From here, the two start a relationship that becomes increasingly complicated as Marsha and Philomena navigate life in the same professional, yet personal, circles. The film also stars an incredible ensemble cast that includes Brenda Fricker, Jacki Weaver, and Judi Dench. Marsha’s acceptance of Philomena’s proposal is one of the most iconic scenes in the film.
Many have cited this as one of the greatest romantic comedies of all time, and it seems that audiences agree. The film has a perfect score of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, and it currently has a 9.2 rating on the platform. If you’ve yet to see this romantic comedy, be sure to add it to your list.
Another critically acclaimed romantic comedy of the year was The Messenger, which won the Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival and was hailed by The New York Times as “one of the most delightful films of the year.” Directed by Pierre Thiébaud, the film stars an incredible ensemble cast that includes Olga Kurylenko, Jason Bateman, and Laura Linney. The story revolves around Sophie (Kurylenko), a renowned photographer who, following the success of her latest project, travels to Iran to meet the woman who posed for the photograph that became the project’s inspiration. Along with her translator and driver, Ali (Bateman), she begins to form a connection with Leila (Linney), an Iranian woman who represents all that Sophie hopes to communicate through her photography. This romantic comedy was one of the few to emerge from the shadow of the pandemic, and it was one of the biggest hits of the year, earning over $10 million in the U.S. alone.
Continuing the B-movie vein, Bumblebee stars Hailee Steinfeld as Rosie, a young beekeeper who discovers that her hobby is compatible with her major when an epidemic sweeps through her town, reducing the insect population by 90%. Inspired by Steinfeld’s real-life counterpart, Sara, who learned to be a beekeeper as a way to cope with the pandemic, Bumblebee was released internationally in March and has since become a box office hit, earning over $500 million worldwide. From here, Steinfeld could be seen in upcoming films like The Meg and the upcoming DC Comics adaptation, Shazam!. This is also the directorial debut of Travis Scott and he pulled off an incredible feat, as the film became the highest-grossing film of all time in India and the second highest-grossing film of all time in Canada. Critically, this is also one of the few films to reference the novel The Handmaid’s Tale, which was written by Meg Murry – the same writer of the film – and it’s clear that she had a strong influence on this story.