The 10 Best Romance Movies Directed by Women

Everyone loves a good rom-com, but these films, in particular, are by women, for women. Sometimes, films within the romantic comedy space aren’t made by women and thus don’t always work for the audience they’re written for; the love life of a woman presented through the lens of a male writer/director is very different from the kind of understanding or empathy a female writer/director could give to the same story. Since these films are directed by women, they hold a special place in the rom-com lineage, and many have become classics (cult or otherwise) over the years. When women are given the space to create meaningful pieces, it benefits everyone involved and everyone who watches.


Everyone needs a good romantic comedy to watch with their significant other or even just for a nice relaxing night in. The perfect romantic comedy can be hard for any couple to find, but there are movies on this list for every rom-com lover (and even for the haters). If you’re looking for a romance to watch, these movies should be at the top of your list; the women who direct them understand the women who star in them and have made them for the women (and everyone else) who watch them.

Update December 17, 2023: This article has been updated with even more great romantic films directed by women directors that are worth checking out and where to stream them.


10 Little Women – Greta Gerwig

In the aftermath of the American Civil War, the March sisters – Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy – have their own great adventures in New England. As they grow into young ladies, each sister faces situations that not only shape but define who they will become. Passionate Jo longs to be a writer and dismisses the idea of a romance and artistic Amy yearns for her dreams to be realized. Despite many obstacles, their unbreakable bond as sisters keeps their hopes alive.

Why It’s One Of The Best

Having been adapted over and over again, it is fascinating how, under Greta Gerwing’s careful gaze, the timeless tale written by Louisa May Alcott becomes more fresh and modern. By focusing on the sisters as independent young women with dreams and desires, willing to carve their own paths, Gerwig honors the source material. Little Women jumps between timeless to show the emotional core of the movie – which is the March sisters’ journey of growing up. Overall, Gerwig brings an exquisite humor and humanity to this romantic classic. Stream on Starz

Centered around Lucy, a 20-something art gallery assistant living in New York, The Broken Hearts Gallery is an infectious and beautiful rom-com. Lucy has had her fair share of romantic tragedies, but none have affected her as deeply as her latest breakup. When she accidentally meets Nick, a hotelier, she tries to channel her vision and sorrow into moving on. After several attempts, she finally convinces Nick to lend her a spot in his hotel space, where she’d create a pop-up corner for people to leave behind items from past relationships that no longer serve them.

Why It’s One Of The Best

The Broken Hearts Gallery is directed by Natalie Krinsky, and it is her first feature outing as a director. To say the film is anything but witty, relatable, and feel-good would be unfair. Krinsky brings sensitivity and nuance to Lucy’s character. While healing, Lucy doesn’t just jump headfirst into a new romance and instead navigates friendship. It is the authentic exploration of modern relationships and the messiness of romance that makes the movie one of the most promising and impressive directorial debuts in the genre. Stream on Starz

8 Portrait of A Lady On Fire – Céline Sciamma

A true cinematic triumph, Portrait of A Lady On Fire takes you to 18th-century France. Marianne is a young woman commissioned to paint the wedding portrait of Héloïse, who has just left the convent. Because Héloïse is reluctant towards marriage, Marianne is advised to be a companion to her. She spends her days with Héloïse, observing her and capturing her likeness without her knowing. As the two women exist in one another’s orbit, their intimacy grows and eventually, when Héloïse allows Marianne to see the real her, they fall in love.

Why It’s One Of The Best

The French romance won worldwide acclaim for its subtle and sublime artistry as it let a profound love story of two women unfold at a mesmerizing pace. Céline Sciamma directs with patience, and it shows because the movie is shot like a painting itself, with each scene featuring an aching romantic tension. Through her characters, Sciamma crafts a haunting work of female desire, how it was forbidden, and how its power champions across centuries. Stream on Hulu

7 Enough Said – Nicole Holofcener

Enough Said

Enough Said

Release Date
September 18, 2013

Rating
PG-13

In Enough Said, Julia Louis-Dreyfus stars as Eva, a divorced massage therapist and mother of a teenage daughter who may seem fine but is scared of being alone once her daughter leaves for college. She forms a connection with Albert, a kind and funny man she meets at a party. Eva begins a new relationship with him and, meanwhile, also becomes friends with a poet named Marianne, who is actually Albert’s ex-wife. With Marianne’s harsh commentary and her own instant chemistry with Albert, Eva must figure out who she wants by her side.

Why It’s One Of The Best

Written and directed by Nicole Holofcener, Enough Said is a perceptive romantic comedy about relationships, assumptions, and growing up. Under her observant direction, the film’s bittersweet humor seems all the more relatable. Each of her characters contain a deep sense of humanity. Golden Globe Award winner James Gandolfini shines in his role as Albert. The film is widely praised for its ability to understand mature romances and the messy beauty of them. Rent on Apple TV

6 Past Lives – Celine Song

Past Lives

Past Lives

Release Date
August 31, 2023

Director
Celine Song

Rating
PG-13

Read Our Review

A remarkable feature directorial debut from Celine Song, Past Lives chronicles the life of two childhood friends, Na-young and Hae-sung, who harbor feelings for each other. But when Na Young’s family decides to immigrate to Toronto, and she changes her name to Nora, they lose touch. Over a decade later, they meet on Facebook and stay connected through video calls despite different time zones, but because of their own commitments, their bond fizzles out once again. Later, when Hae-sung finally arrives in New York to meet Nora, who’s married to Arthur, they share a profound weekend.

Why It’s One Of The Best

Song makes a notable debut with Past Lives by crafting an ethereal experience that explores the idea of love, fate, and the intertwining of souls across lives. At the core of the movie is the concept of “In-yun,” A Korean word that translates to providence and suggests that every tiny, insignificant encounter you have with a person means you shared something with them in a previous life. What Nora and Hae-sung have cannot be labeled, but through Song’s dreamlike and vulnerable lens, it becomes quietly obvious. Greta Lee, Teo Yoo, and John Magaro are absolutely brilliant in their roles, elevating the film to a greater status. Rent on Apple TV

5 The Holiday – Nancy Meyers

While it is normally thought of as solely a Christmas movie, The Holiday is also just a fabulous rom-com. The film follows two women, one living in Los Angeles and the other in London, who decide to participate in a home swap over the Christmas holiday. The two women are both in emotional periods of their lives, having both been cheated on in the recent past. Once the swap occurs, each woman falls in love with the city that’s new to them. Not only is this story the dream for some women, but it also tells a beautiful story of love and friendship.

Why It’s One Of The Best

The film is directed by Nancy Meyers, a widely renowned filmmaker who is well-known for her work on Private Benjamin, the 1998 version of The Parent Trap, and many others. Her work on The Holiday was not critically acclaimed but was well-loved by audiences around the world upon release. The film has developed a cult following over the last few years, which has increased almost exponentially during the pandemic due to most people’s inability to travel and desire to find new places. Stream on Hulu.

Related:

The 12 Best Rom-Coms on Netflix, Ranked

4 Love & Basketball – Gina Prince-Bythewood

Love & Basketball is a romantic comedy that seems to have been lost in the throng of other rom-com movies released in the early 2000s. The film follows Monica and Quincy, two basketball stars who both strive to play professional basketball when they grow up. The two childhood sweethearts struggle to continue their relationship as each of their basketball careers ebb and flow. The simple but heartwarming film was written and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood and produced by Academy Award-winning director Spike Lee.

Why It’s One Of The Best

Prince-Bythewood is best known for her work on Beyond the Lights and The Secret Life of Bees, which, along with Love & Basketball, are two of the greatest films by Black women directors. This feature directorial debut and was released to critical acclaim but minimal commercial success. However, the film has gained a large following in the last 22 years and has cemented its place as a rom-com classic in pop culture. Stream on Tubi TV

3 Lost in Translation – Sofia Coppola

Lost in Translation is one of the more critically acclaimed and well-known romantic comedies directed by a woman. The film centers around Bob Harris, a formerly famous actor, and Charlotte, a recent college graduate who followed her husband to Tokyo. While the film isn’t blatantly romantic, it does carry the tone of a romantic comedy overall. The intimate friendship which develops between Bill Murray’s and Scarlett Johansson’s characters amidst the hazy music and bright neon of Japan is truly special.

Why It’s One Of The Best

The film is directed by Sofia Coppola, daughter of famed director Frances Ford Coppola, and famed director in her own right. Lost in Translation was only Coppola’s second film, but it won her an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, and has stood the test of time and remains beloved to this day. Rent on Apple TV

Related:

Best 90s Romantic Comedies, Ranked

2 Clueless – Amy Heckerling

Clueless

Clueless

Release Date
July 19, 1995

Director
Amy Heckerling

Rating
PG-13

Clueless is just about everyone’s favorite teen rom-com, but many don’t know that the film was directed by Amy Heckerling. The film centers around Cher Horowitz and mainly focuses on her day-to-day life, but does involve her romantic entanglement with her former step-brother. That may sound super weird, but the film is actually a satirical parody of the rom-com genre, and yet one which participates in the very thing it parodies, and is often just adorable and delightful.

Why It’s One Of The Best

Heckerling is a successful director aside from Clueless, having directed the legendary Fast Times at Ridgemont High, along with Look Who’s Talking. Clueless is filmed with the tone and perspective of a woman, something which can be seen in every aspect of the film. Stream on Paramount+

1 You’ve Got Mail – Nora Ephron

As every rom-com lover knows, Nora Ephron is the most iconic filmmaker of the genre. Some may say that her best piece is You’ve Got Mail, with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. A modernized remake of Ernst Lubitsch’s classic The Shop Around the Corner, the film follows Ryan and Hanks, who are enemies in the world of the movie but meet in an AOL chatroom where they do not know each other’s names. Ryan is a small bookstore owner, and Hanks is helping to create a large bookstore chain around the corner from Ryan’s store.

Why It’s One Of The Best

This is the perfect movie for any fans of the classic “enemies to lovers” trope. The film flows fantastically due to Ephron’s directing, and is acclaimed as one of the best romantic comedies of all time. This, along with the director’s film Sleepless in Seattle, might be the greatest modern film of the genre, or at least of the ’90s. Rent on Apple TV

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