If there's one thing the 1980s excelled in — other than accessorizing — it was romantic films. With transcendent lines like, "Nobody puts Baby in a corner," 80s romance movies have left an indelible mark on pop culture. Now that doesn't mean every romantic movie from the 80s deserves a rewatch, but these are the must-watch 80s romances we can't get enough of.
Somewhere in Time (1980)
If Outlander is anything to go off of, time-travel romances are here to stay. In honor of that thriving genre, we put our vote for the highly underrated movie Somewhere in Time.
What makes this one so special is its unusual narrative structure. While you get to see Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour's characters fall in love, you're also faced with the futility of it. It's the ultimate lesson of how loving someone for a moment is better than not having loved them at all.
Watch Somewhere in Time for free on Tubi.
If you're a part of the queer community, then you know exactly why Xanadu makes this list. It's got a glorious post-disco aesthetic with Olivia Newton John in her most effervescent role. It's the kind of movie that makes a real visual impression on you — even if you can’t remember a bit about the plot. But with how Greek myth romance retellings have blown up BookTok, we think this myth-inspired one had to make the cut.
You can rent Xanadu on Amazon Prime for just under $4.
Grease 2 (1982)
Grease 2 is the critically panned sequel to the movie musical titan Grease. Although few people remember it, the movie gave us the iconic debut of Michelle Pfieffer and her romance with nerd-turned-greaser Maxwell Caulfied. Couple that with not-so-subtle music numbers about teenage hormones and dose of early 60s fashion, and you've got a cult classic you can't help but revisit again and again.
Terms of Endearment (1983)
Romance isn’t always sunshine and rainbows, and Terms of Endearment is the ultimate tearjerker that proves the point. Sometimes you fall in love and out of love, and back in love again. The fraught family tragedy that plays in the background of Shirley McClaine and Debra Winger's own love stories make the romantic moments all the sweeter.
Valley Girl (1983)
Is Valley Girl a prestige film that deserves a place on the AFI Top 100? Absolutely not. But does it capture pure 80s teenage culture in an hour and thirty minutes? Totally. But what really cements it on our list is that it introduced us to the wonderfully wacky and strange actor that is Nicolas Cage.
Watch Valley Girl for free on Tubi.
A Room With a View (1985)
Before she was Tim Burton's muse and everyone's favorite zany character actress, Helena Bonham Carter was the preeminent English Rose of cinema. The best of these period pieces is A Room With a View, the film adaptation of E.M Forster's eponymous novel. If you love historical romances, forbidden love, and class struggles, then this is the 80s romance movie for you.
The Fly (1986)
We're 100% positive you never expected to find a horror movie remake on a list of great 80s romance films. Yet, we can't help but feel like Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis' tragic romance deserves a spot on this list. Don’t let typical Cronenberg body horror distract you from these two characters' deep devotion to one another. Because an act of true love like killing your metamorphosizing lover can be horrific and merciful at the same time.
You can rent The Fly on Amazon Prime for just under $4.
Dirty Dancing (1987)
Out of all the shmaltzy teen films to come out of the 1980s, Dirty Dancing is the one that's stuck with us. There's nothing better than reliving those teenage fantasies of falling in love over summer break and rebelling against your parents, and Dirty Dancing is chock full of it. Plus, we're a sucker for a great dance number.
The Princess Bride (1987)
If you grew up in the 80s or early 90s, your barometer for a good man was Westley. Much like Penelope and Odysseus were destined to come back together, nothing could keep Buttercup and Westley apart. Couple this frothy fairytale love story with iconic moments like the rodents of unusual size and Inigo Montoya's triumphant revenge scene and you get one great 80s movie.
Watch The Princess Bride on Disney+.
Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)
It wouldn't be a list about 80s movies if a John Hughes flick didn't make an appearance. In our opinion, Some Kind of Wonderful outstrips many of his other 80s teen films. Simply, the characters feel less two-dimensional than many of his previous ones and the romance feels believable. Unlike Pretty in Pink, the relationships feel real and lived-in, which makes them hold up 30+ years later.
Watch Some Kind of Wonderful on Paramount+.
When Harry Met Sally…(1989)
When Harry Met Sally is the last great 80s romcom and closes out the decade with the most unexpected screen pairing of all time — Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan. This film takes the friends-to-lovers trope to new heights, which makes it stand out from many of the 80s romcoms that came before it.
You can rent When Harry Met Sally on Amazon Prime for just under $5.
Nobody Does Romance Like the 1980s
Sure, there are many 80s trends we're glad got left behind, but these romance movies aren't one of them. If you've blown through this list and can't get enough of that tacky 80s aesthetic, take an hour to watch the Black Mirror episode "San Junipero." Your heart will be full to bursting if you do.