Love at the movies: New Zealand’s 10 most beloved rom-coms

Couple watching TV

With the festive season in full swing, what better way to catch a breather than spending an evening on the sofa watching a romantic comedy? In our recent survey of 200 NZ singles, 92% of Kiwis admitted they like to watch rom-coms with a date,¹ inspiring us to find out which rom-com is the nation’s favourite:

The top 10 best rom-coms (according to New Zealanders):

10. Something’s Gotta Give (2003)

At number 10 is a film from one of the all-time best rom-com directors – Nancy Meyers. A smart comedy about over-50s dating, Something’s Gotta Give takes the old tale of opposites attracting and gives it fresh, funny life. Erica Barry (Diane Keaton) and Harry Sanborn (Jack Nicholson) are two successful singles in their late 50s/early 60s with wildly different approaches to life – but those differences might just make them perfect for each other.

In this charming clip (that’s sure to seem familiar to anyone getting to grips with online dating), Erica and Harry start to feel sparks via instant message..

9. The Holiday (2006)

This Christmas rom-com tells two love stories side by side, one set in rural England and the other in sunny LA. One of the few movies to show warm-weather Christmas scenes that Kiwis can really relate too (along with the classic snowy Christmas scenes), it’s the ideal choice to dial up the romance as the festive season continues.

Here’s Amanda (Cameron Diaz) and Graham (Jude Law) saying an emotional goodbye to each other. But is it really a goodbye for good?

8. Dirty Dancing (1987)

It’s 1963 and Frances “Baby” Houseman (Jennifer Grey) is on holiday with her family at an up-market resort in the Catskill Mountains. The independent-minded Baby is far more comfortable with the working-class staff at resort than with her well-off fellow guests, and it’s not long before she falls for handsome dance instructor Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze). The feeling’s mutual – but can their budding romance survive the class barriers that divide them?

In this iconic clip, Johnny and Baby are showing why neither one should be put in the corner. Will Baby be able to cap off their dance with a gravity defying lift?

7. Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)

This unashamedly English film where Hugh Grant plays the sweet and bumbling Charles was made on a relatively low-budget by Hollywood standards, but has gone down in history as one of the best rom-coms of all time – and is certainly one of NZ’s favourites.

Here’s Charles and Carrie (Andie MacDowell) waking up after their first night spent together.

6. Notting Hill (1999)

Hugh Grant makes his second appearance on the list, doing what he does best by playing a lovable London gentleman who falls for a woman he believes is way out of his league, a famous American actress played by the radiant Julia Roberts. However, love doesn’t care about which league you see yourself in…

Here’s the scene when William (Hugh Grant) and Anna (Julia Roberts) spontaneously kiss after just meeting for the first time!

Photo credit: Everett Collection /

5. Sleepless in Seattle (1993)

We asked our members which decade had the best rom-coms, and the 90s was the runaway winner, taking 40% of the vote. Films from other decades didn’t even come close – the 00s took second place, but only managed 27%, while movies from this decade were in third place with 13%. When it comes to romance on film, the 90s apparently rule and, as Sleepless in Seattle was one of the most popular rom-coms of the 90s, it’s no wonder it made our top five!

Here’s a clip from when Sam (Tom Hanks) sees Annie (Meg Ryan) for the first time. Is it love at first sight?

4. The Notebook (2004)

Noah and Allie’s romance begins in 1940s South Carolina and spans the 20th century. It pulls on the heartstrings of the viewer, as we’re left to wonder whether Allie will choose her first-love Noah or her fiancé back home in New York. If you’re like the 17% of our survey respondents who think that a rom-com should make you cry, then this is the ideal tear-jerker!

Here’s Noah (Ryan Gosling) asking Allie (Rachel McAdams) what she wants in life. Is it him or her fiancé?

3. When Harry met Sally (1989)

Can men and woman really ever be just friends? This film asks this question throughout as Sally (Meg Ryan) and Harry (Billy Crystal) navigate their way through moving to New York and doomed relationships with other people, all the while falling deeper into their ‘friendship’.

Here’s Harry turning up at the party Sally is at on New Year’s Eve. Are they going to kiss when the clock strikes midnight?

2. Pretty Woman (1990)

This well-loved rags-to-riches story of a prostitute falling for a business man has been voted NZ’s second-favourite rom-com and, incidentally, stars the woman voted NZ’s second-favourite leading lady (Julia Roberts), alongside NZ’s second-favourite leading man (Richard Gere).

Here’s the iconic scene of Vivian (Julia Roberts) singing in the bathtub not knowing that Edward (Richard Gere) is watching her.

Photo credit: s_bukley /

And New Zealand’s best rom-com is…

1. Love, Actually (2003)

Appropriately enough for the festive season, NZ’s favourite rom-com is the most romantic Christmas movie of all. This fantastic rom-com intertwines multiple romantic storylines, from a boy’s first crush to the Prime Minister falling for his housekeeper. It’ll have you crying over one scene and then rolling around in fits of laughter over another. Not only that, it allows Hugh Grant to make his third appearance on this list – meaning that it’s no wonder New Zealanders voted him the favourite romantic leading man of all time.

Overall though, it’s Love Actually that’s the big winner – so here’s a lovely and touching clip of Jaime (Colin Firth) flirting with Aurelia (Lúcia Monez), both in their own languages.

Want to know NZ’s favorite romantic hero and heroine?

NZ’s favourite romantic hero

1. Hugh Grant (18%)
2. Richard Gere (17%)
3. Patrick Swayze (13%)
4. Ryan Gosling (11%)
f. Tom Hanks (10%)

NZ’s favourite romantic heroine

1. Sandra Bullock (22%)
2. Julia Roberts (21%)
3. Audrey Hepburn (12%)
4. Rachel McAdams (9%)
5. Meg Ryan (8%)

We hope you enjoyed our run-down of the ten best rom-coms of all time! Did we miss your favourite from the list? If you have any suggestions for the rom-coms you like the most, please write them in the comments box below, or get in touch at [email protected]


1 This and all statistics in this article based on the EliteSingles ‘rom-com’ survey, 2016. Sample size: 200 New Zealanders.

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