Date-night movies are genre-bending and vast, which can be both a blessing and a curse. If you've ever spent what was supposed to be a Netflix-and-chill session going on a trailer-watching tangent that takes up the whole date, you're not alone. With so many options at our fingertips, it's hard to decide on a movie. This is especially true when you want to pick something sexy and/or romantic, without choosing a cheesy or boring film. The good news is that some of the steamiest movies can also be comedies, thrillers, and sci-fi flicks.
When you want to set the mood for date night, choose from one of these failsafe movie options. Our list has something for everyone, from romantic tragedies, to raunchy and controversial indies, to titillating thrillers, to dramedies with a sexy spin. Scroll through our favorite date-night movies to curate your own watch list.
Here are our picks for the best date night movies of all time.
Stranger by the Lake (2014)
Dubbed a "modern-day Hitchcockian masterpiece," Stranger by the Lake is a movie that will grip you and leave a lasting impression. The French thriller spotlights foul play as well as summer affairs, and also employs plenty of cinematic motifs and devices to keep film buffs on their toes. It's set on a scenic, picture-perfect lake where two men meet and fall for each other, as they also become the prime suspects in a murder investigation when a corpse is discovered nearby.
Available on: Amazon Prime Video
Theodore, portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix, roams around a futuristic iteration of Los Angeles as he navigates the dissolution of his marriage, while falling in and out of love with his personalized operating system, Samantha (Scarlett Johansson). What sounds like a creepy and far-fetched concept quickly becomes highly believable. With an inventive plot like this one, the film begs some complex questions, like the meaning of connection. Not only does this film force us to wrestle with the ever-evolving notions of personhood and love, but it also teaches the trickiness of a partnership that's analogous to an owner/object dynamic.
Basic Instinct (1992)
If you haven't seen this Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone classic, date night is the perfect occasion to do so. You've got the movie tropes of a vulnerable detective and, as Amazon Video describes it, a "cold, calculating, and beautiful novelist with an insatiable sexual appetite" for attractive murderers, and a gorgeous, potentially deranged therapist (Jeanne Tripplehorn). When Stone's character becomes a suspect in her rock-star boyfriend's murder case, she and Douglas become entangled in a steamy love affair that'll give you an excuse to cozy up next to your date when the plot thickens into something scarier.
This movie is emotionally moving, introspective, intimate, evocative, and illuminating. It follows one character, Chiron, as he grows up in Miami and navigates his sexuality and finds mentorship and love from unconventional figures in his life. Though there are many moments of heartbreak, Moonlight, which is so aptly named, ultimately triumphs, thanks to the small gestures of empathy and representations of all sorts of love. This film grapples with the issue of identity formation amidst adversity, but it also invites the viewer to exercise deep introspection and empathy.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2009)
When American friends venture to Barcelona for the summer, they both fall for a handsome local artist named Juan (Javier Bardem). The feeling is mutual, but he also still has a thing for his erratic ex, María Elena (Penélope Cruz). It's full of steamy passion, Woody Allen-style banter, and whimsical music, all set against the romance and charm of a European city. It also doesn't hurt that the cast is full of Hollywood heartthrobs.
The Brown Bunny (2003)
The Brown Bunny is infamous for what has become known as "the blowjob scene." Starring Chloë Sevigny and Vincent Gallo, it's so much more than a sexually explicit movie. It follows Gallo's character as he travels across the country by motorcycle, seducing, and later abruptly abandoning, various women when he's consumed by memories of his former lover (Sevigny). We don't want to spoil anything, but let's just say that the audience learns a whole lot once the two reunite on screen. It's emotional, thought-provoking, and highly controversial, so it's probably not the best thing to watch on a first date.
Available on: iTunes
Blue Valentine (2010)
You might want to watch the first half of this movie on your date, pause it halfway through, and then finish it on your own later, when you're in the mood for waterworks. Blue Valentine traces Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling's relationship as it progresses from a youthful, loving adventure to a strained, unraveling marriage. The film explores how love changes over time, so let's just say that there are a lot of mixed emotions—but they share an undeniable connection that makes it fun to watch. There are plenty of long and brooding silences, charming serenades, and seriously steamy moments between the two.
Blue Is the Warmest Color (2013)
Following two young girls as they fall in love and explore their budding sexualities, Blue Is the Warmest Color is an artful and thought-provoking movie. We see them as they grow from high school students to young adults. The movie spans several years, so the viewer gets to follow the two women as they grow both in and out of their relationship, which is a brilliant way to build tension.
The Graduate (1967)
This Dustin Hoffman flick is life-changing. Between the dedicated melancholic Simon & Garfunkel score, iconic love affair, and resonant post-college mood, it's hard to pick just one reason to love The Graduate. It's innocent and playful, and has a fun "forbidden love" angle that's fun to watch unfold. There's also plenty of room for laughter and delight.
Nymphomaniac: Volume 1 (2014)
Brought to us by the prolific filmmaker Lars von Trier, Nymphomaniac is a narratively gripping film that also delivers a nonstop string of titillating scenes. A notoriously controversial director, von Trier isn't exactly known for being shy with his movies. Charlotte Gainsbourg portrays the protagonist (though the sex scenes are played by stunt doubles and porn stars), Joe, who is a self-diagnosed nymphomaniac. The movie is a series of Joe's flashbacks, each marking a sexual chapter of her libidinous life. It also stars Christian Slater, Uma Thurman, and Shia LaBeouf, to name a few.
Only Lovers Left Alive (2014)
What's a story about everlasting love without a little vampire action? Complete with a killer soundtrack of hypnotizing, trance-like music, enchanting visuals, and stunning sets, as well as the unconventionally charming Tilda Swinton as the lead, Only Lovers Left Alive is a sensual must-watch. It follows a love affair that spans several centuries, so there's plenty of time for risqué drama to unfold.
Monster's Ball (2002)
Here's a complicated and award-winning film with a ton of moving parts to keep track of. We're talking death row and an unexpected love affair between two very sexy Hollywood actors (Halle Berry and Billy Bob Thorton) who fall hopelessly in love amidst the drama and heartbreak. It presents the stark reality and ethical battles of the criminal justice system, so it's definitely worth watching for that reason alone. There's plenty to rethink and analyze.
Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
Eyes Wide Shut is arguably the OG of all erotic dramas. Starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, this film is at once narrow and detail-oriented, expansive and far-reaching. Since it tells the tale of a man who ventures out on an overnight pilgrimage of sexual exploration after his wife admits that she almost cheated on him, this movie definitely doesn't skimp on steamy rendezvous.
Dirty Dancing (1987)
If you’re looking for sex appeal as well as unforgettable dance moves, Dirty Dancing is an iconic film that takes center stage. Not only will you be rooting for Baby and Johnny, but the steamy scene where the pair practice their moves and reveal their undeniable chemistry will surely inspire you and your partner to make some moves of your own.
The Choice (2016)
This flick is based on a Nicholas Sparks novel in which neighbors Travis and Gabby basically fall in love upon first meeting. It takes a little time for them to get out of their respective relationships before they can be together, but when they do, a life-changing event occurs that may just affect the rest of their lives.
About Time (2013)
You can watch this movie by yourself, with your girlfriends, or on date night. The plot will make you realize how wonderful all the parts of your life that tend to go unnoticed really are, and will leave you feeling grateful for even the boring moments.
American Beauty (1999)
Similar to many of the films released in 1999, this movie explores the male gaze and the sexualization of teenage femininity, as well as the simultaneity of dystopia and beauty in a banal suburban existence. As expected with such complex yet accessible themes about the tensions that arose in the new millennium, expect to pause this movie every two seconds just to take in the captivating cinematography.
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003)
You've probably seen this movie 10,000 times by now, but it's almost impossible to get tired of. Kate Hudson + Matthew McConaughey = rom-com gold. Even though it's technically a chick flick, it's one of those movies literally everyone loves.
Call Me by Your Name (2017)
Call Me by Your Name has everything you could want in a film. It's set in a fantastically romantic seaside town on the Italian coast, there are tons of coming-of-age lessons about self-discovery and sexuality, and you won't be able to get enough of the sweet and steamy romance. Both uplifting and heart-wrenching, it'll make you feel it all and yearn for young love and an Italian vacation (or both, preferably at the same time).
Midnight in Paris (2011)
If you've ever been to Paris or are dreaming of visiting, this film is nothing short of perfection. It'll transport you straight to the charming, quaint streets of Montmarte and have you dreaming of picnics along the Seine. Could you ask for anything more romantic on your date night?
The Big Sick (2017)
The Big Sick is what all rom-coms should be: heartwarming and touching, but also realistic and intelligent. The movie follows the real-life love affair of comedian Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon—along with all the challenges of modern love and cross-cultural differences many millennials face today.
The Spectacular Now (2013)
This film, starring Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller, is about a high school romance between an unlikely couple. He's hard-partying while she's driven and focused. It's the story of a first love and is heartfelt, emotional, and inspiring.
Something's Gotta Give (2003)
If you don't know what to watch on date night, go for a Nancy Meyers film. This one stars Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson, and you can expect plenty of romance, laughs, and design envy.
Cate Blanchett plays the namesake woman of this period film, which begins as she is doing some Christmas shopping at the department store where Rooney Mara's character, Therese, works. They have an instant attraction, and when Carol accidentally leaves her gloves on a display counter, Therese finds her address to return them. This begins their secret affair, which includes attempts to hide it from Carol's ex-husband as he fights her for custody of their daughter. Things, of course, don't go as planned, but you'll enjoy the beautiful cinematography, costumes, and performances all the same.
P.S. I Love You (2007)
This movie has it all: romance, beautiful Irish scenery, and Gerard Butler. But have tissues handy. Hilary Swank's character loses her husband (Butler) to a brain tumor, and revisits all the places they fell in love. It's impossible to watch with dry eyes.
What date night movie roundup is complete without Titanic? In case you don't know the tale, it's about Rose (Kate Winslet) and Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio), who cross paths while on the Titanic voyaging from Europe to New York City. She's a young socialite engaged to a wealthy man of similar rank when she falls in love with the free-spirited Jack and realizes that she doesn't want to lead a vapid, elitist existence. It's another take on the classic tale of forbidden love, as well as the immortal nature of love itself.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2018)
This movie follows a London writer (Lily James) who travels to the island of Guernsey, learning about the book club a few friends there formed during the WWII German occupation. It's a story of romance, friendship, and history, and you'll definitely be shedding some tears.
Most us know a little too well how scary a ghost can be when it comes to love and dating, but this pre-dating app flick takes it to a whole new level. In this fantasy thriller, Sam (Patrick Swayze) and Molly (Demi Moore) are madly in love, only to have their relationship cut short by a murderer. Sam's spirit then roams the earth trying to protect the grieving Molly and make things right. There's also a good amount kitschiness to the film, which makes it a little easier on the heart.
Up next: Our favorite iconic movie relationships.