30 Best Movies for All the Single Ladies and Fellas
Love. It’s been the subject of probably more songs, poems, books and movies than anything else. When it’s grand, it’s great, but many of us have also experienced toxic relationships and been terribly wounded in the game of love. There are no guarantees in this life when it comes to finding a mate; the best thing to do is to keep on trying.
Or not. Whether you’re happily single or still holding out hope that your special someone is out there, there’s a movie for you. Actually, there’s plenty of them — and we’ve ranked the top 30 flicks for a great movie night.
Even if you’re cynical about affairs of the heart and want nothing to do with it whatsoever, we’ve got you covered! Popcorn’s always optional but highly encouraged.
30. The Sound of Music
Release date: April 1, 1965
Director: Robert Wise
Box office earnings: $286.2 million
Bottom Line: The Sound of Music
The hills are alive — and so will be your spirits! Julie Andrews and the late great Christopher Plummer headline one of the greatest musicals ever put to film, which remains beloved decades later. In addition to the catchy songs, the on-location filming in the Austrian Alps truly whisks you far away.
Though its subject matter is indeed dark, we challenge you not to sing along. Better yet, get yourself to one of the many outdoor summer singalong screenings. Your future soulmate might be in attendance, too!
Release date: June 20, 1975
Director: Steven Spielberg
Box office earnings: $472 million
Bottom Line: Jaws
“Jaws” is great in so many ways that it’s foolish to even bother listing them. But one really awesome reason to pop on the shark adventure for singles is that here’s no romance to speak of!
Sure, Brody (Roy Scheider) has a wife (Lorraine Gary), but their marriage is dysfunctional and constantly lubricated with booze. Oh, and for you super-cynics, the opening scene even has a skinny-dipper chewed to bits by the titular tiburon. Take that, sex and romance!
28. Baby Mama
Release date: April 25, 2008
Director: Michael McCullers
Box office earnings: $64.4 million
Bottom Line: Baby Mama
Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are not only BFFs in real life, their onscreen chemistry is legendary and riotous. Case in point is “Baby Mama,” the 2008 romp in which Fey’s single businesswoman hires Poehler’s working-class character to be a surrogate mother.
This being a comedy, things obviously go completely haywire, but the film is at heart a story of the platonic love that develops between the two women. As the song goes, it’s what the world needs now.
Release date: July 18, 1986
Director: James Cameron
Box office earnings: $106.3 million
Bottom Line: Aliens
How is “Aliens” a good choice for singles, you say? For one thing, not only does the outer space ‘80s creature blastathon have a strong female lead in Ripley (Oscar-nominated Sigourney Weaver), but the movie has zero romance in it whatsoever — cause nobody has time for that while fighting off the slimy monsters.
And though there are a few other female characters, at no point does Ripley discuss men with any of them — thus passing the famous Bechdel test. Plus, it’s just an awesome way to spend 2.5 hours.
26. Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion
Release date: April 25, 1997
Director: David Mirkin
Box office earnings: $29.2 million
Bottom Line: Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion
Let’s face it, life didn’t turn out how we expected. So, it’s great to laugh along with Romy (Mira Sorvino) and Michele (Lisa Kudrow), both of whom are single and working dead-end jobs when their 10-year high school reunion rolls around.
The girls fake being wealthy and get themselves all dolled up for the reunion to impress the “popular” classmates who once tormented them. Things go off the rails, once again proving it’s best to just be yourself, single or otherwise.
Release date: Oct. 12, 2004
Director: Alexander Payne
Box office earnings: $109.7 million
Bottom Line: Sideways
The best comedies are about people working through their issues, and boy howdy do Miles (Paul Giamatti) and Jack (Thomas Haden Church) have some serious growing up to do — no matter that they’re middle-aged men. “Sideways” is a great buddy movie, which sees the pair drinking their way through California wine country while getting into romantic and sexual misadventures you can’t help but laugh painfully through.
The movie is also wise beyond its simple plot, and it has much to say about human behavior. Oh, and wine.
Release date: May 13, 2005
Director: Robert Luketic
Box office earnings: $154.7 million
Bottom Line: Monster-in-Law
Jane Fonda had pretty much retired from acting when she agreed to appear in “Monster-in-Law,” her first role of any kind in 15 years. The film stars Jennifer Lopez as a woman who meets the man of her dreams, but the dream becomes a nightmare when she meets her beau’s (Michael Vartan) mother, who is anything but an ideal mommy-in-law.
The film fared poorly with critics but took in a haul; we’re guessing audiences identified with the terror of a potential crazy MIL.
23. Beverly Hills Cop
Release date: Dec. 5, 1984
Director: Martin Brest
Box office earnings: $316 million
Bottom Line: Beverly Hills Cop
Believe it or not, “Beverly Hills Cop” was weeks away from being made with Sylvester Stallone as the lead character when the Italian Stallion pulled out, thus paving the way for a 23-year-old Eddie Murphy to turn what was written as an edgy thriller into an action-comedy (Murphy famously improvised many of his hysterical lines).
Murphy’s Axel Foley has been in two sequels to date (another one is long rumored), but, despite his penchant for strip clubs, has never had a love interest in the series.
Release date: Oct. 18, 1996
Director: Doug Liman
Box office earnings: $4.6 million
Bottom Line: Swingers
Guys in their 20s usually haven’t figured women out yet, so don’t feel bad if you’re in the same boat. “Swingers” starred Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn as two out-of-work L.A. actors who spend their nights cruising for fun and, of course, girls — more often than not making a total mess of things (so once again, it’s not just you).
Favreau also wrote the film, doubtless from some personal experience, and “Swingers” sent both actors on a path to great things.
21. The Goonies
Release date: June 7, 1985
Director: Richard Donner
Box office earnings: $124 million
Bottom Line: The Goonies
Life was simpler when we were kids and didn’t have to worry about jobs, bills, marriage and raising children — or a searing awareness of one’s own singlehood. That’s what makes “The Goonies” such a great watch if you’re single: It brings back those memories of childhood days that were seemingly without limits or caring about consequences.
Oh, and also finding hidden treasure if you were lucky.
This ‘80s gem is endlessly rewatchable.
20. Pitch Perfect
Release date: Sept. 28, 2012
Director: Jason Moore
Box office earnings: $115.4 million
**Bottom Line: Pitch Perfect:
“Pitch Perfect” isn’t just a great movie about singing and the college a cappella life, it’s also an excellent example of girl power. While Becca (Anna Kendrick) does have a romance plot in the film, the bonds that she shares with the rest of the musical Barden Bellas as they learn to trust one another and overcome hurdles are the true heart of the story.
And it proves again that romance is great, but sometimes, friendship is better.
19. There’s Something About Mary
Release date: July 15, 1998
Directors: Peter and Bobby Farrelly
Box office earnings: $369.9 million
Bottom Line: There’s Something About Mary
You think your singleness is the absolute worst there has ever been in history? Not even close, friend. For that dishonor look no further than Ted Stroehmann (Ben Stiller), who has been pining for his high school crush Mary (Cameron Diaz) well into adulthood.
That’s pretty pathetic, but it’s not nearly as awful as what else happens to Ted over the course of this film, including getting attacked by a drugged-out dog, catching a fishing hook in the lip and that notorious “zipper scene.” It’s OK to laugh at Ted … and yourself.
18. Palm Springs
Release date: March 4, 2021
Director: Max Barbakow
Box office earnings: $765,535
Bottom Line: Palm Springs
What’s worse than being single? How’s about being stuck in a time loop, forced to relive the same day over and over with someone you can’t stand? That’s the premise behind “Palm Springs,” a truly vibrant comedy about a guy named Nyles (Andy Samberg) trapped endlessly reliving the same desert wedding day over and over.
He accidentally pulls fellow wedding guest Sarah (Cristin Milioti) into the time rift, and the two have to work together to bust out of the trap.
17. Shaun of the Dead
Release date: Sept. 24, 2004
Director: Edgar Wright
Box office earnings: $30 million
Bottom Line: Shaun of the Dead
If you enjoy zombie comedies, you can’t do much better than this. But in addition to all the brain-eating, “Shaun of the Dead” really has heart, too. For one, Shaun (Simon Pegg) has recently been dumped by his girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield), but thankfully, he has his best mate Ed (Nick Frost) to keep him company — that is, until the undead start chowing down on everyone in town.
It’s the perfect time to rescue Liz and win her back. Romantic, right?
16. Little Women
Release date: Dec. 25, 2019
Director: Greta Gerwig
Box office earnings: $206 million
Bottom Line: Little Women
Louise May Alcott’s tale of the March sisters had been filmed many times before, but Greta Gerwig, hot off the success of “Lady Bird,” gave the 1868 book a fresh turn with her 2019 film, in which she reteamed with “Lady Bird” star Saoirse Ronan.
The heavy-watt cast also includes Laura Dern, Florence Pugh and Emma Watson, and it was lauded by both critics and audiences. “Little Women” emphasizes the importance of family, who will be there for you long after any deadbeat boyfriends or girlfriends.
15. Pride and Prejudice
Release date: Dept. 24, 1995
Director: Simon Langton
Box office earnings: N/A
Bottom Line: Pride and Prejudice
Produced by the BBC as a six-part TV series, the 1995 version of “Pride and Prejudice” introduced us to the definitive actor portraying Fitzwilliam Darcy, Colin Firth. (Firth even sent up his own image in “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” where he played a 21st-century man called Mark Darcy.)
Jane Austen’s 1813 novel was played as a comedy of manners, wherein British aristocrats seeking mates cannot say what’s on their minds. It was translated to film many times, but this is the best one in our book. Bring tissues!
14. My Best Friend’s Wedding
Release date: June 20, 1997
Director: P.J. Hogan
Box office earnings: $299.3 million
Bottom Line: My Best Friend’s Wedding
Everyone has “that friend” who they always thought would be the perfect mate but, for whatever reason, it never worked out. This was the case for Julianne “Jules” Potter (Julia Roberts), who dated Michael O’Neal (Dermot Mulroney) in college for a brief period. They agreed if they weren’t married by 28, they would wed one another.
Too bad Michael, now 28, has fallen for Kimmy (Cameron Diaz), so Jules plans to sabotage the wedding and swipe him away. As the old adage said, if you love someone, let them go.
Release date: Dec. 5, 2014
Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
Box office earnings: $52.5 million
Bottom Line: Wild
Reese Witherspoon starred in this adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s 2012 memoir about a woman who, following the death of her mother and a messy divorce, decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail end to end, partly to put her demons to rest.
“Wild” is a case study in being on your own, by choice or otherwise. The film’s coda touches on what became of Strayed after her epic walk and reminds us that, even after the most painful circumstances, there is sunlight to be found.
12. The Big Lebowski
Release date: March 6, 1998
Director: Joel Coen
Box office earnings: $46.7 million
Bottom Line: The Big Lebowski
This advice is largely for dudes out there: If you’re a single bloke, do yourself a favor and press play on “The Big Lebowski” post-haste. Better yet, invite all your buddies over and quote the movie front to back, line for line and laugh at all of those jokes you’ve already seen a hundred times before.
After all, you don’t need a significant other to enjoy one of the great cult classics of all time. Actually, chances are your imaginary girlfriend wouldn’t “get it” anyway.
11. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
Release date: Dec. 12, 1967
Director: Stanley Kramer
Box office earnings: $56.7 million
Bottom Line: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
When the four parents of a couple meet for the first time, it can be weird … especially if they come from different cultures. “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” starred Katharine Houghton as a liberal white couple’s daughter, who realizes her parents are caught off guard when she brings home a Black man, played by Sidney Poitier.
Hijinks ensue in a film that took race relations not just seriously but as a source for both laughter and illumination. And as a single, you can also giggle at how difficult a potential first meeting of the parents might be.
10. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Release date: March 19, 2004
Director: Michel Gondry
Box office earnings: $74 million
Bottom Line: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
What if you could delete the memory of a bad breakup from your memory? In a strange hybrid of sci-fi and romantic drama, Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet star as an on-the-rocks couple taking advantage of a service that “erases” a significant other from your memory.
But the film posits that, even without those collective memories between them, the couple would nonetheless still be drawn to each other a second time. There’s something profound about contemplating that.
Release date: December 19, 1997
Director: James Cameron
Box office earnings: $2.2 billion
Bottom Line: Titanic
When you’re young, love with a capital “L” seems so incredibly transcendent, which is one reason that “Titanic” was likely so popular, as it told a story of young love blossoming — and cut tragically short.
“Titanic” has something for every single person out there. There’s a love story, a special-effects extravaganza as the ship goes down and even a topless Kate Winslet (in a PG-13 flick no less!).
8. It’s a Wonderful Life
Release date: Jan. 7, 1947
Director: Frank Capra
Box office earnings: $3.3 million
Bottom Line: It’s a Wonderful Life
In this classic, George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) loses some money from the family business and is so distraught he contemplates jumping off a bridge on Christmas Eve. Thankfully, his guardian angel Clarence (Henry Travers) intervenes and shows George what his hometown of Bedford Falls would be like if George was never born — and thus George learns to be grateful for his wonderful life.
Accordingly, if you’re single and lonely, try to emulate George and take stock of your blessings.
Release date: July 19, 1995
Director: Amy Heckerling
Box office earnings: $56.6 million
Bottom Line: Clueless
In this contemporary spin on Jane Austen’s “Emma,” Beverly Hills teen Cher (Alicia Silverstone) seeks to play matchmaker for all of her friends, but somehow, she can’t seem to find love herself.
While (spoiler alert!) Cher does get a boyfriend by the film’s end, something marvelous to contemplate is that, even if you’re single, you can still experience joy by helping others find their own happiness. Maybe that’s nudging them toward a relationship, or maybe it’s just being a good friend.
Release date: April 28, 2011
Director: Paul Feig
Box office earnings: $288.4 million
Bottom Line: Bridesmaids
“Traditional” Hollywood wisdom (i.e., the thoughts of old male executives) posits that women-centered films don’t make money, but boy howdy did “Bridesmaids” prove otherwise. Kristen Wiig headlined a mostly female cast in a flick that went gangbusters and also helped move Oscar nominee Melissa McCarthy to the A-list.
Sure, many of the characters make poor decisions when it comes to men, but “Bridesmaids” has great laughs front to back. If laughter is the best medicine, “Bridesmaids” will cure the lonely heart's blues.
5. Some Like It Hot
Release date: March 29, 1959
Director: Billy Wilder
Box office earnings: $49 million
Bottom Line: Some Like It Hot
Billy Wilder was one of the kings of the screwball comedy, and “Some Like It Hot” may be about the funniest movie ever made, full stop. Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis star as Prohibition-era performers who accidentally witness a mob murder and, to hide their identities from the gangsters, disguise themselves as showgirls.
It gets more outrageous from there, especially when the “girls” try to romance Marilyn Monroe’s Sugar Kane. See, isn’t it better to be single than get caught up in such shenanigans?
4. When Harry Met Sally…
Release date: July 21, 1989
Director: Rob Reiner
Box office earnings: $92.8 million
Bottom Line: When Harry Met Sally…
Recall earlier when we discussed “My Best Friend’s Wedding” and how blurring the lines between friends and lovers can get complicated? Sometimes friends successfully transition into a couple, while other times they don’t.
If you happen to be single and in love with a friend, “When Harry Met Sally…” shows why it’s both a good and bad idea to hook up with your bestie. Is it a chance you’re willing to take? The rewards can be amazing, or it could be a disaster. But there’s only one way to find out!
3. The Princess Bride
Release date: Oct. 9, 1987
Director: Rob Reiner
Box office earnings: $30.9 million
Bottom Line: The Princess Bride
Believe it or not, “The Princess Bride” was considered a “failure” in theaters, but home video gave this whimsical romp of fencing, fighting, chases, escapes, true love, miracles and so on a new lease on celluloid life.
At its heart, it’s a rather simple tale of a boy (Cary Elwes) and a girl (Robin Wright) who meet, fall in love and overcome obstacles — notably death — to live happily ever after. There’s also the top-notch supporting cast, a great score by Mark Knoplfer and some serious action scenes. Believing in true love has never been this much fun.
2. The 40-Year-Old Virgin
Release date: August 11, 2005
Director: Judd Apatow
Box office earnings: $177.4 million
Bottom Line: The 40-Year-Old Virgin
Steve Carell’s Andy has made it to middle age without ever having done the dirty deed, and the ensuing two hours of his hilarious attempts to turn in his V-card are about as close as a modern comedy comes to perfection.
Naturally, Andy suffers a great many misadventures on his way to sex — and true love — but he also learns a great deal along the way. If there’s hope for Andy, there’s hope for anyone. Yep, even you!
1. Love, Actually
Release date: Nov. 6, 2003
Director: Richard Curtis
Box office earnings: $246.8 million
Bottom Line: Love, Actually
It’s Christmastime in London, and a great many characters will experience the uproarious highs and extreme lows of courtship, passion, separation, heartbreak and redemption. What’s so evolved about “Love, Actually” is that it shows how complicated human relationships can be and how unique each relationship is.
There’s the hip prime minister (Hugh Grant) out to woo a woman with TV cameras always following him and the writer (Colin Firth again) trying to learn Portuguese to communicate with the housekeeper who has stolen his heart. And, perhaps best of all, there’s the potty-mouthed rock star (Bill Nighy) who realizes that rather than “pull” more groupies, he’d rather spend Christmas with his best mate watching pornography together. If that ain’t love, what is?