23 Big-Screen Best Friends Who Turned Into More
People fall in love with their best friends in real life all the time, and it happens a lot on the big screen too. Maybe the most famous entry to the genre is “When Harry Met Sally,” in which the titular characters spend quite a bit of time discussing if it’s even possible for friends to stay friends without sex and romance getting in the way. But “When Harry Met Sally” is an outlier in the friends-to-lovers genre; most of the movies on our list are about duos who met in their elementary school days, with love taking over a decade to blossom.
On this list, you’ll find sweet stories of childhood friends, like “Past Lives,” “Love & Basketball,” “Always Be My Maybe,” and “Brown Sugar.” There are stories of 20-somethings who end up making a mess of things, like “My Best Friend’s Wedding” and “Plus One.” There are cult classics like “Some Kind of Wonderful” and beloved 2000s fare like “13 Going on 30.” And happy endings aren’t exactly guaranteed.
Whether you’re looking for lots of romance or a movie where the relationship is actually in the backseat, we have some movies to add to your watch (or rewatch) list. Ahead, find 23 movies about friends who fall in love.
– Additional reporting by Shannon Vestal Robson, Maggie Pehanick, and Kelsie Gibson
“Past Lives,” released June 2023, stars Greta Lee as Nora. As a child in Korea, she has a crush on her friend Hae Sung (Teo Yoo), but before it can blossom, her family emigrate to America. Hae Sung finds her online when they’re in their 20s, but their long-distance friendship complicates things. It’s a bittersweet portrait of the lives we lead and the paths we choose (and don’t).
"Spider-Man: Far From Home"
Tom Holland and Zendaya’s real-life romance blossomed as costars in Marvel’s Spider-Man series. Holland plays Peter Parker, who has a major crush on Zendaya‘s MJ. In 2019’s “Far From Home,” Peter finally realizes his feelings aren’t unrequited, and by 2021’s “No Way Home,” they’re officially a couple.
"Always Be My Maybe"
“Always Be My Maybe,” released by Netflix in 2019, follows Sasha (Ali Wong) and Marcus (Randall Park), childhood friends who had a falling out when they were teens and reconnect as adults. Sasha is a successful, engaged chef, while Marcus is floundering. As they start to rebuild their friendship, they also realize they have strong feelings for each other that are anything but platonic.
Jack Quaid followed in his parents’ footsteps with a rom-com of his own: 2019’s “Plus One.” He stars alongside Maya Erskine as college friends who agree to be each other’s plus one throughout a complicated season of weddings. Their dynamic quickly goes off the rails as feelings start to crop up for both of them.
2019’s “Yesterday” is about Jack (Himesh Patel), who becomes the only person in the world who remembers the Beatles. He uses that knowledge (and their songs) to become an international rock star. Meanwhile, Jack is crazy about his childhood friend Ellie (Lily James). But will superstardom put a roadblock in their relationship?
In 2002’s “Brown Sugar,” Taye Diggs plays Dre, a record-industry exec, while Sanaa Lathan plays Sidney, a music journalist. The lifelong friends first bonded over their love of hip-hop. The pair take a long and winding path to finally figuring out they both want to be together, too.
"Love & Basketball"
Lathan also stars as Monica in 2000’s “Love & Basketball,” another friends-to-lovers story. Monica bonds with Quincy (Omar Epps) over basketball when they’re kids, but things get complicated when they go to high school. The pair get together, break up, and get back together over the course of this cult-classic romance.
"When Harry Met Sally"
When it comes to cinematic friends-turned-lovers, Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan) are the originals. What starts off as borderline irritation in the 1989 film evolves into attraction – and one particularly tearful, drunken night of sex. Their brief moment in bed threatens to ruin everything until Harry runs after Sally on New Year’s Eve, determined to kiss her and make things right.
"My Best Friend's Wedding"
1997’s “My Best Friend’s Wedding” is one of the most complicated movies on the list. Julia Roberts plays Julianne, who realizes she’s in love with her best friend Michael (Dermot Mulroney) when he plans to marry Kimmy (Cameron Diaz). Julianne decides to use the wedding events to try to get them to break up so she can win Michael’s heart. But is that what she really wants in the end?
"Some Kind of Wonderful"
Keith (Eric Stoltz) sees his best friend Watts (Mary Stuart Masterson) as just another one of the guys in 1987’s “Some Kind of Wonderful.” Instead, he dates Amanda (Lea Thompson), the most popular girl in school. But when a “practice” kiss between Keith and Watts generates major heat, he slowly begins to see the signs, and it isn’t long before Amanda is out of the picture.
In 1994’s “Reality Bites,” longtime friends Troy (Ethan Hawke) and Lelaina (Winona Ryder) are roommates who’ve never acted on their obvious attraction – with the exception of one drunken night years back. When they do finally hook up again, he skips town, until his father’s death makes him reassess his priorities. At the top of his list: smoothing things over with Lelaina so they can be together for good.
"Win a Date With Tad Hamilton!"
It’s hard to compete with a movie star, but Pete (Topher Grace) is up to the challenge in 2004’s “Win a Date With Tad Hamilton!” When his friend and Piggly Wiggly coworker Rosalee (Kate Bosworth) wins a date with the famous Tad Hamilton (Josh Duhamel), Pete will do anything to outdo the dude – even manual labor. In the end, Rosalee discovers who both guys really are: Tad’s just an actor out to clean up his act, while Pete knows all six of her smiles.
Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) is Peter Parker’s (Tobey Maguire) neighbor in 2002’s “Spider-Man,” but Peter can’t muster up the courage to tell her about his feelings for her. As their friendship deepens, Mary Jane begins to fall for Peter’s masked alter ego (who can forget that upside-down kiss?!), then for Peter himself.
"Zack and Miri Make a Porno"
Does sex complicate friendship? In the case of Zack (Seth Rogen) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks) in 2008’s “Zack and Miri Make a Porno,” the answer is a resounding yes. Friends since first grade and now broke-as-a-joke roommates, the two make their own porn video in order to pay the bills. But when they’re finally faced with the task of doing the deed on camera, it becomes clear that this isn’t just part of a day’s work – they’re actually in love.
"Whatever It Takes"
In 2000’s “Whatever It Takes,” Ryan (Shane West) helps the school’s popular guy (James Franco) pursue Ryan’s best friend/neighbor Maggie (Marla Sokoloff) so he can go after the school hottie (Jodi Lyn O’Keefe). But a few double dates help Ryan discover the error of his ways, and he realizes he’s really in love with Maggie.
"No Strings Attached"
All it takes is one night together at their college graduation for Emma (Anne Hathaway) and Dexter (Jim Sturgess) to become linked for life in 2011’s “One Day.” The movie shows them on the same day each year, as they drift apart, come together, and eventually fall for each other.
Rosie (Lily Collins) and Alex (Sam Claflin) know each other almost too well in 2014’s “Love, Rosie.” Friends since they were kids, the two see each other through relationships, breakups, and more. Their bond perseveres through the years, and – spoiler alert – their friendship turns to romance.
Chantry (Zoe Kazan) and Wallace (Daniel Radcliffe) meet-cute and have instant chemistry, but unfortunately, Chantry already has a serious boyfriend. As they try to defy the odds and be just friends in 2013’s “What If,” they fail miserably, realizing they really are perfect for each other.
"13 Going on 30"
In 2004’s “13 Going on 30,” it takes Jenna Rink (Jennifer Garner) 17 years (and some magical fairy dust) to realize her true feelings for her childhood best friend Matt, or as she fondly calls him, Matty (Mark Ruffalo).
"Keeping the Faith"
In 2000’s “Keeping the Faith,” Brian (Edward Norton), a priest, has been BFFs with Jake (Ben Stiller), a rabbi, since they were kids. Nothing can break their bond – that is, until their other childhood pal Anna (Jenna Elfman) reappears. The longtime friends fall hard; Anna starts seeing Jake, Brian pines for Anna (so much for those vows), and it all creates one very mixed-up love triangle.