The romance genre has been lagging behind categories such as action, comedy, horror, and adventure for a while now. But the one kind that has seen sustained success (no, we are not counting romance TV dramas) is a title such as The Notebook.
With a classic old-world charm and over-the-top emotions, you would be right to assume that these movies have never moved away from the material they were inspired by, but you will be more surprised when you find out that all of these are the creative efforts of one man – Nicholas Sparks.
So what makes these movies so appealing, and why are they always in the top 10 watchlists for any cry session?
Let’s find out. Here are the best Nicholas Sparks movies on Netflix, ranked!
Best Nicholas Sparks Movies on Netflix Ranked
1. The Notebook (2004)
- Direction: Nick Cassavetes
- Adapted From: The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
- Cast: Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams
We have to start with the absolute best. The Notebook would not have been the best romance movie of an entire generation if Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams hadn’t done such a great job in the lead roles. We doubt we would be having the conversation we are having right now.
The story of The Notebook charts the lives of a couple finding themselves together at two different points in their life, one at the prime of their youth and the other beset by time and age. It is emotional, heart-wrenching, soulful, beautiful, and obsessively and hopelessly romantic at the same time.
When McAdams’ character has Alzheimer’s, we see Gosling in the performance of his life as he plays the role of a hapless lover to the tee. We get to see the tension, the joy, the love, the pain, and the end in all of their glory in the eyes of the characters, and the film is shot to absolute perfection by the brilliant and talented Nick Cassavetes.
The Notebook deserves special mention for not being just another soulless transition from novel to film but a lesson in the tragedy of the human condition and all of the other conditions that can and have been added to and taken from it—a 100% must-watch for romance buffs.
2. The Lucky One (2012)
- Direction: Scott Hicks
- Adapted From: The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks
- Cast: Zac Efron, Taylor Schilling
Another one of Sparks’ efforts that survived the transition, The Lucky One, is a chilling story of love, loss, guilt, and the cost of freedom. Zac Efron goes from being a teen star to a full-fledged veteran of drama movies when he plays the broken and depressed Marine Logan Thibault, who is filled with guilt after surviving Afghanistan.
Even though the horrors still haunt him, Logan finds a picture of an old woman in the middle of a mortar attack and is not hurt. Logan believes the owner and subject of the photo to be his guardian angel and decides to keep it.
The remainder of the film follows Logan as he finally finds the woman in the photograph, his guardian angel, and his desperate battle against the ghosts of his past and his happiness.
3. Dear John (2010)
- Direction: Lasse Hallstrom
- Adapted From: Dear John by Nicholas Sparks
- Cast: Channing Tatum, Amanda Seyfried
Set against the horrible 9/11 attacks, Dear John tells us the story of John, played by Channing Tatum, a US Army veteran who returns home to a set of peculiar circumstances.
Circumstances that quickly go from happy to eccentric to finding love to dealing with the tragedy of loss and the hardship of adjusting to a new normal after the devastating attacks leave America vulnerable. John is torn between following what he finally found and reliving the same nightmares that plagued him for so long.
4. The Choice (2016)
- Direction: Ross Katz
- Adapted From: The Choice by Nicholas Sparks
- Cast: Benjamin Walker, Teresa Palmer
Moving on from the backdrop of a national tragedy, we go to the calm and quiet setting of a village by the ocean. Shep works as a local veterinarian with his son, fellow vet Travis (the lead character in this story), and his daughter Steph.
What follows is a classic tale of girl-next-door and Travis falling in love with her, all while dealing with her already having a boyfriend. Gabby, the girl in question, must now make a tough decision that might haunt her for the rest of her life. Who does she choose?
5. Safe Haven
- Direction: Lasse Hallstrom
- Adapted From: Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks
- Cast: Julianna Hough, Josh Duhamel
There is a duality to the main character in Safe Haven, Katie. She is confident, faithful to her morals, self-sufficient, and beautiful. Katie is also severely afraid of commitment and finds herself in a moral dilemma.
This dilemma presents itself in the form of Steph, a charming young man who is kind and is a single dad, and her shy, soft-spoken neighbor Jo. The “will they, won’t they” aspect of this love triangle is not as impactful as others on this list, but it is still a great watch if you have run through the rest of this list. Spoiler alert: the ending isn’t what you think it will be.
6. The Best Of Me
- Direction: Michael Hoffman
- Adapted From: The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks
- Cast: James Marsden, Michelle Monahan
The promo text on The Best of Me’s poster reads, “You never forget your first love,” which is entirely the premise of this movie. Dawson is reunited with his first love, Amanda, thanks to a strange turn of events and good luck. As they catch up on time apart, they talk about things that happened in their past lives.
Along with that, we learn about Dawson’s struggles with life events and the breath of fresh air that Amanda’s return brings into his life. But when Dawson finds himself imprisoned due to another cruel twist of fate and Amanda is married, he must go back to her and adjust to a life without her anyway.
Nicholas Sparks will always be known for what he has given us; some cheesy romance, some real value, some great tragedies, and most of all, connections that are inherently fantastical but feel inherently human. If you can’t watch these Nicholas Sparks movies on Netflix in your country or in your devices, you can try to unblock Netflix on any device using our guide.