Top 10: Romantic Comedies
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, the smell of love is in the air. The cupids in flight struck us with a curious little arrow that intoxicated us with the aroma romantic cinema, particularly the kind that isn’t too cheesy and goes spring loaded with a few good gas. We might not have a box of chocolates or a bouquet of flowers to give yah, but we do have ten of our favorite romantic comedies that you and your significant other might enjoy this V-Day!
10: It Happened One Night
Frank Capra’s snappy and fast-moving screwball comedy, It Happened One Night, is the first of only three films (the other two being One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and The Silence of the Lambs) to win all five major Academy Awards the year of its release (1934), and it’s just as charming today as it was then. The film follows Claudette Colbert, a pampered socialite who tries to get out from under her father's thumb and winds up falling in love with a roguish reporter (played by Clark Gable). It’s plot is essentially a clothesline to hang humorous situation after situation, but the film comes through majorly via its performances, quick, witty dialogue, and Capra’s excellent directing.
9: The Big Sick
The Big Sick is a fantastic romantic comedy that will have you rolling with laughter and swelling with tears, which is the film's big strength; weaving between gut-wrenching reality uppercuts, which deal with lofty, real-world struggles, and uproarious comedic jabs, which essentially ground the narrative and its (at times) heavy subject matter. All of this culminates in a touching, heart-warming, down to earth, funny as hell, one of a kind relationship film. It begins as a cliched rom-com — the typical boy-meets-girl — that we've seen over and over, but takes a narrative swerve that examines cultural and familial relationships in more microscopic detail. Its story is made all the more amazing when you realize that it’s all centered around actual events.
8: High Fidelity
Stephen Frears’ High Fidelity packs in a rocking cast, a phenomenal soundtrack, and a visceral, obsessive examination of dating and relationships. Sharp with wit, laced with sentimentality, and bursting at the seams with furious energy, High Fidelity is entertaining as hell — from the male perspective, it’s also accurate and insightful. John Cusack makes the self-doubting, self-flagellating, and self-ironic Rob Gordon into an authentic reality, delivering a performance that’s amongst his best. Jack Black is also terrific as the scene-stealing record store worker, lighting up the screen with hilarious charisma whenever present.
7: When Harry Met Sally…
Infamous for its hilarious fake orgasm scene, When Harry Met Sally… is a real zinger of a romantic comedy. With the help of Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan’s magnetic performances, Rob Reiner is able to conjure up a touching and hilarious film that would go on to set the new standard for romantic comedies. Though fairly formulaic in its structure and design, the film excels through the clever interplay and chemistry between Crystal and Ryan. Brainy, hysterical, and downright lovable, When Harry Met Sally… is a still a treat to be enjoyed by couples young and old.
6: Midnight in Paris
A late Woody Allen picture, Midnight in Paris is utterly charming and chock full of great gags and signature Allen humor. Utilizing fantasy, the film shows the viewer the elegance of modern day Paris juxtaposed with the glorified Paris of 1920s, and introduces us to litany of period-era characters, including Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Salvador Dali. The film smartly plays upon the central protagonists’ (Owen Wilson’s) delusional romance with an era of history against his own delusional ideas of true romance that culminates in one Allen’s most cutesy and pitch-perfect endings. Yet another of our rom-com’s with a really phenomenal cast, there is nothing to dislike about Midnight in Paris; just like love itself, the film intoxicates the viewer and warms you at the core.
5: The Apartment
There’s an astonishing quality to Billy Wilder’s The Apartment. which oozes such sweetness out from underneath the cracks of its pathetically tragic facade. Jack Lemmon gives one of his greatest performances, hitting an array of emotions while still delivering the laugh-out-loud fun, and Wilder’s composition, framing and movement is the most focused and on target that its ever been. In many ways, the film is a dirty fairy tale, involving a go-getting office worker who loans his tiny apartment to his philandering superiors for their romantic trysts, whose edgy and controversial nature is dulled down by its tender emotionality and capped off on a hopeful note.
4: Roman Holiday
Audrey Hepburn got her first starring role alongside Gregory Peck in William Wyler’s lovely 1953 romantic comedy, Roman Holiday. Written by Dalton Trumbo (under a pseudonym due to Hollywood blacklisting) and John Dighton, the film is peppered with so many unforgettable moments, like the Vespa drive and the bittersweet, true-to-life ending. The film shoots big in its premise — a royal princess fed up with the royal life sneaks out and unknowingly meets a few newspaper men who take her around Rome — and it succeeds in spades with chic style and breezy pacing. Well scripted, immaculately directed, and fantastically performed, the movie remains an iconic staple of the romance comedy genre and is one of our absolute favorites.
3: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Propelled by Charlie Kaufman’s clever and imaginative screenplay, the film is elevated by Michel Gondry’s ingenious directing and Kate Winslet & Jim Carey’s genuine and expansive relationship; Eternal Sunshine is easily one of the most unique and inventive romantic comedies on our list. Framed in memories that are being erased as part of a voluntary medical procedure, the film explores the four seasons of a relationship, warts and all, with marvelous effect. Melancholic on the exterior, the film is broken but hopeful, and its creative ingenuity, both in the visual and narrative sense, make this rom-com one to remember.
2: Before Sunrise
Richard Linklater makes a film about two strangers who impulsively decide to roam the streets of Vienna such a sweetly compelling joy, rife with enchanted meandering poetry. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy each give one of the greatest performances of their careers, bringing Jesse and Celine into relatable, fully dimensional characters with such natural ease that it’s nearly impossible to resist their charm. Coupled with wonderful direction that never calls attention to itself, allowing the viewer to slip deeper and deeper into the story and its characters, the film and its characters feel exhilaratingly palpable.
Here’s a few other films that just missed the cut:
Forgetting Sarah Marshall
The Shop Around the Corner
And without further delay, our favorite romantic comedy is…
1: City Lights
City Lights is one of the first films that Charlie Chaplin directed, and its one of the most touching romantic comedies we’ve ever had the pleasure of laying eyes on. Every Chaplin film exudes a certain amount of heart and humanitarianism, but City Lights is overflowing with warm, fuzzy sentimentality. After 88 years, Chaplin’s a blend of slapstick and sentiment is still thoroughly hysterical and deeply affecting. The gags are still feel fresh and fun, the music (composed by Chaplin himself) flawlessly translates the characters' emotions through its melodies, and the final scene is one of the most touching in cinema history. All in all, it’s a delightful romance whose magical qualities still have us under its spell.
Did we leave any of your favorite off our list? We want to know. Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments section below, and as always, remember to viddy well!