10 Best Rom-Coms of Our Time

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Love is a many-splendoured thing. Love makes the world go around.  The only thing that’s better than experiencing the earth-shattering feeling of being in a real-life rom-com is to watch a larger-than-life one. The rom-com has existed in its current state since as early as 1942’s Seven Sweethearts.

The genre has been derided by critics and unfeeling audiences for generations yet continues to pull in the figures and numbers at the box office. Scenes from rom-coms have been spoofed and parodied (I’ll have what she’s having) and become a part of everyday conversation, helping to shape the dialogue and the way we look at love, singlehood and relationships. So, it’s only right that we find out which of the many rom-coms in existence are the cream of the crop. Here's our guide to the top 10 rom-coms.

10. About a Boy, 2002

About a Boy is a neat story straight from early 2000s Britain, based on the book by Nick Hornby (who appears later in the list, too). The plot involves Hugh Grant playing a rich and responsibility-free man in London, who joins a single parent support group as a way to meet women. But, his plan goes awry immediately when the teenaged son of one of the women, played by Nicholas Hoult, discovers the subterfuge. Grant’s Will then takes on a big brother role for Hoult’s Marcus, who is having a difficult family life. The film is a rom-com for the romance between Grant and love-interest Rachel Weisz that forms its backbone, but it also offers a fresh take on friendship through Grant’s mentoring Hoult – or vice versa.

9. You’ve Got Mail, 1998

A 1990s take on the classic story Parfumerie (1937), which was turned into The Shop Around the Corner (1940), In the Good Old Summertime (1949) and She Loves Me (1963). Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks play two bookstore owners – Ryan is an indie store owner, while Hanks represents a huge chain threatening to wipe out Ryan's little shop. Little do the simmering rivals know, they are also connected through a string of emails after meeting on an anonymous AOL chatroom. As their professional and physical relationship blusters through hatred, their online one blossoms into a love affair. The film could be considered dated now and perhaps a remake is on the cards where dating app Badoo is the catalyst for the pair’s relationship.

8. High Fidelity, 2000

The second Nick Hornby book to make the list, High Fidelity stars John Cusack as a man with a string of failed relationships. Narrated to camera as he peruses a record shop, Cusack revisits each relationship through the music that reminds him of it to find out why the relationship failed. The film’s take on the rom-com through music is a different one and places Cusack as the focus, as opposed to a balanced take on both partners.

7. 500 Days of Summer, 2009

Subverting storytelling norms is a sure-fire way to end up on any compilation list and that’s exactly what 500 Days of Summer does. The Joseph Gordon-Levitt/Zooey Deschanel flick features a non-linear retelling of the 500-day relationship between Tom and Summer. Packed with musical interludes and entrancing audiences (because how could a relationship so sturdy collapse in so little time?) held attention. Perhaps the most interesting part (SPOILER) was the fact that the rom-com guarantee of the pair ending up together was immediately destroyed and it’s in some ways more of a break-up film.

6. Maid in Manhattan, 2002

Maid in Manhattan stars Jenny from the Block and Voldemort (that's J-Lo and Ralph Fiennes to you and me) as a pair who meet through circumstances built upon a lie – as with many rom-coms. Working as a maid at the hotel Fiennes is staying at, J-Lo masquerades as one of the wealthy guests. The pair begin dating, despite the inevitability that their relationship will come to an end when the lie unravels. The film is a sweeter take on the rom-com and embodies the expression ‘it’s what’s inside that counts.’

Source: @odreamynks via Twitter

5. Roman Holiday, 1953

Flashing back to the Golden Age of cinema, if anyone embodies the comically-toned heroine like no other it’s Audrey Hepburn. With a similar bent to Maid in Manhattan, Gregory Peck finds princess Audrey Hepburn alone in Rome and, without realising her royal pedigree, spends some time with her. Eventually, he finds out she is the princess that his news service is supposed to interview and attempts to feign ignorance of her status to get a scoop. The film features several tropes that would go on to be canonised as rom-com classics.

4. Hitch, 2005

The Will Smith classic features the Fresh Prince playing a man who helps men be better at relationships. His latest client, Kevin James, is attempting to woo Amber Valletta, while Smith himself falls for Eva Mendes. But, his regular tried and tested tactics for others don’t seem to work on Mendes. The film features several laugh-out-loud moments, meshed with many heart-warming ones. Many people claim to be good at giving advice, but bad at taking it themselves – and this film helps show that even Will Smith could struggle in love.

3. There’s Something About Mary, 1998

The 90s offered a different take on rom-coms than their earlier counterparts, with the focus being on bawdier slapstick humour. There’s Something About Mary is a classic example of this – from Ben Stiller’s accident with his trouser zipper on prom night, to the scene with Cameron Diaz’s new hair gel, to the scene with the drugged dog. The film focuses on Diaz’s character Mary, who attracts a slew of sleazy men with their eye on her. Her prom date from 13 years earlier, Ted (Stiller) tracks her down and begins his wooing of her – despite the subterfuge by the many men in her life who have their eyes on her. The film presented a rom-com that leaned heavily on the com aspect – which makes sense as it was directed by the slapstick kings the Farrelly brothers.

2. When Harry Met Sally, 1989

When Harry Met Sally is a different take on the traditional meet cute then fall in love tale. The film is told over a series of years where Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan) keep running into each other. The theme of the film is on whether men and women who are attracted to each other can just be friends. Eventually, after many years of disliking one another, the pair become friends and help each other navigate their love lives but, to disprove the hypothesis, end up falling in love. The film features many cutaways of older couples explaining how they met and fell in love.

1. My Best Friend’s Wedding, 1999

If there’s one standout star of rom-coms, it’s Julia Roberts. With Pretty Woman and Notting Hill also under her belt, Roberts’s finest performance is in My Best Friend’s Wedding. She plays Julianne, who is invited to the wedding of Dermot Mulroney and Cameron Diaz - the former being her best friend and the man she is in love with. The film is a rom-com of a different kind, that of unrequited love for someone who isn’t right for us. The ending of the film presents both a stark reality of life and a beacon of hope for the future. The film did well commercially, grossing $299.3 million. One of the most striking features of the film (SPOILER) is that the protagonist doesn’t get the love they strive for throughout the film. After laying her cards on the table, Roberts is still rejected in favour of Diaz. But, after a heart to heart and an emotional denouement, she feels she can move on with her life anyway. The lesson is one that perhaps holds firmer in people’s lives than the meet and fall in love one. But shows there is hope afterwards.

Honourable Mention: Love Actually, 2003

Love Actually is perhaps the greatest rom-com of all time. It is a vignette film, showing the lives and loves of a series of independent characters all loosely connected, in the run-up to Christmas. The only reason it doesn’t make the list is because it is technically a Christmas film. The film is naturally filled with charm, wit and cosiness which make for a winter evening on the couch - to be in the running would be unfair on the non-Christmas films. The film itself provides almost every conceivable romantic comedy story or trope and blends them effortlessly. From unrequited love, to love that can’t happen at this time, to friendship, to love that breaks boundaries and borders that otherwise prevent it from blossoming.

When it comes to rom-coms, it really comes down to personal taste. Financial and critical successes, as well as films that stand the test of time to become cult classics, are all in the running to take the title of best rom-com. Ultimately, the best rom-com is the one that you personally feel captures the romantic connection the film is based on as well as enough comical obstacles getting in the way of the characters achieving it.

Top Image - Source: @shadowhunterstv via Twitter


Read 538 times Last modified on Wednesday, 29 August 2018 10:27
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