Everyone loves a rom-com.
It’s like the perfect go-to for a Friday night movie where you want a happy ending, and you don’t want to think too much. Netflix’s commitment to the genre has brought a rom-com renaissance to our screens in recent years. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, Always Be My Maybe, The Kissing Booth, Someone Great, there is so many great options out there only a quick click away. So while we wait for Noah Centineo to release his next Netflix film (which, knowing him, won’t take long) let’s dive into rom-com history, with my top 5 romantic comedies of all time.
Now before I start my countdown, I want to shout out some honourable mentions. They didn’t quite make my top 10, but they are very deserving of a watch. Bridesmaids, Bridget Jones Diary, and Legally Blonde all feature hilarious lead comic performances by Kristen Wiig, Renée Zellweger Reese Witherspoon If you ignore the questionable gender politics of Crazy Stupid Love, 500 Days of Summer and Love Actually, these movies are also a lot of fun. Finally, Miss Congeniality, Clueless and The Proposal all only just missed out on nailing my top 5.
So without further ado, I am excited to present my top five rom-coms of all time.
Coming in at number 5 is one of the classics, Notting Hill.
When William, an awkward British bookshop owner runs into one of the most famous movie stars in Hollywood, (literally), an inevitable romance ensues. It’s a very familiar tale of star-crossed lovers that we’ve all seen before: are they soulmates, or are their worlds just too different to be together? All the classic hallmarks of a rom-com are there, including a supporting cast of William’s hilarious friends, and a finale that includes William racing against the clock to make a public declaration of his love before it’s too late.
Julia Roberts is charming as always and Hugh Grant is on good form playing the character he always plays: bumbling, posh, adorable white boy who is bad at expressing his emotions.
At Number 4 we have an unlikely rom-com that involves the main character being in a coma for most of the film. But trust me, it works.
The Big Sick, is an indie darling that made a lot of noise after its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival 2017. Written by husband and wife, Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon, this autobiographical romance is one of those true stories that sound so crazy it can’t be made up.
When Kumail, an uber driver and struggling comedian (playing himself) and Emily, a university student (played by Zoe Kazan), fall in love. It isn’t smooth sailing. Firstly, Kumail’s family are a very traditional Pakistani family, who expect him to also marry a Pakistani girl, and are trying to set him up in an arranged marriage. Secondly, Emily becomes sick and goes into a coma about one-third into the film. The bulk of the film is about Kumail trying to choose between the woman he loves, and his family obligations, while also trying to win over Emily’s family who aren’t exactly fans of him.
The writing of this film is so so witty, and it’s a heart-warming film about being torn between family obligation and following your heart.
Next we have… Mamma Mia!
I don’t know if this technically counts as a rom-com, since the main couple are together from the start, but, I mean, the entire premise is a musical about a wedding, one-night stands, and summer love, and that’s about as corny as rom-coms get.
The most important element of any rom-com is the fantasy. We want to believe that one day we might just bump into Heath Ledger or Ryan Gosling or Chace Crawford or Ryan Reynolds or Liam Hemsworth or Noah Centineo or Henry Golding or Colin Firth or-
I’m sorry I’m getting off track. Basically, we want to pretend, just for ninety minutes, that these stunning, gorgeous boy-next-door types will run into us on the street and sweep us off our feet. And that’s what makes Mamma Mia, SO much fun. Our main character, Sophie, is literally singing and dancing on Greek island, where everyone is shirtless and she’s marrying Dominic Cooper. And don’t even start me on the sequel, where they get that kind of attractive men in their fifty’s and recast them as really attractive men in their twenties (Young Bill, you will always have my heart).
Coming in at a close second place, we have far and away my favourite thing Netflix has ever created: Set It Up.
This movie really feels like an ode to classic rom-coms. It’s set in New York, and it’s got the textbook rom-com situation where the couple start out hating each other, then becoming friends and then… well you’ll just have to watch it to find out.
The plot pretty simple: Harper (Zoey Deutch) and Charlie (Glen Powell) are both PA’s to tyrannical high-powered business people, played by Lucy Liu and Taye Diggs. Harper and Charlie decide that their bosses are so mean because their lonely, and thus concoct a plan to “set them up” so that they will both be happier and therefore nicer to their assistants.
This premise comes with exactly as many shenanigans as you’d expect, and, as you can expect, all that time scheming together makes Harper and Charlie realise that… maybe they want to be more than just friends.
It’s a really funny, feel-good movie, made so good by the charisma of the leading couple. This one is on Netflix now, and you don’t want to miss out.
And for number one, I couldn’t make a best rom-com’s list without including this 1999 classic: It’s 10 Things I Hate About You!
This movie has everything you could want in a romantic comedy: a coming-of-age story, an intelligent, modern Shakespeare adaption, a foul-mouthed Julia Stiles, and, most importantly, a gorgeous, young Heath Ledger in his prime. In a very witty adaption of Taming of the Shrew, Kristen Smith and Karen McCullah successfully transport Shakespeare’s tale of love, lies, and scheming to a 1990s American high school.
Basically, a lot of complicated plot stuff happens that means that Cameron (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, pays bad boy Patrick (Heath Ledger) to seduce Kat (Julia Stiles) so that Cameron can then date Kat’s sister Bianca. Her strict dad won’t let the younger girl date until the older, less popular one does, its all very Shakespearean and patriarchal. As these plots always go, fake love turns into real love, and there the troubles start…
This cast, undeniably the best part of the film, is full of comedic talent. Julia Stiles is in her element as the sharp-tongued Kat, while still managing to bring a vulnerability to her performance. Heath Ledger is dripping with charisma as the charming rebel who’s not afraid of Kat. His public serenade to Franki Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” in front of the entire school (marching band included), still ranks as one of the best rom-com moments ever.
Smart, witty, and very, very funny, this rom-com is definitely one of the best.
So there you have it! My top five rom-coms of all time! Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments and stay tuned for my next video.