Some would argue that, of all the movie genres, none is as comforting as the romantic comedy. Perfectly crafted to make audiences laugh and fall in love, all while delivering memorable one-liners and declarations of love, the rom-com is committed to bringing joy to the movies. It’s also a genre perfect for any occasion. Need a pick me up? Put on a rom-com. Feeling giddy after a first date? Put on a rom-com. Had a rough breakup and need to restore your faith in love? Put on a rom-com.
From classics like 1940's The Shop Around the Corner from Ernst Lubitsch to modern, R-rated additions like this year's Fire Island from Andrew Ahn, the rom-com genre has offered something for everyone for decades. So, if you’re looking for a romantic comedy to watch, A.frame has gathered some of the best of the genre.
Ever since When Harry Met Sally… was released in 1989, this masterpiece has defined the modern rom-com. With a sharp script by Nora Ephron (an absolute legend of the genre), impeccable direction from Rob Reiner, and two undeniably funny and sweet performances by stars Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan (not to mention great supporting performances from Carrie Fisher and Bruno Kirby), the film, about two people who meet briefly in college, become best friends later in life, and then, eventually, something much more, hits all the rom-com notes perfectly. The film, nominated for the Best Original Screenplay Oscar, is genuinely funny while also containing moments that make the audience swoon. Without a doubt, When Harry Met Sally... is one of the must-watch films of the romantic comedy genre.
Boy meets girl at Matuschek's, the Budapest gift shop where they both work. Boy and girl can’t stand one another. Boy realizes that, even though they can’t stand each other at the gift shop, they’ve been exchanging letters for weeks and slowly falling in love as each other's anonymous pen pal. This is the plot of The Shop Around the Corner, the classic rom-com — which also happens to be an excellent Christmas movie — starring Margaret Sullavan and James Stewart from director Ernst Lubitsch. The film was based on the 1937 Hungarian play Parfumerie written by playwright Miklós László. Another beloved rom-com, Nora Ephron's 1998 film You’ve Got Mail, released nearly 60 years later, was based on the original László play and inspired by this Lubitsch film.
The classic love triangle rom-com, Billy Wilder's Sabrina stars Audrey Hepburn as Sabrina, the daughter of a chauffeur who grew up living “just above the garage” on the Larrabee estate. After studying in Paris for two years, she returns home an elegant young woman and immediately earns the attention of the two Larrabee brothers — playboy David (William Holden) and the level-headed Linus (Humphrey Bogart). The film was nominated for six Oscars, including Best Director, and won the Oscar for Best Costume Design (the legendary 8-time Oscar winner Edith Head).
Marilyn Monroe delivers one of the iconic performances of her career in Howard Hawks' Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, playing a ditsy but sweet showgirl, Lorelei Lee, who embarks on a cruise with her best friend, Dorothy Shaw (Jane Russell). The film features Monroe's famous interpretation of "Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend."
Mike Nichols’ Working Girl features Melanie Griffith as a secretary, Tess, who, after a strange series of events, decides to pretend to be her boss (Sigourney Weaver). Along the way, Tess refines her fashion choices, earns confidence, and falls in love with businessman Jack Trainer (Harrison Ford). The film received six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, and won the Oscar for Best Original Song (Carly Simon's "Let the River Run").
Falling in love is all well and good, but introducing a significant other to a big family? That’s comedy gold. Writer Nia Vardalos stars as Toula Portokalos, a Greek American woman who, upon falling in love with a man outside of her heritage, must come to terms with her cultural identity while finding a way to get her passionate Greek family to accept her husband-to-be. The film, a massive hit when it was released 20 years ago, was nominated for the Best Original Screenplay Oscar.
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Always Be My Maybe may have only been released in 2019, but it has all the makings of a classic: hilarious and relatable leads in Ali Wong and Randall Park — who wrote their script with Michael Golamco — a juicy friends-to-lovers couple, an impeccable soundtrack featuring both original and iconic songs, and one of the best “stars playing themselves” performances by Keanu Reeves.
All's fair in Love and Basketball. This beloved classic stars Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps as Monica and Quincy, respectively, two aspiring basketball players who share a passion for the game of basketball on the court, and eventually a love for each other. From childhood to adulthood, the film follows the pair through life's ups and downs -- and how they come together when their shared dreams threaten to tear them apart.
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A classic of the early aughts, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days solidified Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson as rom-com stars. The film uses multiple classic rom-com tropes, from fake dating to an impromptu sing-along, and gave fans plenty of lines to quote. (RIP the Love Fern.)
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The Amy Heckerling classic Clueless, a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma set in the world of privileged Beverly Hills teenagers, helped to define the ‘90s. The film follows Cher (Alicia Silverstone), a somewhat vain, but well-meaning queen bee who learns to look outside of herself and gains a better understanding of the world. The charming, coming-of-age teen comedy, which is now a time capsule of the decade it portrayed, is a must-see.
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The Big Sick put a smart, timely spin on the rom-com genre. Part coming-of-age story, part meet the parents situational comedy, The Big Sick received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay — pretty romantic considering screenwriters Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani based their script on their actual love story.
Angela Bassett plays Stella Payne, an ambitious and successful career woman who is tired of being single. Nudged by her best friend, Delilah (Oscar winner Whoopi Goldberg), Stella decides to take a luxury vacation to Jamaica. There, she meets an array of potential suitors but is drawn to one particular young man who happens to be almost half her age. Before she falls in love, Stella must decide to either follow her career or follow her heart.
Romantic comedy icons Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant star in a film about a Hollywood superstar (Roberts) who improbably falls in love with an ordinary bookshop owner from Notting Hill (Hugh Grant). The movie is arguably best known for giving rom-com fans the epic quote, "I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her."
Cha Cha Real Smooth stars Cooper Raiff as 22-year-old Andrew, who finds himself back at his childhood home in New Jersey with a diploma but no plan for what comes next. When Andrew begins moonlighting as a party starter at bar and bat mitzvahs, he befriends a single mother, Domino (Dakota Johnson), and his life finally comes together even as it all falls apart.
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Fire Island is another spin on a Jane Austen classic, turning Pride and Prejudice into an R-rated gay rom-com where the Elizabeth Bennet character is now a gay Asian American man named Noah (Joel Kim Booster) who embarks on a week-long vacation to Fire Island. The movie, released earlier this year, became an instant classic in a genre that has historically offered limited options when it comes to LGBTQIA romances.
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