I like romantic comedies. At worse they are an easy escape from reality and at best they strike a balance between witty dialogue and moving emotional sequences that make you believe in a probably impossible ideal of love. I’m on break right now and I miss talking about movies, so this list is mostly a thought exercise for myself.
Criteria for Inclusion
The first issue that must be addressed, as with any ranking, is the criteria for inclusion. As I think of rom-coms as more of an orientation than a genre, my generally philosophy will be to be as inclusive as possible. At minimum the movies must involve some element of romantic love and have some moments which are funny. While with a little creativity almost any movie can be interpreted as including those two elements, I will be focusing on movies that place both elements centrally in their plots.
Criteria for Ranking
I am about to write some categories in this section, but ultimately the criteria are how the movie made me feel in the moment and how I feel looking back at it. I understand that that is a faulty system, and believe me that fact haunts me. But to try to fight back a little against my subjectivity, I will try to frame my thoughts about each movie with 3 categories.
1.Relevance to the genre
Related to what I talked about in the criteria for inclusion. How much of a ‘classic rom’ it is.
2. Emotional impact
A measure of how strong and varied the feelings I felt when watching the movie. This criteria includes the sad sappy stuff, the moments of elation, and the general joy of seeing two people fall in love. Extra points if it made me cry. This category will be weighted the most in determining where each movie ranks. The whole point of movies is to make us feel something and the prevalence of rom-coms is due to the fact that humor and the themes of love are easy vehicles to elicit emotional responses. Therefore, I think the ability to make your heart leap or shatter is the single most important quality for a romcom.
For this one, I am basically thinking about the Oscar categories: writing, cinematography, acting, metaphors all that stuff. In reality, I’m not sure to what extent I pick up on those kinds of things. The way I think about this category will be, in the scenario that I am taking a course on film making, how likely am I to select the movie up for evaluation as my topic for the final project.
1) I want to pay some homage to “When Harry Met Sally” as the father to the modern-day slate of romantic comedies. It has some really amusing scenes (I’m looking at you Meg-Ryan-faking-an-orgasm-in-a-diner) but I just thought Crystal was unconvincing as a romantic lead. I also didn’t like either character enough to feel particularly attached to their romantic adventures.
2) Rachel McAdams is the Queen of rom coms. She’s in three movies on this list, including two of the top three movies. She shows her range too, flipping between spoiled but spunky to down to earth and demure. She’s great in Wedding Crashers as well.
3) Some honorable mentions: About a boy, Groundhog’s Day, and Pretty Women