It’s almost Valentine’s Day, a commercial, chocolate-filled time of year. And I love it. Mainly for all the romantic comedies that resurface again. Got to love a good rom-com: it’s stories about women for women, where women are treated – most of the time – quite well compared to other film genres.
So I made a list, and I checked it twice. If these films are resurfacing during this time of year, I will definitely try to re-watch them. Here are my top 10 romantic comedies:
10. Definitely Maybe (2008)
In a nutshell: it’s how the TV show How I Met Your Mother should have ended. Maya (Abigail Breslin)’s parents are getting a divorce and she wants to know the story of how her parents first met, so her father (Ryan Reynolds) tells her three stories of three women he met and she has to guess which one is her mother.
Why I love it: Essentially, it’s not who you have your children with, but who you want to end up with at the very end. And yes, it is how the TV show How I Met Your Mother should have ended.
It is also hilarious: Ryan Reynolds is good, Isla Fisher is great, Elizabeth Banks and Rachel Weisz are also pretty decent. The kid is a little too intuitive and smart, but I guess you have to suspend your sense of disbelief a little.
9. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018)
A modern rom-com based on the books by Asian American author Jenny Han. The film charts the coming of age of Lara Jean (Lana Condor), who wrote letters to all the boys she loved – well, liked – and then years later those letters are found and posted by her sister. Then each letter’s recipient confronts her.
Why I love it: This might have been the first rom-com where one party of the main couple is Asian American that I remember seeing, so partly, I love it for the representation. Also Lana Condor plays the main character so well, she’s so pure of heart – it’s lovely watching her on screen.
The plot is predictable, but the characters are still likeable and very watchable. There’s a good family dynamic, it’s kind of wholesome, the teenagers aren’t too unrealistic or annoyingly unbelievable, it’s funny, and it’s sweet.
8. About Time (2013)
Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) discovers a family secret: that all the males in his family can time travel, and he uses it to help him find love.
Why I love it: This film is very funny. It’s written and directed by Richard Curtis so it’s quite heart-warming too. The hubby actually saw the first half of the film without me, knew that I would love it, stopped watching it, then got me to watch it with him from the start.
I liked that the film doesn’t just end with a wedding, it actually shows the main romantic couple have a family together and grow together. But the film is so much more than just romantic relationships, it features family relationships and friendships, just about loving and appreciating life. Yes, there’s time travel too, but it’s not too over the top.
If anything, it shows that actions have consequences, that sometimes you can relive moments to make them better; but other times, not everything can be changed for the better. It’s a lovely way to teach you to appreciate life and enjoy the little moments as much as the big moments.
7. 500 Days of Summer (2009)
After his first heartbreak, Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) recounts on his relationship with Summer (Zooey Deschanel), who he thought was the love of his life.
Why I love it: Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel had great chemistry. The film was funny, sweet, and romantic – I was rooting for them all the way. The film is presented through Tom’s perspective, how he views the relationship and how he views Summer.
Interestingly it shows the start and end of the relationship, but apparently never from Summer’s perspective. The hubby and I actually discuss the ending to this day still: he thinks it ended perfectly, whilst I disagree.
6. Crazy Rich Asians (2018)
Based on the books by Kevin Kwan, Asian American Rachel (Constance Wu) flies to Singapore to meet her boyfriend’s family and attend a wedding where he is the best man. Little does she know that Nick (Henry Golding)’s family are one of the wealthiest families in Singapore.
Why I love it: We saw this in the cinema and got the blu-ray pretty much straight away when it came out. I loved this film because, well, representation – it has an all Asian cast. I also appreciated that the main couple are already together at the start of the film and it’s more like a meet-the-parents-type situation.
Hilarity ensues and family members disapprove, but they are already together. The next stage is whether they get engaged and stay together, so the plot was quite predictable in that regard, but different from the usual rom-coms where the couple just meet and get together at the end.
I found it interesting seeing how a modern couple deal with the old duties of Asian culture whilst also trying to live the dreams of the modern day Asian American. The other stories were intriguing too, like Nick’s cousin Astrid going through a rocky relationship with her husband, and Nick’s best friend who is getting married.
Awkwafina was an absolute delight. The costumes were fabulous and the sets were amazing, but definitely need to suspend your sense of disbelief – or maybe this really is how the other half live.
5. My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)
A young Greek woman (Nia Vardalos) falls in love with a non-Greek man (John Corbett), and everyone tries to get along.
Why I love it: To me, this was so relatable. The female lead doesn’t appreciate her Greek culture and wants to marry someone outside her culture, but he helps her come to terms with who she is and better accept her family and her culture.
It’s also hilarious, the interactions between the two families is so funny: his family is so demure and quiet, whilst her family is so loud and excitable. I loved the aunt too – so hilarious.
This was probably the first time I noticed that a wedding and marriage is not just the union of two people, but also the union of two families. Windex is also apparently really useful too.
John Corbett makes the list again, though this time he’s the male lead, rather than father of the female lead in To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before at no. 9. Both films are quite endearing too.
4. 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
Adapted from William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, new student Cameron (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) wants to date Bianca, but she’s not allowed to date until her older sister Kat (Julia Stiles) dates. So a plan is devised for pretty boy Joey to supposedly date Bianca, so he pays Patrick (Heath Ledger) to date older sister Kat.
Why I love it: An absolute classic, I remember teachers played this so many times in secondary school and I loved it. Great performances from everyone, hilarious, scheming, and unpredictable. Some really memorable scenes and you’re just rooting for the couples.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt makes it in the list a second time, maybe he knows how to pick his rom-coms – this time I liked the ending. The sound track is also classic 90’s and brilliant.
3. Love Actually (2003)
A Richard Curtis classic with a great ensemble cast. Yes, it’s set during Christmas, and is technically a Christmas film – but there sure is a lot of love here too. It’s interesting, on first watching this film, seeing how all the lives and storylines intertwine and connect with each other.
Why I love it: Some stories are hilarious (Kris Marshall’s character going to America), other stories are super sad (Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson’s storyline), and other stories are so lovely (Colin Firth’s storyline). There is something for everyone in this film – it’s just so warm and fuzzy.
Another film written and directed by Richard Curtis, the other one being About Time at no. 8. If I don’t watch this film at Christmas, I sure wouldn’t mind watching this during Valentine’s.
2. As Good As It Gets (1997)
An obsessive-compulsive writer (Jack Nicholson), a waitress (Helen Hunt), and a gay artist (Greg Kinnear) form an unlikely friendship as they help each other overcome obstacles.
Why I love it: This was a super long film, and to start with, I felt the pacing was a little off. But as the film progresses, the magic grows and you just fall in love with the characters as they start to fall in love with each other.
Hunt and Kinnear’s characters bring out the best in Nicholson’s character, and it’s wonderful to watch as he grows into a warm and caring person. Just lots of fuzzy, warm feelings watching this – and of course it helps that there’s a dog too.
Whilst watching this, I wasn’t entirely sure how it was going to end: is it friendship, is it romance, is it just a convenient relationship? There were quite a few roadblocks and miscommunications; but I suppose, with most good rom-coms, things fall into place and the penny drops.
There was no big spectacular declaration of love, it was slow – and maybe more realistic – which made it more heart-warming to watch.
1. You’ve Got Mail (1998)
Directed by the brilliant Nora Ephron and starring the loveable Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Both play business rivals who are unaware that they already know each other online in the age of dial-up internet.
Why I love it: I had heard good things about this film, caught some of it on TV one time, and then really really really wanted to watch it all. And when I finally did – just wow. It’s got great dialogue, it’s very sweet, it’s funny, it’s so heart-warming, and of course there’s a dog.
The dial-up situation is quite funny, the laptops are massive, and there are no mobile phones – it’s online dating before dating apps. Except, of course, the two leads are already in separate relationships and they’re not actually dating online – just friends/ giving business advice.
But you just want to root for the couple, even though on the face of it they despise each other in real life. Yet through their online dial-up conversations you just know they are meant for each other.
It ends so perfectly as well. Hanks is so watchable and endearing – I love this film and would be able to re-watch it forever.
So that’s my top 10. Of course, I haven’t seen every rom-com, and maybe there are some I saw years ago and have completely forgotten. What are your favourite rom-coms and what are you looking forward to watching, or re-watching, this year?