Like every rational person, I am well-versed in the art of watching romantic comedies. And I’ve seen them all: from the terrible, overly cheesy films to the ones that are so well-done, you don’t even want to mention them in the same breath as some of the other drivel that makes up the genre. I watch them all eagerly, and let myself get completely wrapped up in the sentimentality that drives them all. Romantic comedies get a bad wrap for being unrealistic and falsely building up expectations, but there’s so much more to it than that. In fact, some of the best romantic comedies are the ones that don’t follow those stereotypes at all, to the point where they might not even seem like romantic comedies at first glance. Sure, a formula has developed, but really, every good romantic comedy stands on its own, and has its own definition of what it means to fall in love. Ultimately, my definition of a romantic comedy (and what defines a film as such) is one that puts two characters on a journey that ends with both falling in love and becoming the person they need to become in order to have a happy and sustainable relationship.
A few friends and myself have decided to start a podcast, and our inaugural episode will feature a discussion of romantic comedies. To preclude that discussion, Kim, Sage, Jenn, and I came up with our top 15 favorite romantic comedies (and all their picks can be found by clicking their respective names!). This list took a while to come up with, and is probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. So without further ado, here it is: my fifteen favorite romantic comedies.
15. Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
“The only way you can beat my crazy was by doing something crazy yourself. Thank you. I love you. I knew it the minute I met you. I’m sorry it took so long for me to catch up. I just got stuck.”
After being released from a court-ordered stay in a mental health facility, Pat (Bradley Cooper) struggles with his return to his normal life. His friend sets him up with his sister-in-law Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), but the two, both suffering from mental illness and instability, find countless flaws within each other. But they quickly realize they need each other: Tiffany needs a dance partner for a competition she’s always wanted to enter, and Pat needs to prove to his estranged wife that he can be dependable.
Silver Linings Playbook is the youngest film on my list, and received tons of attention last year, including Oscar nominations for every acting category and Best Picture, among others (and a win for Jennifer Lawrence). I think you’ll see a trend in my list where I often favor films that aren’t just romantic comedies; in fact, at first glance, Silver Linings Playbook isn’t a romantic comedy at all (and in fact, it’s only so low on my list because its status as a romantic comedy isn’t something that jumps out to me right away). At times, it’s incredibly dark, and the focus isn’t on Pat’s growing romantic feelings for Tiffany, but his growing connections to the world around him. But Tiffany is a huge grounding force for Pat; she helps him let go of his need to win back his wife and allows him to cut loose and have fun. You don’t want Pat and Tiffany to fall in love for the sake of watching people fall in love; you want them to fall in love because it genuinely seems like it would be good for them. One of the biggest draws of romantic comedies is the idea of fantasy; you want to see the characters find each other and fall in love because you want to fall in love. But Pat and Tiffany are both suffering from deep-seeded issues, and are on heavy medication and under serious pressure from their families to show signs that they’re improving. There’s no fantasy here; you don’t want to be Pat or Tiffany. But you want the best for them, and at the end of the film, it’s clear that starting a relationship is the best decision either of them could make.