This is it: the long-awaited Top 5 Romantic Comedies of ALL TIME list. I've been weighing the possibilities for a while now, making sure to watch movies that others recommended to make sure I didn't leave a worthy entry off the list. Now confident that my list is definitive, I present to you today's Top 5...
5. Moonstruck - I can't believe I could become addicted to a movie starring Cher. But it happened. Moonstruck treads the line between the romantic and the cynical so well that it's one of the most human comedies ever. The comically-tortured Nicolas Cage is... I want to say "believably unbelievable." He's the perfect picture of someone who thrives on his own pain because it gets him attention. I've been that guy. With a ton of quotables and memorable scenes, plus actually really good acting from I-can't-believe-I'm-saying-this-about Cher make this a terrific romantic comedy.
4. Love Actually - What makes Love Actually such a great romantic comedy is that it's actually eight romantic comedies. 1) A couple's new marriage causes problems for the groom's best friend. 2) A recently-widowed father helps his eight-year-old son win the heart of his pre-pubescent love. 3) A woman tries to balance a relationship with the man of her dreams and caring for her institutionalized brother. 4) A couple meets while being stand-ins for a porno. 5) The new British Prime Minister falls for a member of his house staff. 6) A twentysomething, having failed to attract a fellow Brit, travels to the states in the hope of cashing in on his accent to get laid. 7) A man can't resist the extremely forward advances of his employee. 8) A writer and his assistant are both thinking the same thing - but don't speak the same language. Any one of these could be a good romantic comedy on its own, but together they make one great one.
3. Garden State - Although the main reason this movie is so good is the script, what probably makes this romantic comedy so brilliant is Natalie Portman. Her character, Sam, is so perfectly cute, so insanely and convincingly lovable, that you cannot possibly not want the protagonists to get together. It's just impossible.
2. Ten Things I Hate About You - Certainly the best "teen movie" ever made, Ten Things is a modernization of Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew, which somehow manages to walk the tightrope of originality and fidelity to its source material with grace and hilarity. Never before or since has Shakespeare been so perfectly modernized. Unlike so many other high school melodramas, this film makes no attempt to dumb itself down. The dialouge is snappy and the acting (including Heath Ledger in his US breakout role) is superb. (The soundtrack is also excellent.) The best part, I think, of this movie is that every character grows in a very unique, very believable way. Oh, yeah - it's also insanely funny and re-watchable.
1. When Harry Met Sally - The pinnacle of neurotic couples that simply must be, Harry Burns (Billy Crystal) and Sally Albright (Meg Ryan) are complete and utter opposites who take their own sweet time - all of fifteen years - to finally get together, a process as hilarious as any other film other made. Billy Crystal gives the performance of his life as the cynical, low-maintenance Harry, while Meg Ryan made her bones in this film as the lighthearted Sally, particularly in the famous "fake orgasm" scene. What really makes this film the best of its kind is the simply brilliant script, which dove deeply into both the male and female psyches in a way few film had ever done before. Every cliche is combatted with original thought and every line of dialogue, EVERY line is quotable. It's the veritable Big Lebowski of romantic comedies. And of course, the ending is perfectly heartwarming, a must for any romance.