Heartbreakers and Heartachers: Ten Great Romantic Movies… and Ten Really Bad Ones!

A good romantic comedy is so rare these days, and you’re lucky if you get even one remarkable rom-com (or rom-dram) each year. So I thought I’d highlight ten great romantic movies from the history of cinema–not the ten best, just ten great ones. And to remind us how the romantic genre has failed in recent times, I’m also including ten romantic movies that make me groan…

The Heartbreakers: Ten Great Romantic Movies:

1: It Happened One Night (1934)

This delightfully original romantic comedy swept the Oscars in 1934, winning all five major Academy Awards (Picture, Director, Screenplay, Actor, Actress). It is a great and funny story of two people who hate each other but grow to fall in love whilst travelling cross country. Sound familiar? Well it’s been done many times but never like this. Fantastic.

2: Casablanca (1942)

The original, classic romantic comedy is this beautiful, enthralling tale of love between Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, whose characters are steaming hot and full of secrets, through the stunning scenes of a bar in Morocco where men come to drink away their sorrows and love is strangled by an air of cigarette smoke and booze. Play it once, Sam.

3: Some Like It Hot (1959)

Billy Wilder has crafted some of the greatest films of all times, from classic comedies such as this to intriguing dramas like Sunset Blvd. and downright disturbing masterpieces like The Lost Weekend. Some Like It Hot was an instant hit for Wilder, and a classic comedy with laugh-out loud moments and beautifully captured romantic scenes. The diva Monroe is a hit here, as are her counterparts, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon, grovelling for her affection. This is something special indeed.

4: The Apartment (1960)

Considerably darker than its 1959 sister comedy, Billy Wilder’s The Apartment is nevertheless a very funny, very charming romantic comedy which also touches on important social issues. The always hilarious Jack Lemmon graces through this film, as funny and witty as he’s always been and at the top of his game. Of all the films you must see on this list, this is no. 1!

5: The Graduate (1967)

This will always be regarded as a classic among romantic movies in history for its wonderful plot and remarkable performance from then-unknown Dustin Hoffman. There’s plenty to laugh at and a lot of great chemistry as this famous romantic plot unfolds. Director Mike Nichols has created a wonderful film.

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6: Last Tango in Paris (1972)

Bertolucci’s timeless erotic drama is filled with the grace of the screen’s leads, and has a special place in my heart because of the coffin scene with Marlon Brando. Romance has never been so visceral and breathtaking as it was when it was presented in 1972 in such a glorious, explicit, memorable manner.

7: Annie Hall (1977)

Whether you love it or loathe it, you’ve got to admit Woody Allen’s 1977 comedy is original and very clever. It adopts techniques and uses them in new ways for its era, as well as spawning provocative one-liners (“the size of a Buick!”) and tirelessly hilarious scenarios. Everyone should be able to find something to relate to in this classic comedy.

8: When Harry Met Sally… (1989)

“You made a woman mieow?” Rob Reiner’s classic romantic comedy stretched the boundaries and let in a flood of new emotions. It was a romantic comedy like no other, and yet if it were made today they would probably screw it up. The leads are enthralling and the film is hilarious. Well done.

9: Groundhog Day (1993)

It’s hard to forget the hilarious chemistry between leads Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell in this laugh-out-loud comedy from Harold Ramis. Bill Murray plays one of his best performances as he attempts to win over MacDowell and there are plenty of laughs to be shared. A great romantic movie.

10: As Good as It Gets (1997)

Winning Oscars for both its leads, this great dramatic romance has its moments, and more, as it manages to master emotions. Jack Nicholson is excellent in his performance as an embittered writer, and the supporting performances by Helen Hunt and Greg Kinnear are nothing short of remarkable.

So there you have it, ten great romance movies. But unfortunately, there are more bad romance movies than good ones, such as the following dreadful ten:

The Heartachers: Ten Horrible Romantic Movies:

1: Gigli (2003)

Probably the worst film on this list, Gigli is infamous for being a shockingly bad romantic comedy starring Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez. Disgusting acting, a soggy script and plain awful direction by Martin Brest (who surprisingly directed one of my favourite comedies, Midnight Run plus the excellent Pacino hit Scent of a Woman) are all components of the driving force behind this absolute shithole.

2: The Hottie and the Nottie (2008)

You should know what to expect when you see Paris Hilton stars in this, as well as its terrible reception, Razzie pickups by the dozens, and generally distasteful and amoral viewpoints on society. Are we trying to dumb down our teenagers? At this rate, we’ll have twenty-year olds crashing on a beanbag enthusiastically watching Barney by 2050, not sure how they’ll ever grow up.

3: Down to You (2000)

Suicide by shower utensils? Freddie Prinze, Jr.? Excuse my blunt language, but f*ck that! Yet another distasteful addition to romantic comedies that don’t even try to be good. Any semblance of togetherness this film might have had is washed away long before the film starts.

4: Mannequin (1987)

Certainly not as bad as some of the others on this list, my disliking of this crummy eighties love story has been emplanted into my brain because of the day I saw it: in June, last year. I had watched three movies that day already: Lawrence of Arabia, 12 Angry Men, Being There and then… this. It ruined my day and wasted my time.

5: Rumour Has It (2005)

Again, this doesn’t suck as much as others, but I just have a complete and utter dislike of Jennifer Aniston. I can’t even look at her without feeling… sick. She calls herself an actress? I can’t believe it. And attempting to revive The Graduate fever with a plotline involving that successful film is not paying tribute to it, but rather, insulting it.

6: The Bachelor (1999)

Okay, I’m especially pissed off at this one for attempting to recreate Buster Keaton’s fantastic 1925 comedy Seven Chances. It is a failed remake, tribute, parody or whatever it was trying to be.

7: Mr. Wrong (1996)

Before we ever knew Ellen’s true sexual agenda, she starred in this painfully dry comedy in which she is trying to avoid a stalker of a suitor. One of the most painful viewing experiences I’ve ever had the misfortune to watch… if watching only the first hour counts.

8: Blind Date (1987)

The only way in which this is close to Die Hard is chronologically. Other than that, it’s a flop and a complete stinker. Bruce Willis is disgustingly lame and manages to waste our time in ways that we’ve never thought possible… or have we?

9: Say It Isn’t So (2001)

Despite the sexual appeal of Heather Graham following Boogie Nights and that Austin Powers movie she was in, we uncover one of her true sides and that is that she can’t always put a movie together. As for the Farrelly brothers… for shame!

10: From Justin to Kelly (2003)

If ever Gigli had a rival on this list for worst movie, it would be From Justin to Kelly. This is a hopeless romantic comedy which made me cringe with disgust and boredom, and is unworthy of any love, compassion, respect or even pity. Awful. No, horrible. No… adjectives cannot describe the deep hatred I have for this film.

So there you have it! Ten great romantic movies and ten horrible ones. So… what’s your opinion? Do you agree or disagree with my choices? Leave a comment below and tell me what you thought.

Thanks for reading.

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About Tyler

Patient observer of all things film and music, from Béla Tarr to Boards of Canada. Foul mouthed and clinging to the edge of sanity.

Posted on April 19, 2011, in Lists, Movies and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. It speaks volumes about the ten best that I don’t think of most of them as Rom Coms. They are, of course, but they feel like so much more. I guess after years of Sandra Bullock and Julia Roberts dreck, it’s easy to forget that the genre has capabilities.

    • So true. It was a nightmare doing research and watching the Ten Really Bad Ones, but then when you stand them side by side with the Ten Really Good Ones, it’s shocking how much they differ.

  2. I have to see It Happened One Night. It’s been recommended so many times by my friends. Glad I’ve only seen 1 out of your bad list, but Mannequin was kinda cute when I saw it 20 yrs ago, I might not think so if I saw it recently.

    • Trust me, you will love It Happened One Night. It’s been redone so many times in pop culture and movies, such as the 80s John Cusack movie The Sure Thing, which is a below-par romantic movie I’m ashamed to say I enjoy.

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