For all you lovebirds and hopeless romantics out there, I'm bringing you the best romantic comedies of the decade – likely with a few choice flicks from the past several years thrown in for good measure. We're steering clear of the biggest tearjerkers, because everyone needs a few good laughs with their love stories! I've polled the avid moviegoers in my circle of friends and acquaintances, as well as random romance addicts, so this is definitely a well-rounded list, in no particular order. That being said, if your favorite film didn't make my list of the best romantic comedies of the decade, prepare to share in comments!
1 High Fidelity
High Fidelity is one of the best romantic comedies of the decade because you don't really expect it to be. It's actually a really smart, edgy movie, and you don't see that in a bunch of rom-coms. It's not at all predictable, so you aren't certain of a happy ending as you watch it. Plus, well, John Cusack proves that he's still got it.
2 Vicky Cristina Barcelona
This is a weird choice because typically Woody Allen's films are so neurotic – and, again, you're never quite sure of a happy ending. This film had a lot of controversy attached to it, simply because of some of its sexier scenes. It was a huge success, and rightfully so – it's just a damn good movie. It takes the whole idea of a love triangle to the next level – and the whole idea of a rom-com, for that matter. Just look at the ending!
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3 Lars and the Real Girl
This is not the kind of movie in which you'd expect to see the dreamy Ryan Gosling. To put it simply, the king of the romance genre falls in love with a RealDoll. Lars is quirky, the movie is quirky, and it again transcends the whole idea of what a romantic comedy is supposed to be, which is probably why it got so much critical acclaim. You've got to love those movies that fall outside the genre's parameters.
4 Something Borrowed
Emily Griffin's books made everyone go crazy. Because the book itself is classic chick-lit, I don't think anyone expected big things out of the movie, but it was really cute – and, again, incredibly unexpected. It proved that not every romantic comedy has to follow the formula. Although Ginnifer Goodwin played true to type, you got to see unexpected things from Kate Hudson, and this ending, too, was a surprise to anyone who wasn't familiar with the book.
5 Celeste and Jesse Forever
Are you seeing a pattern developing here? Many of the biggest, most popular romantic comedies for the decade didn't follow the formula. This one broke boundaries even by starring Andy Samberg, who isn't a classic leading man. Perhaps the only traditional, typical thing about this film is the relationship that develops between Tucker and Beth – the best friends always get together, don't they? Otherwise, the entire dynamic between Celeste and Jesse is almost anti-romantic comedy, which is no doubt what made the movie such a hit.
6 Definitely, Maybe
Ryan Reynolds just seems made for romantic comedy, but he's such a breath of fresh air in the genre. After all, he's snarky but gorgeous. Winning! This film is almost like a full-length How I Met Your Mother plot line, but it's charming and it leaves you guessing. The story itself is incredibly touching, and sort of indicative of modern romance: painful, unsure, often messy, but hopefully fulfilling.
7 The Proposal
See? Told you. This rom-com is much truer to the genre, but it's also adorable and it has Betty White. I mean, how can you find fault with it? There's even an adorable dog. I think Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock should have gotten married, and it was nice to see them in a bit of a role switch: Bullock strong, even kind of bitchy but still awesome and extremely powerful; Reynolds, almost but not quite a lackey.
8 (500) Days of Summer
(500) Days of Summer is another smart romantic comedy. It kind of came out of left field when it premiered, but I suppose its success isn't too surprising. In addition to being a rather brilliant and totally unexpected little movie, it stars Zooey Deschanel, everyone's darling. I loved it for its realism, and Summer's reaction to Tom's behavior.
9 Something's Gotta Give
Proof that neither love nor comedy belong solely to the young, yes? There aren't enough movies in general starring people over 40, let alone romantic comedies, but I won't throw that rant at you again. Suffice it to say that, although the script was a little iffy, Jack and Diane carry this movie beautifully. There's something natural and smooth about this rom-com, perhaps because it does focus on a “sunset romance” – and I'm sorry you ever had to see me use that term.
10 Crazy, Stupid, Love
This time Ryan Gosling is not dating a fake girl. He's a player who, understandably and quite naturally, falls in love with Emma Stone. Who wouldn't? I'm in love with Emma Stone – but don't tell Heather. There are so many twists to this movie, and so many poignant, really smart moments. It all comes together so smoothly, so again, it's a damn good movie in addition to being a really fantastic rom-com. Steve Carell and Julianne Moore's marriage is so touching, the cracks in their relationship so painful, you have to love the way it all comes together.
11 My Big Fat Greek Wedding
I know this makes almost every list I ever create, but c'mon. It's the perfect movie! More than that, it's the quintessential romantic comedy. I adore Nia Vardalos without reservation, and she is utter perfection in this. She is both a talented writer and actress, and I think that, although this centers around a Greek family, it's true for any family that blends itself when a marriage occurs. You don't even have to be from significantly different cultures. Trust me, I know from where I speak!
12 The Five-Year Engagement
You have to know that I originally had Forgetting Sarah Marshall on here, yes? But I decided that I have to stop mentioning it in every list – I mean, My Big Fat Greek Wedding had to stay, but I made a sacrifice here because I love the relationship aspect in The Five-Year Engagement. There's pain and realism in Sarah Marshall as well, but as someone who both moved to Michigan to be with the girl she loved and as someone who experienced a move with that same girl, I felt this movie a lot. That will put a strain on your relationship, so the actual happy ending here surprised me – pleasantly, of course.
13 Bridget Jones's Diary
What? Of course I included this. It's one of my favorite movies of all time! Pretend I included Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason as well, because I like it just as much. I confess, Mark Darcy is the driving force behind my affection, but I love Bridget as a character. I even liked the way Rene Zellweger portrayed her, in spite of how much hate she gets. It was refreshing (as you'll see) to have a heroine who wasn't entirely perfect. She was awkward and quirky and weird and entirely inappropriate, she didn't think she deserved the very best, and she continued feeling insecure when she got it. I mean, jeez, I've been there – haven't you?
14 Phat Girlz
I confess, this choice is mine and mine alone. No one I polled mentioned it at all, but I think it deserves its place. It is a really funny, charming movie, in the first place. In the second place, Mo'Nique is a goddess – this woman is one of my idols, no joke. In the third and fourth places, there are simply not enough large women or women of color in leading roles, especially in the romantic comedy genre. Mo'Nique owned this movie as Jazmin, she was gorgeous, her ensemble cast was stellar (Godfrey cracked me up the entire time), and Jimmy Jean-Louis was amazing. The end!
15 Love Actually
This is one of the greatest romantic comedies ever made. It has one of the best casts ever assembled, yet it doesn't go overboard like a few other star-studded spectaculars I could mention. I'd love it even if it only starred Colin Firth, but there's Alan Rickman, too! There's also lots of drama and unrequited love and sharp-tongued, spectacularly witty humor – what's not to love?
16 Think like a Man
This movie went over in a big way, which is understandable – it hasn't really been done before. That might be because of the book on which it's based, true, but the book was no guarantee that the movie would be so awesome. I love the couple-cliches followed in the film, especially Mama's Boy plus Single Mom and The Guy Who Won't Commit plus The Ring Wraith.
17 Knocked up
There's no way Knocked Up wasn't making this list; it was mentioned so often that it would have been a crime not to include it (and if you haven't noticed, these aren't ranked in any particular order). Seth Rogan is an anti-leading man, no doubt – yet he gets with Katherine Heigl. Personally, I can't decide who made out better there. It's irreverent, raunchy, and graphic, but that's the new rom-com. Besides, it helped give birth to This Is 40. Paul Rudd forever!
18 How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days is basically the definition of romantic comedy, to the point where it's hard to believe that Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey haven't actually starred together in every rom-com, ever. It's honestly got a very neat premise, though. It's still a little predictable, but it's not stale, and the whole movie is worth it simply because Andie named Ben's penis “Princess Sophia.”
19 Friends with Benefits
So I'll say this straight out. This basically came out at the same time as No Strings Attached, and I thought that was just awful. But this one? I loved this one. It's not even because I have an enormous crush on Mia Kunis, although she's a joy to watch. More than anything, I loved the chemistry between Mila and Justin Timberlake, and I felt this was truer to the new, modern FWB trend. It was funnier, sharper, and smarter.
20 The Holiday
Ah, the classic twisting rom-com! I'll be honest, this one's for Heather. My Better Half loves this movie in the way that I love Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and so I've seen it approximately five million times. And it is really adorable. The plot could have been cliche, but there was just enough of a twist to turn it into something fresh. I admit to wishing that Kate Winslet had ended up with Jude Law instead of Jack Black, but hey, you can't always get what you want.
Romantic comedies are light, heartwarming, sweet, and surprisingly funny. Sometimes they're just what you need, whether you're going through a hard time or having a night in with the girls. Now, which movies would you have preferred to see on the list? Sound off, because your faves might show up in the next update!
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