We take stock of the best rom-coms ever—from Coming to America to Groundhog Day to three Nora Ephron classics.
By Vanity Fair, May 11, 2022
As this list of the best romantic comedies ever proves, the death of the genre has been greatly exaggerated. Yes, rom-coms have faltered in popularity since their 1990s heyday—but even as time passes, audiences are hungry as ever for banter, meet-cutes, and happy endings. That’s been clear for years now, since Netflix hit pay dirt by releasing scores of rom-coms, Crazy Rich Asians made bank at the box office, and Licorice Pizza became a critical darling.
Which got us thinking: what are the best romantic comedies of all time, the films that most perfectly exemplify this beloved but under-appreciated genre? Vanity Fair’s Hollywood team decided to find out by making individual top 10 lists, then crunching the numbers, noting which films appeared most frequently, and—after a few brief arguments about what constitutes a romantic comedy, and what does not—came up with the final tally.
Though 31 rom-coms ultimately made the list, 20 more were left off because they received only a single vote—films that ran the gamut from Obvious Child to White Christmas to Strictly Ballroom to Wall-E. The takeaway, perhaps, is that “romantic comedy” is an elastic designation, one that lies at least partly in the eye of the beholder—appropriate enough for a genre all about falling in love.
It’s hard to believe, but it’s been 50 years since Francis Ford Coppola’s”The Godfather” made moviegoers an offer they couldn’t refuse.
The film was a sensation when it debuted in March 24, 1972, setting box office records, revitalizing the career of Marlon Brando, launching the likes of Al Pacino, Robert Duvall and James Caan onto the A-list, and scoring an Oscar for Best Picture.
But things could have gone very differently. Coppola, an up-and-coming director tasked with bringing Mario Puzo’s best-selling novel to the screen, was hardly the studio’s first choice for the task (Paramount production chief Robert Evans preferred Costa-Gavras).
And things didn’t improve when cameras started rolling, with Paramount openly flirting with firing the filmmaker at several key points.
Writer-director Lawrence Kasdan, a four-time Oscar nominee, worked with Oscar winner William Hurt, who died March 13 at age 71, on “Body Heat” (1981), “The Big Chill” (1983), “The Accidental Tourist” (1988) and “I Love You to Death” (1990).
William Hurt and I came into the movies together, and Bill had a huge impact on the way I thought about the process.
We met when I was casting “Body Heat,” the first movie I directed. On our initial meeting, we talked for hours about movies and life. We were trying to guess what it would be like to take that journey together.
I was still looking for my cast and eventually tested four couples for the two leads, but that first conversation with Bill stayed with me.
Bill immediately brought a seriousness to the whole process that I carried forward from that night. We did everything with the knowledge that what we were doing commanded our greatest effort.
William Hurt, who died Sunday at 71, had a look and an aura that appeared, at first, to fit all too snugly into Hollywood’s conception of what a movie star should be.
Tall and broad-shouldered, with a silky shock of wheat-colored hair, his handsome features set off by a cleft chin and a faraway gaze, he was, at a glance, the quintessence of the old-fashioned WASP he-man ideal.
(In hindsight, he looked like a blond Jon Hamm.) In movies, this sort of fellow was generally presented as a paragon of rectitude, a “strong silent type.” But there was nothing silent about William Hurt.
The first time audiences encountered him, he was floating in a sensory-deprivation tank in the loony-tunes acid-head psychodrama “Altered States” (1980), and the moment he climbed out of that tank, suffused with the visions he had seen, he couldn’t stop jabbering about them.