The Death of the Genre Refuted
As this list of the best romantic comedies of all time shows, the death of the genre has been decidedly refuted. It’s true that romantic comedies have lost some of their appeal compared to the Nineties, the period of their greatest splendor, but even as time passes, audiences continue to be hungry for jokes, chance encounters and happy endings.
The Best Romantic Comedies of All Time
This has been clear for years now, since Netflix hit the bull’s eye by releasing dozens of romantic comedies: Crazy Rich Asians took the box office and Licorice Pizza was acclaimed by critics. This led us to ask ourselves: what are the best romantic comedies of all time, the films that best exemplify this beloved but underappreciated genre? The Hollywood team decided to find out by compiling individual top 10 lists, then tallying up the films that appeared most often, and after some brief discussions about what elements characterize a romantic comedy and which don’t, they compiled the final ranking. Although 31 romantic comedies made the list, another 20 were excluded because they received only one vote: from What To Expect When You’re Expecting to White Christmas, from Ballroom – Dance Competition to Wall-E. The conclusion, perhaps, is that “romantic comedy” is an elastic definition, which lies at least in part in the eye of the beholder, fitting enough for a genre that speaks of love.
The Revival of the Genre
Our final list of the best romantic comedies is an eclectic mix, encompassing everything from black and white classics to How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. While each individual choice may not contain all the elements commonly associated with a romantic comedy, all the finalists fit within the broad definition of the American Film Institute of “a genre in which the development of a romance leads to comic situations”. Netflix has been credited with reviving the romantic comedy in recent years, distributing popular titles such as How to Lose a Boss in 10 Days and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. But perhaps no work they’ve broadcast has been as necessary as The Half of It, Alice Wu’s proudly queer love story, director of the 2004 cult classic Saving Face. In this story inspired by Cyrano, high schooler Ellie Chu (Leah Lewis) helps an athlete at her school (Daniel Diemer) win the affections of the girl they both love (Alexxis Lemire). But the film isn’t so much concerned with the outcomes of these efforts as it is with the surprising friendship that develops between Ellie and Paul, two people who on the surface couldn’t seem more different. “It’s a bit of a misdirect,” Wu told us of her film’s developments: “Who gets the girl isn’t only not the most important thing in the movie, it’s not even the most important thing in these two kids’ lives.