Forget Pretty Woman, 10 Things I Hate About You and How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days, next time your girlfriend suggests a cosy night in, put on one of these instead.
11 | 500 Days Of Summer
A film about what happens when relationships end. Chronology is abandoned as heartbroken Tom (Joseph Gordon Levitt) remembers the highs and lows of his relationship with the original “manic pixie dream girl” Zooey Deschanel. From the initial workplace meeting to the post break-up drinking and the hopes of reconciliation, the film unfolds like a blueprint for failed relationships everywhere. The “expectations vs reality” party scene is something most men have experienced at least once in their lives, while the ending is a great example of what you can achieve once you pull yourself out of that post-break-up slump (with the help of a great new suit and a haircut).
10 | Jerry Maguire
Jerry Maguire finds Tom Cruise pedaling a variation on his usual “affable jerk” shtick as a sports agent on the down and out after his colleagues give him the boot for not being quite as much of a jerk as they wanted him to be. As the New York Times wrote in their 1996 review, “Having just walked through ''Mission: Impossible'' in colorlessly heroic mode, Mr. Cruise does some of his best real acting here.” While Cruise’s performance may be up there with his best (including the famous "Show me the money!" scene), it’s an unknown, pre-Bridget Jones, Rene Zellweger who helps levitate the film to the standard of classic as the single-mum with the courage (and love-clouded vision) to stand beside Cruise as he makes the best of a bad situation and triumphantly sticks two fingers up to the rat race.
9 | Silver Linings Playbook
Originally set to star Vince Vaughn in Bradley Cooper’s role, Silver Linings Playbook was very nearly a different film all together. As it is, the story of the passive aggressive relationship blooming between Cooper’s bipolar former school teacher and Jennifer Lawrence’s widowed Tiffany (who’s recently lost her job for having sex with everyone in the office) is by far the best rom-com of the 2010s (so far). From 4am dissections of Hemingway’s A Farewell To Arms to Jennifer Lawrence’s dance routines and Robert DeNiro’s best role in years, the film’s eight Academy Award nominations were thoroughly deserved.
8 | As Good As It Gets
A film that features Jack Nicholson reveling in being “Jack” (and going on to pick up an Oscar for his performance) as Melvin Udall, a misanthrope, OCD novelist living in New York, who’s thrust into a position of responsibility when he’s asked to take care of his neighbour’s dog. As we all know, having a dog in tow does wonders for your sex appeal and it’s not long before Melvin starts up an erratic and fraught relationship with Helen Hunt’s waitress. A film about a reluctant romance, it nonetheless features perhaps the best chat-up line of all time in “You make me want to be a better person.”
7 | Some Like It Hot
Perhaps the first rom-com to feature cross-dressing, the American Film Institute has listed the film as The Greatest American Comedy Film Of All Time. If you’re not familiar with the story all you need to know is that musicians Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon cross-dress in order to escape the Chicago mob and end up competing for the attentions of Marilyn Monroe. Think Tootsie as a pastiche of 1930s gangster films, but with more jazz. A tame film by today’s standards, but upon its release in 1959, The Catholic League Of Decency filed a number of complaints about the film, calling it “seriously offensive to Christian and traditional standards of morality.” Clearly, there’s no such thing as bad publicity as the film was nominated for six Academy Awards, included Best Adapted Screenplay, including lines like this: “Look how she moves. That's just like Jell-O on springs.”
6 | High Fidelity
“Books, records films – these things matter. Call me shallow but it’s the f*ckin’ truth.” So says John Cusack’s record store owner in the feature adaptation/ Americanization of Nick Hornby’s classic novel. While we may agree with Cusack, his philosophy hasn’t done much for his love life and has led to his girlfriend moving on in search of better things, causing Cusack’s character to re-evaluate his approach to romance by getting in touch with his ex-girlfriends to find out exactly where he went wrong. The cinematic equivalent of a drunken 2am phone call, High Fidelity often requires you to watch it from between your fingers, such is the empathy you’ll feel with a man who’s been unaware just how wrong he’s been getting things when it comes to women. An endlessly quotable film, with a great soundtrack, it even got the thumbs up from Hornby himself.
5 | Play It Again, Sam
Dare we say Woody Allen’s 1972 Broadway adaptation is more deserving of a place on this list than Annie Hall or Manhattan? Yes, and here’s why: As with High Fidelity, this is a film about people who love cinema, with Allen’s recently-divorced film critic endlessly quoting Casablanca, purely for his own amusement. Unconvincingly playing a 29-year-old, the 36-year-old Allen awkwardly navigates the San Francisco dating scene with the help of the ghost of Humphrey Bogart (Jerry Lacy) feeding him advice. A study in male aspirations and how we all attempt to portray a persona of our idealised selves when dating, the film suggests that ultimately there’s more substance to be found in the man behind the front. One of Woody Allen’s best efforts and a great tribute to Casablanca, the film also directly led to the character of Elvis Presley in the Tarantino-penned True Romance.
4 | There's Something About Mary
In 1998 the Farrelly brothers were at the peak of their “gross-out” phase, with There’s Something About Mary their crowning jewel. It’s the film that defined our perceptions of both Ben Stiller and Cameron Diaz and to an extent they’ve both been trying to recapture the same shtick ever since. From Stiller’s scrotum-in-zip to Mary’s “special” hair gel and Matt Dillon’s oversized teeth, the film’s puerile streak is yet to be beaten. The late Roger Ebert summed up the film’s appeal in his original review, “It flies in the face of manners, values, political correctness and decorum. It exposes us for what we are, the only animal with a sense of humor."
3 | His Girl Friday
A classic from 1940, His Girl Friday features archetypal leading man Cary Grant as a newspaper editor attempting to sabotage his ex-wife’s new engagement by sending her off to cover the execution of a convicted murderer. A typically hard-boiled film from this period, it’s the interplay between the ex-husband and wife that drive the story of love rekindled through jealousy. Katharine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers and Carole Lombard all turned down the role of the ex-wife, with the part eventually going to Rosalind Russell who hired her own writer to give her character more dialogue. Nevertheless, some of the best lines belong to Grant, “You’ve got an old fashioned idea divorce is something that lasts forever, ‘til death do us part.”
2 | Groundhog Day
Bill Murray is at his best as an obnoxious TV meteorologist forced to relive the same day over and over again (2 February, if you were wondering). Initially Murray does as we’d all do if we could live without consequences and sets about stealing money and seducing women. Eventually, of course he becomes a better person and finds love with Andie MacDowell. However, Murray initially refused to film the final scene (the morning of 3 February) after the director was unable to tell him what he was wearing in bed (i.e. what had happened between his character and MacDowell). After a tied vote, Murray was about to walk out when the assistant set director insisted he wear the clothes his character had been wearing on the previous, looped day. Murray was happy with the answer and the film that Total Film voted the seventh greatest comedy of all time was saved.
1 | Shaun Of The Dead
It was billed as “rom-zom” but Edgar Wright’s 2004 horror/comedy follows the rom-com formula to the letter. Boy and girl get stuck in a rut. Girl dumps boy. Boy goes through hell and high water (and zombies) to get her back. What works so well is Wright’s decision to camouflage the romance against the resurrection of the dead, playing out the survival of Shaun’s relationship against then end of the human race. A great film about friendship, drinking and arrested development, there’s something for everyone to learn here, if only that you need to mix up your date ideas (and the Batman soundtrack is not the best anti-zombie weapon).
Have we missed anything? Let us know in the comments