Honor roll: Romantic Comedy films

Each of these Romantic Comedy films has received at least one award nomination. They are ranked by honors received.

Film:Get Shorty

Get Shorty

Barry Sonnenfeld

Hailed by many critics as one of the best films of 1995, this finely tuned black comedy sparked a renewed interest in movies based on books by prolific crime novelist Elmore Leonard, whose trademark combination of tight plotting and sharp humor is perfectly captured here. After the success of Pulp Fiction, John Travolta continued his meteoric comeback as Chili Palmer, a Mob “mechanic” whose latest assignment takes him to Los Angeles, where his fascination with the movie business turns into a new career as a would-be movie producer. He pitches ideas with a…

Film:Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day

Harold Ramis

Bill Murray does warmth in his most consistently effective post-Stripes comedy, a romantic fantasy about a wacky weatherman forced to relive one strange day over and over again, until he gets it right. Snowed in during a road-trip expedition to watch the famous groundhog encounter his shadow, Murray falls into a time warp that is never explained but pays off so richly that it doesn’t need to be. The elaborate loop-the-loop plot structure cooked up by screenwriter Danny Rubin is crystal-clear every step of the way, but it’s Murray’s world-class reactive…

Film:Strictly Ballroom

Strictly Ballroom

Baz Luhrmann

While the plot of this Australian film may seem a bit familiar (The Ugly Duckling meets Dirty Dancing), the whimsical tone and superb dance sequences will make you forget the movie’s predictability. Scott (Paul Mercurio) is a champion ballroom dancer who wants to dance “his own steps.” Fran is the homely, beginning dancer who convinces Scott that he should dance his own steps…with her. Complicating matters are Scott’s domineering mother (Pat Thompson), a former dancer herself, who wants her son to win the Australian Pan Pacific Championship (the…

Film:Pretty Woman

Pretty Woman

Garry Marshall

Like a pumpkin that transforms into a carriage, some very shrewd casting (and the charisma of Julia Roberts, in particular) morphed this story of a Hollywood whore into a Disneyfied Cinderella story—and a mainstream megahit. This is the movie that made Roberts a star; the charm of her personality helping tremendously to carry viewers over the rough spots in the script (which was originally a cynical tale about prostitution called 3000—after the amount of money Richard Gere’s character pays the prostitute to stay with him for the week). Gere is the…

Film:When Harry Met Sally

When Harry Met Sally

Rob Reiner

Nora Ephron wrote the brisk screenplay for this 1989 romantic comedy, director Rob Reiner made a nicely glossy New York story (very much in a Woody Allen vein) out of it, and Billy Crystal’s unstoppable charm made it something really special. Crystal and Meg Ryan play longtime platonic friends who keep dancing around their deeper feelings for one another, and Bruno Kirby and Carrie Fisher are their respective pals who fall in love and get married. Ryan doesn’t get a lot of funny material, but her performance is typically alive and intuitive, and she more than…

Film:Broadcast News

Broadcast News

James L. Brooks

Holly Hunter plays a network news producer who, much to her chagrin, finds herself falling for pretty-boy anchorman William Hurt. He is all glamour without substance and represents a hated shift from hard news toward packaged “infotainment,” which Hunter despises. Completing the triangle is Albert Brooks, who provides contrast as the gifted reporter with almost no presence on camera. He carries a torch for Hunter; she sees merely a friend. Written and directed by James L. Brooks, this shows remarkable insight into the people who make television. On the surface it…

Film:Moonstruck

Moonstruck

Norman Jewison

Remember the outfit Cher wore to the Oscars when she won an Academy Award for her performance in this 1987 film? Ay-yi-yi. The actress’ more retiring character in this infectious comedy leaps several psychological hurdles just giving her hair a permanent. But then the original screenplay by John Patrick Shanley (Joe Versus the Volcano) is a wonderful, gently satirical tale of an Italian-American family dealing with repression and dissatisfaction against a backdrop of cultural expectations. Cher is focused and funny as a widow who feels she should marry an…

Film:Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Woody Allen

Just as New York City was the backdrop in Woody Allen’s “Manhattan,” the stunning city of Barcelona is the setting for the romantic adventures of Vicky and Cristina. These two young Americans spend a summer in Spain and meet a flamboyant artist (Javier Bardem) and his beautiful but insane ex-wife (Penelope Cruz). Vicky (Rebecca Hall) is straight-laced and about to be married. Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) is a sexually adventurous free spirit. When they all become amorously entangled, the results can only be described as chaotic.

Film:Green Card

Green Card

Peter Weir

With the help of his lawyer, Georges (Gérard Depardieu), a composer and one-time petty thief who grew up in poverty, attempts to escape his life in Paris and begin anew in America by illegally marrying Bronte (Andie MacDowell), a prim and repressed young lady from a privileged life in Connecticut. Bronte, who has agreed to the scheme for her own self-serving reasons, is exasperated when the Immigration & Naturalization Service investigates their case, and she and Georges, whom she detests, must spend time together studying each other’s lives to avoid disaster.…

Film:The Princess Bride

The Princess Bride

Rob Reiner

Screenwriter William Goldman’s novel The Princess Bride earned its own loyal audience on the strength of its narrative voice and its gently satirical, hyperbolic spin on swashbuckled adventure that seemed almost purely literary. For all its derring-do and vivid over-the-top characters, the book’s joy was dictated as much by the deadpan tone of its narrator and a winking acknowledgement of the clichés being sent up. Miraculously, director Rob Reiner and Goldman himself managed to visualize this romantic fable while keeping that external voice largely…

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