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:Shakespeare in Love

Shakespeare in Love

John Madden

One of the most endearing and intelligent romantic comedies of the ‘90s, the Oscar-winning Shakespeare in Love is filled with such good will, sunny romance, snappy one-liners, and devilish cleverness that it’s absolutely irresistible. With tongue placed firmly in cheek, at its outset the film tracks young Will Shakespeare’s overwrought battle with writer’s block and the efforts of theater owner Philip Henslowe (Geoffrey Rush, in rare form) to stage Will’s latest comedy, Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate’s Daughter. Jokey comedy, though, soon takes a…

Film:Jerry Maguire

Jerry Maguire

Cameron Crowe

One of the best romantic comedies of the 1990s, this box-office hit cemented writer-director Cameron Crowe’s reputation as “the voice of a generation.” Crowe could probably do without that label, but he’s definitely in sync with the times with this savvy story about a sports agent (Tom Cruise) whose fall from grace motivates his quest for professional recovery, and the slow-dawning realization that he needs the love and respect of the single mom (Renée Zellweger in her breakthrough role) who has supported him through the worst of times. This is one of Cruise’s…

Film:As Good As It Gets

As Good As It Gets

James L. Brooks

For all of its conventional plotting about an obsessive-compulsive curmudgeon (Jack Nicholson) who improves his personality at the urging of his gay neighbor (Greg Kinnear) and a waitress (Helen Hunt) who inspires his best behavior, this is one of the sharpest Hollywood comedies of the 1990s. Nicholson could play his role in his sleep (the Oscar he won should have gone to Robert Duvall for The Apostle), but his mischievous persona is precisely necessary to give heart to his seemingly heartless character, who is of all things a successful romance novelist.…

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: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:Bulworth

Bulworth

Warren Beatty

Jay Bulworth is your typical senator going through a nervous breakdown. The empty speeches, lies, money, and pressure have led him to plan his own assassination on a weekend trip home to California just before the election. However, a cord snaps in him and like Jim Carrey’s rambling lawyer in Liar, Liar, Bulworth can only tell the truth. This new freedom turns Bulworth on and he spews the ugly truth about politics: he tells mass media they are as corrupt as insurance companies; lambastes a black church for not having leaders; and riles the Jewish power…

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