The 10 Best Romantic Comedies of All Time

by | February 12, 2021 | Comments

(Photo by Lionsgate/courtesy Everett Collection)

With the last 12 months featuring fresh, critically-adored movies like Palm Springs, Happiest Season, and the finale to Netflix’s To All The Boys trilogy, the rom-com’s swooning heart is beating strong. But what about the sparkling romances that already stand the test of time? Take a look at the 10 best-reviewed romantic comedies on Rotten Tomatoes.

Using our weighted formula — which takes into account each movie’s number of collected critics reviews and year of original release — we discover:

10. Roman Holiday (1953): A socialite (Audrey Hepburn) in Rome flees her life with a reluctant American (Gregory Peck) for a day of freedom. Critics Consensus: With Audrey Hepburn luminous in her American debut, Roman Holiday is as funny as it is beautiful, and sets the standard for the modern romantic comedy.

9. City Lights (1931): A tramp (Charlie Chaplin) meets a blind flower girl and avows to make her life better through a series of odd jobs and the help of a drunk millionaire. Critics Consensus: One of the best underdog romance movies ever, with an ending that will light up any heart.

8. The Artist (2011): A movie star (Jean Dujardin) falls in love with a dancer (Berenice Bejo) in this Best Picture-winning tribute to silent cinema. Critics Consensus: A crowd-pleasing tribute to the magic of silent cinema, The Artist is a clever, joyous film with delightful performances and visual style to spare.

7. Annie Hall (1977): Another Best Picture winner, starring Diane Keaton in the template-setter for modern romance. Critics Consensus: Filled with poignant performances and devastating humor, Annie Hall represents a quantum leap for Woody Allen and remains an American classic.

(Photo by Warner Bros/courtesy Everett Collection)

6. Crazy Rich Asians (2018): A New Yorker (Constance Wu) travels to Singapore to meet her boyfriend’s (Henry Golding) loaded family. Critics Consensus: With a terrific cast and a surfeit of visual razzle dazzle, Crazy Rich Asians takes a satisfying step forward for screen representation while deftly drawing inspiration from the classic — and still effective — rom-com formula.

5. His Girl Friday (1940): When a newspaper editor (Cary Grant) finds out his ex-wife and employee (Rosalind Russell) is set on getting married, he sets out to sabotage her plans. Critics Consensus: Anchored by stellar performances from Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell, His Girl Friday is possibly the definitive screwball romantic comedy.

4. The Lady Eve (1941): A con artist (Barbara Stanwyck) aims to bilk a socially awkward heir to a fortune (Henry Fonda) of his riches, but matters get complicated when she starts falling in love. Critics Consensus: A career highlight for Preston Sturges, The Lady Eve benefits from Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda’s sparkling chemistry — and a script that inspired countless battle-of-the-sexes comedies.

3. The Philadelphia Story (1940): A socialite’s (Katharine Hepburn) new marriage plans are thrown into chaos when her ex-husband (Cary Grant) and a reporter (James Stewart) show up unannounced. Critics Consensus: Offering a wonderfully witty script, spotless direction from George Cukor, and typically excellent lead performances, The Philadelphia Story is an unqualified classic.

2. The Big Sick (2017): Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan play a couple who navigate multi-cultural family differences and a serious illness, based on Nanjani’s own life events. Critics Consensus: Funny, heartfelt, and intelligent, The Big Sick uses its appealing leads and cross-cultural themes to prove the standard rom-com formula still has some fresh angles left to explore.

1. It Happened One Night (1934): Two big personalities (Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert) come together after being left behind at a bus stop in this screwball classic. Critics Consensus: Capturing its stars and director at their finest, It Happened One Night remains unsurpassed by the countless romantic comedies it has inspired.

Need more than a top 10? Rotten Tomatoes has you covered with the 200 best romantic comedies of all time.

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