New York Times critic A.O. Scott said it best: “It might be Kate Hudson, or maybe Mandy Moore, or possibly Rachel Weisz, Lindsay Lohan or a Jennifer (Lopez? Aniston? Garner?) But if it’s February, you can be pretty sure that some pretty, plucky actress will be traipsing around some glamorous and photogenic American city (or its Canadian double) in search of the dimple-chinned fellow who embodies her one true love.” Sure enough, he’s right: Hudson can currently be seen in Bride Wars, and Aniston in He’s Just Not That Into You. That’s not even mentioning Renée Zellweger in New in Town, or Last Chance Harvey, or Confessions of a Shopaholic.
Even if this glut of less-than-inspiring movies doesn’t exactly, well, inspire confidence in romantic comedies, the genre is far from dead. The best in recent years have often been the ones to bend and defy the genre—or, in other words, the ones that don’t seem like romantic comedies. With that in mind, the past eight years have been especially fruitful for the genre. Here are 17 great examples from the past eight years. Romantic comedy is a sort of loose, malleable term, but the way I’ve defined it is this: the movie must be marginally funny and/or sweet, and there must be a romantic relationship (or relationships) at the movie’s core. Fans of Love, Actually, prepare to be disappointed.
16. The Science of Sleep (2006)
15. Ghost Town (2008)
14. Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)
13. The 40 Year-Old Virgin (2005)
12. Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)
11. Lars and the Real Girl (2007)