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Best rom-com movies from the last decade

  • Best rom-com movies from the last decade

    The global film industry has felt the impact of the COVID-19 crisis in a major way, from cancellations of major film festivals to the suspension of movie production and the postponement of highly anticipated release dates. While fans await new release dates for upcoming movies, they may be compelled to turn to recent films they missed. Romantic comedies offer lighthearted thrills and an escape from real life, but they’re also reflections of their cultural moment. The idea of romance as fulfilling is traditional and generally believed to be true. Many films end with coupledom as the happy ending, with the notion that society-at-large is also better off when people pair up. When comedy is added to romance, there’s a possibility for transgression. Rom-coms use love, marriage, and a drive toward coupledom as the happy ending—sometimes to interrogate cultural norms, and often, rebel against them. Not all romances end with marriage, and the most progressive films offer a more open-ended finale. Cultural ideas around gender, desire, money, and power play out in stories about marriage—the endgame moment for a culture that emphasizes the value of romance. Romantic comedies take it as a given that romance is good and fulfilling.

    Stacker compiled IMDb data on all romantic comedies from the 2010s and ranked them according to their user ratings (out of 10), initial ties broken by Metascores (out of 100) and secondary ties broken by IMDb user votes. To qualify, the film had to be listed as "romance" and "comedy" on two or more of the major databases (IMDb, Metacritic, Wikipedia, Letterboxd, Rotten Tomatoes, etc.), released in the U.S. theatrically or on streaming services between Jan. 1, 2010, and Dec. 31, 2019, and have at least 20,000 votes on IMDb.

    Movie genres are meant to help describe and communicate the tone and style of a film, not to serve as a limiting factor on what films can and cannot be. There are no hard and fast lines that define romantic comedies, and leaning into more open interpretations of what fits into certain genres is best practice for getting a pool of films that represent all possible expressions of a particular genre. Every film on the list has been considered according to the cinematic history and development of romantic comedies.

    While this list shows progress it also proves how slowly it moves. Since marriage is at the root of social convention, and love as a transactional relationship leans conservative, rom-coms often reinforce traditional notions of gender roles. Rom-coms frequently center the experience of the white cisgender male and show this hero controlling or trying to control the women in his life. Rom-coms are formulaic, and by nature nostalgic, but the best ones break the mold, and most of all, sweep up their audiences with emotion.

    Keep reading for the 50 best rom-coms in the 2010s. 

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  • #50. Love & Other Drugs (2010)

    - Director: Edward Zwick
    - IMDb user rating: 6.7
    - Metascore: 55
    - Runtime: 112 min

    Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway star in “Love and Other Drugs.” This dramatic role was part of Anne Hathaway’s transition to a major actress, as opposed to mere rom-com sweetheart. She plays a free spirit with a serious disease and acts in what were considered racy sex scenes with the pharmacy salesman played by Gyllenhaal. Two years later, Hathaway won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar as the tragic prostitute Fantine in “Les Misérables.”

  • #49. Before We Go (2014)

    - Director: Chris Evans
    - IMDb user rating: 6.8
    - Metascore: 31
    - Runtime: 95 min

    Chris Evans, the star of Marvel’s “Captain America” films, starred in and directed this indie film about an encounter between strangers. Alice Eve plays the random woman who he helps after she breaks her phone. The two spend an evening walking, talking, and getting to know one another in the vein of “Before Sunrise.” The film shows the romance of the chance meeting, and ends on a note of ambiguous hope—the audience decides if that was the end or just the beginning.

  • #48. Happy. Thank you. More. Please. (2010)

    - Director: Josh Radnor
    - IMDb user rating: 6.8
    - Metascore: 45
    - Runtime: 100 min

    Josh Radnor wrote and starred in this upbeat indie rom-com with Kate Mara as Mississippi, the waitress who steals his heart. Radnor plays a writer whose great tragedy, as he understands it, was growing up in the suburbs with nice parents. It rings off-key when he takes in a young Black child who was lost on the subway and subsequently comes across like a device to aid the hero’s journey to love. In a secondary love story, Malin Åkerman plays a woman with alopecia, while Tony Hale plays the man who woos her and gives one of the more epic love-at-first-sight speeches of all time.

  • #47. The First Time (2012)

    - Director: Jonathan Kasdan
    - IMDb user rating: 6.8
    - Metascore: 55
    - Runtime: 95 min

    This high school rom-com takes a tender look at awkward teen sex as two seniors make sense of their first time and grapple with the before and after in a film that goes for sweetness over raunch. This was one of Dylan O’Brien’s first film roles before starring in “The Maze Runner” franchise. Britt Robertson plays a senior from another school who he obsesses over. Robertson would go on to star in “Tomorrowland” with George Clooney, and the TV drama “For the People.”

  • #46. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (2011)

    - Director: Lasse Hallström
    - IMDb user rating: 6.8
    - Metascore: 58
    - Runtime: 107 min

    A Yemeni Sheikh (Amr Waked) embroils in British politics and terrorist plots while instigating an unlikely love affair between bureaucrats—all because he wants a salmon fishery in a Yemen desert. Ewan McGregor stars as the fish scientist caught up in the project who falls for the Sheikh’s adviser played by Emily Blunt.

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  • #45. What If (2013)

    - Director: Michael Dowse
    - IMDb user rating: 6.8
    - Metascore: 59
    - Runtime: 98 min

    In the early 2010s, Daniel Radcliffe was branching out in roles beyond iconic wizard Harry Potter. In this quirky rom-com he plays a man friend-zoned by a graphic designer (Zoe Kazan) in the familiar plot that asks if men and women can really be friends. Graphic animations (artwork come to life) give a sense of hipster whimsy to this sweet, easy story about the love beneath friendship.

  • #44. Always Be My Maybe (2019)

    - Director: Nahnatchka Khan
    - IMDb user rating: 6.8
    - Metascore: 64
    - Runtime: 101 min

    This is one of Netflix’s hit rom-coms that garnered viral buzz. Keanu Reeves plays himself in a small role that set the internet aflame with renewed stanning of the now middle-aged “Matrix” star. Audiences also fell for the main story about childhood friends played by Ali Wong and Randall Park who are destined to end up together despite the obstacles. The film was praised for respecting Asian American identity without erasing it or making it a central part of the story.

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  • #43. Man Up (2015)

    - Director: Ben Palmer
    - IMDb user rating: 6.8
    - Metascore: 69
    - Runtime: 88 min

    Simon Pegg plays a man in a mid-life crisis who mistakes a woman (Lake Bell) for his blind date, and she chooses to go along with it. In this British comedy, the two fall for each other, break up, and then decide to maybe give it a go after all—over the course of one day. The film is filled with slapstick antics, a little romance, and hope.

  • #42. Bridesmaids (2011)

    - Director: Paul Feig
    - IMDb user rating: 6.8
    - Metascore: 75
    - Runtime: 125 min

    Kristen Wiig proved that an all-female leading cast could open an R-rated comedy with strong box office gusto in this gross-out, slapstick wedding rom-com. Melissa McCarthy emerged as a major star with comedic genius in her Academy Award-nominated supporting role as the groom’s kooky sister who thinks “Fight Club” would make a great theme for the bridal shower.

  • #41. Obvious Child (2014)

    - Director: Gillian Robespierre
    - IMDb user rating: 6.8
    - Metascore: 76
    - Runtime: 84 min

    Jenny Slate represents a version of what the Rumpus’ Arielle Bernstein called a new “Lady Neurotic,” a version of millennial womanhood (in line with Lena Dunham’s “Girls”) who emerges in the 2010s in white female characters grappling with empowerment and its failed promises. The story destigmatizes abortion as it follows an unwanted pregnancy and the unlikely romance that forms with the guy from a one-night stand. 

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