The 90 Best Rom-Coms of All Time

Your ultimate guide to the (arguably) best film genre: the romantic comedy.

some of the best romantic comedies including clueless and crazy rich asians
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Romantic comedies: Love them or tolerate them—and let's be honest, you can't hate a rom-com—they're always good for a cozy evening in and a life lesson or two. They're also versatile: As with all the best movies, you can enjoy a good romantic comedy with almost anyone in your life, from your partner to your parents to your best friend. For when nothing but a good rom-com will do, those of us obsessed with the genre at Marie Claire have put together our list of the best romantic comedies of all time.

On this list, you’ll find picks from the genre’s queens, a.k.a. Julia Roberts and Nora Ephron. And while rom-coms are all generally funny and romantic (duh!), the films on our list feature a wide variety of plots and classic tropes. Are you looking for an enemies-to-lovers romance? We got you—The Proposal made this list. Love watching a couple fake date only to fall in love à la 10 Things I Hate About You style? Same. Stressing over who two teenagers will take to the prom? (Plot twist: They'll meet each other there.) That's our favorite activity! 

Our point is, rom-coms are the butter of the movie world—they just go perfectly with whatever you're craving. We've ordered our list of the 90 best rom-coms by genre, from laugh-out-loud rom-coms to teen versions to bittersweet rom-coms that will make you laugh and shed a tear or two. Last, you’ll find our final section dedicated to the absolute best of this genre.

The Best Laugh-Out-Loud Rom-Coms

'50 First Dates'

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Director: Peter Segal

Stars: Drew Berrymore, Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider

Rom-com tropes: Fantasy/vacation setting 

Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler's chemistry is undeniable in the feel-good movie 50 First Dates (2004), where Henry (Sandler) falls in love with a woman named Lucy (Barrymore) who has short-term memory loss. Every day, Henry tries to get Lucy to fall in love with him until she remembers him.

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'Knocked Up'

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Director: Judd Apatow 

Stars: Katherine Heigl, Seth Rogan, Leslie Mann

Rom-com tropes: Friends to lovers

Let's all take a moment to acknowledge Knocked Up is 15 years old. (Ugh, now we feel old.) Never forget Katherine Heigl and Seth Rogen who play, respectively, a rising journalist and an irresponsible slacker who have a one-night stand and, well, you get it...

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'Forgetting Sarah Marshall'

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Director: Nicholas Stoller

Stars: Jason Segal, Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell 

Rom-com tropes: Trouble with the ex, fantasy/vacation setting

Jason Segel stars as Peter, who is completely shattered when he's dumped by his famous, TV star girlfriend, Sarah Marshall. In an attempt to get over her, he goes to Hawaii, only to find that he's staying in the same hotel as Sarah and her new, obnoxious boyfriend.

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'The Parent Trap'

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Director: Nancy Meyers

Stars: Lindsey Lohan, Dennis Quaid, Natasha Richardson

Rom-com tropes: Old flames reignited, third-act declarations of love 

Come for Lindsay Lohan being absolutely iconic in her role as twins Hallie Parker and Annie James trying to get their parents back together, stay for Daddy Dennis Quaid who broke all of our late '90s hearts. 

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'There's Something About Mary'

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Director: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly

Stars: Cameron Diaz, Matt Dillon, Ben Stiller

Rom-com tropes: The makeover

After an unusual accident screwing up their prom date, Ted (Ben Stiller) thought his chance with Mary (Cameron Diaz) was over. Thirteen years later, he realizes he's still in love with Mary so he hires a private investigator to track her down, only for the P.I. to also fall in love with her. There's Something About Mary has no shortage of funny, often ridiculous scenes, and it still holds up just as well today as it did in 1998. 

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'Some Like It Hot'

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Director: Billy Wilder

Stars: Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon

Rom-com tropes: The makeover, third-act declarations of love 

Marilyn Monroe plays a member of a traveling jazz band who believes she's fallen in love with a millionaire, when in fact she's being duped by one of her fellow band members (a man on the run who's pretending to be a woman). Some Like It Hot features one of the steamiest kisses in film history and lots of great Marilyn Monroe song numbers.

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'27 Dresses'

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Director: Anne Fletcher

Stars: Katherine Heigl, James Marsden, Malin Akerman

Rom-com tropes: Opposites attract, third-act declarations of love

Come for the gorgeous dresses, stay for the "Bennie and the Jets" bar duet between Katherine Heigl and James Marsden. For anybody out there who feels like a forever bridesmaid, this 2008 movie will have you laughing and crying all at once.

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'The Proposal'

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Director: Anne Fletcher

Stars: Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds, Betty White

Rom-com tropes: Opposites attract, enemies to lovers, fantasy/vacation setting

A hotshot book editor (Sandra Bullock) facing deportation to Canada forces her younger male assistant (Ryan Reynolds) to marry her for a green card. During a trip to visit his family and sell the lie, they really fall in love. Yes, it's a #MeToo nightmare, but rom-coms sometimes live in their own special alternate universe.

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'Something Borrowed'

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Director: Luke Greenfield 

Stars: Ginnifer Goodwin, Kate Hudson, John Krasinski 

Rom-com tropes: Friends to lovers, third-act declarations of love 

What happens when you're in love with your best friend's fiancé and you don't know what to do about it? Allow Something Borrowed (2011) to show you! Things get messy and multiple declarations of love ensue. 

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'Deliver Us From Eva'

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Director: Gary Hardwick

Stars: Gabrielle Union, LL Cool J, Essence Atkins

Rom-com tropes: Fake dating 

Two men hire a sweet-talking Casanova named Ray to temporarily court their no-nonsense sister-in-law, but things go awry when Ray also wins over the hearts of their lady loves. Deliver Us From Eva hits all the necessary points of a good rom-com: a contract relationship, insane chemistry, and a kidnapping plot.

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'Coming to America'

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Director: John Landis 

Stars: Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, Shari Headley, 

Rom-com tropes: Opposites attract

There's a literal royal romance at the heart of this classic Eddie Murphy film. Prince Hakeem of the fictional nation Zamunda (Murphy) travels to Queens, NY, to find his true love, rather than have an arranged marriage. He falls for local beauty Lisa (Shari Headley), but he has to win her away from her Jheri-curl sporting boyfriend.

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'The 40-Year-Old Virgin'

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Director: Judd Apatow 

Stars: Steve Carell, Catherine Keener, Paul Rudd, Seth Rogan 

Rom-com tropes: The makeover

The 2000s were one hell of a time for romantic comedies, with The 40-Year-Old Virgin reigning as one of the most hilarious movies to come out of the period. This film marked Judd Apatow as a standout comedic director who can brilliantly weave together comedy and sweetness, and it's not the only film of his you'll find on this list. It also cemented Steve Carell as a comedy star as he would later go on to reach iconic status in The Office

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The Best Bittersweet Rom-Coms

'About Time'

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Director: Richard Curtis 

Stars: Rachel McAdams, Domhnall Gleeson, Bill Nighy

Rom-com tropes: Memory loss

When 21-year-old Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) learns the men in his family can time travel, he decides to put his power to good use by getting a girlfriend. He meets Mary (Rachel McAdams) and falls in love with her thanks to some time traveling, but he ends up losing her after an accident and has to repeat the process all over again when she doesn't remember who he is. 

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'Me Before You' 

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Director: Thea Sharrock

Stars: Emilia Clarke, Sam Claflin, Janet McTeer

Rom-com tropes: Forced proximity

Fair warning: This will feel like a gut punch to the heart, but don't let that dissuade you from watching this. In fact, this may be the most bittersweet of bittersweet rom-coms in the best way possible. Small-town girl Lou (Emilia Clarke) is hired as the caretaker for a recently-paralyzed man named Will (Sam Clafin). While they spend more and more time together, she learns that Will has plans to commit assisted suicide so she tries to show him how great life can be. 

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'Waitress'

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Director: Adrienne Shelly

Stars: Keri Russell, Nathan Fillion, Jeremy Sisto

Rom-com tropes: Forbidden romance

Before it was a hit Broadway musical, Waitress was a charming indie rom-com. Both tell the story of a small-town waitress who begins an affair with her OBGYN after she accidentally becomes pregnant by her no-good husband. 

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'500 Days of Summer'

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Director: Marc Webb

Stars: Zooey Deschanel, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Geoffrey Arend

Rom-com tropes: The meet-cute

All of the millennial angst of meeting someone who you believe to be the one, followed by disillusionment and despair, is captured in this excellent *non-romance* starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel. Bookmark this to watch alone, and experience all the feels.

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'Silver Linings Playbook'

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Director: David O. Russel 

Stars: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro

Rom-com tropes: Trouble with the ex, third-act declarations of love

It's about mental illness, and it also manages to be sweet and incredibly funny. It doesn't hurt that the two leads, played by Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, are giving some of their best work (Lawrence won an Oscar for the role). Come for the snappy banter, stay to watch two people who are imperfectly perfect for each other fall in love.

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'Love and Basketball'

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Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood

Stars: Sanaa Lathan, Omar Epps, Jedd Williard

Rom-com tropes: Friends to lovers 

This movie includes one of the sexiest scenes ever, a good old fashioned friends-to-more-than-just-friends storyline, and some heart-wrenching heartbreak. Oh, and Omar Epps.

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'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind'

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Director: Michael Gondry 

Stars: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst

Rom-com tropes: Memory-loss

With a comical air, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind dives into breakups, breakdowns, and breakthroughs. When Clementine (Kate Winslet) decides to forget her painful relationship with Joel (Carrey) through a new procedure, Joel decides to do the same thing. As his memories with Clementine fade, he realizes he may be making a mistake. Its sweet message, outstanding performances, and trippy visuals will stay with you long after the credits roll. 

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'Kissing Jessica Stein' 

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Director: Charles Herman-Wurmfeld

Stars: Jennifer Westfeldt, Heather Juergensen, Tovah Feldshuh

Rom-com tropes: Main character who works in New York media

Tired of the same disappointing men she keeps dating, Jessica (Jennifer Westfeldt) decides to open her love life up to women after she sees an ad in the newspaper. Instead of your boy-meets-girl love story, here we get girl-meets-girl, which was way ahead of its time over 20 years ago. And while the ending may not be the happy ending you would expect in a traditional rom-com, it's happy nonetheless. 

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'He's Just Not That Into You'

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Director: Ken Kwapis 

Stars: Ben Affleck, Jennifer Aniston, Drew Barrymore

Rom-com tropes: Friends to lovers, multiple storylines 

Interlocking storylines are a great way to show all of the good and bad that can come with love, as we see with He's Just Not That Into You. In this film, you've got a woman who wants to get married to her non-committal boyfriend, a man who can't stop cheating on his wife, plus a needy woman who's tired of waiting by her phone for men who never call. These characters, plus a few more, show just how much love is never a clean-and-cut story. 

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'Love and Other Drugs'

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Director: Edward Zwick

Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, Judy Greer

Rom-com tropes: The player falls in love 

Jamie (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a medical sales rep and chronic womanizer until he meets his match in Maggie (Anne Hathaway) a woman who won't let anything tie her down. As the two attempt a "friends with benefits" type of relationship, they can't help but fall for each other, leading Maggie to reveal she's sick with Parkinson's. While there's certainly laugh-out-loud moments and undeniable chemistry between the leads, this movie will leave you in deep thought on our healthcare system and the harsh reality of living with a disability. 

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The Best Teen Rom-Coms

'Never Been Kissed'

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Director: Raja Gosnell

Stars: Drew Barrymore, David Arquette, Michael Vartan

Rom-com tropes: The makeover

Anyone who had a hard time in high school can definitely relate to this movie. Drew Barrymore stars as aspiring journalist Josie, who goes undercover at a high school for an assignment and ends up falling in love with her English teacher (problematic, much?). 

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'Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist'

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Director: Peter Sollett

Stars: Michael Cera, Kat Dennings

Rom-com tropes: Fake dating

Michael Cera was basically the king of the mid-aughts rom-coms. In Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, Cera stars as high school student Nick who meets Norah after she asks him to pretend to be her boyfriend. Throughout the night, they bond over their love for music.

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'Juno'

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Director: Jason Reitman

Stars: Elliot Page, Michael Cera, Jennifer Garner

Rom-com tropes: Friends to lovers

Featuring gorgeous performances by Elliot Page and Michael Cera, Juno features an unplanned pregnancy between high school besties, the journey towards adoption, and the cutest (unconventional) on-screen romance since...ever?

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'She's All That'

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Director: Robert Iscove

Stars: Freddie Prinze Jr., Rachel Leigh Cook, Matthew Lillard

Rom-com tropes: Opposites attract, the makeover

A jock bets his friends that he can turn any girl into the prom queen and they choose the ultimate challenge: Rachel Leigh Cook with glasses and paint on her clothes. Problematic teen comedy tropes aside, it's a quintessentially '90s rom-com.

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'To All the Boys I've Loved Before'

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Director: Susan Johnson

Stars: Lana Condor, Noah Centineo, John Corbett

Rom-com tropes: Fake dating, opposites attract

Number one on the very short list of good things to come out of 2018: To All the Boys I've Loved Before, the rom-com starring Lana Condor and my boyfriend Noah Centineo. We broke down why it's so damn good here.

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'Love, Simon'

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Director: Greg Berlanti

Stars: Nick Robinson, Katherine Langford, Jennifer Garner

Rom-com tropes: The meet-cute

Love, Simon has been praised for its long-overdue Hollywood storyline about a gay teenage romance starring Nick Robinson, Katherine Langford, and your faves Josh Duhamel and Jennifer Garner. While dealing with a blackmailer who has threatened to "out" Simon to the entire school, the teen is also attempting to balance home life and the classmate he fell in love with online. You know, the usual!

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'Say Anything'

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Director: Cameron Crowe

Stars: John Cusack, Ione Skye, John Mahoney

Rom-com tropes: Opposites attract, third-act declaration of love

An '80s classic film, from the famous Peter Gabriel boombox scene to the teenage coming-of-age love story. You'll never look at trench coats and sneakers the same way.

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'Grease'

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Director: Randal Kleiser

Stars: John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing

Rom-com tropes: Opposites attract, the makeover

Okay, so you don't immediately shout "ROM-COM!" when Grease (1978) appears on your screen, but it is a romantic musical movie that has a lot of snarky comedy throughout. Plus, it's just iconic!

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'She's the Man'

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Director: Andy Fickman

Stars: Amanda Bynes, Channing Tatum, Laura Ramsey 

Rom-com tropes: The makeover

I don't care if you've seen this once or 100 times (like myself), this underrated gem is guaranteed to make you laugh. Amanda Bynes stars as Viola, a soccer star who impersonates her brother to make the team at an elite boarding school. There, she meets the swoon-worthy jock, Duke, played by none other than Channing Tatum, and things get complicated. The chemistry between Tatum and Bynes is off the charts and Bynes' take on how girls think guys act is nothing short of comedy gold (The tampon-in-the-nose bit still makes me giggle just thinking about it). 

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The Best Classic Rom-Coms

'The Apartment'

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Director: Billy Wilder

Stars: Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray

Rom-com tropes: Love triangle 

1960's The Apartment follows C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon), an insurance clerk who lends his apartment to his bosses for their extramarital affairs in the hopes of moving up the corporate ladder. He's also in love with his company's elevator operator who happens to be one of his boss' mistresses. It's a surprisingly modern view on men in power and workplace harassment, but one filled with romance and humor. 

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'His Girl Friday'

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Director: Howard Hawks

Stars: Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, Ralph Bellamy

Rom-com tropes: Trouble with the ex

If you like witty banter and dialogue so fast it would make the Gilmore Girls tongue-tied, then His Girl Friday is the rom-com classic for you. 

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'Love Jones'

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Director: Theodore Witcher

Stars: Larenz Tate, Nia Long, Isaiah Washington 

Rom-com tropes: Trouble with the ex

In this classic, a poet (Larenz Tate) and a photographer (Nia Long) fall in love in '90s Chicago, but their ambitions and exes get in the way of their relationship.

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'Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon'

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Director: Sooraj R. Barjatya

Stars: Hrithik Roshan, Kareena Kapoor, Abhishek Bachchan

Rom-com tropes: Friends to lovers, third-act declarations of love

A girl gets set up with the heir to a multi-million dollar company and falls in love with him only to discover that he's not at all who everyone thought he was. This iconic Bollywood rom-com is considered a classic for a reason, complete with dreamy, longing gazes and killer dance sequences.

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'Serendipity'

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Director: Peter Chelsom

Stars: John Cusack, Kate Beckinsale

Rom-com tropes: Old flames reignite, Christmas-time

Rom-coms are all ultimately about fate bringing two perfect-for-each-other people together, and Serendipity takes that idea and runs with it. This quintessential winter movie stars Kate Beckinsale and John Cusack as strangers who share a perfect, romantic night together in New York City and then, instead of exchanging contact information, put their phone numbers on random objects and send them out into the universe, trusting fate to bring them back together if it's truly meant to be. 

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'The Shop Around the Corner'

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Director: Ernst Lubitsch

Stars: Margaret Sullavan, James Stewart, Frank Morgan

Rom-com tropes: Enemies to lovers

If you love You've Got Mail, you'll love The Shop Around the Corner, which is the movie the Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan classic is based on (but, you know, pre-AOL). 

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'The Seven Year Itch'

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Director: Billy Wilder

Stars: Marilyn Monroe, Tom Ewell, Evelyn Keyes

Rom-com tropes: Forbidden romance

The Seven Year Itch is about a man who considers cheating on his wife with his gorgeous, model neighbor. Marilyn Monroe and Tom Ewell show that infidelity (or at least the idea of it) can be more hilarious than you'd imagine. 

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'It Happened One Night'

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Director: Frank Capra

Stars: Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert, Walter Connolly

Rom-com tropes: Enemies to lovers

This 1934 classic rom-com from acclaimed director Frank Capra focuses on a spoiled heiress named Ellie who marries a scheming man. Her dad then does the only logical thing and kidnaps her away on his yacht. Ellie, being the free spirit she is, jumps ship and meets up with a hardened newspaper reporter played Clark Gable, who sets off to help her link back up with her husband, but ends up catching feelings.

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'Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge'

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Director: Aditya Chopra

Stars: Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol, Amrish Puri

Rom-com tropes: Fantasy/vacation setting

The longest-running Hindi film ever literally rewrote the rom-com, as a modernized Romeo-and-Juliet tale with a celebration of Indian culture and an exploration of important issues like liberalization. All that, plus catchy songs and gorgeous dancing in perfect Bollywood fashion. Marie Claire's Neha Prakash did an oral history of the iconic movie.

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'Bringing Up Baby'

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Director: Howard Hawks 

Stars: Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, Charles Ruggles 

Rom-com tropes: Opposites attract

In this classic screwball comedy, Cary Grant stars as a paleontologist who needs a donation from a wealthy benefactor for his museum. Things get complicated when he meets said benefactor's wacky niece (Katherine Hepburn), who pulls him into an adventure involving, among other things, a dinosaur and a (kind of) tamed leopard.

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'While You Were Sleeping'

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Director: Jon Turteltaub

Stars: Sandra Bullock, Bill Pullman, Peter Gallagher

Rom-com tropes: Memory-loss

A woman named Lucy (Sandra Bullock) saves her secret crush from being hit by a train. She goes to the hospital with him and accidentally implies to his family that they're engaged (oops). When he wakes up and doesn't remember her, everyone assumes he has amnesia and he just...is engaged to her. But then—awkward—Lucy starts to fall for Mr. Right's brother (Bill Pullman, in peak awkward-adorable form).

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'The Wedding Planner'

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Director: Adam Shankman

Stars: Jennifer Lopez, Matthew McConaughey, Judy Greer

Rom-com tropes: The meet-cute 

Two words: Jennifer Lopez. The actress/singer/goddess takes us back to 2001 when she stars opposite Matthew McConaughey in The Wedding Planner. If you can get past the white male savior complex at the start of the movie (McConaughey saves Lopez from getting run over by a huge cart and also happens to be the doctor who takes care of her in the hospital), the plot will completely throw you for a loop.