It didn't take long for Natalie Portman to sink that great Black Swan buzz. All it took was No Strings Attached, a romantic comedy co-starring Ashton Kutcher about a friends-with-benefits couple who get serious. Why so cynical? Because romantic comedies kinda blow. More often than not, they're made by greedy studios cashing in on two good-looking leads tossed together with a formulaic script. But they're not all Mr. Wrongs. Here are 10 romantic comedies that get it right.
1. Annie Hall
Woody Allen's 1977 comedy is smart, sophisticated, and funny as hell. Allen plays ... well, he plays himself, essentially, and he's dating Diane Keaton's title character, a bundle of '70s neuroses. Every romantic comedy should aspire to be half this good.
Jack Lemmon rents out his apartment for his bosses' affairs. Then he falls for Shirley MacLaine, one of their girlfriends. Director and co-writer Billy Wilder jabs at late-'50s ideals with a sharp wit.
3. It Happened One Night
Frank Capra's 1934 classic stars Claudette Colbert as a spoiled woman on the run who hooks up with Clark Gable, really a reporter looking for a story. The formula of girl meets boy/girl hates boy/girl loves boy started here.
4. The Philadelphia Story
Katharine Hepburn is wooed by three guys in this 1940 comedy, including her ex, Cary Grant. She's a socialite about to get married again; James Stewart is the reporter who crashes her nuptials.
5. His Girl Friday
There's a reason so many of the movies on this list were made before your mom was born: great, unpredictable writing. Newspaper editor Cary Grant tries to keep his best reporter (another one?) from getting married.
He's best known now as the guy who married his girlfriend's adopted daughter. But back in the day, Woody Allen was a master of modern relationships. This 1979 love quadrangle includes a 42-year-old guy dating a high-school girl — and Meryl Streep as a lesbian.
7. Harold and Maude
Depressed teen Harold (Bud Cort) spends his spare time hanging out at funerals. He meets 79-year-old Maude (Ruth Gordon) at one of them, and they begin a relationship. This 1971 counterculture classic broke down tons of barriers. It still holds up.
8. When Harry Met Sally ...
Everyone knows the deli scene (yeah, yeah, we'll have what she's having too ...), but Rob Reiner's smart, sly 1989 love story is packed with funny lines. It's one of the rare movies where you hope the platonic, lifelong best friends actually hook up in the end. Meg Ryan was never cuter.
9. High Fidelity
Nick Hornby's beloved book is a music geek's wet dream, filled with Top 10 lists and adorably cool girls. The 2000 movie version is almost as good. John Cusack plays an obsessive record-store owner who augments his tales of busted relationships with tragically hip soundtracks.
10. The 40 Year Old Virgin
He may not want to admit it, but Judd Apatow makes chick flicks. And really funny ones at that. This one gets the nod over Knocked Up because it has a bigger heart and more laughs.