From Midnight in Paris to Bridesmaids and Cedar Rapids, Hollywood brought us these Top 10 Romance Movies of 2011. We were fortunate to attend an Oscar Screening for Bridesmaids, and saw Midnight in Paris three times in the theater (is that crazy?) Cedar Rapids starring Ed Helms (The Office) was actually our top Sundance 2011 film, and there were many more romantic moments on the big screen this year. With Golden Globe Nominees announced and awards season approaching, here are our Top 10 picks in order of preference. We’d love to have you add Comments about your favorites and/or share your picks on our Great Life Great Love Facebook book page http://facebook.com/greatlifegreatlove.
1. Bridesmaids – This romantic comedy of the year made millions laugh out loud at the box office starring Kristen Wiig (SNL, who plays the Maid of Honor/ Annie), Maya Rudolph (SNL, Bride/ Lillian) and Rose Bryne (jealous friend/Helen Harris.) Maya Rudolph described the filming experience at a recent Oscar screening in LA, “You rarely get that much freedom to be given what your character is, what you’re supposed to say, get it out, and then you just goof and laugh and have fun.” One of the funniest scenes is the tug of war over the bride between Annie and Helen, who compete to be Lillian’s BFF forever and host the perfect Parisian-theme shower. When describing the movie preparation, Ellie Kemper (The Office/ Becca) reflected, “Women go crazy when they get married…When thinking about those characters, you’re certainly drawn to who you know.” Towards the end of the Oscar screening Q and A, Wendi McLendon-Covey (Rules of Engagement/ Rita) added, “At the premier, Kristen’s mom gave us all little shrimp forks,” (glad they weren’t given forks during filming…LOL)
2. Midnight in Paris – Midnight in Paris starring Owen Wilson (Gil) and Rachel McAdams (Inez) is Woody Allen magic, and definitely a Best Picture contender! From the Eiffel Tower to the Notre Dame Cathedral and Louvre Museum, this Cannes Film Festival 2011 hit is drumming up Oscar buzz. It’s a combination comedy and fantasy that lights up the screen as Gil’s time travel fantasies to the roaring 1920s. Living in his dreams, Gil declares that he wants to stay in Paris (his great love) in response to his fiancé Inez’s goal to have a house in Malibu. This disconnect is your first clue that their marriage might not make it to the alter. As Gil roams the streets at night, he meets literary giants:Ernest Heminway (Corey Stoll), Pablo Picasso (Marical di Fonzo Bo), Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates) and Salvador Dali (Adrian Brody, my favorite), and you’ll be glued to the story as history and romance unfold.
3. Crazy, Stupid, Love – It’s worth watching Crazy, Stupid, Love just to see Ryan Gosling (Jacob) abbs and bachelor confidence as he gives advice to Steve Carell (Cal) who’s socially challenged and desperately trying to win his wife (Julianne Moore) back. The best part of the movie is when Ryan tries to impress Emma Stone (Hannah) with his smooth moves and sexy chest, and gets challenged. Jacob and Cal could have easily played The Odd Couple on TV because their personalities, preferences for women and styles are at opposite extremes. Following Blue Valentine last year, Ryan had 3 star roles in Crazy, Stupid, Love, along with Drive and Ides of March (both Oscar contenders.)
4. Friends with Benefits – The sexual tension between Mila Kunis (Jamie Rellis) and Justin Timberlake (Dylan Harper) in Friends with Benefits pushes this romantic comedy towards the top of my list. When Jamie recruits Dylan to run the art department at GQ magazine from LA, she is his only friend, and they soon become friends with benefits on the heels of bad breakups. When they struggle to read the relationship clues from each other, this film gets you hooked into what will happen next. It’s a NYC love story with a road trip back to Hollywood for Thanksgiving with clever dialogue. While Jamie and Dylan make promises to never fall for each other, you can see where this romantic comedy is headed.
5. Cedar Rapids – Sundance 2011’s best movie (in my book) was Cedar Rapids starring Ed Helms (The Office), John C Reilly, Anne Heche (Hung), Sigourney Weaver, Isiah Whitlock Jr (The Wire) and Stephen Root (24, Seinfeld.) When Ed Helms (Tim Lippe) gets asked to represent BrownStar Insurance at the annual insurance convention by his boss, he bravely prepares for his big city adventure and competition for the 4-Star Award. Tim’s naïve about life and love, which makes this film an irresistible comedy with his affairs with Sigourney Weaver and Anne Heche. If you’ve ever gone on a business trip that went wild, you’ll LOL at the craziness the cast pulls to escape the insurance business realities. John C Reilly (Dean Ziegler), who is Tim Lippe’s roommate, steels the show with no inhibitions in the hotel pool. Isiah Whitlock Jr (Ronald Wilkes) is Tim’s other roommate, who tries to keep everyone calm in complete chaos. And Anne Heche (Joan Ostrowski-Fox) lets go from the pressures of her family making this film a pure comedy act.
6. Like Crazy – In this long-distance love story, Director Drake Doremus, Anton Yelchin (Jacob) and Felicity Jones (Anna) capture the heartache involved with 6,000 miles between a couple living in London and Los Angeles. You can feel every emotion that they’re going through as they text each other, deal with time zone differences, and wonder what the other person is doing all the time. Jennifer Lawrence (Academy Award Nominee for Sundance hit, Winter’s Bone) works with Jacob, and plays a much different role as Jacob’s distraction when the couple spends months separated. Like Crazy is also getting great Oscar buzz, and was the Sundance Grand Jury Drama winner (same prize that Precious won.)
7. Hall Pass – Another light and funny 2011 film was Hall Pass with Owen Wilson (Midnight in Paris), Jenna Fischer (The Office), Jason Sudeikis (SNL) and Christina Applegate (Going the Distance.) When Owen (Rick) and Jason (Fred) become restless husbands, their wives decide to give them a week off from marriage so that they can live it up as bachelors again. While Jenna (Maggie) and Christina (Grace) hesitate giving their husbands this “get out of jail free” card, you’ll laugh out loud when the girls start enjoying their marriage time out more than the guys.
8. No Strings Attached – Natalie Portman (Emma/ Black Swan) and Ashton Kutcher (Adam/ Valentine’s Day) test their life-long friendship by having sex one morning in No Strings Attached. To protect their friendship, they decide to have a “no strings attached” agreement, which means no jealousy, expectations, fighting, or flowers. While they jokingly say that they can do whatever they want, as long as they don’t fall in love, the story pulls you in wondering who will break their pack first.
9. New Years Eve – If you want a light-hearted movie with a cast of thousands, Gary Marshall has done it again with New Years Eve. It’s theLove Actually film of 2011. You’ll be wondering if Jon Bon Jovi, who plays the rock star Jensen performing in Times Square, will win his ex-girlfriend back, Katherine Heigl (Laura). When Ashton Kutcher (Randy) gets stuck in an elevator with the Glee star, Lea Michele (Elise), there are some very awkward moments that create great comedy. Hilary Swank (Claire Morgan) as the VP of the Times Square Ball and Robert DiNiro (Stan Harris) in the hospital are both priceless in their performances. Zac Efron (Paul) plays the compassionate delivery guy who works to make Michelle Pfeiffer’s (Ingrid) resolutions list come true by midnight. And then of course, you have to include Josh Duhamel (Sam) and Sarah Jessica Parker (Kim) to ignite fireworks in this romantic comedy.
10. The Change Up – While many might be surprised by this top romance movie pick, Ryan Reynolds (Mitch), Jason Bateman (Dave) and Olivia Wilde (Sabrina) are very funny in The Change-Up when two men suddenly find themselves in each other’s bodies, and forced into many awkward moments. Mitch is a want-to-be actor, who is suddenly giving lawyer presentations in the boardroom, taking care of twins and sleeping with his friend’s sexy wife (Leslie Mann.) As the two leads are continually challenged to keep each other’s lives together, Dave shows up for an acting job for Mitch that is nothing like the part was described and fends off late night callers that challenge his fidelity. Don’t pay attention to the not-so-great reviews because The Change-Up will be a hit on DVD and Video on Demand.
And while Drive had amazing chemistry between the two leads, Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan, we’ll leave that film for our Top 10 Movies of 2011 and Oscar Watch 2012. Stay tuned onJanuary 15, 2012, when Bridesmaids and Midnight and Paris compete for the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, and Ryan Gosling is nominated for his role in Crazy, Stupid, Love. Thank you Hollywood for the romance and laughs, and please add your picks in the comments and/or on our Great Life Great Love Facebook page.
© Liz H Kelly @LizHKelly, National Digital Entertainment Columnist, Sunrise Road Media, http://sunriseroadmedia.com