The 25 Best Comedies on Amazon Prime

Comedy Lists Amazon Prime
Share Tweet Submit Pin
The 25 Best Comedies on Amazon Prime

No streamer is harder to navigate than Amazon Prime Instant Video. If you miss how Netflix was during its early streaming years, when it had a large lineup of movies from across the decades available for instant watching, you’d probably be a fan of Amazon Prime. The volume is just ridiculous. There’s so much stuff to watch here that finding it can be a nuisance, even through the official Prime Video apps. Much of what you’ll find are TV shows, including several Amazon originals, and thousands of other things you’ve probably never heard of before or since. There’s also a large library of hilarious movies, though, including some of the most beloved and influential comedies ever made. That’s what we’re here to share with you today: the best comedies on Amazon Prime Video.

Oh, and some movies that are pure comedies will rank higher than other movies that are better written or directed or acted, but just aren’t as purely funny. There is no universe where UHF is a better movie than Charade, but one of them definitely makes us laugh more, and it’s not the one Stanley Donen made.

For a broader list, check out The 50 Best Movies on Amazon Prime or you can peruse The 40 Best Comedy Movies on Netflix

Here are the 25 best comedy movies available to stream for free with Amazon Prime:

1. A Fish Called Wanda

movie poster fish called wanda.jpg Year: 1988
Director: Charles Crichton
Stars: Jamie Lee Curtis, John Cleese, Kevin Kline, Michael Palin
Genre: Comedy
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%
Rating: R
Runtime: 98 minutes

Watch on Amazon Prime

This ensemble piece shows what can happen when four skilled comic actors (John Cleese, fellow Monty Python alum Michael Palin, Kevin Kline and Jamie Lee Curtis) are given a script (written by Cleese) that puts them all on equal footing. The result is a tour-de-force of crisply delivered, character-driven comedy that, while tough on old ladies, fish and terriers, continues to reward new and returning viewers. (The film also broke through the Academy’s normal bias against comedies, winning Kevin Kline a richly deserved Best Supporting Actor for his role as Otto.) —Michael Burgin


2. Fargo

Year: 1996
Director: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Stars: Frances McDormand, William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi
Rating: R
Runtime: 98 minutes

Watch on Amazon Prime

In exploring the unsavory implications of “Minnesota nice,” the Coen Brothers created one of the most beloved, acclaimed and quotable films of all time. Fargo explores the tension that accompanies polite social norms and the quiet desperations they often mask, setting up one scene after another so awkward it’ll make your skin crawl. The emotional restraint displayed by such characters as Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy) and Mike Yanagita (Steve Park) is a thin and disingenuous veil over yearnings for money or companionship, while their foil, obviously, is Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand), who really is that nice and hardworking and downright normal. The Coens strike a careful balance between gentleness and a stark gruesomeness underneath a typical all-American veneer, making you appreciate the art behind postage stamps as deeply as they make you cringe at the sound of a wood chipper. —Allie Conti


3. Borat

Year: 2006
Director: Larry Charles
Stars: Sacha Baron Cohen, Pamela Anderson, Ken Davitian
Rating: R
Runtime: 83 minutes

Watch on Amazon Prime

It’s easy to overlook or underrate Borat, or Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, given the Sacha Baron Cohen movies that followed. The likes of Bruno and The Dictator managed to water down Cohen’s original statement, but his faux-documentary about an awkward Eurasian traveler remains kind of brilliant. It was a wide-release comedy that plainly and critically looked at an average American attitude of dismissiveness and outright xenophobia toward people we don’t understand, as well as a willingness to feign earnestness if they thought taking advantage of Borat might somehow benefit them. Borat might say things that are naive, but at least they’re sincere products of the character’s fictitious upbringing. Borat the character is no charlatan—the “real” people he meets in America, on the other hand, can’t make the same claim. One final aside: This film, along with Anchorman, is the loudest I’ve ever heard an audience laugh in a multiplex theater. —Jim Vorel


4. The Royal Tenenbaums

Year: 2001
Director: Wes Anderson
Stars: Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Ben Stiller, Danny Glover, Bill Murray, Gwyneth Paltrow, Luke Wilson, Owen Wilson
Genre: Romance, Comedy
Rating: R
Runtime: 120 minutes

Watch on Amazon Prime

Wes Anderson’s first two films took place in the Texas of his youth. The Royal Tenenbaums moves his storytelling to his adopted city of New York. And the story is one that bridges childhood and adulthood and the tremendous effects one has upon the other. The “Royal” in the title refers to Gene Hackman’s character. Royal Tenenbaum is the patriarch of a family of childhood prodigies: Chas (Ben Stiller), a math genius with a head for business; Richie (Luke Wilson), a tennis star; and adoptive daughter Margot (Gwyneth Paltrow), a playwright. The movie begins with Royal announcing his separation from his wife, Etheline (Anjelica Huston) before picking up years later with the children having gone on to great success and failure. As Etheline prepares to re-marry to her longtime accountant (Danny Glover), Royal announces that he has stomach cancer and attempts to reconcile with the family he abandoned. The family disfunction and struggle for redemption would become hallmarks of Anderson’s oeuvre, but here, with a talented cast that also included frequent collaborators Bill Murray, Owen Wilson and Kumar Pallana, the auteur’s gift for wringing humor out of hopelessness is unmatched. As every piece of set dressing, every item of clothing seems and every symmetrical camera frame seems painstakingly managed, the characters are spiraling out of control; their despair is deeply felt, and their redemption serves as a euphoric release. It’s a beautiful movie both visually and emotionally and remains Anderson’s crowning achievement after all these years. —Josh Jackson


5. The Big Sick

Year: 2017
Director: Michael Showalter
Stars: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter
Genre: Romance, Comedy
Rating: R
Runtime: 120 minutes

Watch on Amazon Prime

The Big Sick can sometimes be awfully conventional, but among its key assets is its radiant view of its characters. Based on the first year in the relationship of married screenwriters Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, this indie rom-com has a mildly risky structure and some trenchant observations about the culture clashes that go on in immigrant families living in America. But what cuts deepest is just how profoundly lovable these people are. That’s not the same as being cutesy: Rather, The Big Sick is defiantly generous, understanding that people are horribly flawed but also capable of immeasurable graciousness when the situation requires. So even when the film stumbles, these characters hold you up. Nanjiani plays a lightly fictionalized version of his younger self, a struggling Chicago stand-up who is having as much success in his career as he in his dating life. Born into a Pakistani family who moved to the United States when he was a boy, he’s a dutiful son, despite lying about being a practicing Muslim and politely deflecting the attempts of his parents (Anupam Kher, Zenobia Shroff) to set him up in an arranged marriage. That’s when he meets Emily (Zoe Kazan), an American grad student with whom he’s instantly smitten. She swears she doesn’t want a relationship, but soon they fall for one another—even though Kumail knows it can’t work out. What’s most radical about The Big Sick is its optimistic insistence that a little niceness can make all the difference. —Tim Grierson


6. The General

Year: 1926
Directors: Buster Keaton and Clyde Bruckham
Stars: Joseph Keaton, Marion Mack, Glen Cavender
Genre: Silent, Comedy, Romance
Rating: NR
Runtime: 79 minutes

Watch on Amazon Prime

When Yankee spies steal his locomotive and kidnap his girlfriend, a Southern railroad engineer ("The Great Stone Face" Buster Keaton) is forced to pursue his two beloveds across enemy lines. While a few Charlie Chaplin pictures give it a run for its money, The General is arguably the finest silent comedy ever made—if not the finest comedy ever made. At the pinnacle of Buster Keaton’s renowned career, the film didn’t receive critical or box-office success when released, but it has aged tremendously. It’s a spectacle of story, mishmashing romance, adventure, action (chases, fires, explosions) and comedy into a seamless silent masterpiece. —David Roark


7. Napoleon Dynamite

napoleon-dynamite.jpg Year: 2004
Director: Jared Hess
Stars: Jon Heder, Efren Ramirez, Jon Gries
Rating: PG
Runtime: 94 minutes

Watch on Amazon Prime

Napoleon Dynamite was never really intended to become a pop-cultural touchstone of the mid-2000s. Made for a shoestring budget of $400,000 (star Jon Heder was originally paid just $1,000 for his performance), this was just meant to be a quirky, indie awards show novelty, not a generator of countless memes and catchphrases that would persist in the high school lexicon for years to come. But as we all know, the film took on a life of its own and became a huge sleeper hit. This had the effect of making it far better known to general audiences, yes, but it simultaneously obscured a bit of the film’s brilliance in terms of its critical appraisal. Because with success and overexposure, came some level of derision. Napoleon Dynamite, its title character and its quotes were thrown around as shorthand for “dumb comedy,” but the truth of the film is a rather cutting satire of American unexceptionalism. Napoleon and the residents of his Idaho town are a uniquely pathetic lot, and Napoleon Dynamite is a comedy that dares to present an entire universe of ugly personalities, fragile egos and social ineptitude. The character of Uncle Rico alone, best captured in his endless, masturbatory, self-shot football videos, is someone who you might typically expect to appear in a tragedy rather than a comedy, so crushing is his characterization. Hell, the most popular kid in Napoleon’s school looks like a young Jake Busey, for God’s sake. The film’s unusual sense of Midwestern ennui may have been lost on some audiences, but it’s the element that makes Napoleon Dynamite more than just a Comedy Central weekend afternoon feature. —Jim Vorel


8. Heathers

Year: 1989
Director: Michael Lehmann
Stars: Winona Ryder, Christian Slater, Kim Walker
Rating: R
Runtime: 102 minutes

Watch on Amazon Prime

As much an homage to ’80s teen romps—care of stalwarts like John Hughes and Cameron Crowe—as it is an attempt to push that genre to its near tasteless extremes, Heathers is a hilarious glimpse into the festering core of the teenage id, all sunglasses and cigarettes and jail bait and misunderstood kitsch. Like any coming-of-age teen soap opera, much of the film’s appeal is in its vaunting of style over substance—coining whole ways of speaking, dressing and posturing for an impressionable generation brought up on Hollywood tropes—but Heathers embraces its style as an essential keystone to filmmaking, recognizing that even the most bloated melodrama can be sold through a well-manicured image. And some of Heathers’ images are indelible: J.D. (Christian Slater) whipping out a gun on some school bullies in the lunch room, or Veronica (Winona Ryder) passively lighting her cigarette with the flames licking from the explosion of her former boyfriend. It makes sense that writer Daniel Waters originally wanted Stanley Kubrick to direct his script: Heathers is a filmmaker’s (teen) film. —Dom Sinacola


9. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

Year: 1976
Director: Wes Anderson
Stars: Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Cate Blanchett
Rating: R
Runtime: 118 minutes

Watch on Amazon Prime

A once-famous oceanographer and explorer, Steve Zissou (Bill Murray) now can barely bother. He feels things quietly, but deeply. And throughout The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Murray plays the sad wash-up as he has so many roles in this late phase of his career, like a classic Pixies song: Zissou possesses a chilly, utterly subdued state of being towards the insanity around him, until his frustrations burst to the surface with a brilliantly cutting line like, “Son of a bitch, I am sick of these dolphins.” Murray’s enigmatic preference for keeping his characters’ emotions close to their chests provides ample contrast between sardonic humor and something sincerer, even during big action sequences, like when the Zissou team rescues Jeff Goldblum’s Allistair Hennessey (“Steven, are you rescuing me?” Murray’s response, a pained half-smile and barely-there head cock, is deadpan brilliance). It’s arguable Anderson helped Murray initially make that marked 180 from his constantly talking, wisecracking comedic personas in classics like Ghostbusters or Caddyshack, and, in my humble opinion, The Life Aquatic is undoubtedly the most fruitful of his and Anderson’s collaborations. —Greg Smith


10. Love & Friendship

Year: 2016
Director: Whit Stillman
Stars: Kate Beckinsale, Chloe Sevigny, Xavier Samuel
Rating: PG
Runtime: 93 minutes

Watch on Amazon Prime

The title of Whit Stillman’s latest comedy may be Love & Friendship, but while both are certainly present in the film, other, more negative qualities also abound: deception, manipulation, even outright hatred. Underneath its elegant period-picture surface—most obviously evident in Benjamin Esdraffo’s Baroque-style orchestral score and Louise Matthew’s ornate art direction—lies a darker vision of humanity that gives the film more of an ironic kick than one might have anticipated from the outset. Still, the humor in Love & Friendship is hardly of the misanthropic sort. As always with Stillman, his view of the foibles of the bourgeois is unsparing yet ultimately empathetic. Which means that, even as Stillman works his way toward a happy ending of sorts, the film leaves a slightly bitter aftertaste—which is probably as it should be. Such honesty has always been a hallmark of Stillman’s cinema, and even if Love & Friendship feels like more of a confection than his other films, that frankness, thankfully, still remains. —Kenji Fujishima


11. The Grand Budapest Hotel

Year: 2014
Director: Wes Anderson
Stars:Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric, Adrian Brody
Rating: R
Runtime: 99 minutes

Watch on Amazon Prime

The relationship to Anderson’s influences—how and maybe even why he makes his work—is what this film is all about. There are direct allusions to films that have popped up frequently in Anderson’s oeuvre: The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, A Man Escaped, L’enfance nue and many Lubitsch films. But more importantly, the film seems to be about his relationship to directors (and also writers) that have influenced him. Gustave, with his dandyish and shy hard-living ways, may be a stand-in for Anderson, but only the way that the Amex “director” character of his commercial, modeled on outlandish heroes, is Anderson. “To be frank,” Mr. Moustafa says of Gustave, “I think his world vanished long before he entered it.” In this first film in which Anderson has sole screenwriting credit, he seems to be everyone. He is also, of course, the Author, both in the form of the man who is telling this tale, “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” and his fictionalized self (the Jude Law character) that met his characters and lived among the ruins. But Anderson is also Zero Moustafa, an eager apprentice to his hero. In the most poignant line in the film, Moustafa says about his mentor, “After all, we shared a vocation.” The same line could be said of Anderson and all the directors he references.—Miriam Bale


12. Spaceballs

spaceballs.jpg Year: 1987
Director: Mel Brooks
Stars: John Candy, Rick Moranis, Bill Pullman, Joan Rivers, Mel Brooks, Daphne Zuniga
Genre: Comedy, Science Fiction
Rating: PG
Runtime: 96 minutes

Watch on Amazon Prime

Originally perceived as one of writer/director Mel Brooks’ lesser works, this loving send-up of the sci-fi/fantasy genre (specifically, Star Wars) has, over the years, wormed its way into the hearts of a new generation of fans catching it for the first time at home. “May the Schwartz be with you,” “Ludicrous Speed,” “Mawg”—if these are all terms that mean nothing to you then it’s high-time you checked this movie out and see what all the fuss is about. —Mark Rozeman


13. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

Year: 2007
Director: Jake Kasdan
Stars: John C. Reilly, Jenna Fischer, Raymond J. Barry, Kristen Wiig, Tim Meadows, Margo Martindale
Rating: R
Runtime: 96 minutes

Watch on Amazon Prime

Although Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story claims to be a spoof of biopics and their extreme depictions of artists—especially musicians—biopics’ exaggerations are a reflection of the frailties and eccentricities of the artists which they profile, so it’s hard to distinguish a satire about biopics from a satire about musicians. Regardless of what category the film falls into, Walk Hard does not really tow the fine line of being clever so much as it provides a fun and absurd romp with heaps of laughs. John C. Reilly, who plays rising and troubled music star Dewey Cox, skillfully presents a dopey-yet-conniving and shallow-but-sincere character with a heart of fool’s gold. Looking something like Johnny Cash crossed with Tom Waits, Cox has multiple addictions, wives and musical phases. Aspiring to a level beyond greatness after he accidentally kills his brother by splitting him in half with a machete when they are young boys growing up in Alabama, Cox is compelled to compensate for the loss of his brother, leading to a life of excess and indulgence. But Reilly isn’t the only star of the film. Kristen Wiig shines as Cox’s frustrated wife and the mother of their seemingly infinite amount of children; as Cox’s other frustrated wife and duet partner, Jenna Fischer is superb. Tim Meadows is hysterical with a stand out performance as Cox’s bandmate who can’t seem to stop doing or introducing Cox to increasingly heavy drugs. Additionally, cameos from Jack White (Elvis Presley), Jack Black (Paul McCartney), Paul Rudd (John Lennon), Jason Schwartzman (Ringo Starr), Justin Long (George Harrison), Eddie Vedder, Jackson Browne and Lyle Lovett make the film even more ridiculous. Like most films of its ilk, Walk Hard may go too over-the-top to prove itself, but there is something charming about it, underscored by its genuine love of music and affinity for musicians. It is also obvious from one of the first lines in the film (“Guys, I need Cox!”) that this project neither takes itself too seriously nor asks the same of its viewers. —Pamela Chelin


14. Sleepless in Seattle

sleepless-in-seattle-210.jpg Year: 1993
Director: Nora Ephron
Stars Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, Bill Pullman
Rating: PG
Runtime: 105 minutes

Watch on Amazon Prime

Sleepless in Seattle is essentially one giant love letter to 1957’s An Affair to Remember from writer/director Nora Ephron. Rita Wilson gives a memorable teary summary of the movie, and Annie (Meg Ryan) watches it before writing to Sam (Tom Hanks) inviting him to meet her at the top of the Empire State Building—the way Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr attempt to in their movie—on Valentine’s Day. When they finally meet on the observation deck, the theme from An Affair to Remember swells, setting the mood for anyone with an appreciation for good rom-coms. —Bonnie Stiernberg


15. UHF

movie posters uhf.jpg Year: 1989
Director: Jay Levey
Stars: “Weird” Al Yankovic, Michael Richards, Kevin McCarthy
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 97 minutes

Watch on Amazon Prime

If we ranked these 40 movies based on the quality of their filmmaking, UHF would probably be at the very bottom. This is the definition of a star vehicle, so much so that it was directed by its star’s manager, who has never directed another movie before or since. That star, of course, is “Weird Al” Yankovic, and UHF’s vignette-like approach to parody makes it a film analogue to Yankovic’s albums. Few movies on this (or any other) list pack this many laughs into its running time. It’s like a Zucker Abrahams Zucker movie with a little bit more room to breath, bolstered by a manic performance from a pre-Seinfeld Michael Richards and some of Yankovic’s best music. —Garrett Martin


16. Pride

pride.jpg Year: 2014
Director: Matthew Warchus
Stars: Bill Nighy, Andrew Scott, Imelda Staunton, Dominic West
Rating: R
Runtime: 120 minutes

Watch on Amazon Prime

From its first frames, Pride opens itself wide to scrutiny: this is based on a true story. We’re used to this, of course. We turn to the cinema for escape, but by invoking REALITY the so-called “true story” breaks the illusion we’ve sought, and in turn, we feel it’s our obligation to call the veracity of every single element on the screen into question. Heartfelt speechifying, noble human gestures, lifelong struggles against adversity: when a film purporting to be true douses these idealistic pursuits in a sheen of Hollywood glitter, it’s hard to take that film seriously—let alone not resent it. Two hours of being willfully manipulated hardly sounds like a good time at the multiplex. Which makes Pride kind of remarkable, because unlike so many other attempts to translate honest-to-goodness life to celluloid, it refuses to take itself too seriously. —Andy Crump


17. Overboard

Year: 1987
Director: Garry Marshall
Stars: Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell
Rating: PG
Runtime: 112 minutes

Watch on Amazon Prime

In a genre that demands ever more creative obstacles to its protagonist’s ultimate destination, Garry Marshall’s Overboard relies on one that can make modern audiences a bit uncomfortable—rich woman (Goldie Hawn) with amnesia fooled into thinking she’s wife to a guy (Kurt Russell) and mother to his children. There’s a great deal of “positioning” to make this more palatable—Hawn’s pre-amnesia character is so dislikable her actual husband feigns not recognizing her after the accident once he realizes she’s lost her memory, and she stiffs Russell’s handyman after a job well done—but ultimately the plot is powered by the chemistry and comic timing of its leads, not on whether a viewer thinks there’s a consent problem. Hawn and Russell make it work, and that alone is enough to make this version (as opposed to the 2018 film starring Anna Farris) worth watching. —Michael Burgin


18. Saint Ralph

saint-ralph.jpg Year: 2005
Director: Michael McGowan
Stars: Adam Butcher, Campbell Scott, Gordon Pinsent
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 98 minutes

Watch on Amazon Prime

Saint Ralph is the story of Ralph Walker, a precocious Catholic schoolboy living in Canada in the early 1950s. Blessed with an Eddie Haskell eagerness and plagued by a cruel libido, he’s willing, at one point, to receive fellatio from a swimming-pool jet. But, when the 14 year-old’s mom slips into a coma, he decides to win the Boston Marathon, a miracle he hopes will wake her. Ralph falls short as a sports film, but it succeeds as a coming-of-age comedy. To see this boy bring a jar of dog feces to his mother’s hospital bed because “smell is one of the strongest memories,” and to see him blanch from shock at the possibility of actually having a consensual kiss, is much more poignant and charming than the many training montages. First-time writer/director Michael McGowan, the steadfast Campbell Scott as Father Hibbert, and magnetic newcomer Adam Butcher as Ralph create an endearing tale of woe and redemption, redeeming the melodrama.—Kennan Mayo


19. Something’s Gotta Give

gotta-give.jpg Year: 2003
Director: Nancy Meyers
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Diane Keaton, Vanna Bonta, Keanu Reeves
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 128 minutes

Watch on Amazon Prime

When you’ve got two giants of cinema exploring love later in life, you can expect great chemistry. That’s what happens with Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton when the former breaks his streak of dating women in their twenties and falls for the mother of one of his girlfriends (Amanda Peet). With a soundtrack that spans genres and generations (Badly Drawn Boy, Jimmy Cliff, Paul Simon and Django Reinhardt, to name just a few), this Nancy Meyers joint is a worthwhile take on the opposites-attract rom-com. —Josh Jackson


20. Waitress

waitress.jpg Year: 2007
Director: Adrienne Shelly
Stars: Keri Russell, Nathan Fillion, Cheryl Hines
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 107 minutes

Watch on Amazon Prime

Every bit as comforting as the delicious, candy-colored pies Keri Russell bakes in the film, Waitress is a honeyed little comedy that should speak to anyone who has ever felt stuck in a situation. And as good as Russell is, the film’s true star is its writer/director/co-star, the late Adrienne Shelly. Murdered before the film saw its release, his movie stands as a wonderfully bittersweet testament to her considerable talent. And now its legacy continues on with a Broadway adaptation. —Jeremy Medina


21. Charade

charade.jpg Year: 1963
Director: Stanley Donen
Stars: Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant
Rating: 7+
Runtime: 113 minutes

Watch on Amazon Prime

Cary Grant is the most charming male lead ever. Audrey Hepburn is the most charming female lead ever. Everything else is just bonus in this romantic thriller about a woman pursued in Paris for her late husband’s stolen fortune: the Henry Mancini score, the Hitchcock-ian suspense, the plot twists and Walter Mathau as a CIA agent. It’s a screwball comedy and an international spy thriller, and works equally as both. —Michael Dunaway


22. I’ll See You in My Dreams

20-best-so-far-2015-Ill-See-You-in-my-Dreams2.jpg Year: 2015
Director: Brett Haley
Stars: Blythe Danner, Sam Elliott, Martin Starr
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 95 minutes

Watch on Amazon Prime

Picture this: You’ve been on your own for decades following the death of your spouse, your friends are all mostly enshrined in retirement community living and you’ve just been told that you have to put your pooch to sleep. In a less thoughtful movie, you’d be expected to fall into a traditional romance with a perfect stranger and validate your existence anew through wholesome late-stage monogamy. But Brett Haley’s I’ll See You in My Dreams has insight and empathy to spare, which combine with its casts considerable charms—especially those of Haley’s star, Blythe Danner—to make his film altogether different from other fare of its sort. Danner’s happily independent widow falls into a friendship with her pool boy (Martin Starr) and into courtship with the never-more-dashing Sam Elliot, but I’ll See You in My Dreams doesn’t condescend to its characters (or its viewers). Instead, it offers an organic, non-judgmental portrait of one woman choosing to reconnect with life. —Andy Crump


23. Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge

dilwale-210.jpg Year: 1995
Director: Aditya Chopra
Stars: Shahrukh Khan, Kajol, Amrish Puri
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 188 minutes

Watch on Amazon Prime

Usually referred to simply as DDLJ, this movie is credited to have started Shah Rukh Khan on his path to eventual superstardom. Even today, Bollywood actresses tend to play second fiddle to their male counterparts, so Kajol (who goes by her first name) never quite got the same glory. Nevertheless, it’s fair to say that DDLJ changed the game for Hindi rom-com films. Twenty years on, Bollywood films continue to invoke DDLJ as an epitome of romance, with young actors trying to recreate their own versions of Raj and Simran. Set partially in London and partially in Punjab, India, DDLJ was one of the first films to specifically target an Indian diasporic audience with a story that stays true to Indian traditions such as respect for your elders, while also advocating young lovers to follow their heart. A win-win situation! Raj and Simran accidentally meet on a train trip across Europe. After a couple of cute confrontations, sparks fly between the two. But Simran’s father has promised her hand to a friend’s son in Punjab. On overhearing his daughter’s love for Raj, he flies in a rage and immediately packs the family bags for a flight to India and a quick wedding. Raj follows Simran with the intent to ask her father for Simran’s hand in marriage. He befriends the prospective groom, and slowly wins over all the family members with his shenanigans. But will he be able to convince Simran’s strict father? A hit soundtrack, lovely visuals of India and abroad, and a leading couple that charmed their way into its audiences, all contribute to DDLJ being included in all sorts of Bollywood lists. —Aparita Bhandari


24. My Man Godfrey

my-man-godfrey-criterion.jpg Year: 1936
Director: Gregory La Cava
Stars: Carole Lombard, William Powell
Rating: 7+
Runtime: 93 minutes

Watch on Amazon Prime

Gregory La Cava’s My Man Godfrey is kind of like a proto-Le Dîner de Cons—or Dinner for Schmucks—except that My Man Godfrey is really good and neither the latter nor the former film measure up to it. (Because Le Dîner de Cons is coarse, condescending trash, too.) La Cava’s inroads to skewering the upper crust is through the upper crust itself: The film takes its outsider protagonist, Godfrey “Smith” Parke (William Powell), who’s not an outsider at all but a man in exile from high society’s bosom, and inserts him into circumstances where he’s the sanest, sharpest man in the room. Rich people are wild. That’s the film’s subtext, or just its text, because Godfrey’s charges, the members of the family Bullock, are either completely out of their gourds or stuffed headfirst up their own asses. They’d have to be, perhaps, to mistake him for a vagrant when he’s actually a member of the elite class just like they are. They’d also have to be observant and considerably less self-absorbed to make these fine distinctions. La Cava has fun with the scenario, as does Powell, and as does the rest of the cast, in particular Carole Lombard, playing young Irene, who falls head over heels for Godfrey, blithely unconcerned with his disinterest, and Gail Patrick as the daffy Mrs. Bullock, full of unfettered, dizzying joy. Dizziness, of course, is a requirement. Films like My Man Godfrey, screwball joints that move at a laugh-a-minute pace, demand the exhaustion of their viewers, and La Cava wears us out as surely as he delights us. —Andy Crump


25. Book of Love

book-of-love-210.jpg Year: 2022
Directors: Analeine Cal y Mayor
Stars: Sam Claflin, Verónica Echegui, Horacio Villalobos
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Rating:16+

Watch on Amazon Prime

What the best of the rom-com genre offers is that ephemeral chemistry that just lights up when the leads appear on screen together, coupled with the snappiest updating of those tropes we know are coming: Opposites attract, enemies-to-lovers, road trip, etc. In the case of Amazon Studios’ Book of Love, the tropes del día include the tried-and-true “cultural opposites attract,” with a dash of enemies-to-lovers and a sprinkle of emotional constipation. Nothing exactly world-changing nor screenplay-shattering for the genre, but it’s the charming chemistry of Sam Claflin and Verónica Echegui that makes director Analeine Cal y Mayor’s work a sweet confection to enjoy. Boasting some modestly budgeted international locale hopping, Book of Love opens in London with Clafin playing the visual definition of buttoned-up as Henry Copper, a floppy-haired wannabe literary darling desperately trying to attract any attention to his six-month old stinker, The Sensible Heart. It’s a book with no passion, no sex and no readers. It’s only when Henry’s new and less-than-sympathetic editor (Lucy Punch) tells him that it’s a surprise hit in Mexico that he gets a second wind. Trying to gain any traction they can for sales, she sends him on an immediate mini book tour with the Mexican publisher Pedro (Horacio Villalobos) and Maria Rodríguez (Echegui), the book’s Spanish translator. As soon as the English-only gringo lands, he doesn’t comprehend that the airport ads for a lusty-looking bestseller, El Corazón Sensible, is actually his book. He only comes to understand when his first book tour stop features a packed house of fans who are mighty thirsty for Henry, and to know more about his inspiration for the story and those blazing hot love scenes. As it turns out, Maria took it upon herself to upgrade his boring book into something better, and no one bothered to pass the changes on to Henry. He’s now stuck doing a three-city tour with her, her grandfather and her 10-year old son Diego (Ruy Gaytan), along with chipper Pedro, in a tiny VW bug. And yes, those close quarters make for plenty of fiery presumptive back-and-forths between a put-out Henry and the equally upset Maria. She’s particularly steamed at being roped into babysitting this nerd when she has always aspired to be a writer, but has never been afforded the opportunity—as her time is filled with a useless ex, single-mothering and caretaking her aging grandfather. Book of Love ends up being a surprising mix of sweet and salty, silly and sincere, that earns those coveted rom-com sighs. —TaraDBennett