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Top ten British romantic comedies

Few film industries have defined the romantic comedy more than the British, and this list counts down the best from the UK.

Notting Hill: a modern fairy tale of a humble bookshop owner who falls for the world's biggest movie star.
Notting Hill: a modern fairy tale of a humble bookshop owner who falls for the world's biggest movie star.

Few film industries have defined the romantic comedy more than the British, and this list counts down the best from the UK. Here are ten of the best.

Notting Hill (1999)

The British romantic comedy at its finest, starring the archetypal romcom lead Hugh Grant (in the first of five movies on this list featuring the actor) in a modern fairy tale of a humble bookshop owner who falls for the world's biggest movie star (Julia Roberts). Charming, clever and, above all, hilarious.

Alfie (1966)

We dip into the past for the British institution Sir Michael Caine in one of his defining roles - the selfish, philandering title character romancing his way across London. Caine's charm shines through and the performance earned him an Oscar nomination and attention in Hollywood, with the film still held in high esteem by cinema aficionados.

Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)

The film that kick-started the British romcom craze, this smash hit was adored across the globe as we follow the hapless bachelor Hugh Grant in pursuit of the American Carrie (Andie MacDowell) across, you guessed it, four weddings and one funeral. Very funny, but also heartbreakingly touching in places, it defined the career of many involved.

Love, Actually (2003)

A host of British talent, including Colin Firth, Keira Knightley, Liam Neeson and (you guessed it) Hugh Grant come together for an ensemble piece telling several interconnected love stories playing out in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Equally serviceable as a "date movie" and a Christmas movie, it was another international crossover hit and is still quoted nearly 10 years later.

Bridget Jones's Diary (2001)

Helen Fielding's novel about the perpetually single, calorie-counting Londoner Bridget Jones became a bible for modern British women in the 1990s, so it came as something of a shock when the American star Renée Zelwegger was cast as their heroine for the film adaptation. Despite reservations, the actress made the role her own, perfecting a British accent and piling on the pounds to play the part, resulting in a hit that rivalled the book's success.

Shakespeare in Love (1998)

Tom Stoppard's comedy-drama, dramatising a relationship between William Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) and a wealthy woman (Gwyneth Paltrow) during the production of Romeo and Juliet. While more famous for being one of the great Oscar upsets (beating Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan to the Best Picture award in 1999's ceremony), few deny the quality of this piece of revisionist history.

Starter for Ten (2006)

An underdog story centred around an unlikely academic entering the long-running UK quiz show University Challenge, who is also distracted by two budding romances. One need only look to where the young cast are now to see the effect the film had - the lead James McAvoy, the antagonist Benedict Cumberbatch, Alice Eve and Rebecca Hall all went on to achieve great success after appearing in this film.

About a Boy (2002)

Hugh Grant's final entry on this list is an ode to growing up, adapting the Nick Hornby novel about a slovenly man who is forced to take care of a young boy (who grew up to become the Warm Bodies star Nicholas Hoult). Heart-warming and real, it was very well received both by critics and audiences, with Robert De Niro listed as a producer.

Chalet Girl (2011)

A modern choice with star-of-the-future Felicity Jones (currently filming the new Spider-Man movie) in the lead as a sporty "tomboy" who infiltrates the upper classes as a chalet girl in an elite Alpine ski resort. A classic romcom with a modern twist, it launched Jones as a lead and was praised by critics for its own unique comedic style.

A Life Less Ordinary (1998)

In his typical offbeat style, the director Danny Boyle does the romcom his own way - with kidnapping, violence and the most surly pair of angels you are ever likely to meet. Ewan McGregor and Cameron Diaz play the kidnapper and hostage respectively, destined to be together but must first get over their respective flaws. One of the most individual of his movies, Boyle would wait another decade before tackling romance again, in his Oscar-winning Indian drama Slumdog Millionaire.

artslife@thenational.ae

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