Jerry Maguire

It may have spawned such memorably cheesy lines like “you complete me” and “you had me at hello,” but Cameron Crowe’s Best Picture nominee is arguably the perfect date night movie. Thanks to the film’s just-as-iconic sports storyline (“Show me the money!”), both men and women had a subplot they could invest in throughout its run time. After all, the movie’s big emotional breakthrough takes place during Monday Night Football.

Cuba Gooding, Jr. won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as Rod Tidwell, and the actor is a big reason why Jerry Maguire was as successful as it was. The charismatic, loud-talking receiver was not only comedy gold, he offered a great riff on the diva superstar that so many NFL fans are familiar with. By pulling the curtain back on agent-player relationships, the film also allowed guys to see the sport they love in a different light. It was interesting to see the inner workings of a sports agency and how athletes and agents complement each other.

While the men are left wondering whether or not Tidwell will score his mega contract, females get drawn into the love story between Maguire and his secretary Dorothy Boyd. Tom Cruise and Renee Zellweger had great chemistry (big assist to an adorable child Jonathan Lipnicki) and the duo is responsible for several sweet and heartwarming moments – including the aforementioned “you complete me” sequence. Their “will-they-or-won’t-they” dynamic would have been a strong enough movie on its own, but the romantic and sports aspects – sorry – complete the film.

Sleepless in Seattle

It’s not quite as iconic as When Harry Met Sally, but this Nora Ephron script delivered a movie that was just as successful – if not more. Grossing $126.6 million when it was released in the summer of 1993, the film found traction on the awards circuit, scoring two Oscar nods and three Golden Globe nominations. Using an unconventional setup (the main characters don’t meet until the final scene) and solid performances, the film was able to appeal to a wide audience.

Sleepless in Seattle overcomes the traditional rom-com trappings in large part to the casting of Tom Hanks, who lends credibility to whatever project he signs on for. Making Sam Baldwin’s relationship with his son Jonah the emotional crux of the story proved to be beneficial, as the two characters treat viewers with scenes that are funny (“Have you ever seen Fatal Attraction?”) and heartfelt. By focusing on the father/son dynamic for a majority of the film, Ephron (who also directed the film) gave the movie a different vibe that separated it from similar titles.

The film further stands out thanks to its premise, which follows two individual storylines that eventually tie together. Most rom-coms follow a strict formula that becomes easy to predict, but given that the two leads live cross-country and – for lack of a better term – are unaware of each other for a bulk of the running time, it gives Sleepless in Seattle an extra layer of mystery and intrigue. We’re convinced Sam and Annie would be right for each other, but we don’t know if it will ever happen.

Silver Linings Playbook

David O. Russell’s film may have been jokingly referred to as the “token rom-com nomination” when it scored eight Oscar nods in 2012, but it proved it was much more than that. Featuring a terrific ensemble that included Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Robert De Niro, the movie’s critical and commercial success transcended its genre and ended up offering a much more deeper story than your typical “chick flick.”

It helps that the love relationship between Pat and Tiffany isn’t the main focus of the narrative (until the very end). A majority of the film follows the two characters as they work on bettering themselves as human beings and search for optimism in even the darkest situations. Watching them work towards these goals gives Silver Linings Playbook an inspiring narrative that anyone can turn to when the going gets tough. It’s not so much a love story as it is an overcoming adversity story.

Similar to Jerry Maguire, Russell’s film contains a sports angle that’s appealing to anyone with knowledge of the NFL. As we wait for Pat and Tiffany to realize they’re perfect for each other, seeing De Niro’s superstitious Pat, Sr. in action gives football fans a character they can fully relate to and an opportunity to see how the film’s themes can apply to them or others they know.

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