Romantic Comedies That Got Serious Critical Acclaim – The 1980s

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Romantic Comedies That Got Serious Critical Acclaim – The 1980s

Romantic Comedies That Got Serious Critical Acclaim – The 1980s

Working Girl

Romantic comedies often get the stigma of being lightweights during awards season, but there are plenty of rom-coms that have cleaned up, particularly at the Academy Awards. Here is a rundown of films from the 1980s that were nominated for Academy Awards. Winners are underlined.

When Harry Met Sally… – Can men and women ever only be friends? Throughout the years, Harry and Sally fall in and out of love with other people, but their friendship is a constant, until the moment when it could become something more.

Best Original Screenplay – Nora Ephron

The Little Mermaid – The Little Mermaid kicked off the Disney animation renaissance of the 1980s and 1990s which led to Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King, and as a result, nearly every little girl grew up knowing every word of “Part of Your World.”

Best Original Score – Alan Menken
Best Original Song – “Under the Sea” by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman
Best Original Song – “Kiss the Girl” by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman

Working Girl – Melanie Griffith plays an ambitious business woman fighting to find her foothold in New York City despite her sexist colleagues and back-stabbing bosses, but with a handsome young Harrison Ford by her side, nothing can stand in her way.

Best Picture
Best Director – Mike Nichols
Best Actress – Melanie Griffith
Best Supporting Actress – Joan Cusack
Best Supporting Actress – Sigourney Weaver
Best Original Song – “Let the River Run” by Carly Simon

Big – The romance between a grown woman and a boy stuck in a grown man’s body is really weird in retrospect, but Tom Hanks’ charming performance glosses over any imperfections.

Best Actor – Tom Hanks
Best Original Screenplay – Gary Ross and Anne Spielberg

Bull Durham – “I believe in long, slow, soft, deep, wet kisses that last for three days.” Kevin Costner’s baseball comedy has a heavy dose of sexual tension, courtesy of Susan Sarandon.

Best Original Screenplay

A Fish Called Wanda A Fish Called Wanda is first and foremost a crime comedy, but the unplanned romance between Jamie Lee Curtis and John Cleese throws a wrench in everyone’s plans.

Best Director – Charles Crichton
Best Supporting Actor – Kevin Kline
Best Original Screenplay – John Cleese and Charles Crichton

Broadcast News Broadcast News puts a television news reporter, writer, and producer in a tricky love triangle. It was praised by critics for its portrayal of the day-to-day events in a television newsroom and for creating three fully-realized characters with William Hurt, Albert Brooks, and Holly Hunter.

Best Picture
Best Actor – William Hurt
Best Actress – Holly Hunter
Best Supporting Actor – Albert Brooks
Best Original Screenplay – James L. Brooks
Best Film Editing – Richard Marks
Best Cinematography – Michael Ballhaus

Moonstruck – Cher won the Oscar for her portrayal of a widow who is torn between love for her fiancee and his estranged brother, played by Nicholas Cage, who comes to visit before the wedding.

Best Picture
Best Director – Norman Jewison
Best Actress – Cher
Best Supporting Actor – Vincent Gardenia
Best Supporting Actress – Olympia Dukakis
Best Original Screenplay – John Patrick Shanley

Back to the Future – Back to the Future is usually considered a time-travel comedy, but the budding teen romance between Marty’s parents is at the center of the action.

Best Original Screenplay
Best Original Song – “The Power of Love” by Chris Hayes, Johnny Colla, and Huey Lewis
Best Sound Mixing – Bill Varney, B. Tennyson Sebastian III, Robert Thirlwell, and William B. Kaplan
Best Sound Editing – Charles L. Campbell and Robert Rutledge

Broadway Danny Rose – Woody Allen’s Broadway Danny Rose has everything: true love, affairs, the mob, and the Carnegie Deli. No wonder it snatched up two nominations for Allen for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay.

Best Director – Woody Allen
Best Original Screenplay – Woody Allen

Splash – Five years before The Little Mermaid, Splash played out the improbable love story of a man and a mermaid. The movie was a hit with audiences and earned a nomination for Best Original Screenplay.

Best Original Screenplay – Bruce Jay Friedman, Lowell Ganz, Brian Grazer, and Babaloo Mandel

The Big Chill The Big Chill isn’t about true love per se but rather a group of old friends who haven’t seen each in years and see their reunion as a chance to act out all their unrequited feelings and sexual frustrations. They hook up, they break up, and they smoke a lot of weed.

Best Picture
Best Supporting Actress – Glenn Close
Best Original Screenplay – Lawrence Kasdan and Barbara Benedek

Tootsie – This gender-swap comedy tackles tricky issues of sexism in entertainment and the often ridiculous nature of soap operas. Dustin Hoffman credits working on the movie as opening his eyes to his own sexist viewpoints about women.

Best Picture
Best Director – Sydney Pollack
Best Actor – Dustin Hoffman
Best Supporting Actress – Jessica Lange
Best Supporting Actress – Teri Garr
Best Original Screenplay – Larry Gelbart, Murray Schisgal, and Don McGuire
Best Original Song – “It Might Be You” by Dave Grusin, Alan Bergman, and Marilyn Bergman
Best Sound Mixing – Arthur Piantadosi, Les Fresholtz, Dick Alexander, and Les Lazarowitz
Best Cinematography – Owen Roizman
Best Film Editing – Fredric Steinkamp and William Steinkamp

Victor/Victoria – Another gender-swap comedy so close to Tootsie, except Victor/Victoria is more interested in sexuality, gender fluidity, and what happens to a romance when the aim is to stay hidden.

Best Actress – Julie Andrews
Best Supporting Actor – Robert Preston
Best Supporting Actress – Lesley Ann Warren
Best Adapted Screenplay – Blake Edwards
Best Original Song Score or Adaptation Score – Henry Mancini and Leslie Bricusse
Best Art Direction – Rodger Maus, Tim Hutchinson, William Craig Smith, and Harry Cordwell
Best Costume Design – Patricia Norris

Arthur – Torn between marrying for money or marrying for love, Dudley Moore’s spoiled rich boy Arthur chooses to follow his heart with a working class girl played by Liza Minnelli.

Best Actor – Dudley Moore
Best Supporting Actor – John Gielgud
Best Original Screenplay – Steve Gordon
Best Original Song – “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)” by Burt Bacharach, Carole Bayer Sager, Christopher Cross, and Peter Allen

Related topics A Fish Called Wanda, Academy Awards, Arthur, Back to the Future, Big, Broadcast News, Broadway Danny Rose, Bull Durham, Moonstruck, Oscars, Splash, The Big Chill, The Little Mermaid, Tootsie, Victor Victoria, When Harry Met Sally, Working Girl
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