I don’t know about you, but I grew up on Julia Roberts rom-coms. She was one of the actresses who was at the front of the genre throughout the 1990s, and this month she will make her return to the genre on the 2022 movies schedule with George Clooney in Ticket to Paradise. While Roberts and Clooney played wife and husband in Ocean’s Eleven and Twelve, this will be their first foray into the rom-com genre together. With the movie coming out soon, I thought it’d be a good idea to rank six of Roberts' rom-coms. So here we go:
6. Runaway Bride
Who is Julia? Maggie Carpenter, runaway bride x3 who runs a hardware store.
Who is her love interest? Dating columnist Ike Graham, played by Richard Gere.
Year of Release: 1999
I’ll start with what I liked about this movie: I loved that the cat was named Italics. I appreciated that Roberts’ character was independent and worked an unconventional job for a woman. Finally, Gere and Roberts are phenomenal together. However, lightning did not strike twice with this one. While you’ll see Pretty Woman later on this list – which stars both Roberts and Gere and was also directed by Garry Marshall – Runaway Bride does not even get close to the quality of its predecessor.
The movie follows Ike (Gere) as he travels to a small town to report on a bride who has run away from her wedding three times. Somehow all her ex-fiancés aren’t that mad at her, except the one that tipped Ike off, and overall the town is unbothered by Maggie’s inability to go through with a wedding. Talk about a financial and logistical nightmare; it was distracting me from the plot!
You can watch Runaway Bride with a Netflix subscription.
5. My Best Friend’s Wedding
Who is Julia? Julianne Potter. In the movie, all that’s relevant is she’s best friends with Michael O’Neal.
Who is her love interest? Michael O’Neal, played by Dermot Mulroney, is engaged to a woman who is not Julia Roberts.
Year of Release: 1997
I know that people really love this movie, but there is something about ruining weddings that rubs me the wrong way. This one is slightly better than Runaway Bride, but still, the wedding wrecking is a trope I’m not a fan of. Anyways, I digress.
The film follows Julianne (Roberts) after she finds out her longtime best friend Michael (Mulroney) is getting married. Michael’s fiancée Kimberley (Cameron Diaz) decides to make Julianne her maid of honor and chaos ensues. My Best Friend’s Wedding is interesting in the fact that it does not have a conventional ending, which I really appreciated, especially given how much I disliked Roberts’ character for the majority of the movie. Overall, it’s a swell time. Roberts and Mulroney have excellent chemistry, and Diaz is super funny.
You can watch My Best Friend’s Wedding with a Peacock subscription.
4. Eat Pray Love
Who is Julia? Liz Gilbert, a writer-turned-world traveler on a journey of self-discovery.
Who is her love interest? Felipe, played by Javier Bardem, a Brazilian businessman she meets in Bali.
Year of Release: 2010
Based on the memoir of the same name, Eat Pray Love follows Elizabeth Gilbert on an around-the-world journey to find herself after a rough divorce from her longtime husband Stephen (Billy Crudup). The movie is split into thirds, just like the title, and we don’t get the rom-com section until the third act. She eats, she meditates and then she goes to Bali and meets Felipe, a sweet Brazilian who is also on his own journey of self-acceptance.
Overall the movie is very thoughtful and gorgeous. I think Liz is someone everyone can relate to, and Roberts does a good job of portraying both the good and the bad parts of our protagonist. My only complaint is I wish we would have gotten to the 'love' part faster because Roberts’ scenes with Bardem are heartfelt and warm. This movie is a great time, and while not as rom-com-y as others, it has its moments, and will make your heart happy.
You can stream Eat Pray Love with an Amazon Prime subscription (it’s through Freevee, so there are ads, but it’s free)
3. Mystic Pizza - HBO Max
Who is Julia? Daisy, a rebellious young woman who works in a pizza joint with her gal pals.
Who is her love interest? Charlie, played by Adam Storke, a rich kid who got kicked out of law school (think Logan from Gilmore Girls; this boy has the same energy).
Year of Release: 1988
This is a lovely movie about three girls who all work at the same pizza place (hence the name of the movie), each with their own romantic story arcs. Released in 1988, this was one of Roberts’ breakout performances. Unlike a lot of her other movies, her character is a bit more rebellious and fiery, very much a stick-it-to-the-man kind of girly, and it's super refreshing.
I think Mystic Pizza is a stellar way to kick off a career, and it's somehow simultaneously a time capsule of the ‘80s and timeless. Roberts is also surrounded by a fantastic ensemble cast that includes a young Vincent D’Onofrio, as well as Annabeth Gish, Lili Taylor, Adam Storke and William R. Moses. Also, if you look closely, you can catch a baby-faced Matt Damon.
You can watch Mystic Pizza with an HBO Max Subscription.
2. Notting Hill - Peacock
Who is Julia? Anna Scott, a super famous actress.
Who is her love interest? William Thacker, played by Hugh Grant, owner of a travel bookshop in Notting Hill.
Year of Release: 1999
When it came to rom-coms in the 1990s, Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant were the cream of the crop. So, pairing them together feels like something that was bound to happen. The story follows William (Grant) after he meets Anna (Roberts), and while the two fall in love with each other, the challenges of fame get in their way.
I think what makes this movie great is it takes the character types Roberts and Grant portray best and plays to their strengths to create a unique romantic comedy. Roberts plays the independent woman, as she has in almost all her other movies, she tells it like it is, and she is able to be both hilarious and extremely dramatic with the flip of a switch. Meanwhile, Grant brings his awkward, introverted and clumsy persona from movies like Four Weddings and a Funeral to Notting Hill. It’s a match made in rom-com heaven and a very good time.
You can watch Notting Hill with a Peacock subscription.
1. Pretty Woman
Who is Julia? Vivian Ward, a prostitute.
Who is her love interest? Edward Lewis, played by Richard Gere, a rich businessman
Year of Release: 1990
I feel like this one is obvious. Pretty Woman was game-changing. It showed Roberts in the role of Vivian, a prostitute who falls in love with the rich Edward, played by Richard Gere. The movie does not look down on Roberts or chastise her for being a prostitute. Instead, it depicts an independent woman trying to make money who happens to fall in love. Overall, it is a movie that was ahead of its time in 1990.
Pretty Woman is so funny, yet heartfelt, and it is all grounded in Roberts’ nuanced performance. Her infectious laugh can be felt throughout the movie, and when she’s down on her luck, we are right there sympathizing with her. Along with her performance, Gere is also fantastic, and the duo's chemistry is off the charts. There’s a reason this movie is a classic, and it’s because of Julia Roberts.
Pretty Woman is not currently streaming, but it can be rented.
There you have it, that's Julia Roberts’ rom-coms ranked. Personally, I really look up to the actress and admire the characters she has taken on. Much like how she broke the glass ceiling with Erin Brokovich in terms of salaries and defended '90s rom-coms, I think she helped represent strong and independent women in film in a way that really hadn’t been seen until the 1990s.
Now we get to see her back in this fun genre, with her snarky scene partner George Clooney (she even said a reason she did the movie was to be snarky with Clooney), and I couldn’t be more excited. You can watch Ticket to Paradise on October 21, and you can stream all of Roberts’ other rom-coms across various streaming platforms.
Riley Utley is a Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. She spent many years working in local journalism across the country writing about art, news and sports. One of her favorite films is When Harry Met Sally and she walks around constantly quoting Ted Lasso.