24. Fargo (Joel & Ethan Coen, 1996)
Probably the Coen brothers’ best movie, “Fargo” is one of the most beloved black comedies/suspense mysteries of all-time, with strong connections to the area’s peculiar accent and overall stereotypical manners.
From the very first moments, the plot unveils the real self of the seemingly benign Jerry Lundegaard, a car salesman in need for repaying an intolerable loan. Because of his desperation, Jerry organizes a scheme and hires some professional thugs to kidnap his wife, so that his rich father-in-law comes up with the ransom money. As you can imagine, the execution of the plan does not run smoothly, and that’s when things start getting interesting.
The combination of the Coens’ unquestionable talent to create the most memorable characters, the creepy atmosphere, and the wonderful performances delivered by a super talented cast, make this crime story one for the ages.
25. Being John Malkovich (Spike Jonze, 1999)
A freakish and original work of art, and a true game changer, “Being John Malkovich” was the first feature film for both Spike Jonze and the writing genius of Charlie Kaufman.
The main characters of the film are an eccentric couple, and an attractive woman named Maxine. The three of them form a constantly transforming love triangle, after learning about or experiencing being John Malkovich through a supernatural portal that leads to the actor’s head.
As each one of the three – among others – becomes more and more obsessed with the Malkovich experience, they begin to realize the long-term possibilities of the portal, therefore let all of their initially genuine feelings towards each other transform into greedy actions.
Other Jonze & Kaufman comedy-dramas worth checking out: “Adaptation” (2002).
26. The Squid And The Whale (Noah Baumbach, 2005)
A frequent Wes Anderson (who is one of the producers of the movie) collaborator and a modern specialist of the dramedy, Noah Baumbach dug deep for “The Squid And The Whale”, as he based his realistic storylines on some autobiographical experiences from his childhood, resulting in an honest artistic creation.
It is basically a story of a dysfunctional family, where the egocentric father – a teacher and a wasted talent as a promising author – despises his wife’s recent professional success, providing the reason behind the couple’s mutual decision to separate. The new living scenario ends up being difficult for everybody to handle, especially for the two sons of the family, who are both in, or just about to enter, their teens.
27. In Bruges (Martin McDonagh, 2008)
One of the most significant black comedies in recent years, Martin McDonagh’s first feature is an Irish crime feast set in the Belgian city of Bruges, a peaceful place with medieval architecture.
This distinct contradiction is cleverly exposed throughout the film, as two entirely dissimilar hitmen (portrayed by Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson both in career defining moments) join forces for a mystical – and seemingly vague – mission, appointed to them by their ruthless boss (Ralph Fiennes).
At first they are rewarded with some free time, which they take advantage of quite differently, but when the mission gets clear, and they finally share their backgrounds to each other, the drama escalates and we become observers of the birth of a unique relationship.
28. Four Lions (Chris Morris, 2010)
“Four Lions” is for the most part a hilarious and pointed jihad parody, reminiscent of classics like Monty Python’s “Life Of Brian”, but it also involves instances of stirring tragicness at times, making it a rich viewing experience overall.
The plot focuses on four British Muslims who aspire to be suicide bombers. In order to do so, they start collecting all explosive materials they need to build bombs, and two of the gang – the leading figure Omar and his childhood friend Waj – even attend a terrorist training camp in Pakistan.
Their dedication to the cause is only challenged by their disorganizing methods and their differences about which would be the most ideologically appropriate target, but they finally reach an agreement, and the moment of truth is right in front of them…
29. Nebraska (Alexander Payne, 2013)
Responsible for some of the most brilliant road movies of modern times, Alexander Payne surpassed himself with “Nebraska”, a one of a kind black-and-white cinematic trip, and a loving father-son story.
An old man named Woody Grant – portrayed by Bruce Dern in the role of his lifetime – thinks he has won a one million sweepstakes prize, so he wants to go from Montana to Lincoln, Nebraska to collect it.
Despite trying to explain to him that it is a mail scam, his second son David understands his dad’s stubbornness and decides to drive him there. David, being well meaning and in a laid-back state of mind, proposes a stop at Hawthorne, Woody’s birthplace, so that they visit his dad’s brother and relatives. When Woody shares the news about the prize to his family and friends though, the masks are finally uncovered, and some new chapters in the Grant family history are about to be written.
Other Payne comedy-dramas worth checking out: “Sideways” (2004).
30. Birdman (Alejandro González Iñárritu, 2014)
“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance)” is a theater-related dramedy of the highest esteem; it combines elements of magical realism, black comedy, surrealism, and psychological realism, while incorporating almost revolutionary aesthetics.
Shot through the immersive camera style of Emmanuel Lubezki (which gives the impression that for the most part the film unfolds in a single shot), the action revolves around the actors and crew who prepare themselves for the upcoming Broadway production written and directed by Riggan Thompson, a washed-up actor in search for a way to relaunch his career.
Riggan became famous for portraying the superhero called “Birdman” in the past, a character who has been haunting him ever since, by breaking into his life as a thunderous inner-voice. Apart from his own demons affecting his self-confidence, he is forced to withstand the pressure that comes with the responsibility of a Broadway play and the lunatic behaviors of his colleagues and family members on the set.
Honorable Mentions: Mr. Smith Goes To Washington (Frank Capra, 1939), Sullivan’s Travels (Preston Sturges, 1941), The Quiet Man (John Ford, 1952), Breakfast At Tiffany’s (Blake Edwards, 1961), Il Sorpasso (Dino Risi, 1962), Lolita (Stanley Kubrick, 1962), Loves Of A Blonde (Miloš Forman, 1965), Paper Moon (Peter Bogdanovich, 1973), The Sting (George Roy Hill, 1973), My Dinner With Andre (Louis Malle, 1981), Tootsie (Sydney Pollack, 1982), The King Of Comedy (Martin Scorsese, 1982), Terms Of Endearment (James L. Brooks, 1983), Women On The Edge Of A Nervous Breakdown (Pedro Almodóvar, 1988), The Fisher King (Terry Gilliam, 1991), Raining Stones (Ken Loach, 1993), Forrest Gump (Robert Zemeckis, 1994), Ed Wood (Tim Burton, 1994), The Full-Monty (Peter Cattaneo, 1997), Three Kings (David O. Russell, 1999), High Fidelity (Stephen Frears, 2000), Y Tu Mamá También (Alfonso Cuarón, 2001), The Royal Tenenbaums (Wes Anderson, 2001), Good Bye Lenin! (Wolfgang Becker, 2003), Lost In Translation (Sofia Coppola, 2003), Little Miss Sunshine (Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris, 2006), Juno (Jason Reitman, 2007), The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius, 2011), The Intouchables (Olivier Nakache & Eric Toledano, 2011), Silver Linings Playbook (David O. Russell, 2012), The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2015)
Other great movies that are sometimes (mis)labelled as comedy-dramas: Kind Hearts And Coronets (Robert Hamer, 1949), All About Eve (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1950), Yojimbo (Akira Kurosawa, 1961), Band Of Outsiders (Jean-Luc Godard, 1964), Dog Day Afternoon (Sidney Lumet, 1975), One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (Miloš Forman , 1975), Annie Hall (Woody Allen, 1977), Groundhog Day (Harold Ramis, 1993), Dazed And Confused (Richard Linklater, 1993), Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, 1994), Before Sunrise (Richard Linklater, 1995), Boogie Nights (Paul Thomas Anderson, 1997), The Truman Show (Peter Weir, 1998), American Beauty (Sam Mendes, 1999), Fight Club (David Fincher, 1999), Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004)
Author Bio: Andreas Papadakis has been a film lover for all of his life, but it is not until recently that he realized he had a desire for sharing his love with others through writing (hoping that the others will be ok with this). He enjoys a large variety of styles and genres, and he is in the process of creating his own screenplay in the near future, so beware… You can follow or friend him on Facebook.