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20 best friendship movies: Romy and Michelle

The 20 best friendship movies

Forget about dodgy weepies or cheesy romcoms – watch a movie about mates instead

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Romantic relationships get all the love in movies, but it’s high time we give it up for the friendship flicks. After all, not everyone has been in love, but most of us have bro’d down and/or girl-crushed at some point in our lives – or at least, felt a fleeting connection with Colin from accounting while waiting for the microwave in the breakroom. Whatever the case, good friends are just as important as great lovers, in the real world and onscreen. So let’s high-five and celebrate our staff picks for cinema’s best BFFs.  

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The best friendship movies

Léon (1994)
  • Film
  • Action and adventure
We’re always telling kids not to take sweets from strangers but we never think to warn them about making friends with hitmen. ‘Léon’ might be the reason for this, because actually Mathilda (Natalie Portman, chillingly intense) is a 12­-year-­old whose life is turned around by Léon’s reluctant kindness and care following the brutal murder of her entire family. Their weird little friendship develops with all the intensity you’d expect from a trained killer and his child apprentice. You wouldn’t enter them into a BFFs contest, but as not-father-and-daughter relationships go, there’s none more solid.

Ashleigh Arnott, acting Things To Do editor
  • Film
  • Comedy
‘We’re the same person with different hair,’ says Frances Ha of best mate Sophie. The pair – both twentysomething New Yorkers – start the movie inseparable. Then adulthood pulls Sophie into its grasp. She moves in with her banker boyfriend, leaving Frances floundering as she figures out her career and life on her own. The duo’s struggling relationship hits painfully close to home for anyone who’s still figuring out who they are right now. It’s a love story between two friends.

Kate Lloyd, senior staff writer
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Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan (1982)
  • Film
Even in the cold depths of space, warm friendships can endure – just look at Captain Kirk and his first officer Spock. Arguably the emotional core of the franchise, their yin­yang friendship suffers its ups and downs, but reaches a climax in ‘Khan’. When the dying Spock says his goodbyes to Kirk in the Enterprise’s engine room, only the most frosty-hearted non­nerd will fail to shed a tear.

Matt Breen, staff writer
  • Film
  • Comedy

For real, though: does anyone have friends later in life like the ones when they did at age 12? Of course not. Rob Reiner’s coming of age classic – adapted from a Stephen King short story – knows that its famous final question is a rhetorical one. But the true reason Stand By Me endures is because it also acknowledges that those tweenage friends rarely stay with you into adulthood. Sometimes, they literally fade into memory. Those memories, however, can still shape you, particularly when they’re attached to formative events like, say, that time y’all journeyed into the woods to find the body of your dead classmate.

Matthew Singer, freelance writer

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  • Film

The term ‘bromantic comedy’ was still years away from being a thing, but the relationship at the core of this era-defining indie hit isn’t based in dudely infatuation, anyway – it feels like a truly lived-in male friendship. That’s because it is a real friendship: Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn had been buddies for years and broke through together playing struggling actors whose contradictory personalities provide an equilibrium to their wider peer group. As Mikey, Favreau is sensitive but self-defeating, while Vaughn’s Trent is obnoxious yet doggedly loyal. But it’s clear they’ll do anything for each other – whether it’s playing wingman on an impromptu trip to Vegas or drunkenly dancing on a table in an all-night diner to celebrate the other guy finally getting over a break-up. 

Matthew Singer, freelance writer

Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
  • Film
  • Comedy
Social outcast Napoleon Dynamite befriends Mexican transfer student Pedro Sánchez at school, drawn to his great moustache and awesome bike. Pedro offers Napoleon tips on girls and Napoleon returns the favour by helping Pedro run for class president. The best moment in their friendship? Napoleon stepping in last-minute to provide a ‘skit’ for Pedro’s presidency campaign – pulling off an amazing solo dance routine in front of the whole school and winning the presidency for Pedro. They’re the ultimate underdog champions.

Ben Rowe, picture researcher
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Finding Nemo (2003)
  • Film
  • Action and adventure
We’ve all got that one friend who is more annoying than a younger sibling but whose heart is so big they’d take a bullet for you. Or, in this case, help you search for your missing son. Marlin isn’t the sort of fish who makes friends easily, but when he accidentally finds a travel companion in Dory, she helps him to remember that when somebody cares about you, the underwater world is a happier place. She also drags them into the path of lapsed­-vegan sharks, deadly jellyfish and plenty of other unnecessary danger, but on balance life is better off with Dory by his side.

Ashleigh Arnott, acting Things To Do editor
Forrest Gump (1994)
  • Film
Forget love interest Robin Wright: the army bromance between Tom Hanks’s bumbling everyman and shrimp­obsessed Benjamin Buford ‘Bubba’ Blue is the realest relationship that Forrest has. Even after Bubba’s death in Vietnam, Forrest carries on his shrimpin’ legacy as founder of the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. Their friendship doesn’t just transcend death but fiction too: the Bubba Gump restaurant chain now exists in real life, letting you remember Forrest’s ‘best good friend’ over a steaming plate of Mama Blue’s Southern Charmed Fried Shrimp. Because capitalism.

James Manning, deputy music editor
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The Four Adventures Of Reinette And Mirabelle (1987)
  • Film
Country girl Reinette (Joëlle Miquel) moves into the apartment of cynical and street­smart Mirabelle (Jessica Forde) in Paris in Eric Rohmer’s feature-length study of female friendship. Some regular Rohmer collaborators play amusing Parisian stereotypes – difficult waiter, Metro swindler, pretentious art dealer – that tease out the two girls’ totally different world views. Female friendships on film often lean towards twee, but ‘Reinette and Mirabelle’ is realistic and complex, not afraid to mix up the mundane with the magical.

Daniella Shreir
Romy and Michele's High School Reunion (1997)
  • Film
  • Comedy
Romy and Michele are soul mates and each other’s ‘the funnest person’. Best friends since high school, they return to their old stomping ground determined to prove that their lives are a success. When the rest of the world fails to see how awesome they are, they validate each other, showering each other with compliments. Completely inseparable, even the romance between Michele and good­-geek-­gone-­rich Sandy is nothing compared with the friendship between our heroines. Even at the romantic pinnacle of the film, it’s the love interest that plays the third wheel. Now that’s friendship.

Miriam Bouteba, acting Style editor
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Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
  • Film
  • Drama
The heartwarming backbone of this family comedy is the close friendship between seven­-year-­old Olive (Abigail Breslin) and her foul­mouthed grandfather Edwin (Alan Arkin). He spends the movie helping her perfect a secret (and perhaps ill­advised) dance routine for a pageant. On paper he’s terribly irresponsible and a very bad influence but really he’s the only member of her family who gives Olive the confidence to be herself.

Kate Lloyd, senior staff writer
  • Film
  • Comedy
High school socialites The Plastics might have the upper hand when it comes to hall politics, but social outcasts Janis and Damian share a genuine friendship. Not in the least bit soppy, they are rude to each other in that way that you can only be with a true best friend. While the friendship between The Plastics eventually melts away, Janis and Damian remain adorably together in their matching and truly terrible purple tuxedos.

Miriam Bouteba, acting style editor
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Ghost World (2001)
  • Film
  • Comedy
Based on the comic book of the same name, Terry Zwigoff’s ‘Ghost World’ follows two teenage school-leavers as their lives fall apart. Enid and Seymour start the film as outsiders looking in at the world from their own little club, but by the closing scenes their worldviews don’t fit so neatly with each other’s. Sure, this is a film full of zany comedy, but it’s also a realistic depiction of the quiet tragedy of transitioning into adulthood and its effect on friendships.

Kate Lloyd, senior staff writer
Nine to Five (1980)
  • Film
  • Comedy
If you’ve ever felt your office lacked a girl gang, ‘Nine to Five’ is the perfect inspiration. Three colleagues (Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton) become friends as they seek revenge against a misogynistic, ungrateful boss. Not only do they succeed in overthrowing their captain, implementing female-­friendly policies, they also have each other’s backs as their schemes become increasingly flamboyant. This is a friendship drama that definitely passes the Bechdel Test.

Kate Lloyd, senior staff writer
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Withnail & I (1987)
  • Film
  • Comedy
Set in the ‘60s, ‘Withnail & I’ follows two failing actors (Richard E Grant and Paul McGann) as they escape London for a break at a country cottage. They spend their holiday boozing as they struggle to cope with the weather and grumpy locals. Love triangles and adventures might be dramatic, but the true test of any friendship is a rainy mini­break in the Lake District.

Kate Lloyd, senior staff writer
Beaches (1988)
  • Film
  • Comedy
Unfairly written off as a chick­flick weep­fest, it’s true that 1988’s ‘Beaches’ does nicely complement a bottle of Lambrini or a litre of gin. Yet the uncontrollably tearful ending of this cult classic is built on a rock­-solid buddy base. The friendship begins when two chalk-and-cheese kids meet under a boardwalk in Atlantic City and ends with...oh dammit, I can’t say it, I’m going to well up all over again...

Oliver Keens, music editor
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Cinema Paradiso (1998)
  • Film
  • Drama
This is a friendship that defies the generation gap, the tale of a cheeky little kid called Salvatore (Toto) who begrudgingly wins the affection of an ageing cinema projectionist Alfredo, in a tiny little Sicilian village. It’s a coming­-of-­age story that beautifully portrays the dilemma of swapping the comfort of a small town with the allure of a new life in the city, in which the lifelong bond between its two main characters (underpinned by Ennio Morricone’s wistful score) pulls on the heartstrings until you’re left reaching for the tissues.

Mark O’Donnell, UK digital content editor
A Room for Romeo Brass (1999)
  • Film
Shane Meadows’s sweet, spiky, sometimes shocking coming­-of-­age story asks exactly how much stress and strain a friendship can withstand. Best buds Romeo (Andrew Shims) and Knock Knock (Ben Marshall) are driven apart when antisocial oddball Morell (Paddy Considine) barges into their quiet suburban lives. Things may get ‘pretty fuckin’ dark’, but family and friends are a guiding light in this heartbreaking, endlessly rewarding miniature masterpiece.

Tom Huddleston, assistant film editor
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  • Film
  • Comedy
Yes, we’re talking about the same film in which the two leads argue about taking lube to a house party. But beneath the filth, the friendship between Seth (Jonah Hill) and Evan (Michael Cera) – strained by the impending move to different universities – resonates with anyone who has made it through those difficult late-teen years. By the closing scenes they’re declaring their love for each other, before (in classic boy fashion) pretending it never happened.

Matt Breen, staff writer
  • Film
Very few films manage to capture the politics of groups of female friends as well as ‘Bridesmaids’. The movie follows two warring bridesmaids (Kristin Wiig and Rose Byrne) as they prepare for their friend’s wedding. The script is like a transcript of your BFFs Whatsapp group and there’s more punching and pooing than in an ‘American Pie’ sequel. But, while it’s gleefully silly, it also captures women overcoming jealousy to become besties. Aw!

Kate Lloyd, senior staff writer

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