A few days ago, my colleague here at Atomic Popcorn gave his top 15 movie romances/romantic movies. Well, being a girl, I’m contractually obliged to enjoy romantic movies. For that reason, I’ve decided to give my own female take as to the top 15 movie romances.
Here to wrap up this Valentine’s Day week, I present to you my… Top 15 Favorite Movie Romances/Movie Couples!
*WARNING: SPOILERS MAY BE PRESENT*
First, some honorable mentions:
- Fight Club: Tyler Durden/Narrator & Marla
The neurotic Marla and the split personalities of Tyler Durden and our crazy narrator are weirdly perfect for each other, and you have to give kudos to a woman who is willing to stand by her (men?) as each is more and more consumed by his other side. Plus, the final scene where the two hold each other’s hands as they watch a building go down is eccentrically sweet.
- Meet Joe Black: Joe Black & Susan Parrish
The naivete of Joe as he heads into a relationship with Susan is really rather endearing. However, the romance between the two doesn’t quite make it onto the list, since the fact that Joe is actually Death is kind of creepy.
- Runaway Bride: Maggie Carpenter & Ike Graham
Let’s just face it. We women tend to be a bit neurotic, particularly in regard to relationships. Maggie Carpenter, a.k.a. The Runaway Bride, is no exception. Ike Graham gets romance points for being able to handle her.
Now, on to the winners!
15. The Addams Family: Morticia & Gomez
They’re creepy and they’re kooky, mysterious and spooky…and absolutely head over heels for each other. Morticia and Gomez Addams may be a bit over-the-top in how they show their affection for each other, but there can be no denying the passion the two have for each other. The two are constantly flirting, calling each other pet names, kissing and dancing – it doesn’t matter who’s around, because Morticia and Gomez have no shame in their feelings for each other. They may come across as goofy or just too giddy to seem realistic as a married couple, but really, isn’t that what we all hope for in the person we choose to spend our life with? Someone who, even years down the road, we can laugh and flirt and be as crazy about each other with as we were when that spark first ignited? Hats off to Morticia and Gomez for achieving that kind of relationship!
14. Forrest Gump: Forrest & Jenny
I have always found the relationship between Forrest Gump and Jenny Curran to be heartbreakingly sweet. Jenny was the first friend Forrest had, and the two developed an unbreakable bond throughout the years. While maybe not the brightest guy, Forrest was totally and completely brilliant when it came to one thing: love. He doted on Jenny, came to her rescue, and never gave up on her, even in the times when she tried to push him away. Forrest loves and accepts Jenny without question. Ultimately, Jenny realizes for herself that she and Forrest do really go together like peas and carrots. Sadly though, their “official” relationship is cut short by Jenny’s illness. But to the end, Forrest remains by her side, taking care of her and showing the meaning of unconditional love.
13. Sweet November: Nelson & Sara
2001 saw the release of two different Keanu Reeves movies: Hardball and Sweet November. Neither movie went over particularly well at the theaters, but chances are you probably remember the name Hardball more than Sweet November. Frankly, I thought Sweet November was a great romantic movie. The story follows the budding relationship between Nelson, an uptight, career-driven businessman, and Sara, the beautiful epitome of a free spirit. Sara breaks Nelson out of his shell in pretty much every way possible, and he becomes completely enraptured by her. There’s just one catch: Sara only dates guys for a month at a time, and Nelson was only hers for November. As Nelson tries to push forward beyond his one month and even proposes to Sara, only to be told ‘no.’ It turns out that Sara is dying of cancer, and can’t bear the thought of Nelson having to endure the decline and eventual loss of her. It ends with the two together, but with Sara leading Nelson – blindfolded – to one of their favorite places. When Nelson removes the blindfold, Sara is gone. While this is by no means a happy ending (I was still bawling 15 minutes after the movie was over), there’s something very powerful in the love Sara and Nelson have for each other: Nelson wants to be the person by Sara’s side as she faces the end of her life, despite being fully aware of the difficulty and pain that will ensue. Sara cares so deeply for Nelson that she would rather deprive herself of the one person she cares about most than cause him the pain of watching her slowly fade. That kind of selflessness is rare, and admirable.
12. La Vita Ã© Bella: Guido & Dora
This award-winning film (it got Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film, Best Actor, and Best Original Dramatic Score) is truly a beautiful work of art. The story follows Guido, a poor, young Jewish man living in Italy during World War II. You can already guess that the content will get heavy. However, that’s not the part I’m going to focus on. What I am going to focus on is the relationship between Guido and Dora, a wealthy, beautiful, non-Jewish woman. Guido works as a waiter at Dora’s engagement party, and his silly charm makes Dora fall for him. Their courtship is one of the most sweet, playful, and coyly innocent that I’ve ever seen in a movie. When the film fast-forwards five years later, the two are married and have a child, but the couple is still as precious as they were in the beginning, and their son just adds an extra dimension and dose of sweetness to the relationship.
11. The Notebook: Noah & Allie
I know, I know. This is one of the most clichÃ©d movie romances I could have chosen to put on this list. But my reason for it doesn’t really have anything to do with the relationship between the young Allie and Noah. What I find unbelievably romantic in The Notebook is the absolute true love Noah has for Allie when they are old. His wife has no recollection of who he is, or of their relationship, yet he never loses hope that she will remember. He dutifully stays with her, and on the night that her memory makes a brief yet incredibly clear breakthrough, the two will themselves to die peacefully in each other’s arms, fully aware of their life and love.
10. Sleepless in Seattle: Sam & Annie
Another must-have for any romantic movie list. Really, what more can be said about the romance in this film except that it is the perfect example of fate working to bring two people together? Here you’ve got a man who has lost his wife, and a woman engaged to a man she’s been dating forever, who connect via a late-night radio show and the scheming of an eight-year-old boy. They’ve never met, never even spoken, yet somehow they can’t get each other out their thoughts. Finally, fate plays its final card as Annie rushes to the Empire State Building to meet Sam, and gets there at just the same moment that Sam and his son return to grab something they’d forgotten. Sappy? Just a bit. Romantic? Perfectly so.
9. Moulin Rouge!: Satine & Christian
At long last, we finally reach a commonality between my list and that of my colleague. What fine film has brought us together in our taste for a fine romantic movie? Baz Luhrman’s musical masterpiece, Moulin Rouge! Satine and Christian couldn’t be more different: She’s a dancer at the Moulin Rouge, where men come to buy her love for one night. She dreams of getting out of that world and making a name for herself. Christian is a sensitive writer who just wants to be part of the Bohemian revolution, even if it means living a penniless existence. When their paths cross, it’s love at first song. They keep their love secret, trying to avoid inciting the jealousy of the Duke, who is also in love with Satine. It’s another example of selfless love when Christian promises to not be angry if his darling has to sleep with someone else, and Satine turns Christian away in order to save his life. The two open each other up to new worlds, proving the film’s mantra that the greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love, and be loved in return. Extra romance points: Christian writes an entire song just for the couple to be able to express their feelings whenever they want.
8. Down With Love: Barbara Novak & Catcher Block
What I love most about Down With Love is that it presents a woman who challenges the man – and on a pretty large scale. Barbara Novak comes to New York City hoping to hit it big as a writer with her book “Down With Love,” which is all about women achieving equality in the workplace by not letting themselves fall in love. Catcher Block is the star writer for a men’s magazine, and is described as “ladies’ man, man’s man, man about town.” While Barbara is saying no to love, Catcher has a different woman in his bed at every meal. Their stories entwine when Catcher is asked to write a story on Barbara. It’s a game of cat-and-mouse as Catcher tries to do everything to not write the story, while Barbara does everything she can to publicly call out Catcher’s ways. Catcher finally decides to write an exposÃ© on the anti-love woman, only to find out that Barbara has known him all along, and had planned out how everything between them would happen. She breaks his heart, leaving him a mopey shell of the womanizer he once was. They get together in the end, finally settling the battle of the sexes when the two strong-willed characters determine they’re perfect for each other and willing to make compromises in regards to their traditional gender roles.
7. Chocolat: Vianne & Roux
Really, in the grand scheme of Chocolat, the relationship between chocolatier Vianne and gypsy Roux is a minor factor in comparison to Vianne’s attempt to join the stuffy community in which she has found herself. However, that doesn’t make their romance any less sweet. Vianne is a strong, independent woman raising her daughter on her own, with little need for a man in her life. That changes when she meets Roux,though. The usually unflusterable Vianne gets frustrated with her inability to guess Roux’s favorite type of chocolate, and Roux consistently plays coy in his interactions with her. Ultimately, Roux is the one to break Vianne’s tradition of leaving town when the wind changes.
6. The Sound of Music: Maria & Captain Von Trapp
What do you get when you take a wannabe-nun, a stern naval captain, seven feisty children, throw them all together and press ‘blend’? A stellar love story. In the von Trapp household, the Captain runs all. His children must be uniformed, prim and proper at all times, and no one would dare talk back to the Captain – until Maria shows up. She’s sassy and light-hearted, bringing music and laughter to the household. She consistently throws the Captain off-guard, and draws his attention away from his fianceÃ©. Although both try to hide their feelings, Maria and the Captain fall deeply in love and realize they’re the only ones for each other.
5. Love Actually: Jamie & Aurelia
In case you don’t know, Love Actually follows several different relationships. Some of the stories are sad, others are sickeningly cute. My personal favorite, though, is that of Jamie and Aurelia. Jamie is a writer who walks into his home to discover that his girlfriend and his brother have been sleeping together. Heartbroken, he takes to his country home, where a neighbor sets him up with a Portuguese housekeeper. Despite a language barrier, feelings between the two develop in just a few short weeks. After her time working for him is up, Aurelia returns home. Jamie quickly realizes he can’t not have Aurelia in his life. He takes classes to learn Portuguese, then flies to her hometown on Christmas to propose to her. She replies yes – in English! Their story shows that love doesn’t take a long time, and that real love can overcome any obstacle.
Bonus Romantic Moment: While I may consider Jamie and Aurelia to be the best actual relationship in Love Actually, my favorite moment in the entire movie doesn’t even involve a relationship per se. Poor Mark has been in love with his best friend’s wife, Juliet, forever. On Christmas, he meets her at the door of her home holding up a series of signs expressing his love for her, without any hope for reciprocation. Among the signs is one that says, “To me, you are perfect.” What girl wouldn’t want to hear that?
4. Titanic: Jack & Rose
While the fact that the entirety of Titanic takes place in only two days makes their relationship a little annoying, you have to admit it’s pretty romantic. Rose has everything she could possibly want – except someone who really cares for her. Jack has nothing, except a wealth of love to offer. When he meets Rose, all he wants to do is take care of her. From the beginning, Jack tells Rose, “You jump, I jump.” He becomes her protector and confidante, and sacrifices himself to save her. Even though their relationship is short-lived, Jack’s last words are to tell Rose how all he wants is for her to live a long, happy life. Add on top of that the heated romanticism of Jack drawing Rose, their rendezvous in the car, and the playful flirting that takes Rose out of her usual world, Titanic presents an outstanding movie romance.
3. 2046: Chow Mo-wan & Su Li-Zhen/Bai Ling/Android
Where to even begin with 2046. Frankly, it’s the perfect ‘romantic’ movie to watch when you’re feeling like crap about your own love life. It follows the story of Chow, a writer who has failed relationship after failed relationship. After losing the love of his ideal woman, he begins a series of one-night flings. Eventually, he meets Bai Ling who simply wants to ‘borrow’ his love from time to time. She ends up falling for him, but he refuses to stop seeing other women. She leaves him, and much later when he decides he does want her, it’s too late. When his womanizing ways start to fade, Chow falls in love with the daughter of his landlord. Unfortunately, she is in love with someone else, and Chow’s affections are wasted. Finally, the movie goes to the world of 2046, a story written by Chow. Chow narrates about this world where people go to find the lost loves of their pasts. He tells the story of a man on the train leaving 2046 who falls in love with one of the androids that serve the people on the train–and is heartbroken when she can’t love him back. Yeah. This movie is a whole lot of love kicking people in the stomach. So why is it on a list of romances? Because it’s real. Love isn’t easy, it doesn’t always work out how we plan it. Feelings go un-reciprocated, we may choose to be with the wrong person at the wrong time, we might never get past that one love of the past. Rather than some cheesy ending, 2046 presents the tragic side of love, and presents it well.
2. Beauty and the Beast: Belle and Beast
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast came out just before I turned 4 years old, and it has been my favorite movie ever since. I watched it, literally, every day when I got home from kindergarten… and almost 19 years later it still hasn’t gotten old. When I was little, the thing I loved most about the relationship between Belle and Beast was the fact that he gave Belle an entire library. Seriously, if a guy gave me my own library, I would swoon in a heartbeat. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found more substance in the relationship between Belle and Beast. The gift of the library remains a key part in this, as it shows Beast taking a deeper look into Belle to give her something she’ll really enjoy, rather than following Cogsworth’s advice that, “There are the usuals: chocolates, flowers, promises you don’t intend to keep.” But beyond that, it shows the importance of building a relationship on something more than just looks. Belle sees the humanity in Beast, and finds the good in him. That’s way more important than the pompous airs that the studly (ugh, gag me) Gaston puts on. A real relationship – real love – goes deeper than just what’s on the surface, and I think few movies show that as well as Beauty and the Beast.
1. The Nightmare Before Christmas: Jack & Sally
That’s right, folks, we’ve hit my number one favorite movie romance. In my opinion, the relationship between Nightmare‘s Jack and Sally, despite being animated, is one of the most realistic depictions of love that can be found. How many times have people fallen for a best friend and been unable to do anything about it? Sally can do nothing but stay by Jack’s side and be there for him as much as she can, even while wanting to be there as more than just his friend. Jack, to contrast, fills that role that makes being the fallen best friend absolutely suck – the object of affection who is totally oblivious to what’s right in front of him. It takes awhile, but ultimately the realization that Sally is exactly what he wants, and that she’s the person he wants to be with, hits Jack. The two are perfect together. Even though Sally sees it sooner while it takes Jack awhile to get it through his skull, the two are able to make a romance blossom from their friendship. I love it.