Valentine’s Day is upon us, so what better way to celebrate the season of love than with a countdown of cinema’s top ten greatest couples. Ready your tear-ducts and open up those hearts: it’s all about to get exceedingly soppy.
10. Lady and Tramp (Lady and the Tramp)
It’s arguably Disney’s most heart-warming tale and provided us with one of the most iconic moments in film, so it’s no surprise that this canine couple made it onto the list. As the pet of an upper-class uptown family, Lady is a classy pup this much is true, so when she runs into streetwise mutt Tramp, madness of course ensues. But what starts off as a mismatched rivalry soon blossoms into Disney’s cutest romance, and all over a single plate of spaghetti. Adorable. If only dogs could get married.
9. Adele and Emma (Blue Is The Warmest Colour)
Although only released within the last year, Blue Is The Warmest Colour has already taken the world by storm, nabbing the Cannes Film Festival’s biggest prize for it’s two lead actresses, Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux. Adele is a struggling student, lost somewhere on the way to adulthood until she meets Emma, a confident artist who helps her understand the big, scary world hurtling towards her. The two strike up a passionate relationship, beautifully brought to life completely fearlessly by the film’s two leads. The pair will most likely be remembered for their bold and unflinching sex scenes, but what really earns them their place amongst the romantic royalty is the honesty and emotion on display. This is a relationship that’s so incredibly real, it’s physically difficult to tear yourself away from. Not for the faint hearted.
8. Mickey and Mallory (Natural Born Killers)
Few star-crossed lovers are as unhinged as these two psychopaths. After slaughtering Mallory’s family and taking to the open road, this demented duo find nothing but happiness as they do everything they can to stay together and avoid the electric chair. Stunning turns from Woody Harrelson and a young Juliette Lewis lead a bloody tale but one that’s grounded completely in love. Sure they may be the natural born killers the title suggests, but this pair are willing to do absolutely anything for one more day with each other. Even decapitate Tommy Lee Jones. N’aww, ain’t love grand?
7. Wall-E and Eve (Wall-E)
It wouldn’t be a list without at least one reference to the magic of Pixar now would it? As a lone, trash-heaving robot left behind on a derelict Earth, Wall-E spends pretty much his entire existence by himself. So when one day a fancy spaceship turns up carrying gleaming female robot Eve, sparks begin to fly (quite literally). The two find love, or whatever the mechanical equivalent might be, and all without saying more than a single word to each other; a testament to the importance of adorable animation. Just thinking about them makes me need a hug.
6. Peter Parker and Mary-Jane Watson (Spider-Man)
The forgettable nerdy kid somehow winds up with the girl of his dreams, and all thanks to the mysterious powers of a radioactive spider. True, romance isn’t the key focus of Sam Raimi’s original Spider-Man trilogy (he’s a man, with the POWERS OF A SPIDER, why would it be?) but it’s certainly the element that won the most hearts. Toby Maguire’s Peter is the definition of awkward, and Kirsten Dunst’s red-headed beauty is quite the opposite, so their much fabled union isn’t one that ever looked particularly possible. Cue torrential rain, a New York City fire-escape and one particularly steamy upside-down kiss and everything is suddenly fair game. It’s a romance that provided the backbone to one of the greatest comic-book heroes of our time, and annoyingly, the films were just getting started. Once again, Sony’s updated universe wrecked it all.
5. Clementine and Joel (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)
Break-ups suck, this much is true, but has one ever hurt so much that you just wanted to completely forget the other person entirely? This of course provides the basis of Charlie Kaufman’s wacko-relationship-dramedy that plunges directly into the minds of its two leads, as both decide that the cleanest way to leave their life together is to forget that it ever happened. As expected it doesn’t quite go to plan; Clementine and Joel soon find themselves unknowingly falling in love all over again. It’s definitely written in the stars for these two, and the excellent pairing of kooky Kate Winslet and deadbeat Jim Carrey (yes, he can do drama too) really sells. Behind all the high-pitched screaming and plate-throwing is a real, understandable couple who just can’t seem to lose each other. Weird and uniquely wonderful stuff.
It has to be said now, the best way to start a relationship with someone is most definitely not getting them pregnant, as is the case with these rowdy teens. After a supposedly sexy encounter one night with her friend and band-mate, Juno MacGuff finds herself apparently “for shiz up the spout” (that’s “pregnant” to you non-hipster types) and following a rather unnerving trip to a women’s health clinic, decides that she’s most definitely seeing it through. The expected pregnancy ensues, and over the course of her oddly funny turmoil, Juno and her babydaddy Bleeker grow closer and closer to the point where they’re littering mail-boxes with orange tic-tacs. To call them an awkward couple would be an understatement, but what really sells this duo is the concrete chemistry shared by the film’s stars Ellen Page and Michael Cera. Page especially delivers a performance that’s wonderfully layered, completely giving herself to Cera. He is, after all, the cheese to her macaroni.
3. Alvy and Annie (Annie Hall)
Another awkward pairing? I’m sensing a trend appearing here. Of course anything remotely related to love owes Woody Allen’s rom-com classic Annie Hall a great debt. Although the whole film is hinged on the question: ‘What went wrong?’, the couple at its core is arguably one of the most memorable in cinematic history. Allen is Alvy, a nerdy comedian with a nervous disposition who spends the entire film trawling back through his time with the sweet and quirky Annie, desperately searching for what he did to make her leave. Despite being doomed from the word go, Alvy and Annie are an offbeat item that demonstrate the very basics of relationships. They were the first to, as Allen notes “delve deeper” into the understandings of love and what we see on screen is precisely that. Funny, charming and packed with some of the most adoring one liners ever, “love is too weak a word”.
The scotch-swigging hard-man with a heart of gold meets his match in a dreamy foreign beauty. Sounds familiar, but believe it or not, Casablanca’s Rick and Ilsa are the couple that started it all. After an unforgettable love affair in the heart of Paris, the two are driven apart by invading Nazi forces and don’t meet again until years later in a crowded “gin joint” in war-torn Morocco. But of course politics, jealous husbands and crazed fascist movements get in the way and the pair’s epic romance is tested to the extremes. Few couples can see their love span both decades and continents and still remain as punchy but Rick and Ilsa are simply two people who crave each other’s affections. Their lives are on the line, not just their hearts and the desperation and longing for each other really shows. Airport runways will never be the same again, damn that mist.
1. Jesse and Celine (Before Sunrise/Sunset/Midnight)
Most couples will own a movie, few can own an entire trilogy, but that’s most definitely the case with cinema’s greatest couple. Following a chance meeting on a train in Vienna in their early 20s, Jesse and Celine find themselves spending the course of a single day together, and as dawn approaches, love blossoms. Forced apart without any contact, the pair shut down for nine years until they eventually run into each other again, this time in Paris. Over the course of three films, we see three individual snapshots of their relationship and how it’s changed, each on one particular day of their lives. It’s all made up of just them having conversations about life, morality and obviously love, but what sells it all is the insanely natural pairing of Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. There’s never any doubt in anyone’s mind: these two belong together. They’re fierce and passionate and most of all, they never give up. It’s their total, honest adoration of each other that powers each film, really owning exactly what a relationship is. It’s not always easy, but it is always worth it.