Okay, gentlemen, listen up. It's Valentine’s Day, which means that special someone in your life is expecting you to pull out all the stops. Flowers, candy, jewelry ― not necessarily gonna cut it anymore. Know why? Because Hollywood has upped the ante.
Today's romantic comedies feel the pressure to outdo the movie that came before, so screenwriters must come up with new and inventive ways for guys and gals to prove their devotion to a would-be lover. And since these people are fictional and don’t have to adhere to the laws of man and nature, they can get away with just about anything. Behavior that would be considered “stalking” in real life becomes cute on the big screen; if you cause a huge traffic jam or delay a flight with your wooing tactics, people clap and cheer instead of flip you the bird. That's the magic of movies.
So if you're looking for an extra-special way to win over the leading man or woman in your life, why not take a cue from Hollywood? Here are cinema's 21 most aww-worthy romantic gestures!
(For the record, we have excluded anything that involves running through an airport or interrupting a wedding. Because seriously, who does that?)
1. 10 Things I Hate About You
Heath Ledger woos Julia Stiles during a soccer game with a rendition of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You,” which not even the police have the power of stopping. Because you can never underestimate the power of a public serenade to melt a girl’s heart… at least in movies.
2. Top Gun
See above, re: serenades. They’re even better when you get a whole lot of Air Force pilots to sing along with you.
3. The Wedding Singer
…Or on an airplane, in a song you wrote yourself, accompanied by Billy Idol.
4. Love Actually
With so many love stories wrapped into one movie, it’s hard to select just one ― but our favorite romantic gesture is Colin Firth spending months learning Portuguese just to communicate with the housekeeper who’s caught his eye. That’s dedication!
5. The Notebook
Returning from World War II, Ryan Gosling buys Rachel McAdams the home he promised her years ago before the war, even though she’s now engaged to another. He spends his time fixing it up for her and hey, it works! But who knew The Gos would have to put so much effort in? We're pretty sure a flash of the abs would've done the trick.
Coming back from the dead to haunt the love of your (after)life? As romantic gestures go, that’s pretty much tops.
Who says the romantic gesture is up to the guy? While James Cameron’s colossal blockbuster has a number of swoon-worthy moments, the grandest romantic gesture is Rose’s, as she leaps out of a lifeboat to return to the ship with her true love. “You’re so stupid, Rose!” Jack says as he kisses her, and we’re all thinking, “Yep!” But that doesn’t make it any less stirring.
8. I Love You Phillip Morris
Not necessarily recommended for amateurs, but certainly an A for effort. Jim Carrey escapes from prison numerous times to get back to his partner Ewan McGregor, including one episode where he fakes his death from AIDS. Despite all the criminal behavior, it comes off as kinda sweet.
9. Pretty Woman
Julia Roberts makes the ultimate sacrifice for her paramour ― giving up her career. Wait, that’s not really very progressive for women, now is it? Does it help that her career is one of prostitution? No… not really. Well, okay, we can’t claim that Pretty Woman holds up as beacon of feminism, but she was making good money! That’s not hard to turn down!
10. 50 First Dates
In the second of their romantic collaborations, Adam Sandler falls for Drew Barrymore, with one major hitch ― she wakes up every day with amnesia, never remembering their relationship. Adam chooses to spend the rest of his life reminding her every morning of their love for each other, no easy feat. But hey, at least they never fall into the boring patterns a lot of couples get trapped in.
11. Big Fish
Ewan McGregor covers the object of his affection’s lawn in her favorite flowers, daffodils. We’re talking a lot of daffodils.
What’s so great about walking anyway? Tom Hanks falls for mermaid Madison (Darryl Hannah), but when government scientists want to take her away to do experiments, the only way they can be together is if he joins her in the underwater life. Oh well, a singing crab once told us it’s better down where it’s wetter anyway, and we have no reason not to believe him.
There’s a thin line between “romantic” and “obsessive” in many films, but who are we to judge or decide who crosses it? James Stewart loses his blonde bombshell to suicide, only to find a brunette who looks exactly like her. He has her dye her hair, buys her new clothes, and basically makes her behave just like the woman he loved. Romantic? Creepy as hell? At least he’s not phoning it in.
14. Friends With Benefits
Okay, so maybe a guy putting a flash mob together for you in 2013 would be a little late to the party. But since Justin Timberlake did it for Mila Kunis in this 2011 release, it was totally hip at the time. (These days, it’d better be a “Harlem Shake.”)
15. Meet Joe Black
And you thought some of your exes were bad boys. Claire Forlani falls for the Grim Reaper himself ― it helps that he looks like late 90’s Brad Pitt ― and though he originally intends to “take” her, instead Death brings back the guy whose body he stole so that she can live happily ever after with him. And when was the last time a guy ever un-killed someone for you?
16. Slumdog Millionaire
Jamal gets separated from his childhood sweetheart, and decides to find her by appearing as a contestant on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? Sure, maybe there are easier ways, but when a guy sweeps you off your feet, it sure doesn’t hurt that he also just won a million big ones.
17. Say Anything
John Cusack stands outside his girl’s window blasting an 80’s love song on his boombox, which instantly became one of the most iconic romcom images of all time. (This wouldn’t really work with an iPod.)
18. Django Unchained
Freed slave Django hunts down the wife he was separated from, pretends to be a slave-fighting expert, and then bloodily dispatches of dozens of racist Southerners in two ultraviolent gun fights to rescue his bride. Aww! Heartwearming!
WALL-E falls for the cold and mechanical EVE, who’s on a mission to recover plant life from Earth. He stows away aboard the ship that retrieves her, then takes her on a beautifully animated dance through space to his favorite tune from Hello, Dolly! Bet you’re rethinking those candy hearts and flowers now, aren’t you?
20. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
Most guys just have to worry about running into his girlfriend’s evil ex at a party. Michael Cera has to engage all seven of his new lady love’s exes in battle. And honestly, if some guys came along promising to vanquish all your exes, wouldn’t you swoon?
And who could forget the most romantic of them all? Humphrey Bogart is in love with a married woman, but in the end sends her off with her husband and stays behind with a "Here's looking at you, kid." Because of course, the greatest romances are the ones that end too soon.
What's your favorite swoon-worthy movie?