In the second of my countdown series, I will be looking at the best movie couples. These are not simply romantic couples, but can be buddies, lovers, co-workers, etc. As long as they are main characters and the movie is in some way about their relationship, then it qualifies for this list. This will be far less conventional than my last power ranking and much more modern. For me, actor chemistry is huge, so that will be on display here as much as anything. Check it out!
Others receiving votes: Belle and Beast – Beauty and the Beast (1991), Tyler and Narrator – Fight Club (1999), Rhett and Scarlett – Gone with the Wind (1939), Leon and Mathilda – Leon (1994), Harry and Sally – When Harry Met Sally… (1989)
10. Guy (Glen Hansard) and Girl (Marketa Irglova) – Once (2007)
This may be the most endearing couple in the history of movies. The movie itself is so understated and real that it makes the relationship between the characters so much more authentic. They are the movie, and every moment of their time on screen together rings true. “Falling Slowly” gets all the pub in this movie, but it is “The Hill” and “When Your Mind’s Made Up” that provide the real connection and really make us feel it. I love this movie so much…
9. Aileen (Charlize Theron) and Selby (Christina Ricci) – Monster (2003)
This is one of those movies that I do not even understand why I like it so much. There has never been a more honest relationship I have seen in movies than Aileen and Selby. Their chance meeting and relationship provides the spark and the real appeal of this dark, heart-wrenching crime drama of sorts. From the scene they are rollerblading with “Don’t Stop Believin’” playing in the background until the devastating conclusion, we are taken by these two characters and the bond they share.
8. Woody (Tom Hanks) and Buzz (Tim Allen) – Toy Story (1995), Toy Story 2 (1999), Toy Story 3 (2010)
For something a bit lighter, we look at one of my favorite friendships in all of movies. Their story starts off the way all great relationships do, with the characters at odds with each other. The more time we spend with these two toys, the more they actually feel like our friends. Whether they are fighting for Andy’s playtime or joining forces against a common enemy, they are friends. By the third film, their companionship is forever, as is our admiration for them and their films.
7. Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose (Kate Winslet) – Titanic (1997)
In what may be the most iconic screen relationship of all time in the most epic romance ever put on screen, Jack and Rose still find the freshness to be included on any relevant list. They are star-crossed lovers who battle the circumstances to be together. They risk everything for each other. The actors were born to play their roles, and Jack and Rose’s story will live forever with the audience. The movie never fails to deliver that emotional impact because we care so much about the characters.
6. Bonnie (Faye Dunaway) and Clyde (Warren Beatty) – Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow’s story was made for the movies. In what has become a classic story of a bank-robbing couple on the run, the movie never fails to deliver the goods. He is the cool cat who woos the shy girl into running away with him. Their connection is always genuine. This type of story has been borrowed several times since (Natural Born Killers, Badlands, True Romance, among many others), but never have any of them approached the sheer brilliance of the Bonnie and Clyde. When the tragic ending comes up, it may not be sadness we feel, but regret that we can’t spend more time with one of the all time great screen couples.
5. Dante (Brian O’Halloran) and Randal (Jeff Anderson) – Clerks (1994), Clerks II (2006)
I am not sure that I have ever seen a more believable friendship in all of movies. They are so different from one another, but the fact that they are together makes too much sense. Their conversations and criticisms of everything are what entertain us, but it is how blatantly they wear their emotion that really sticks with us. The scene in Clerks II in the prison cell sticks out to me as being an example of how I didn’t even realize how much I cared about them. The chemistry between the actors is flawless, and I cannot help but selfishly want to spend several more movies watching them.
4. Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) – Before Sunrise (1995), Before Sunset (2004)
There has never been a more irresistible and adorable young couple in the history of movies than Jesse and Celine (perhaps only rivaled by Lloyd and Diane in Say Anything…). Their deep dialogue about everything lets us know how much they have come to trust one another, even though their time together is so brief. That brevity is stressed in the second part, which only adds to its appeal. The back of the Before Sunrise DVD says that it is a “valentine to young love forever.” I honestly cannot put it any better than that. These are two characters that I will never forget and that I will always be grateful for having had the pleasure to watch. I hope the sequels keep coming every nine years.
3. Rick (Humphrey Bogart) and Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) – Casablanca (1942)
This will probably be the consensus number one among film buffs. I have always felt the movie to be a tad overrated and overblown, but every time I catch it on TV or DVD, my admiration for it grows to the point that I actually rank it as a top 100 film. The appeal and iconic status of the characters is undeniable. Their story is unforgettable. The chemistry is unmatched. The importance of their relationship to the story is indisputable. There has never been never will be another screen couple like Rick and Ilsa. It’s impossible.
2. Ben (Nicolas Cage) and Sera (Elisabeth Shue) – Leaving Las Vegas (1995)
This is another one of those films I have no real reason why I love it so much. As far as acting goes, it honestly does not get much better than Cage and Shue in this. The movie never has a false note, and it is because of how believable these actors are together. We want them to be together even when we know that is unrealistic. We want Sera to help snap Ben out of it, but it can’t happen. I have never been more devastated at the end of a movie than when I saw this for the first time. It is a beautiful and tragic story, and one that I have yet to be able to completely release from my mind ever since I saw it. I even read the book, and that did nothing but further engrain it in my head. There is no movie like this one anywhere, and there are no two characters I have ever felt this strongly for.
1. Miles (Paul Giamatti) and Jack (Thomas Haden Church) – Sideways (2004)
Surprised this is my number one? Yeah me neither. Anyone who knows me knows that this is in the elite of the elite as far as movies go. I have had long and frequent conversations about this movie and this friendship. Why are they friends in the first place? What motivates Miles to put up with Jack? What makes Jack want to hang out with Miles? Why do I care so much? I have never seen a more brilliantly pieced together friendship than Miles and Jack. Every time I watch it (which is frequently) I cannot help but get fully immersed in their story. I study the movie. I study the characters. I study the dialogue. If not for the brilliant chemistry between Miles and Jack (as well as Maya and Stephanie), then we would not care. They are unlikable and distant. They are mean-spirited and whiney. Together, though, they create a friendship that will live forever in the history of movies as being one of the truest, most believable, and most engaging. It will probably never be topped, at least not in my rankings.
Thoughts? Comments? Your favorite screen duos? Who else is stoked for the third chapter in the Before series? Or that Kevin Smith is drafting a third part to Clerks? Let me know!
Next up: Top 10 Fears, my scariest movie experiences! That ought to be an interesting one...