We live in the age of Tinder and OK Cupid, which has replaced our sense of romance with a certain hit-it-and-quit-it cynicism. These days, quick-and-dirty gratification often supersedes getting to know someone, and it can seem as though romance is dead. But one thing still has the power to make us forget how jaded we’ve become, if only momentarily: A well executed movie kiss can reduce even the most hardened romantic cynic into a mess of swooning, ooey-gooey feelings, as fictional characters put themselves on the line in a way we might never dare. Here are our 14 favorite big-screen kisses.
14. Pride and Prejudice (2005)
Mr. Darcy (Matthew Macfayden) + Elizabeth Bennett (Keira Knightley)
There have been many adaptations of the popular Jane Austen novel Pride and Prejudice, but this one stands out in particular because of the exceptional chemistry between actors Matthew Macfayden and Keira Knightley, which plays out in the romance between their characters. Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett don’t kiss until the very end of the film, which is rife with sexual tension until the last few minutes. However, when they do kiss, it’s worth the nearly two-hour wait. The kiss, which left Jane Austen purists upset (the characters never kiss in the novel), is sweet and chaste and comes right after Mr. Darcy confesses his love to Elizabeth Bennett — leaving teen girls everywhere squealing in their seats. However, the characters never actually press their lips together. We can only assume that is what comes next after Mr. Darcy grabs Elizabeth by the cheeks and presses his forehead to hers.
13. The Princess Bride (1987)
Westley (Cary Elwes) + Buttercup (Robin Wright)
“Since the invention of the kiss, there have only been five kisses that were rated the most passionate, the most pure. This one left them all behind.” Who knew that we’d all want Peter Falk narrating life’s most passionate moments? At the beginning of the story, the young boy played by Fred Savage wants to skip the kissing parts, but by the end, even he wants to hear about this king of all kisses. It’s the perfect ending to a movie that continues to endure.—Josh Jackson
12. Cruel Intentions (1999)
Sebastian Valmont (Ryan Phillippe) + Annette Hargrove (Reese Witherspoon)
This was the movie that sparked an off-screen romance between its two leads, Ryan Phillippe and Reese Witherspoon. And if the palpable sexual tension between the characters they play is any indication of their actual relationship, we know why. Cruel Intentions is slightly campy and subtly dark in the tradition of the self-aware ‘90s. Phillippe’s Sebastian is a philandering, wealthy bad boy whose issues with his family make him nothing but trouble. Witherspoon’s Annette is a moderately self-righteous good girl whose decision to save herself until marriage makes Sebastian all the more determined to get her into bed. Despite rooting against their relationship for most of the movie, we can’t help but reel at how passionate (and steamy) their first kiss is.
11. Never Been Kissed (1999)
Josie Baker (Drew Barrymore) + Sam Coulson (Michael Vartan)
plays the ultimate underdog in this rom-com classic as Josie Geller, a 30-year-old woman whose first kiss is long overdue. On assignment from the newspaper where she works, Geller masquerades as a teenager and lives one of most people’s worst nightmares: heading back to high school. Predictably, Geller finds a love interest in her off-limits English teacher Sam (played by Michael Vartan) , and even more predictably, she messes up her chances with him. She goes to extreme (public lengths) to atone and at the end of the movie, you can breathe a sigh of relief as she receives both her first kiss and his forgiveness. The kiss is cheesy (as is the rest of the film), and we know it was coming all along, but it is nonetheless heart-meltingly adorable to watch Geller get the guy.
Watch the trailer below.
10. It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)
George Bailey had plans—big ones—and none of them involved falling in love and getting tied down to someone in sleepy, old Bedford Falls. So when he starts to realize he’s fallen for Mary, he fights it, treating her like crap and storming out of her house before being called to the phone. It’s his friend Sam with a foolproof investment opportunity, and he wants Mary on the line to hear about it too. Forced to lean in close to share the phone, George and Mary exchange a lot of intense gazes before finally the sexual tension becomes too much to bear. George puts up one last fight, shaking Mary and screaming “Now, you listen to me! I don’t want any plastics, and I don’t want any ground floors, and I don’t want to get married—ever—to anyone! You understand that?” (in a scene that unfortunately was chopped out of the YouTube clip below) before finally giving in to his feelings and making out with a weepy Mary for as long as the puritanical 1940s censors would allow.—Bonnie Stiernberg
9. Love Actually (2003)
Juliet (Keira Knightley) and Mark (Andrew Lincoln)
There are few things more terrible in this world than unrequited love (though, airport security lines and bad coffee come in at a close second and third). This kissing scene in the British rom-com classic Love Actually illustrates that sensation with heartbreaking precision. Andrew Lincoln plays Mark, a man who has fallen in love with Juliet (Keira Knightley). Juliet is off limits — not only because she doesn’t return his feelings but because she has just married Mark’s best friend. In this scene, Mark confesses his feelings for her with a series of cleverly designed posters. He also acknowledges the fact that he can’t have, simultaneously breaking our hearts and hers because after he leaves, she runs after him and kisses him a quick, consolatory peck on the lips. She kisses him out of pity, and we can’t help but feel his pain.
8. Ghost (1990)
Sam Wheat (Patrick Swayze) + Molly Jensen (Demi Moore)
The kiss between Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze in Ghost stands out as one of the sexiest in film. No, we’re not referring to the kiss that prompts Moore’s character to sleep with the spirit of her dead husband via the body of her current love interest (yeah, the film is a little bizarre). We’re referring to the kiss at the beginning of the film; as Moore’s character shapes a vase on a pottery wheel, Swayze’s character sneaks up behind her, and the casual, chaste pecks they exchange quickly morph into a steamy make-out as he lifts her up and spins her around to “Unchained Melody” by the Righteous Brothers. It can’t get any steamier than this.
7. Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) + Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal)
This kiss is huge in a number of ways. First is sheer force—it’s so passionate, Heath Ledger reportedly nearly broke Jake Gyllenhaal’s nose while filming the scene. But it also represents a major breakthrough for his character, Ennis Del Mar; prior to meeting Jack Twist, Ennis is shy and repressed, barely communicating more than a few grunts and mumbles, but when he and Jack are reunited after years away from Brokeback Mountain, he’s so overcome that he can’t help but slam him against a wall for a quick makeout sesh right in front of his house. That brings us to another big turning point in this movie—when Ennis’ wife Alma silently catches the two in the heat of the moment.—Bonnie Stiernberg
6. The Notebook (2004)
Noah Calhoun (Ryan Gosling) + Allie Hamilton (Rachel McAdams)
No list of famous movie kisses would be complete without mention of this one. Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams star as Noah and Allie, former lovers who are reunited when Noah returns from war. Noah ferries Allie across a lake to his house while she, drenched from the pouring rain, demands why he didn’t keep in touch with her while he was off fighting. When Noah tells her that he wrote her 365 letters, one for each day he was gone, we melt a little. When he grabs her and kisses her, all of the desire he’d pent up while he was gone apparent, we are nothing but a puddle of mush.
5. Sixteen Candles (1984)
Sam Baker (Molly Ringwald) + Jake Ryan (Mike Schoeffling)
The kiss in this Brat Pack coming-of-age staple makes us swoon. Sixteen Candles is cliché in all the right ways, and Molly Ringwald stars as Sam, a mousy high school girl who develops a crush on Jake (Mike Schoeffling). Jake is older and more popular than Sam could ever dream to be; therefore, he seems unattainable, which makes the film’s ending — when Sam finally snags him — all the more exciting.
Sam and Jake share their first kiss over her a cake lit with 16 candles for her birthday after a series of snafus that almost jeopardize their relationship. Their kiss is sweet and endearing and gives hope to girls-next-door everywhere.
4. Titanic (1997)
Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) + Rose Bukater (Kate Winslet)
If the romance between Leonardo DiCaprio and Rose Bukater’s characters in the nineties’ classic The Titanic can’t sweep you off your feet, nothing will. They are star-crossed lovers whose ultimately tragic relationship is so earnest that we can’t help but root for them.
This kiss takes place during one of the more tender and iconic moments of the film, and it is also responsible for making Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” one of the most recognized songs of the late nineties. Rose and Jack climb up to the top deck of the ship they’ve been sailing, and he kisses her just as the sun begins to rise. The man has game.
3. Lady and the Tramp (1955)
Lady + The Tramp
Multiple generations first encountered Hollywood romance via a “Cocker-al Spanish girl,” a mutt and a bowl of spaghetti. The suddenness of that first kiss—as the two dogs slurp up the same noodle—makes it a classic. So does the way that Lady shyly looks away before the Tramp—known as “Butch” to Tony—noses over a meatball to share. There’s a twinkle in her eye as the mandolin and accordion set the mood. That’s amore.—Josh Jackson
2. Spiderman (2002)
Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) + Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst)
Not only does this kiss make our heart melt but it also defies gravity, making it the one scene in Spiderman that everyone seems to remember the most. Spiderman (played by the ever-beautiful, ever-suave Tobey Maguire) plants a wet one on his not-quite girlfriend Mary Jane Watson in the rain after saving her from a group of thugs. The most heart-stopping part of this kiss? Spiderman kisses her as he hangs upside-down from a building, right after Mary Jane peels off his mask to reveal his true identity as Peter Parker.
1. Casablanca (1942)
Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) + Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman)
This film is an emotional roller coaster but it showcases one of the greatest moments in cinematic romance. Rick Blaine (played by Humphrey Bogart) and Ilsa Lund (played by Ingrid Bergman) are star-crossed lovers whose relationship was never meant to work. However, we can’t help but wish their relationship would work when Ilsa confesses her love for Rick in the scene below. And the kiss that follows is just about as passionate as it gets.