Before movies learned how to talk, they learned how to kiss.
In 1896, just a few months after the invention of film and more than a quarter century before sound came to cinema, Thomas Edison’s company released “The Kiss,” an 18-second embrace between actors May Irwin and John Rice. First they lean, then they nuzzle. Then Rice adjusts the ends of his enormous mustache. Then they exchance a series of chaste pecks. The film was a scandal and a smash. From that moment forward, movies and romance were eternally intertwined. Movies have gotten longer and more complex, but almost all of them have remained close to this primal impulse; the pleasure of observing people in love.
Over a century later, the staff of ScreenCrush is celebrating Valentine’s Day by collecting some of our favorite movie romances of the past 25 years. After compiling a shortlist of every conceivable possibility since 1992, ScreenCrush’s writers and editors each picked their personal favorites. Those favorites became a shorter shortlist, which was then voted on a second time to arrive at the ranking you’re about to see below.
The films that follow are comedies and dramas, and feature relationships that end happily and tragically. But all of them fill tap into that same basic urge as “The Kiss,” and mankind’s fundamental desire to connect with others — and to watch those connections reflected back at us on the silver screen.
25. Titanic (1997)
Directed by James Cameron
“My heart will go on.” “Draw me like one of your French girls.” “Never let go.” “I’m the king of the world!” The dialogue in Titanic became so quoted and re-quoted that the whole movie turned into one big joke. That’s what happens to lines so memorable they become cultural shorthand. We love something so much we drive it into the ground. Then we hate it … until it goes away for a while and we realize why we loved it in the first place. It’s time to recognize why we loved Titanic. It made Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet two of the biggest movie stars in the world, and it married genuine emotions and rich characters to some of the most spectacular special effects in Hollywood history. James Cameron tends to get talked about as a visuals-first filmmaker, but in Titanic he told a love story big enough to dwarf the largest boat in history. — Matt Singer