10. Romeo + Juliet
Who would have ever thought a fish tank could be so sexy? Romeo (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Juliet’s (Claire Danes) meet-cute is so overwhelmingly adorable. They wordless flirt with a tropical fish tank between them, both succumbing to love at first sight before being ripped away by their respected parties. Juliet must dance with her new fiancé Paris (Paul Rudd), while Romeo’s crew’s party crashing ways have been found out by the hosts—Juliet’s parents. The camera stays on them, capturing all the tormented and loving moments the young couple experiences before the tone changes and they’re true identities are discovered. Their love is a tragic love, but in this brief time by the fish tank, they got to live a fantasy.
9. Moulin Rouge!
Speaking of tragic love, Moulin Rouge! is another one of those films where nothing goes the way it should. Christian (Ewan McGregor) is captivated by the courtesan Satine (Nicole Kidman), a woman he both cherishes and wants to change. She is a woman paid to appear to love men, yet she has never felt love herself. That is until Christian sneaks away to her room and convinces her through song that she not only deserves to be loved but that she can love in return with no consequences. Little do they know that of course there are consequences to love, but that is for later. The “Elephant Love Medley” is a manic depiction of the many stages of love, beginning with the reluctance of one who is afraid of emotions and ending with their loving embrace. It’s also a damn catchy song that I hope is now plaguing your brain just as much as it is plaguing mine.
Our half-way marker brings us back full circle to Audrey Hepburn, an actress who has become legendary for her iconic romantic characters. Almost a decade before she played Holly Golightly, Hepburn brought charm to the ugly duckling tale in Sabrina opposite Humphrey Bogart (Linus). Rather than play the prototypical Manic Pixie Dream Girl (with a brain), here we see a vulnerable yet strong woman who is dead-set on marrying the man of her dreams, David (William Holden). She is poor, having grown up the daughter of an employee to brothers David and Linus, yet her ambitions take her to Paris where she becomes refined, dignified, and determined to win David over after years of pining for the charmless lothario. Unfortunately for her, David is an ass and demands his older brother Linus distract her.
As you can see in the clip, Linus is the real winner here. He is sweet with a gruff edge, yet completely in love with gorgeous Sabrina. He patiently listens to her as she recounts why David is so wonderful, and then surprises her by remembering moments from their pre-Paris life. When he finally takes her in his arms to dance around the indoor tennis court, we are sold on their romantic future. It’s just a shame that it takes Sabrina a bit longer to see the great man she has in front of her.
Come back next week for the conclusion to this list. Think I forgot a crucial romantic scene? Share it in the comments below.