There’s been a lot of tongue-wagging and speculation over the past few weeks about the chemistry (or rather lack thereof) between FIFTY SHADES OF GREY co-stars Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson. I mean, did you see how chilly the divide was during their Golden Globes award presentation?! It’s like they’d never met. Though the jury is still out on this (we’ll know more after the erotic juggernaut is screened to us stuffy critics), we thought it would be best to bring you a list of our favorite couples on film.
10. Cary Elwes and Robin Wright: Simply put, THE PRINCESS BRIDE is a time honored classic. Director Rob Reiner gave us a love story to end all love stories with the fable of brave servant Westley (Cary Elwes) and Princess Buttercup (Robin Wright). Their undying devotion that led many of us to swoon felt real and immediate. And it’s no wonder. The pair had such good chemistry, it spilled over into some off-set coupling. While that flame has long since been extinguished, as you wish-ed, their legacy lives on in our celluloid fever dreams forever.
9. Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams: Though these two have been split up for at least seven years now, the pain of their uncoupling lives on in the hearts of fans of THE NOTEBOOK – possibly the most romantic movie of all time. Honestly, I have a hard time rectifying this reality, because in my dreams, their romance continues. And I know I’m not alone in this feeling. Despite reports of initially not getting along on set, the dynamic duo pushed through and persevered – until 2007 when they finally called it quits. Hearts are still breaking – but that serves as a testament to how open and vulnerable their performances are in the romdram.
8. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie: Though I’m still a staunch #TeamAniston girl, I can’t help but feel MR. & MRS. SMITH got a raw deal at the box office because of all the tabloid stories surrounding the film. Playing a married couple of spies whose love spark is in desperate need of some lighter fluid, Pitt and Jolie’s chemistry is both playful and sizzling. They also nail the nuance of a romance on the wane during the confessional-type therapy sessions. While they haven’t worked together since, they’ve announced two upcoming projects that sound promising – BY THE SEA (a psycho-sexual drama) and AFRICA (a true-life drama).
7. Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant: Kooky 60’s thrillers with a chic pizzazz are my jam. Even better when it’s headlined by a vibrant duo! In that regard, director Stanley Donen’s CHARADE does not disappoint. Hepburn and Grant have an undeniable charm and engage in loads of witty repartee throughout this romcom adventure set in Paris. Wickedly stylish, and replete with a musical score from Henry Mancini, this is the cinematic equivalent of an effervescent glass of champagne.
6. Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos: When I first saw BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR, a love story that chronicles one lesbian couple’s relationship, I was blindsided by how universal it truly is. It all hinges on the tremendous talents of these two actresses and their fearless, honest, raw and relatable performances. While there’s been some controversy over how far writer-director Abdellatif Kechiche pushed Seydoux and Exarchopoulous to go (too far, according to them), the result is a spectacularly poignant and brilliantly moving work of genius.
5. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan: There’s a reason these two have been in three movies together – it’s because they are a romantic force of nature. Though 1990’s JOE VERSUS THE VOLCANO didn’t do that well at the box office, it’s been steadily gaining a cult following. Three years later, SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE (famously parodied here in this re-cut trailer) was a ginormous hit at the box office, despite the fact they aren’t really together until the very end of the film. Audiences knew it’s about that build. Then in 1998, director Nora Ephron reunited with “America’s Sweethearts” and struck gold yet again with YOU’VE GOT MAIL, a loose remake of THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER. I’m willing to bet if Ryan and Hanks were to announce a new project tomorrow, we’d all be there in a heartbeat. They are the nineties’ version of Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn.
4. Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman: Over the course of the eleven years they were married, Cruise and Kidman starred in three features together – the final being the most emotionally taxing on their relationship. I’m sorry/ not sorry to say, their loss is our gain. While DAYS OF THUNDER spotlit their burning lust for each other and FAR AND AWAY was an epic vanity vehicle, it wasn’t until director Stanley Kubrick’s EYES WIDE SHUT where things really got interesting for the marrieds. The auteur pushed them physically and emotionally to places they’d never explored – and the result is absolutely astounding. Kinetic, empowering, deflating, mesmerizing and flat out amazing, their best work was when they were falling apart.
3. Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet: What makes this pairing so incredibly fascinating is that their two films together are a study in extremes. TITANIC spoke to the romantic in all of us, never letting go, whereas REVOLUTIONARY ROAD speaks to the darker, stifling and stagnant side of love – a place where we need to let go. While love set sail in TITANIC, it goes to die in the suburbs of ROAD. However, even that film’s downward spiral has two unbelievably great and mature performances from actors at the top of their game. There’s a certain comfort within the uncomfortable material.
2. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy: Co-writer/ director Richard Linklater has given us a special cinematic treat in his BEFORE series of films that’s lasted 18 years. In the art house series (spanning BEFORE SUNRISE, BEFORE SUNSET and BEFORE MIDNIGHT), we see a relationship bloom and continue to deepen – both within the characters and the actors themselves. Playful, yearning, warm, and at times cutting right to the core, Delpy and Hawke intuitively get it and inhabit their characters like a second skin. There’s an electricity to their organic performances. You could marathon this trilogy, but to truly savor each nuance, one should allow ample time in between each to digest.
1. Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn: There’s never been a more perfect on-screen couple than Hepburn and Tracy. Their names are almost always connected with one another. Back in the heyday of Hollywood, when a couple hit it big with an audience, studios would continue to put them together – and this is exactly what happened with Tracy and Hepburn. Despite their first film together, WOMAN OF THE YEAR, being a flop on all fronts, MGM saw a spark in the pair’s chemistry. Always rumored to be an item (we later learned they were conducting a long term affair in private), the pair engaged in loads of delightful playful banter over the course of nine films together. They were the magic formula. No matter the genre (melodrama, western, screwball romcom), the dynamic duo knew how to play a scene. Their 19-year age difference seemed to have inspired the mold for many romcoms to come; it’s long been a common trait to have such an age disparity between male and female co-stars. Unfortunately, not every May-December pairing has been as believable as Hepburn and Tracy. This iconic cinematic couple’s legend will live forever, as they had an irrefutable charm that would light up the silver screen.