Everyone knows the best part of a romance movie is the final grand gesture: the ultimate declaration of love. Even when the drama bubbles, and things seem like they are going to fall apart, the couple pulls through because, in romance films, love usually comes out the victor. Depending on the film, “I love you” scenes can take place at any point. In true rom-com fashion, the declaration will usually come at the end, after the characters have overcome some minute dispute that could have easily been solved with a simple conversation. However, in grittier films, ones that do not always get wrapped up in a pretty bow, the declaration comes after hardship or after some time has passed.
A film’s release date and the time period in which it was made also plays a great deal in when these scenes are placed. For example, a 90s romantic comedy will have a much different structure than something made in the late-2010s. Films of the 80s and 90s did not need to provide as much exploration of a relationship in order to be deemed one. Romances of today seem to owe the viewer more of an explanation as to why the two need to end up together. Here are the best “I love you” scenes in movie history, ranked.
7 Crazy Rich Asians
Crazy Rich Asians follows the love story of Rachel Chu, played by Constance Wu, and her boyfriend Nick Young, who is portrayed by Henry Golding. The two travel back to Singapore for Nick’s friends’ wedding, where Rachel learns that her boyfriend comes from an immense amount of wealth. Rachel must now adapt to a life that was unknown to her, all while dealing with Nick’s mother, played by Michelle Yeoh, who disapproves of their relationship. Nick’s mother judges Rachel throughout the film, and it is in the scene in which the two are playing mahjong that Rachel allows his mother to win. Vulture comments that the action mirrors the circumstances in real life in which Rachel turns down Nick’s proposal in order to keep him in contact with his family. However, as Rachel is getting ready to return to New York, Nick follows her onto the plane and professes his love for her and proposing once again.
6 Silver Linings Playbook
David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook sparked a three-year run of films starring both Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. The film follows the book of the same title pretty closely, but instead of focusing solely on Pat, played by Bradley Cooper, and his journey to bettering his mental health, Russell utilizes the character of Tiffany, played by Jennifer Lawrence, to his advantage. Pat and Tiffany are both struggling to find their places in the world after some of their individual life events knock them down. To manipulate Pat into being her dance partner, Tiffany announces that she will deliver letters to his ex-wife Nikki. Eventually, Pat realizes that it is Tiffany who is actually writing back to him, but keeps her betrayal to himself, realizing that he in fact has feelings for Tiffany. Silver Linings Playbook concludes with Pat announcing his love her after chasing her down the street. The two kiss in the middle of the road, creating one of the most beautiful cinematic shots of Philadelphia since Rocky.
5 Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Arguably, no romance list is complete without the addition of Blake Edward’s 1961 classic Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The film is highly regarded among critics and offers one of Audrey Hepburn’s most notable performances. Holly Golightly, played by Hepburn, is a young woman living in the city working as an escort. She lives a modest life, and avoids attachments at all costs. She even owns a cat that she names “Cat” in order to create a boundary. Her hope is to find a wealthy older man to marry through her escorting. She meets Paul, who is played by George Peppard, an aspiring writer, and the two form a friendship. As the film progresses, it’s clear that Paul is falling in love with Holly, but she is reluctant to reciprocate, stating, “People do not belong to people.” After losing “Cat” in the rain, Paul helps Holly find him and the two profess their undying love for one another.
4 10 Things I Hate About You
Of all the notable romantic comedies to come out of the 90s, 10 Things I Hate About You sits at the top of almost any list, especially when discussing Heath Ledger movies. The teen comedy is based on William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew and follows the plot fairly close to that of the play. Although it’s clear that Ledger’s character Patrick and Julia Stiles ‘character Kat are going to be together in the end, there is still something so satisfying watching Patrick announce his love for Kat via song in front of the entire girls’ soccer team. With the help of the high school band, Patrick serenades Kat to the tune of Frankie Valli’s “I Love You Baby,” easily earning it a spot on the list of the best declarations of love in movie history.
3 Pride and Prejudice
UVA Today claims there are 17 film adaptations of Jane Austen’s classic novel Pride and Prejudice, dating back to the late-30s. However, of all these adaptations and modern retellings, one of the most watched to date is the 2005 release starring Keira Knightley as Elizabeth and Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy. The conflict between the two is consistent throughout the film, and Darcy’s over-persistence only pushes Elizabeth further away. It is not until Mr. Darcy aides Elizabeth’s sister Lydia, securing her marriage, that Elizabeth softens her resolve. However, before the two have their happily ever after, Darcy declares his love for Elizabeth only to be rejected by her at first.
2 Love, Simon
Love, Simon is the heartwarming coming-of-age story about a young boy named Simon, played by Nick Robinson. Simon is not yet out to his friends and family, and is struggling to confirm the identity of a classmate that he has been communicating with online. Simon’s online pen pal goes by the name “Blue” and he is determined to find out his true identity. However, when Simon’s big secret is threatened, he must come to terms with his struggle and come out to his family. Simon notes to whomever he has fallen in love with online that he will be at the fair’s ferris wheel waiting for Blue to reveal himself. Simon waits in front of the while school, and finally, Blue, who is actually Bram, shows himself. The two share a moment before kissing at the top of the ferris wheel, easily making Love, Simon one of the best LGBT + modern romance films.
1 The Notebook
When it comes to romance films, The Notebook is regarded on any list. Noah, played by Ryan Gosling, is a poor country boy who meets Allie, played by Rachel McAdams, while she is on vacation. Allie comes from wealth, and her parents disapprove of her relationship with Noah. After the two split, Noah writes Allie letters, which her mother keeps from her. After seeing a picture of Noah in the paper, Allie leaves her fiancé for a brief visit to Seabrook to check in on Noah and find closure. However, what she finds instead is that the two are still very much in love, and after a romantic boat ride ends with them getting caught in the rain, the two confess that they still love each other after all these years.