Kate Winslet Titanic with red hair

Movie magic can do many things. It can transport, entertain, and thrill. It can also provide hope and inspiration, especially through romantic comedies and grand, epic love stories, thanks in large part to the iconic couples found throughout movie history. Whether they’re opposites who attract, friends who become lovers, or couples who battle social prejudices to stay by one another’s side, there are countless ways disparate people come together on screen.

But only a handful of the many movie couples truly stand out as the swooniest, most romantic, and most heartfelt. Not all of them have happy endings, but there’s no doubt that the love that each one of them shares is real. We’ve gathered the 19 greatest movie couples of all time from the Golden Age of cinema, iconic Oscar winners, and more, each one ranked here from least to most romantic.

19. Tracy and Dexter — The Philadelphia Story

Katherine Hepburn Cary Grant Philadelphia Story

Tracy (Katherine Hepburn) and Dexter (Cary Grant) are both passionate hotheads whose love affair ended as quickly as it began. Two years after their divorce, Tracy is set to marry again, and the ornery Dexter plans to interrupt the wedding. Dexter makes a plan with a tabloid to cover Tracy’s wedding; in exchange, the editors will kill a story about Tracy’s father, leading Dexter to show up with a reporter and photographer on the eve of the event.

Mere hours away from the ceremony, Tracy soon finds herself caught between the reporter, her fiancé, and Dexter as she has to choose what she really wants for herself. As her fiancé gets wind of her doubts and affiliations with the other men, he calls off the engagement, leaving Tracy to face another scandal — but Dexter swoops in to offer his hand, giving them the chance to make things right.

Tracy and Dexter are a great example of how two people can be so right for each other that it may seem easier to ignore the truth than give in to fate. Tracy and Dexter have an exceptional love story, but it’s still not as memorable as some other couples’, earning them the lowest place on our list.

18. Bridget and Mark — The Bridget Jones Trilogy

Renee Zellwegger Colin Firth Bridget Jones's Diary

A modern retelling of Jane Austen’s "Pride and Prejudice" sees Bridget (Renée Zellwegger) play the role of Elizabeth Bennet and Mark (Colin Firth) the role of Mr. Darcy, with the two frenemies thrown together but not initially attracted to each other. While Bridget and Mark’s families are friends, the two strongly dislike each other, and Bridget is in love with someone else entirely — her toxic boss, Daniel (Hugh Grant). However, as Mark and Bridget are repeatedly thrown together, and as Daniel shows his true colors, Bridget and Mark both realize what was in front of them all along.

Over the course of their relationship, Mark and Bridget continue to fight and test each other — and to be tested by Daniel — and eventually get engaged, marry, and have a child. They have a realistic chemistry within a ridiculous world, and are a lighthearted example of how two people can grow apart and come back together over and over again.

17. Jamal and Latika — Slumdog Millionaire

Dev Patel Freida Pinto Slumdog Millionaire

Jamal (Dev Patel) and Latika (Freida Pinto) are childhood friends brought together by tragic circumstances. When they’re both orphaned by a horrible act of violence, they form their own family together. But even as the brutality required to survive tears them apart, Jamal never forgets Latika. When their paths cross again years later, Jamal endeavors to protect Latika and earn financial stability for the two of them, inspiring him to become a contestant on the Indian version of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?"

Miraculously, Jamal plays his way to the final question, giving him the chance to win 20 million rupees. Though he uses his "phone a friend" lifeline to call Latika, she doesn’t know the answer. However, she does remind him that she’s there for him. That’s enough. When Jamal wins, it’s proof that Jamal and Latika’s destinies are intertwined and that fighting for your safety and happiness is worth it in the end. Jamal and Latika have a sweet romance, but it lacks the depth of some of the other relationships on our list, leading to a lower ranking.

16. Ennis and Jack — Brokeback Mountain

Jake Gyllenhaal Heath Ledger Brokeback Mountain

Ennis (Heath Ledger) and Jack (Jake Gyllenhaal) are ranchers who meet while working one summer. The two cowboys develop a quiet kinship immediately, but there’s something else lurking beneath the surface. As the two strike up a friendship, centered around quarterly fishing trips, their attraction grows. They fall in love and carry on an affair in the quiet solitude of the mountains.

However, when they return from their trips, they’re forced to carry on heteronormative lives to survive. Ennis marries and has children. Jack attempts to live truthfully, but a drunken encounter with a woman leads to a wedding and a kid. And yet, even as their families question their friendship, the two keep up their fishing trips.

When Ennis learns that Jack has died, he visits the family and he sees two shirts, one that belongs to Ennis and one that belongs to Jack, entwined in Jack’s closet. Though their story ends tragically, Ennis and Jack are a testament to the love that persists even in violent and oppressive circumstances.

15. Rick and Ilsa — Casablanca

Humphrey Bogart Ingrid Bergman Casablanca

Rick (Humphrey Bogart) and Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) met in France right before the Nazis invaded. The two had a torrid love affair and planned to escape the ensuing war together, but Ilsa left Rick stranded on the train platform with a note saying that she wouldn’t be able to make it, but that she loved him. Sometime later, in the middle of the war, the two reunite in Casablanca at Rick’s bar when Ilsa shows up with her husband, a resistance leader.

Ilsa and her husband need papers to escape to America, which Rick can provide, but he’s too heartbroken to help. Ilsa explains she thought her husband was dead when she met Rick, but received word that he was still alive, forcing her to go after him instead of leaving with Rick. As the Nazis encroach on Casablanca, Ilsa and Rick’s time is limited, and they have to figure out a way for her to safely flee with her husband.

Rick and Ilsa’s story is ultimately one of redemption and hope as Rick shifts from an isolationist to an active participant in the war effort. Rick and Ilsa’s romance is heartfelt, but lacks the complexity of some of the very best movie love affairs.

14. Albert and Armand — The Birdcage

Robin Williams Nathan Lane The Birdcage

Albert (Nathan Lane) and Armand’s (Robin Williams) relationship is a sweet time capsule of the kind of love that survived and thrived pre-marriage equality. For all intents and purposes, the two live as a married couple in Miami, with Armand running a nightclub that runs drag shows in which Albert is the star. When their son comes home to announce that he’s engaged to the daughter of a conservative politician, their lives are thrown into chaos, and they are forced to pretend to be a straight married couple with Albert, in drag, posing as a traditional housewife.

The ruse prompts further ruminations and insecurity from Albert, who feels that their relationship and his standing in the family may be at stake even as he does everything he can to go along with the deception. Ultimately, the truth comes to light, and Armand and their son remind Albert that he is invaluable to the family. Albert and Armand are a sweet and funny couple — they simply aren’t as dynamic as some of the other contenders.

13. Han and Leia — The Star Wars Saga

Carrie Fisher Harrison Ford Empire Strikes Back

A swashbuckling space opera, "Star Wars" may not be known for its romance, but Han (Harrison Ford) and Leia (Carrie Fisher) share one of the greatest will-they-won’t-they romances in cinematic history. Brought together by the Rebellion, Han and Leia remain star-crossed lovers in a war-torn galaxy.

When they first meet in "A New Hope," Leia is a princess and Rebel operative, working to get the Death Star plans to the Rebellion even while being tortured by Darth Vader. By contrast, Han wants nothing to do with either side of the Galactic Civil War, simply trying to survive as a smuggler and dodge his debts. However, their chemistry is undeniable, and the two form an alliance thanks to Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and the rest of the Rebels.

Over time, Han and Leia fall in love and eventually have a child. Though their ending in the sequel films isn’t strictly happy, their love endures through their son, Ben (aka Kylo Ren), who eventually carries on Han and Leia’s legacy.

12. Baby and Johnny — Dirty Dancing

Jennifer Grey Patrick Swayze Dirty Dancing

Baby (Jennifer Grey) and Johnny’s (Patrick Swayze) relationship tells the story of two people who grow together and change each other for the better. The two meet when Baby’s family takes a summer vacation to a Catskills resort where Johnny works as a dance instructor.

Raised in a strict family, Baby’s destiny is predetermined: to go to medical school and be a doctor just like her father. When she meets Johnny, she deviates from her path for the first time as she discovers a love for dance. As the two grow closer, Baby starts to grow more into her own person, while Johnny risks losing the life he’s built at the resort to be with Baby.

Their relationship is a testament to the transformative love that can happen through a shared passion. However, while Baby and Johnny have a powerful story, their affection for one another is almost secondary to the love they share for dance, which hurts their overall ranking.

11. Carol and Therese — Carol

Rooney Mara Cate Blanchett Carol

Based on Patricia Highsmith’s "The Price of Salt," long considered the only lesbian love story with a happy ending, "Carol" follows the suspenseful tale of Carol (Cate Blanchett) and Therese (Rooney Mara), two women who are pulled together despite everything that should keep them apart. Therese aspires to be a photographer, but works in a department store when she meets Carol, who comes into the shop to buy a Christmas gift for her daughter. The two have instant chemistry, but are both already partnered — Carol is married to her abusive, alcoholic husband, and Therese is dating an affable but clueless man.

When Carol leaves her gloves at the store, Therese seizes the opportunity to return them to her. Carol takes her to lunch, and the two strike up a friendship. As they grow closer, Carol’s husband becomes increasingly jealous and threatens to keep her daughter away from her, forcing the two apart as Carol returns to her family. Ultimately, though, they fight to be with each other, despite the strict mores of the 1950s. Carol and Therese are a hopeful reminder of a love that’s existed all throughout history, even if it’s sometimes less visible due to prevailing social prejudices.

10. Quincy and Monica — Love & Basketball

Sanaa Lathan Omar Epps Love and Basketball

Quincy (Omar Epps) and Monica (Sanaa Lathan) first meet as kids, brought together by their mutual love of basketball. That same attraction is what repeatedly pulls them together and pushes them apart over the years. While Quincy is the child of a former professional basketball player with a clear career ahead of him, as both a woman and someone who doesn’t have an in, Monica’s path to professional basketball is much harder. Even as the two form a tentative romance, Monica’s drive and motivation to succeed at the game threatens to tear them apart, while Quincy’s family life moves to shakier ground.

Though Monica initially chooses basketball over love, she ends up discovering a way to have both, and the two find a way back to each other. Monica and Quincy’s love story is a great example of the way two people can come together, clash, and get together again over a mutual love of the game. The two have a classic friends-to-lovers romance, earning them a comfortable spot in the middle of our list.

9. Holly and Paul — Breakfast at Tiffany’s

George Peppard Audrey Hepburn Breakfast at Tiffany's

Holly (Audrey Hepburn) and Paul (George Peppard) are kindred spirits who meet each other when Paul moves into Holly’s building. Holly is an eccentric and free spirit who throws raucous parties for artists and thinkers, while Paul is an introverted writer. They connect over their secrets: Paul’s discovery of Holly’s hidden past, and Holly’s discovery of Paul’s way of making money.

As they grow closer, they form a deep friendship and realize that they can be their true selves together, but as things turn romantic, Holly’s fear of sharing herself with someone else forever takes hold, forcing Paul to prove to her why she shouldn’t run away again. Holly and Paul show how two lost souls can find each other to create a new family in a scary world. In the past, Holly found safety in reinventing herself. With Paul, she doesn’t have to. Holly and Paul have a unique connection, the kind that feels like it can only exist in movies.

8. Patrick and Kat — 10 Things I Hate About You

Heath Ledger Julia Stiles 10 Things

A modern retelling of Shakespeare’s "Taming of the Shrew," Patrick (Heath Ledger) and Kat (Julia Stiles) are brought together when a new student pays Patrick to romance Kat so that he can woo Kat’s younger sister. Kat is a smart and once-popular girl who had a fall from grace, and is now closed off to the school’s cliques, instead focusing on her college ambitions. Patrick is a bad boy who most of the popular kids fear, but who is just mysterious enough to intrigue Kat. The two go toe-to-toe as Patrick courts her, but as they get to know each other, Patrick genuinely falls for her.

When Kat learns the truth of why Patrick pursued her, their relationship is put into jeopardy, forcing Patrick to fight for her and Kat to fight for herself. Patrick and Kat share the real, opposites attract-style love that can happen in the most unexpected circumstances. The two have an intense, enviable chemistry that’s helped make "10 Things I Hate About You" a teen favorite for decades.

7. Joe and Kathleen — You’ve Got Mail

Tom Hanks Meg Ryan You've Got Mail

It’s a classic enemies-to-lovers romance. Joe (Tom Hanks) is the wealthy owner of a Barnes and Noble-type bookstore, swallowing up small booksellers one by one. Kathleen (Meg Ryan) is hanging on to her departed mother’s children’s bookshop for dear life. Unbeknownst to the two of them, they’re anonymous friends in an online chat room, able to share their woes in a safe space.

Of course, in real life, they’re on different pages. As Kathleen becomes a vocal advocate for small business owners, Joe becomes both more enamored and also increasingly frustrated with her. Meanwhile, behind their computer screens, the two set up a real-life meeting, but when Joe sees that his online suitor is Kathleen, he doesn’t reveal who he is, keeping the upper hand. As their cat and mouse game continues, the couple see new sides to each other and grow closer before their online personas meet one last time, and Joe shares his true identity.

Joe and Kathleen have a dynamic friendship-turned-romance that exemplifies how people’s complexities draw them together. A dynamic romance for the modern era, Kathleen and Joe have a real connection.

6. Westley and Buttercup — The Princess Bride

Robin Wright Cary Elwes Princess Bride

Almost every great fairy tale features a prince and princess who fall in love. Westley (Cary Elwes) and Buttercup (Robin Wright) may be the ultimate example. Buttercup is a farm girl whose one true love, Westley, responded, "As you wish," to all of her requests. Eventually, the phrase became their shorthand for "I love you." But when Westley went to sea, he died at the hands of the Dread Pirate Roberts, and Buttercup became engaged to Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon).

After Buttercup is kidnapped by a group of bandits who hope to ransom her from the prince, they’re chased by the Dread Pirate Roberts, who Buttercup soon realizes is Westley. As they reunite, the two have to overcome not just Prince Humperdinck but an entire world of creatures and dangers as they fight their way to freedom and happiness. Westley and Buttercup provide a moving example of how second chances (and a little bit of magic) can bring people back together. If you’re looking for a true, fairytale kind of love, you can’t do any better.

5. Chiron and Kevin — Moonlight

Trevante Rhodes Andre Holland Moonlight

"Moonlight" is a quiet, intimate, coming-of-age character study focused on Chiron, a young Black man who is growing up with a mother addicted to drugs and is struggling to accept his sexual orientation.

Joining him on his journey is his friend Kevin. As children, Kevin (Jaden Piner) helps young Chiron, then called Little (Alex R. Hibbert), toughen up, but in doing so shares a moment of affection with him. As teenagers, Chiron (Ashton Sanders) and Kevin (Jharrel Jerome) grow closer and share physical intimacy before Kevin betrays Chiron. Finally, as adults, the two reconnect, working to move beyond their past, and Chiron (Trevante Rhodes) finally lets Kevin (André Holland) in completely, able to embrace who he is as a Black gay man.

Their relationship is one of a complex, lifelong friendship with queer subtext and deep meaning that resonates for viewers of all races and sexual orientations. Chiron and Kevin’s story is one of hope, resilience, and the healing that can come from enduring love. Despite the many hardships life sends their way, Chiron and Kevin find their way back to each other.

4. Celine and Jesse — The Before Trilogy

Julie Delpy Ethan Hawke Before Sunrise

Celine (Julie Delpy) and Jesse (Ethan Hawke) are two strangers who meet by chance on a train to Vienna in 1995. Celine is a French romantic with grand aspirations to change the world. Jesse is an American cynic full of stories to tell. After hitting it off, Jesse asks Celine to get off the train with him in Vienna and the two spend the day and night walking and talking in the city. They have an instant bond, and agree to meet again in Vienna in six months, but life gets in the way. Instead, they reunite nine years later. It’s now 2004, and Jesse has written a novel about their initial encounter when Celine comes to his book signing in Paris.

Though Jesse is married with a young son and Celine is dating a war photographer, the two once again find themselves caught up in each other, wondering what would have happened if they had been able to meet up all those years ago. Celine and Jesse ultimately choose each other, marrying and having children of their own. Their story is far from perfect, but it’s both magical and real. What makes Jesse and Celine’s love so special is how they choose each other again and again, even as life gets harder. It’s a cinematic relationship that still feels realistic, elevating the couple into the top tiers of our ranking.

3. Rose and Jack — Titanic

Leonardo Dicaprio Kate Winslet Titanic

One of the most iconic, if not the most iconic, movie couples of all time, Rose (Kate Winslet) and Jack’s (Leonardo DiCaprio) love story still resonates years after the movie’s release. Jack and Rose meet aboard the ill-fated ship as passengers of different classes. Rose is a first-class ticket holder engaged to a wealthy man, but she’s deeply unhappy and unsatisfied. Jack is a dreamer, an artist, and a survivor, despite his lower station in life. Jack’s persistence and resilience inspire Rose to strive for more than the future that’s been laid out for her.

As they grow closer, Rose plans to leave her fiancé when they dock and leave the ship with Jack. Of course, the iceberg has other plans, but as we learn at the end of the film, despite the unavoidable tragedy of the Titanic, Rose never stops loving Jack, letting the short-lived romance change the shape of her entire life. Though their story ends tragically, Rose and Jack’s love is eternal.

2. Noah and Allie — The Notebook

Rachel McAdams Ryan Gosling Notebook

Noah and Allie are one of the most beloved and romantic couples in film history. While Allie (Rachel McAdams) comes from a wealthy family, Noah (Ryan Gosling) is a tradesman, and although they have a hot and heavy summer fling after meeting at a carnival, Allie’s family is determined to keep them apart and match her with a man of better social standing. Of course, World War II also keeps them separated, as Noah is drafted.

When the two finally cross paths again, Allie is engaged and Noah is heartbroken. While they attempt to be friends, the pull of their attraction is too strong. In the end, Noah and Allie’s love stands the test of time. As they age, an older Allie (Gena Rowlands) suffers severe dementia, and begins forgetting Noah entirely. However, as an elder Noah (James Garner) reads the story of their lives to her, she briefly remembers the love they share, a miracle considering her condition.

Noah and Allie are a testament to the power of true love despite the numerous difficulties that life can bring. Through the many twists and turns, Noah and Allie fight for each other to the end.

1. Sally and Harry — When Harry Met Sally

Billy Crystal Meg Ryan When Harry Met Sally

For the true romantic, the dream is to marry your best friend. That’s exactly what happens to Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan). Penned by one of the great romance writers of all time, Nora Ephron, "When Harry Met Sally" follows two people whose paths cross over and over until they finally become close companions. Their chemistry is undeniable, but each one values their friendship too much to try to make a move on the other, especially because they’re violating Harry’s golden rule: "No man can be friends with a woman that he finds attractive. He always wants to have sex with her."

Of course, as they each date other people, their connection persists until they finally get together. Harry and Sally are the greatest movie couple of all time simply due to the steadfastness of their relationship; no matter how much they fall apart, they come back together, thanks to the solid base of their friendship. Sally and Harry have a relationship that feels both magical and incredibly rounded. It’s a love story that only comes around once in a blue moon, making them our greatest movie couple of all time.