It doesn't matter that the plotlines of romantic comedies are often obvious.
It's not important that we've seen what happens when two people from different sides of the tracks fall for each other...
Or when someone with a broken heart meets someone who isn't really in love...
Or when friends begin to realize that there's something more than just friendship between them...
Or when a prank turns into something more...
Of course we've seen all of those things and we know how they'll turn out... But when we're watching a romantic comedy, we still somehow lose ourselves in the twists and turns, no matter how obvious.
It's because we know that the fears and the pain and the longing that they depict are never really predictable, not even on the safety of the silver screen.
It's because we see ourselves and our hopes and our fears written into lines that we wish we had the nerves and wit to say. In breathless moments and scenes that achingly capture all the joy and hope and bittersweetness of first meetings and sleepless nights; of first fights and last goodbyes.
Here are some of our favorites.
11. The "I'm just a girl" scene in "Notting Hill."
Vulnerability has never been so raw as it was in this fragile scene in 1999's "Notting Hill," written by Richard Curtis. He also gave us 2003's "Love Actually."
10. The final scene in "Sleepless in Seattle."
Is this evidence of true love... or that children are cunning and essentially dangerous creatures who conspire with their teddy bears to —oh, forget it.
9. The meltdown in "The Wedding Singer."
We've all been there. Heartbroken. With a guitar. And some lyrics. And Drew Barrymore looking on at us with pity.
Well, Adam Sandler has at least.
Ouch. Just ouch.
8. The cafe scene in "When Harry Met Sally."
"I'll have what she's having."
A classic movie that addressed the question of whether or not men and women can ever be just friends... and whether or not a faked climax can be easily identified.
7. The sign sequence from "Love, Actually."
Andrew Lincoln perfectly channels the agony of his undeclared love for Keira Knightley in this stunning scene from 2003's "Love Actually" when he finally works up the nerve to confess his affection for his best friend's wife with a series of signs...
... just because it's Christmas, and at Christmas, you tell the truth.
"To me, you are perfect..."
"And my wasted heart will love you..."
"Until you look like this."
A well-deserved thank you.
6. Phil Connors' last first date with Rita in "Groundhog Day."
After being plunged into some kind of reincarnation Hell, Phil Connors (played by Bill Murray) finds himself reliving the same day over and over again.
Eventually, he finds a sort of redemption in love, not only for the people who surround him, day in and day out, but also for his colleague Rita (Andie MacDowell) whom he finally confesses his affection for in an evening that turns out to be their last first date:
"Whatever happens tomorrow, or for the rest of my life, I'm happy now... because I love you."
As they lie next to each other and Phil braces for another day that will wipe away every shared experience he's had, he bares his heart to her as she sleeps:
"I think you're the kindest, sweetest, prettiest person I've ever met in my life. I've never seen anyone that's nicer to people than you are. The first time I saw you... something happened to me. I never told you but... I knew that I wanted to hold you as hard as I could. I don't deserve someone like you. But if I ever could, I swear I would love you for the rest of my life."
It's as well-written a declaration of love as any sonnet.
5. The final scene in "Sixteen Candles."
Of course, John Hughes' "Sixteen Candles" had to make an appearance here.
Samantha Baker's 16th birthday was forgotten. Her underwear was shown to a bathroom full of weirdos. Her family was obsessing over her sister's wedding...
And then this happened. With Jake Ryan, no less.
And it was just perfect.
4. Kat's confession in "10 Things I Hate About You."
Julia Stiles' confession as Kat Stratford to Heath Ledger's Patrick Verona in this 1999 update of Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew" is achingly painful and real.
"I hate the way you talk to me, and the way you cut your hair.
I hate the way you drive my car. I hate it when you stare.
I hate your big dumb combat boots, and the way you read my mind.
I hate you so much it makes me sick; it even makes me rhyme. I
hate it, I hate the way you're always right.
I hate it when you lie. I
hate it when you make me laugh, even worse when you make me cry.
I hate it when you're not around, and the fact that you didn't call.
But mostly I hate the way I don't hate you. Not even close, not even a little bit, not even at all."
3. Duckie meets Duckette in "Pretty in Pink."
John Hughes had his finger on the pulsebeat of the '80s in a way that we don't think people really get today. Before the rise of teenage RomCom, you see, there really only existed the teenage sex comedy and the teenage tragedy.
In 1986's "Pretty in Pink," he got to the heart of what it felt like to be a have-not in a world full of rich kids and made sure that even his least likely hero, Duckie, played by a well-coiffed Jon Cryer, found some hope for happiness in the form of Kristy Swanson.
2. Mark Darcy and Bridget Jones' kiss in "Bridget Jones Diary."
Nice guy Mark Darcy's (played by the genteel and reliably awkward Colin Firth) next line, of course, is perfect:
"Oh yes, they f**king do."
1. The boombox scene in "Say Anything."
If this scene from 1989's "Say Anything" doesn't find you with tears in your eyes, then there's really only a one percent chance that you have a heart made of stone and a 99 percent chance that your volume is turned down.
Quite possibly the era's most perfect depiction of desperate teenage longing ever captured on film.
And the song. Oh, the song. Go ahead. Play it. You know you want to.
Did we miss any? Which of these are your favorites? Let us know in the comments below and we'll try to watch any we haven't seen.
It's the job of the romantic comedy to remind us of the highs and lows of love, and to slip us moments that speak to us of the one thing that our restless hearts must always hold fast to: hope.
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