Romance and cinema have had a passionate love affair since the inception of the silver screen. The intoxicating magic of a well-executed romantic gesture can stir our hearts, evoke tears, and leave us reminiscing long after the end credits roll. Whether it’s a stolen moment under a balcony or a grand declaration of love against a cinematic backdrop, these gestures often become the highlight of the movie, etching their places in our collective memories.
In this article, we present a curated list of the 50 best romantic gestures in film, spanning decades, genres, and cultures. From iconic classics like Casablanca to heartwarming modern tales like Juno, these films showcase how love is celebrated, fought for, and remembered. These moments range from the dramatic to the subtle, proving that love’s language is as varied as it is profound.
Hold onto your hearts as we embark on this cinematic journey, revisiting the scenes that have defined romance in film. Whether you’re a hopeless romantic or a film enthusiast, these gestures will surely resonate, reminding us of the timeless allure of a love story beautifully told.
50 Good Will Hunting
1997 – Will (Matt Damon) leaves Sean (Robin Williams) a letter that says, “If the professor calls about that job, just tell him ‘sorry, I had to go see about a girl.'” in reference to him leaving to find Skylar (Minnie Driver).
49 Romeo + Juliet
1996 – Romeo (Leonardo DiCaprio) scales the walls of Capulet’s house in order to climb the trellis of Juliet’s (Claire Danes) balcony to confess his love.
48 Imagine Me & You
2005 – Rachel (Piper Perabo) stands on the rooftop of her car in the middle of London traffic in order to confess her love to Luce (Lena Headey).
1978 – Danny (John Travolta) dresses up preppy in order to impress Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) at the end-of-the-year carnival.
46 Forgetting Sarah Marshall
2008 – Peter (Jason Segel) takes down the picture of Rachel (Mila Kunis) in order to protect her honor, even though he knows he’ll be beaten up.
45 Only You
1994 – Faith (Marisa Tomei) convinces the Italian airport security to stop a plane from taking off so that she can get on and confess her love to Peter (Robert Downey Jr.).
44 Breakfast at Tiffany’s
1961 – After Holly (Audrey Hepburn) throws her cat out of the cab and breaks things off with Paul (George Peppard), he runs after the cat anyway because he knows how important it is to her.
43 While You Were Sleeping
1995 – Lucy (Sandra Bullock) calls off her wedding to Peter (Peter Gallagher), risking the family she’s grown to love, in order to declare her love for his brother, Jack (Bill Pullman).
42 Before Sunrise
1995 – Jesse (Ethan Hawke) convinces Celine (Julie Delpy) to get off the train with him and spend a romantic evening together.
2006 – Glen Hansard buys Markéta Irglová a piano before he leaves her and her husband in order to find his other true love.
40 Sixteen Candles
1984 – Jake Ryan (Michael Schoeffling) gives Sam (Molly Ringwald) a birthday cake because everyone forgot her birthday.
39 Never Been Kissed
1999 – Josie (Drew Barrymore) writes an article confessing her love for Sam (Michael Vartan) and says she’s going to wait for him on the pitcher’s mound for her first kiss.
38 Beauty and the Beast
1991 – The Beast gives his library to Belle simply because he wants to see her happy.
37 Harold and Maude
1971 – After Maude (Ruth Gordon) dies, Harold (Bud Cort) pushes his hearse off a cliff, symbolically fulfilling Maude’s dying wish that he finally enjoy life.
36 The African Queen
1951 – Charlie (Humphrey Bogart) asks the captain of the Louisa to marry him and Rose (Katharine Hepburn) before they are hung because he knows how important it is to her.
35 10 Things I Hate About You
1999 – Patrick (Heath Ledger) commandeers the school’s sound system and enlists the help of the marching band in order to serenade Kat (Julia Stiles) to “Can’t Take My Eyes off of You.”
34 When Harry Met Sally
1989 – Harry (Billy Crystal) races to find Sally (Meg Ryan) on New Year’s to tell her he’s realized he loves her and wants to spend the rest of his life with her.
33 Wedding Crashers
2005 – John (Owen Wilson) interrupts Jeremy’s (Vince Vaughn) wedding in order to apologize to Claire (Rachel McAdams) for lying to her, pronounce his love, and ask her not to marry her fiance.
32 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
2003 – Sam (Sean Astin) carries Frodo (Elijah Wood) up Mount Doom after he can no longer carry himself.
31 Shakespeare in Love
1998 – Will (Joseph Fiennes) writes his next play, ‘Twelfth Night,’ in memory of Viola (Gweneth Paltrow).
2001 – Amélie (Audrey Tautou) sets up a wild goose chase for her beloved Nino (Mathieu Kassovitz) all through Paris.
29 Across the Universe
2007 – After the cops have already shut down the rooftop concert, Jude (Jim Sturgess) starts singing “All You Need is Love” in order to tell Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood) that he has come back for her.
28 Moulin Rouge
2001 – As Christian (Ewan McGregor) turns away, believing that Satine (Nicole Kidman) does not love him, she starts to sing their song in the middle of the performance to confess her true feelings.
27 Dirty Dancing
1987 – Johnny (Patrick Swayze) returns to his previous place of employment in order to tell everyone about the woman who changed his life (Jennifer Grey) in the famous “Nobody puts Baby in a corner” scene.
26 Meet Joe Black
1998 – Death (Brad Pitt) brings back the man whose life he took so that Susan (Claire Forlani) might be able to fall in love with him.
2007 – Juno (Ellen Page) finally realizes that she’s in love with Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera), so she fills his mailbox with his favorite candy: orange Tic-Tacs.
24 Roman Holiday
1953 – After their torrid love affair, Joe (Gregory Peck) gives up his big news story to protect Princess Ann (Audrey Hepburn) whom he’s fallen in love but could never be with.
23 P.S. I Love You
2007 – Gerry (Gerard Butler) leaves his widowed wife Holly (Hilary Swank) with ten messages to remind her who she is without him and to remind her, “P.S. I Love You.”
22 A Walk to Remember
2002 – As he slowly helps her cross off all the items on her list, Landon (Shane West) builds a telescope for Jamie (Mandy Moore) so that she can be closer to the stars.
21 Slumdog Millionaire
2008 – Jamal (Dev Patel) joins a game show in order to find the woman of his dreams, Latika (Freida Pinto).
20 The Graduate
1967 – Ben (Dustin Hoffman) interrupts Elaine’s (Katharine Ross) wedding and fends off the guests with a cross to save her from her bourgeois life.
19 Notting Hill
1999 – Anna Scott (Julia Roberts) buys William (Hugh Grant) the original of a Chagall painting he had hanging in his flat and says to him, “I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.”
1990 – Sam’s (Patrick Swayze) ghost tries everything in his power to save his girlfriend Molly (Demi Moore).
1998 – Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman) is expelled after trying to build an aquarium for the woman he’s in love with – his school’s news first-grade teacher, Rosemary Cross (Olivia Williams).
1997 – Rose (Kate Winslet) jumps from the safety of her lifeboat in order to rejoin Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) on the sinking ship because, as she says, “You jump, I jump, remember?”
15 What Dreams May Come
1998 – After dying, Chris (Robin Williams) travels through Heaven and Hell in order to rescue Annie (Annabella Sciorra), his wife who had committed suicide.
14 Love Actually
2003 – Jamie (Colin Firth) learns Portuguese in order to propose to Aurelia (Lúcia Moniz), who coincidentally also learned English for Jamie.
13 The Wedding Singer
1998 – Robbie (Adam Sandler) boards a plane and enlists the help of Billy Idol in order to serenade Julia (Drew Barrymore) with his heartfelt song “Growing Old With You.”
12 The Princess Bride
1987 – Westley (Cary Elwes) storms the castle and outsmarts Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon) in order to run away with his true love, Buttercup (Robin Wright Penn).
11 City of Angels
1998 – Seth (Nicolas Cage) gives up immortality and his status as an angel in order to be with Maggie (Meg Ryan).
2008 – Edward (Robert Pattinson) saves Bella (Kristen Stewart) from a runaway van, putting himself and his family in danger of being discovered for what they are.
9 The Notebook
2004 – Noah (Ryan Gosling) builds Allie (Rachel McAdams) the house of her dreams years after they parted ways, hoping it would somehow bring her back to him.
8 Say Anything…
1989 – Lloyd (John Cusack) stands outside Diane’s (Ione Skye) window with a boombox over his head, blaring Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” in a declaration of his love for her.
2008 – Wall-E goes to the ends of the Earth and beyond (literally) to defend a cause he doesn’t understand simply because he is in love.
6 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
2003 – Arwen (Liv Tyler) decides to stay in Middle-Earth, accept the Doom of Men, and die in order to marry her beloved Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen).
5 City Lights
1931 – The Tramp (Charles Chaplin) does everything in his power to help the blind girl (Virginia Cherrill) that he has fallen in love, even though she doesn’t know his true identity.
4 Big Fish
2003 – Ed Bloom (Ewan McGregor) fills Sandra’s (Alison Lohman) sorority’s lawn with daffodils because he knows how much she loves them.
3 Love Actually
2003 – Mark (Andrew Lincoln) comes to Juliet’s (Keira Knightley) doorstep with cue cards professing his love for her – without hope or agenda.
2 Pride & Prejudice
2005 – Mr. Darcy (Matthew Macfadyen) pays for Lydia’s (Jena Malone) dowry so that the woman he loves, Elizabeth (Keira Knightley), and her family won’t be shamed by the scandal.
1942 – Rick (Humphry Bogart) risks his life to arrange an escape from Casablanca for Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) and her husband. After the fiasco, Rick has to leave the city he’s grown to love because he shot Major Strasser to protect the plane’s takeoff.