Love is weird. Sex is weird. Kissing is weird, if you think too hard about it — but we suggest you don’t. The movie business has already done it for you: The art of movie kissing has been delicately refined over Hollywood’s 100-plus years of studying it.
If executed properly, the Movie Kiss can be far more effective than a sex scene or even a happily-ever-after. It stands as a moment of pure bliss between the participants, whether romantic or explicitly physical, no matter what happens to the couple in the future. It’s transcendent.
Here are some of the best movie kisses that made the cut to unforgettable, as collected by your Mashable entertainment team.
1. Peter and Mary Jane, Spider-Man
The kiss that forever changed movie kisses held the bar so high that superhero films became effectively chaste after this (more on that later). A masked Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) saves his lifelong crush Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) from a midtown mugging. MJ, unaware of her savior’s identity beyond that whole friendly-neighborhood-arachnid schtick, wants to thank him for rescuing her. She removes his mask just enough to protect his identity while giving him the kiss that sent Spidey and the rest of us reeling forever. —Proma Khosla, Entertainment Reporter
2. Rose and Jack, Titanic
Titanic gave us an epic whirlwind of a tragic romance that could only have been achieved with lethal chemistry from Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio. When they meet on board and experience instant attraction, we believe it. When they pit themselves against everyone in Rose’s life, we support it. And when they kiss on the bow of the most famous and doomed ocean liner, we feel it, from the intimate handholding to the heat of standing so close to the brisk Atlantic winds, which bite at the young lovers with just a hint of the horror ahead. —P.K.
3. Chiron and Kevin, Moonlight
The plot of Moonlight pivots on Kevin (Jharrel Jerome) and Chiron’s (Ashton Sanders) single kiss on the beach. Like many great movie kisses, the buildup to their intimacy is almost as important as the act itself. Both boys begin the conversation posturing in their expected roles as young black men and slowly yield to each other in a silent acknowledgement of their desire. Kevin stares Chiron down, confident in what he wants, while Chiron only sheds his guilt after realizing Kevin wants him, too. This kiss is awkward, beautiful, and momentous. No wonder Chiron spends his adult life fixated on it. —Alexis Nedd, Senior Entertainment Reporter
4. Aladdin and Jasmine, Aladdin
Not only did they have the most unbeatable first date ever, unready to part ways, Princess Jasmine (Linda Larkin) and “Prince Ali” (Scott Weinger) cap it off with some flirty balcony banter. They’re already about to kiss when the magic carpet gets impatient (speaking for all of us) and gives Aladdin a little boost to meet his love’s lips for their first kiss. It takes them both by surprise, but only briefly, before they lean into the moment they were waiting for all night. —P.K.
5. Han and Leia, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, an underestimated space princess met a scruffy-headed nerf herder and neither of them was ever the same. Tragically, Han (Harrison Ford) and Leia’s (Carrie Fisher) chemistry builds offscreen in the time between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, so when we catch up with them at the top of the latter film, they’re flirting and bickering in full force. They keep up that balancing act in a scene on the Millennium Falcon, when Leia declares that she could never like Han because she likes nice men. “I’m nice,” Han says, before closing the distance between them. He might have a point. —P.K.
6. Nick and Amy, Gone Girl
Before she was a gone girl, Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike) was a “Cool Girl,” pretending to be a nonexistent male fantasy in order to entice Nick (Ben Affleck). But even she confessed to buying into their little game, occasionally enjoying the part and falling for her mark. When Nick and Amy’s date leads them to walk through a cloud of sugar from a local bakery, the resulting, wordless scene (with just enough scoring from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross) has him tenderly brushing the sugar from her lips before a slow kiss. I don’t know, Nick, kind of feels like it was worth it? —P.K.
7. Simon and Blue, Love, Simon
By the time the finale of Love, Simon rolls around, we aren’t the only ones deeply invested in Simon’s (Nick Robinson) online romance with the mysterious “Blue.” Students gather at the carnival to see if Blue will finally reveal himself (one of them even pretends to be him, Spartacus-style, just to make the moment less unbearable for Simon). When Blue turns out to be Bram (Keiynan Lonsdale) — who was ruled out as a suspect earlier, when Simon saw him kissing a girl — we are shocked.
“Are you disappointed that it’s me?” Bram asks quietly, his own bubble of hope deflating a little. Simon almost laughs in relief as he says no, and they kiss aboard the Ferris wheel to wild applause (and tears, in my case). —P.K.
8. Hannah and Jacob, Crazy Stupid Love
The first time Jacob (Ryan Gosling) meets Hannah (Emma Stone), he tries and fails to talk her into coming home with him. But the second time they meet, it’s she who marches into the bar, drenched from a rainstorm, drunk on gin and heartbreak, and plants a kiss on him without a word. Her boldness surprises even the guy who thought he had women all figured out. Jacob freezes for a moment before melting into her embrace, and then they kiss like they’ve been dying for it their entire lives.
It’s not Hannah’s usual M.O., as she nervously confesses back at his place: “I know I seemed confident back at the bar, but that was mostly just because I was cold and wet and trying to be dramatic, a little bit.” But that idealized bar hookup is the stuff of fantasy, and it lays the groundwork for what follows: a sweet romance that marks new territory for two people who’ve never been in love quite like this before, and know exactly how good they’ve got it with each other. —Angie Han, Deputy Entertainment Editor
9. Lara Jean and Peter, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
When Lara Jean (Lana Condor) realizes her precious love letters have been sent out to their never-intended-to-be recipients, she passes out. Her grade-school crush Peter K (Noah Centineo) gets a letter, as does her current crush, Josh, who just so happens to be dating her sister. Lara Jean goes into full panic mode and kisses Peter fiercely, and horizontally, right there on the track. It sure shuts Josh up, and paves the way for the fake-turned-true romance of L.J. and P.K. —P.K.
10. Shrek and Fiona, Shrek
Shrek upended all our fairy-tale expectations with cheeky adult humor that didn’t alienate younger viewers, and it even did one better by completely subverting the trope of the fairy-tale princess. Fiona (Cameron Diaz) fights and burps and turns into an ogre every night, all of which makes Shrek (Mike Myers) fall madly in love with her. He doesn’t care about the beauty that captivates Lord Farquaad (John Lithgow), and when the sunset reveals Fiona’s ogre form, Shrek loves her even more as herself. Fairy tales taught the healing powers of True Love’s Kiss, and Shrek‘s heroes find happiness by accepting each other. —P.K.
11. Steve and Peggy, Captain America: The First Avenger
The Marvel Cinematic Universe notoriously sucks at romance — except for the shining beacon that is Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell). It helps that Peggy is the best-written woman in the MCU and that Hayley Atwell and Chris Evans have palpable physical chemistry. Peggy has loved him since he was a skinny kid from Brooklyn willing to fall on a grenade for his bullies, and Steve is instantly spellbound by Peggy’s lack of patience for male nonsense and for staying in his corner without patronizing him. By the time they kiss on his way to save the Tesseract from Red Skull (Hugo Weaving), neither Steve nor Peggy wants to admit that they might never see each other again — but that urgent kiss and the promise of a dance keep them both going, for decades to come. —P.K.
12. Julio and Tenoch make out during a three-way in Y Tu Mamá También
Y Tu Mamá También climaxes (pun intended) with a kiss that was both surprising in the moment and inevitable in retrospect — not just to us as viewers, but to Julio (Gael García Bernal) and Tenoch (Diego Luna) as well. The teenage besties spend the summer road-tripping through Mexico, picking up an older woman named Luisa (Maribel Verdú) along the way. She sleeps with one of the boys, and then the other; near the end of the trip, the three get drunk together and engage in a threesome. But as she slides down, out of frame, the boys regard each other and then kiss with a tenderness and passion we hadn’t seen them share with anyone else.
By the next morning, an awkwardness has settled between them. Things are quiet on the drive back home, and the narrator reveals they drift apart not long after their return. But for that one night, Tenoch and Julio were their truest selves, opening themselves up physically and emotionally to someone they loved — and it was magic while it lasted. —A.H
13. Allie and Noah, The Notebook
Noah (Ryan Gosling) and Allie (Rachel McAdams) weren’t the first to kiss in the rain, but as a matter of cinematic perfection, they might as well be the last. The Notebook lovers, played by Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling, share plenty of legendary moments in the 2004 Nicholas Sparks adaptation: climbing up the Ferris wheel, dancing in the street, that fight. Still, few scenes are as breathtaking as the pair’s reunion kiss in a torrential downpour.
The ultimate scene in “love conquers all” artistry, this passionate kissing scene arrives as the climax to a near decade-long romance wrought with obstacles and heartbreak. As powerful as the Dead Poets’ carpe diem speech and as motivating as the Remember the Titans pep talk, The Notebook kiss is an aspirational emblem for romantics everywhere. In the words of Noah, “It’s not over” — and, thanks to the enduring power of this scene, it never will be. —Alison Foreman, Entertainment Reporter
14. David kisses and kills Walter in Alien: Covenant
Perhaps the most unexpected twist in Alien: Covenant is that the most electrifying kiss in it takes place not between any of the human couples, of which there are many, but between two androids (I’m sorry, synthetics), both played by Michael Fassbender.
David is the original model, cold and calculating and contemptuous of our kind. Walter is the updated model, designed to be less “human” so as to better serve the actual humans. Each is enthralled by the other from the moment they meet. Each understands the other in ways the people around them can’t. The two even share a sexually charged flute lesson laden with innuendo (“I’ll do the fingering”). It may not be true love, exactly, but it’s something special.
Alas, David and Walter eventually find themselves at odds over the matter of humankind. But before David tries to kill Walter, he delivers one last plea: “No one will ever love you like I do,” he says, planting a slow kiss on Walter’s lips. (Walter, ever loyal to his crew, does not kiss back.) It’s equal parts surprising, heartbreaking, and unsettling — a moment designed, like Alien: Covenant itself, to fill us with complicated emotions our feeble human hearts can barely begin to process. Perhaps our synthetic successors will have better luck sorting it out. —A.H.
15. Mia and Michael, The Princess Diaries
When we meet the young, unsuspecting royal Mia Thermopolis (Anne Hathaway), her life’s goal is to be invisible — and, as she proudly declares, she’s good at it. But inheriting the throne of Genovia strips her royal highness of that luxury. With a taste of the spotlight comes the prospect of kissing school hottie Josh Bryant (Erik von Detten) and hoping that, in the process, her foot “pops,” or magically lifts off the ground to enhance the moment. A date and kiss with Josh go south, but when Mia does get her perfect kiss at the end of the movie with her longtime admirer Michael (Robert Schwartzman), her foot pops effortlessly and sets off the gorgeous garden display. First kisses can be overrated, but best kisses? Those are worth the wait. —P.K.
16. Kathryn and Cecile, Cruel Intentions
As controversial as the movie itself, Selma Blair and Sarah Michelle Gellar’s Cruel Intentions kiss remains a vital chapter in cinema history’s tome of horny teens. Sharing a light lunch in Central Park, high school frenemies Kathryn and Cecile, played by a 22-year-old Gellar and 27-year-old Blair, discuss the merits of same-sex “practice” kissing before launching into a smooch not soon to be forgotten.
Manipulative, sexy, confusing, and iconic, the lip gloss-coated exchange of tongues became the standout shot from a story about a 17-year-old trying to have anal sex with his stepsister — not to mention a quintessential symbol of the ’90s sex thriller. The moment has been parodied, analyzed, celebrated, and censored countless times since Cruel Intentions hit theaters in 1999.
Whether you loved it or hated it, there’s no question the Kathryn and Cecile snog made an impact. If we measure a kiss in fireworks, then this was the Fourth of July. Er, maybe Bastille Day? You know, for the French. —A.F.
17. Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy, Pride and Prejudice
The 2007 film adaptation of Pride & Prejudice emphasizes the growing intimacy between Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) and Mr. Darcy (Matthew Macfadyen) at several points in the movie. From their first accidental brush of hands to their dawn meeting in the field, touch is the language of their growing bond. The lovers, crucially, do not kiss until the last scene of the film, after they are married and settled at Pemberley, and their most intimate touch is saved for this moment. Darcy kisses Elizabeth on her forehead, her cheeks, and her lips, all the while relishing the title that finally allows him to do so: Mrs. Darcy. —A.N.