They say that every great couple needs two things, chemistry and history. History doesn’t make for the most romantic of stories though, so I’m going to focus on the chemistry. Also, I didn’t finish school so my history is pretty sketchy.
10. Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher
Ok, I’m cheating with this one because The Empire Strikes Back isn’t a romantic comedy. Still, the back-and-forth between them set the tone for the sparring sarcastic-banter that became a staple of the genre throughout the ‘80s. Despite the issue regarding genre, their chemistry is lightyears ahead of the rest. (Ahem)
9. Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence
Seriously, did anybody see this one coming? I could watch these two fall in love time after time, in a variety of circumstances. Their on-screen chemistry is so powerful I’m convinced by it every time.
8. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zoey Deschanel
500 Days of Summer is so perfect because it’s just so painfully realistic. Their on screen love is so charming that I find myself falling for them every time I watch this movie. Which is more times than I’m comfortable admitting to.
7. Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton
This one is almost cheating again because they did date in real life. But it just made their on-screen chemistry even stronger. Seriously, how cute are they!?
6. Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles
10 Things I Hate About you is an underrated piece of cinema. There I said it. It came out during the late ‘90s early ‘00s, when teen comedies based on Shakespeare were all the rage, but it stands up more than She’s All That because of the amazing chemistry between the late Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles. Between his persistence and her stubbornness, there’s sparks everywhere. If only fate had given us another chance to see them again at a later time.
5. Hugh Grant and Martine McCutcheon
Love Actually genuinely has some tender moments. Andrew Lincoln standing in front of Keira Knightley makes me cry every time. But for chemistry, the movie was dominated by Hugh Grant and Martine McCutcheon. Ok, so it’s fair to say that her career was a one-hit-wonder, but as hits go, it was a good one. When they finally hook up at the movie’s climax, the feeling is that it’s just going to work for the Prime Minister and the Lunch Lady.
4. Richard Gere and Julia Roberts
The fact that one of the most iconic scenes of Pretty Woman was improvised shows the natural chemistry of the two leads. The fact that the movie sells the whole ‘wealthy guy hires a hooker for the weekend’ thing as the definitive rom-com of its era is testament to the sparks between the leads.
3. Carey Elwes and Robin Wright
Three words sum up The Princess Bride - "As you wish." It’s an understated chemistry that bubbles just under the surface but it’s certainly powerful.
(Yes, there’s the "you killed my father" speech, but this is an article on romance so be kind in the comments.)
2. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan
It’s impossible to think about romantic comedies without considering these two. They set the standard so high in their many on-screen pairings that it’s hard to believe that they aren’t a couple in real life.
1. Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts
Notting Hill is the most romantic movie of all time. Ever. I will accept no arguments.
Taking two titans of the genre in their prime and teaming them up was a masterstroke and the line “and don't forget... I'm also just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her” is delivered, and received, with the most convincing chemistry of the modern era.
I will give a special mention to Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan. When Harry Met Sally probably set the standard for the modern rom-com, however on watching it again for this article it became apparent to me that the script was sharp and witty but the chemistry hadn’t aged as well somehow. They just missed my top ten.