You know how there are those movie scenes that just say it all? The great ones can perfectly encapsulate a theme, an emotion, or a lesson that sticks with you long after the credits roll. We at Greatist can appreciate an impactful scene, especially if it can help us make more sense of things.
In celebration of this Valentine’s day, a few of our editors took a trip down love scene memory lane to pick out some of our favorites and reminisce about the lessons they taught us about love.
Minor spoilers ahead.
DeVonne Goode, Lifestyle Editor
My pick: “Love & Basketball” (2000)
Two childhood friends grow up with a shared love of basketball and aspirations to one day go pro. As the game gives and takes from the both of them, they struggle with how to hang on to their first love while navigating the love that’s growing between them.
Scene: The moment of truth scene where Monica challenges Quincy to a game of one-on-one — winner takes all. But they aren’t playing for money or bragging rights. This time, they’re playing for Quincy’s heart (awww).
What this scene says to me about love: This movie deals with challenging expectations and explores the cost of ambition. Up to this point, we’ve watched both characters deal with shifting perspectives about love and basketball. They’ve questioned whether they can truly have both and be happy. Monica eventually challenges Quincy to love her, which is ambitious.
I think challenge and ambition have a lot to do with love. And the decisions we make to both love and feel loved — despite our circumstances — should totally be worth it.
Carley Millhone, Demand Editor
My pick: “The Wedding Singer” (1998)
This comedic time capsule of ’80s fashion and music follows Robbie Hart, a wedding singer who gets left at the altar. He meets a waitress named Julia who’s preparing to marry a major jerk-off. A friendship sparks between the two, and Robbie ends up helping Julia plan her wedding. They start falling for each other and eventually realize they’re both about to make a huge mistake.
Scene: Robbie jumps on a flight to Vegas to stop Julia’s elopement, only to find out they’re on the same plane. With the help of the flight crew, Billy Idol, and a bunch of love-struck first-class passengers, Robbie sings Julia his banger “I Wanna Grow Old with You” to profess his love.
What this scene says to me about love: People can overthink things like love, but it’s often more about the little things. Love is knowing that you’ve found the person you want to experience life with. At the end of the day, you have each other and that’s what matters. Also… is there anything cuter than an old married couple who have been together for 50+ years!?
Christal Yuen, Senior Editor
My pick: “Phantom Thread” (2017)
A peculiar fashion designer named Reynolds Woodcock finds his muse in a young waitress named Alma. As their relationship grows, he realizes that she can do more than hold her own against his inflated ego.
Scene: For reasons I won’t mention, Reynolds is sitting over a bowl, looking absolutely ill. He lovingly stares across the table at Alma and says, “Kiss me, girl, before I am sick.” And she does.
What this scene says to me about love: The way Reynolds looks at Alma — completely trusting that she’ll take care of him through his illness — is very sweet. (Plus, her saying, “I want you flat on your back” does something to me.) And what says “I love you” more than kissing someone despite the very real chance that they could vomit in your mouth?
I don’t necessarily agree with how this relationship unfolds, but I find this moment utterly romantic.
Adam Felman, Editor
My pick: “Amour” (2012)
This French-language movie tracks an older couple dealing with the emotional and physical fallout of the wife having a stroke. It’s a study of how one incident can transform your entire life, and the strain it can put on the partner that has to step up.
Scene: It’s hard to choose just one scene in this movie when the entire film is an unflinching examination of love. The most powerful moments are the dragged-out, morbid, and exhausting realizations the husband has about their situation and the things he does to still care for his wife.
What this scene says to me about love: The physical rigor, sacrifice, devotion, and heartbreak that accompany real, deep, enduring love are almost tangible. It isn’t even about romantic love — it’s about real, unconditional affection and a desire for the well-being of the other person at all costs.
Catherine Clark, Updates Editor
My pick: “About Time” (2013)
In this drastically underrated Richard Curtis romantic dramedy, time travel is the catalyst to happiness for Tim — and that means finding love. It sounds like sci-fi, but it’s more an examination of the what-ifs of life and how choices can have unimaginable ramifications.
Scene: Near the end of the film, for timey-wimey reasons best left to watching it, Tim is forced to make a tough choice. He knows his wife Mary wants another child, but it would sever the final link between himself and his late father. He chooses the future over the past and has one final chat with his dad before moving on.
What this scene says to me about love: There are all kinds of love: romantic, familial, friendship. All of them play an important role in our lives and may come into conflict at times. Tim made the only choice he could that would honor his partner and their life together. If it doesn’t have you ugly crying about your loved one(s), you have a cast-iron will.
Ashley Sepanski, Market Editor
My pick: “Big Fish” (2004)
Will Bloom returns home to make amends with his estranged, dying father, Ed. Because he grew up hearing nothing but outlandish tall tales from his father, Will worries that he might’ve never truly known him. As he searches for facts, Will must decide what’s most important between dissecting fantasy and accepting his dad for the man he is.
Scene: Ed’s description of marrying his wife Sandra is, like the rest of the movie, completely over the top. He claims it was love at first sight, though Sandra was engaged to someone else when they first met. In a last-ditch effort to win her heart, Ed hatches a series of grand displays of affection.
What this scene says to me about love: I love this scene because it simultaneously shows the bold and vulnerable sides of falling in love. While not everyone enjoys grand romantic gestures, this reminds me that it’s OK to show love on an epic scale. The right partner should want to shower us with fearless affection, like Sandra. But we should also want to selflessly give and open ourselves up, like Ed. *Cue romantic sigh*
Naomi Farr, Copy Editor/Books Editor
My pick: “Legend” (1985)
In this 1980s dark epic fantasy, Jack (played by a 22-year-old Tom Cruise) must rescue his love, Lili, from the evil Lord of Darkness. As Jack embarks on his mission with a fellowship of fairies and dwarves, Lili must also face her own darkness and make a bold choice.
Scene: Jack takes Lili deep into the forest to see the mystical unicorns, and against his wishes, she touches one of them. Jack is annoyed because Lili doesn’t seem to understand the danger she’s brought on herself by doing this. Lili tries to lighten the mood again by kissing him.
What this scene says to me about love: This scene says that true love is worth fighting for. It’s like peering through a window at the moments right before you realize the beautiful bubble of new and innocent love can be popped by some dark trials. And it’s going to take some work to get back to the light. As one of the lyrics from the film’s soundtrack says, “Is your love strong enough?” Jack and Lili are about to find out.
Samantha Kostaras, Assistant Editor
My pick: “Serendipity” (2001)
It feels like fate when Jonathan and Sara first meet one night in New York City. After spending a romantic evening together, Jonathan is ready to exchange numbers, but Sara chooses to let fate decide if they should be together. She writes her contact info in a copy of Love in the Time of Cholera and sells it to a used book store. Jonathan writes his number on a $5 bill. If they ever find these, it will prove they’re meant to be together.
Scene: Years after meeting Jonathan in New York, Sara is living in San Francisco and engaged to an eccentric musician. She’s encountered several “signs” that she’s not meant to be with this man, but she really may be destined to be with Jonathan.
What this scene says to me about love: The circumstances of this movie are pretty extreme, but I love the message that no matter what, you’ll always end up exactly where you’re supposed to be. It can feel like you have to make all the perfect moves to find true love. But this is a reminder to drop the pressure of perfection. This scene is one of my favorites because it shows that everything will work out the way it’s supposed to — you just have to follow your gut.