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Love on the Big Screen: the most romantic films ranked

Written by
India Charter (Brand & Marketing Manager)

Having steered the ship of Queensmith's creative content since 2017, India finds immense satisfaction in arming clients with the information they're seeking, identifying and analysing trends, and exploring buying habits.

August 8th, 2022 • 12 min read

We've trawled over 300 scripts to find the most romantic actors, actresses and films - who's bringing the most romance to the big screen? The results may surprise you!

When you think of romance films you think of soppy storylines, cheesy words of affirmations, and “happily ever afters.” They say actions speak louder than words, but have you ever wondered which of your favourite romance films actually have the most exchanges of ‘I love you’ and conversations about ‘love’? Have you ever wondered which films are actually filled with the most cheesy loved-up lines? Or which actors and actresses are typecast into romance films the most?

Here at Queensmith, we’ve scraped over 300 film scripts, which fall under the romance genre on IMDB, to discover which films are really the most romantic. We’ve also investigated which actors and actresses feature in most romance films.

Top 10 Most Romantic Films

Through our analysis of over 300 film scripts we’ve correlated data determining the number of times 'love' and 'love you' are mentioned, along with the romantic notion of marriage, to find the ultimate romantic film.

Ranking Most Romantic Films
1 Moulin Rouge (2001)
2 27 Dresses (2008)
3 Definitely, Maybe (2008)
4 The Song (2014)
5 Shakespeare In Love (1998)
6 Meet Joe Black (1998)
7 Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)
8 Brown Sugar (2002)
9 A Case of You (2013)
10 The Bounce Back (2016)

It’s no surprise that Moulin Rouge is in the top three for having the most amount of “love you’s” and the word “love” featured throughout the film - giving it the overall number one spot as the most romantic film of our time. In second place is 27 Dresses starring go-to Rom Com actress Katherine Heigl, which also featured in the top three for the word “love” being mentioned throughout the film. The third most romantic film is the rom-com Definitely, Maybe which stars Hollywood heartthrob Ryan Reynolds.

You can find the data for the specific romantic terms further down the page.

Top 10 Least Romantic Films

Ranking Least Romantic Films
1 The Bodyguard (1992)
2 Footloose (1984)
3 The Lucky One (2012)
4 The Bridges of Madison County (1995)
5 The Illusionist (2006)
6 Monster's Ball (2001)
7 Titanic (1997)
8 Loving (2016)
9 New In Town (2009)
10 Breathe In (2013)

Who Are The Most Romantic Actors & Actresses of All Time?

Have you ever noticed that certain actors and actresses appear again and again in many of our favourite romance films? As part of our research, we wanted to reveal which celebrities appeared in the most romance films crowning them the most romantic actors and actresses of all time.

To do this we scraped over 8,000 films from the highest-ranking romance films on IMDB. We then identified how often the same actor and actress were in these types of films.

We sorted the celebrities into two different categories, the first focusing on romance films from 2000-present to highlight the more recent prolific woo-ers in Hollywood. The second category notes the ‘all-time’ most romantic actors and actresses, dating back to classic films from the 1940s onwards.

Top 20 Romantic Actors (2000 - Present)

Ranking Actor Romance Film Count Known For
1 Hugh Grant 10 Love Actually; Notting Hill; Four Weddings and a Funeral
2 Paul Rudd 9 I Love You, Man; Clueless
3 Adam Sandler 8 50 First Dates
4 Colin Firth 7 Bridget Jones's Diary
5 Kevin Costner 7 Rumour Has It...
6 Tom Cruise 6 Vanilla Sky
7 Leonardo DiCaprio 6 The Great Gatsby; Romeo & Juliet
8 Owen Wilson 6 Midnight In Paris
9 Jason Segal 6 The Five-Year Engagement
10 Ben Affleck 6 Gigli
11 Harrison Ford 5 The Age of Adaline
12 Ethan Hawke 5 Before Sunset
13 Hero Fiennes Tiffin 5 After We Collided
14 Adam Driver 5 Marriage Story
15 Ryan Gosling 5 The Notebook
16 Ryan Reynolds 5 The Proposal
17 Ben Stiller 5 Along Came Polly
18 Russel Crowe 4 A Good Year
19 Joseph Gordon-Levitt 4 10 Things I Hate About You
20 Jude Law 4 The Holiday

It is probably no surprise that Hugh Grant takes the top spot as the most romantic actor of our time, having starred in some of the most popular romance films of this century including Notting Hill, Love Actually, Four Weddings and a Funeral and Sense and Sensibility.

Paul Rudd is arguably best known for his action-themed films where he plays Marvel’s Superhero Ant-Man, however, our research revealed Paul starred in nine romance-themed films giving him second place as the most romantic actor of the millennium. Some of his most recognisable romantic films include This is 40, Admission, The Object of My Affection and Over Her Dead Body.

Perhaps not the Hollywood heartthrob you'd expect to see at number 3, Adam Sandler appeared in the top three list after he fashioned his career as the leading rom-com man starring in some of the best (and maybe, worst) films of all time. Some of his most well-known films include Just Go With It, 50 First Dates, The Wedding Singer and Funny People.

Some other unsurprising names featured in the list include Colin Firth, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jude Law and of course, the two Ryans - Ryan Gosling and Ryan Reynolds.

Top 20 Romantic Actresses (2000 - Present)

Ranking Actress Romance Film Count Known For
1 Cameron Diaz 11 The Holiday; Vanilla Sky; What Happens in Vegas
2 Julia Roberts 10 Eat Pray Love
3 Katte Winslet 9 The Holiday
4 Meryl Streep 8 Mamma Mia!
5 Reese Witherspoon 8 Legally Blonde
6 Jennifer Aniston 8 Just Go With It
7 Keira Knightley 8 Love Actually
8 Winona Ryder 7 Destination Wedding
9 Scarlett Johansson 7 Marriage Story
10 Jennifer Connelly 7 Stuck in Love
11 Julianne Moore 7 Crazy, Stupid, Love
12 Drew Barrymore 7 50 First Dates
13 Natalie Portman 7 No Strings Attached
14 Anne Hathaway 7 Love & Other Drugs
15 Dakota Johnson 7 Fifty Shades of Grey
16 Kristen Dunst 6 Wimbledon
17 Anna Kendrick 6 Mr. Right
18 Rachel McAdams 4 The Notebook
19 Renée Zellweger 6 Bridget Jones's Diary
20 Nicole Kidman 6 Moulin Rouge

When looking at more recent actresses from 2000-present, Cameron Diaz’ also known as the ‘rom-com queen’ took the crown as the romantic actress of the 000’s. Cameron starred in one of the most popular rom-com Christmas films of all time, The Holiday alongside Jack Black, Jude Law and Kate Winslet. She is also known for her roles in What Happens in Vegas and Knight and Day.

In second place came Julia Roberts who has starred in 10 romance-themed films including Eat Pray Love which is one of her more recent romance films. Julia Roberts plays a married woman who realises her life needs a change so, after a painful divorce, she takes off on a round-the-world journey to "find herself". She is also known for her role as Vivian Ward in Pretty Woman and Anna Scott in Notting Hill alongside the king of romance himself, Hugh Grant.

In third place was Cameron Diaz’s co-star in The Holiday, Kate Winslet who has starred in 9 romance films. Kate’s most notable role is in the classic romance film Titanic (1997) in which she plays Rose alongside Leonardo DiCaprio but her most recent romance films include The Holiday and The Mountain Between Us.

Top 10 Romantic Actors of All Time

Ranking Actor Romance Film Count Known For
1 Conrad Nagel 52 The Mysterious Lady
2 Lewis Stone 47 The Prisoner of Zenda
3 Adolphe Menjou 45 Forbidden
4 John Wayne 45 Rio Grande
5 Cary Grant 43 An Affair to Remember
6 Clark Gable 40 It Happened One Night
7 Edward Everett Horton 40 Top Hat
8 George Brent 38 My Reputation
9 Richard Dix 34 All's Fair in Love
10 Robert Young 34 H.M. Pulham

The late actor, Conrad Nagel (1897-1970) took the crown as the most romantic actor of all time, having starred in 52 films in the romance genre. Conrad was an award-winning American film, stage, television and radio actor who was given three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960. His best-remembered films include The Mystery Woman (1928), Wedding Present (1936) and All That Heaven Allows (1955).

In second place was the American film actor Lewis Stone (1879-1953) who starred in a total of 47 romance films. Some of his most well-known films include Mata Hari (1931), The Prisoner of Zenda (1952), and Scaramouche (1952). Adolphe Menjou and John Wayne followed in third place who both starred in 45 films.

Top 10 Romantic Actresses of All Time

Ranking Actor Romance Film Count Known For
1 Myrna Loy 46 The Best Years of Our Lives
2 Bebe Daniels 46 Reaching for the Moon
3 Loretta Young 46 Platinum Blonde
4 Barbara Stanwyck 44 Clash by Night
5 Alice Brady 42 The Gay Divorce
6 Ginger Rogers 37 Top Hat
7 Constance Talmadge 37 Her Night of Romance
8 Claudette Colbert 36 It Happened One Night
9 Betty Compson 34 The Great Gabbo
10 Kay Francis 33 Trouble in Paradise

Breaking Down the Data:

Top 20 Films That Mention “Love” the Most

Ranking Romance Films Mentions of 'Love'
1 Moulin Rouge (2001) 143
2 Shakespeare in Love (1998) 84
3 27 Dresses (2008) 84
4 A Case of You (2013) 72
5 Meet Joe Black (1998) 71
6 The Bounce Back (2016) 68
7 Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008) 67
8 Love Actually (2003) 65
9 The Song (2014) 60
10 Definitely, Maybe (2008) 59
11 Music & Lyrics (2007) 59
12 Jerry Maguire (1996) 59
13 Brown Sugar (2002) 59
14 The Notebook (2004) 58
15 Hope Floats (1998) 57
16 Crazy Stupid Love (2011) 54
17 Before Midnight (2013) 52
18 Closer (2004) 51
19 Endless Love (2014) 51
20 The Holiday (2006) 50

In first place, with the word ‘love’ said 143 times throughout the film is Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 masterpiece, Moulin Rouge. The film tells the story of a young English poet/writer, Christian, played by Ewan McGregor, who falls in love with the star of the Moulin Rouge, cabaret actress and dancer Satine, played by Nicole Kidman.

This popular musical romantic drama film was nominated for eight Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actress for Nicole Kidman, winning two: Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design.

In second place was the film Shakespeare in Love with the word ‘love’ said 84 times throughout the film. This 1998 romance film depicts a fictional love affair involving playwright William Shakespeare, played by Joseph Fiennes and Viola de Lesseps played by Gwyneth Paltrow.

In close third was the rom-com 27 Dresses featuring the story of serial bridesmaid Jane Nichols, played by Katherine Heigl, who becomes the subject of interest for wedding reporter Kevin Doyle, played by James Marsden, while originally covering Jane’s sister’s wedding. ‘Love’ was said 82 times throughout this film.

Top 20 Films That Say 'Love You' the Most

Ranking Romance Films Mentions of 'Love You'
1 Ruby Sparks (2012) 28
2 Moulin Rouge (2001) 27
3 The Song (2014) 19
4 Sleeping With Other People (2015) 19
5 Say Anything (1989) 19
6 I Love You, Man (2009) 17
7 The Notebook (2004) 16
8 P.S. I Love You (2007) 16
9 The Last Kiss (2006) 16
10 Guess Who (2005) 16
11 Vanilla Sky (2001) 14
12 Kissing Booth (2018) 13
13 When Harry Met sally (1989) 12
14 The Age of Adaline (2015) 12
15 Hitch (2005) 12
16 About Last Night (2014) 12
17 Cinderella (2015) 11
18 People Places Things (2015) 11
19 Meet Joe Black (1998) 10
20 Before Midnight (2013) 10

Romance films are generally so popular as they serve as an escape for viewers into an idyllic storyline away from real life, especially when the two leads declare their love for each other and we experience that cheesy “happily ever after.” Therefore we wanted to reveal which films, categorised in a romance genre, actually said the phrase “love you” the most.

In first place was the 2012 American romantic comedy-drama film Ruby Sparks, in which “love you” was said 28 times throughout the film. This rom-com is about a young novelist who, whilst struggling with writer's block finds himself writing about a woman (Ruby Sparks) he thinks will love him and wills her into existence.

Following close behind in second place was Moulin Rouge again, with the phrase “love you” being said 27 times throughout the film. This comes as no surprise with the film already ranking in first place for the word ‘love’.

The Song (2014), Sleeping with Other People (2015) and Say Anything (1989) all ranked in joint third position with “love you” said 17 times throughout these films.

Films That Talk About Marriage the Most

Ranking Romance Films Mentions of 'Marriage'
1 Emma (1996) 21
2 Far From the Madding Crowd (2015) 20
3 While You Were Sleeping (1995) 16
4 The Wedding Singer (1998) 16
5 Mr and Mrs Smith (2005) 14
6 Sense and Sensibility (1995) 14
7 Brown Sugar (2002) 13
8 Cold Mountain (2003) 12
9 Cinderella (2015) 11
10 When Harry Met Sally (1989) 10
11 Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) 10
12 Persuasion (1995) 10
13 I Love You, Man (2009) 9
14 Coming to America (1988) 9
15 The Sleeping Dictionary (2003) 9
16 People Places Things (2015) 8
17 Definitely, Maybe (2008) 8
18 Girl on a Bicycle (2013) 8
19 Shakespeare in Love (1998) 8
20 The Notebook (2004) 7

Most will agree that a proposal and wedding scene is the cherry on top in most romance films (especially when we get a glimpse of the beautiful engagement ring involved!). We wanted to therefore find out which romance films spoke about the topic of marriage the most.

In first place is the 1996 film adaptation of Jane Austin’s Emma in which marriage is spoken about 21 times. Emma stars Gwyneth Paltrow as a young 19th Century Englishwoman who nearly misses her own chance at love whilst busy matchmaking her friends and neighbours.

In second place is another literary adaptation, Far from the Madding Crowd (2015), based on the 1874 novel by Thomas Hardy, mentions marriage about 20 times throughout the film. This romance drama set in Victorian England is about an independent, headstrong woman who attracts three very different suitors.

While You Were Sleeping, which stars Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman, and The Wedding Singer, starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, both ranked third with the topic of marriage spoken about 16 times.


Methodology:

To find the movies with the most romantic phrases and words throughout, we scraped over 300 film scripts from a list of highest-rated romance movies on IMDb and cross-referenced them with lists of words and phrases often associated with love and romance including the words “love” and “love you”.

To find the actors and actresses who appeared in the most romance films, we scraped over 8,000 of the highest-rated romance movies on IMDb. Next, we sorted the data to find out which actors appear the most often. We then separated actors and actresses who started in movies released in 2000 onwards to find out the most typecast actors and actresses from 2000-present.

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