Three's a crowd: Top 10 movie love triangles
You've heard this one before: Boy meets girl. Boy falls for girl and is pretty certain girl is feeling the same way. Then girl reveals there's a second dude vying for her attention, whom she might even dig just as much, and things get awkward.
That's your standard love triangle and while real-life three-pronged love affairs can get messy and often involve hurt feelings and at least one person who ends up out of the equation entirely, Hollywood versions provide safe alternatives where audiences can indulge in the notion of two battling suitors. From grandiose romantic takes to hilarious ones and realistic versions of the love tug-o-war, the big screen offers a smattering of potential outcomes.
The latest offering pits full-lipped heartthrob Tom Hardy against Star Trek hunk Chris Pine for the undivided affections of Reese Witherspoon in This Means War and got us thinking about what other films offered solid looks at love battles. With that, we've made our picks for the Top 10 Movie Love Triangles.
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|#10 X-Men (2000)/ X2: X-Men United (2003)
Haven't we all been there? Forced to choose between the stoic good guy and the quintessential bad boy? No? Just wishful thinking? Fair enough. But that's exactly the situation mutant Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) finds herself in as she fights her unexpectedly strong feelings for newcomer Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) while still in love with her husband Scott/Cyclops (James Marsden). Did we also mention they're all superheroes? Kind of ups the stakes a bit, doesn't it? In the end, Jean puts aside her emotional crisis and makes the ultimate sacrifice to save both her boys and a plane full of others, leaving all to mourn her heroism and what could've been.
And before you ask...yes I know there was a third film and yes, I'm ignoring it on purpose. I leave it to you to determine why.
|#9 Sweet Home Alabama (2002)
In an oeuvre where Reese Witherspoon clearly feels at home, she plays a reinvented Southern girl here who calls NYC home and boasts a slick bougie boyfriend(Patrick Dempsey) and a successful career in fashion. Of course all of that's complicated when she has to head to her backwoods hometown to ask her husband (Josh Lucas) to finalize divorce papers to she can get on with becoming Mrs. Yuppie New Yorker. When it becomes clear that old flames are being reignited, she has to choose between the man from her past and the shiny new one.
|#8 My Best Friend's Wedding (1997)
One of the few movies that made good on the claim that Julia Roberts was America's Sweetheart and featured a funny, fearless performance from Cameron Diaz (can you imagine that NOW?) these two ladies were fighting over Dermot Mulroney, the platonic bestie referenced in the title...until Julianne (Roberts) realizes she's really madly in love with him - on his WEDDING DAY. Cue sing-a-longs and Rupert Everett butching it up to play her (fake) BF. Classic.
|#7 Reality Bites (1994)
So our little waif Lelaina (Winony Ryder) is forced to decide between the mature Michael (Ben Stiller), a Yuppie who doesn't really get her but can provide and eternal slacker Troy (Ethan Hawke), her equal in effortless coolness, though severely lacking in ambition and future prospects. This So '90s staple is a coming-of-age story and the two men necessarily represent Lelaina's own growing self-awareness as she starts to choose her own happiness versus what's practical. Plus, who can resist a guitar-strumming, long-haired Ethan?
|#6 There's Something About Mary (2006)
Though pretty, optimistic, wholesome Mary has a slew of suitors in the Farrelly Bros. original crude mainstream comedy, there were only two who really stood a chance at making her theirs and that was awkward Ted (Ben Stiller) and toothy, opportunistic Healy (Matt Dillon). We find out why Mary doesn't date all that much and stalkers, weird obsessions and lots of lies is only the tip of the iceberg in this ridiculously funny take on the love triangle.
|#5 The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010)
The most fantastical movie on our love triangle list, Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) has a knack for attracting the love and devotion of mythical creatures in the form of werewolf Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) and vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). Though Jacob stays in the friend zone, much to his dismay, Edward immediately takes his place as the man of her dreams but throughout this saga, Bella is torn between her romantic love and platonic love for the two beastly men in her life. Being a teenager is HARD.
|#4 Bridget Jones's Diary (2001)
Not-so-secretly inspired by the classic literary love triangle in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, singleton Bridget (Renee Zellweger) is stuck choosing between arrogant nice guy Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) and charming cad Daniel (Hugh Grant). While it's touch and go for awhile, Bridget eventually realises that Daniel's about as deep as a puddle and has enough emotional baggage to weigh down an entire fleet, while Mark's social awkwardness masks a genuinely kind person who likes her just as she is. That's all well and good but let's be honest, it's the realistic punch-up between the two men in question that really landed this one in the top 5.
|#3 The Notebook (2004)
It's easy to get caught up in the McAdams and Gosling of it all and forget that the hit romantic film actually concentrated a large portion of its narrative on a love triangle. Of course lower class Noah came first in rich girl Allie's life, but then along came society-equal Lon Hammond (James Marsden) and well, things got a tad more complicated. Frozen by indecision and an inability to choose between her familial duty and her heart, audiences heaved a big sigh of relief when one dramatic deluge and one ridiculously hot kiss seemed to melt her reservations and brought her fully to Noah's side. Poor Lon. He never stood a chance.
|#2 Titanic (1994) etc.
Like The Notebook, Titanic brings us another romantic triangle that really just boils down to class and duty. Upper class Rose (Kate Winslet) is tied by familial obligations to the rich but bullish Cal (Billy Zane). Cue the entrance of working class wise-man and drifter Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) to show her everything her life has been missing. Rose and Jack's connection is instantaneous and it's clear to our heroine that her dreams of freedom and adventure could all come true with Jack by her side. Cal doesn't take kindly to the intrusion and goes full-villain on the couple, not even letting a little unfortunately placed iceberg ruin his need for revenge. Unfortunately, they're all aboard a little steamer named Titanic so we know it probably won't end well for anyone. That doesn't stop us from watching just one more time in the hopes that maybe this time, she won't let go.
|#1 Casablanca (1942)
The ultimate love story and the quintessential love triangle. Rick (Humphrey Bogart) is a bitter, emotionally elusive American ex-pat who's created a successful but aloof life for himself in Casablanca. Nothing bothers Rick and Rick bothers no one. Until a certain girl walks into a certain gin joint and all bets are off. The girl, Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman), just happens to be his ex-lover who left him broken-hearted in Paris. She's there for Rick's help in obtaining letters of transit that will allow her and her husband, Czech Resistance leader and hero Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid), to elude the Nazis. There is no bad guy in this triangle, just three people whose romantic entanglements don't amount a hill of beans in their crazy, war-torn world. In the end, Rick gives up the girl and the letters, becoming the hero he swore he would never be. He and Ilsa may always have only Paris, but it's safe to say our love affair with Casablanca won't ever end.
Catch the famous last scene below:
Over to you - what are some of the top movie love triangles? Join the discussion below!