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Top Big-Screen Couples Of The Decade

February 27th, 2008 2:00pm EST
How To Lose A Guy In 10 DaysThere have been many memorable onscreen pairings in the new millennium, but these couples top our list:

Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Playing against type, with Winslet sporting day-glo punk hairstyles and Carrey slouching with a sad hound dog face, these two captured love in all of its inglorious, impossible-to-get-along shapes. A movie that begins with two people hoping to erase all traces of each other from one another's minds potentially heralded two hours of mud slinging. Instead, Winslet and Carrey work wonders together as a couple that realizes the imperfections that eat away at their relationship form the very bond which makes them soul mates.

Million Dollar BabyClint Eastwood and Hilary Swank - Million Dollar Baby (2004)

Technically they're not a romantic duo, but seeing Eastwood eating his pie alone at the end of "Million Dollar Baby" without his beloved boxing protégé inspires such a feeling of remorse and loneliness that it proves these two were the real deal. Swank enters his life full of grit and quite literally on the upswing; he is a gravelly voiced, rambling man in decline. The father/daughter, husband/wife, coach/student relationship taken on by these two pulses with such real-life emotion, you could swear they exist off celluloid. Almost better that they don't, however, so we can relive their relationship any time we'd like.

Steve Carell and Catherine Keener - The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005)

The funniest movie of 2005 cast a pre-Office Steve Carell as a sweet, electronics store employee who managed to go his whole life without doing the deed. Enter Catherine Keener, the frazzled yet confident eBay employee about to give Carell the lesson of a lifetime. What could have been handled in a gross, offensive manner turned into a sweetly switched up movie dynamic: the man trembling with uncertainty, while a woman takes the reigns.

How to Lose a Guy in 10 DaysMatthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson - How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003)

What could have been another middling chick flick turned out to be a smash hit due to the blond effervescence that was Hudson and McConaughey. Those gleaming rows of white teeth, yards of tan skin, and cascades of buttermilk hair translated into an onscreen duo whose likeability was heightened by their senses of humor. The entire vehicle was smart and fun and elevated "10 Days…" and its stars into a great onscreen pairing.

JunoMichael Cera and Ellen Page - Juno (2007)

So what if your first time having sex ended up with an unwanted pregnancy that leads to high school alienation, family strife, and adoption? This is "Juno," the feel-good movie of the year, and part of that feel-good equation came from the romance between Juno and Paulie Bleeker. Bleeker is a track star who seems disaffected by the high school scene and sweetly in-tune to his girlfriend at the same time. Whether Juno was filling up his mailbox with tic tacs, or he was telling her how beautiful she looked in her swollen eigth month of pregnancy, these two showed high school romance at its best.

Diane Lane and Olivier Martinez - Unfaithful (2002)

Pick a scene, any scene, and witness the most sexually charged couple of the past decade. Maybe it's the conceit of a grown woman choosing to experience extramarital pleasure. Or maybe it's just the pure hotness that shows the couple against the wall, shivering in the sheets, or grappling in a bathroom stall love scene in "Unfaithful." When Diane Lane is alternately smiling and crying on the way home from her first sexual encounter with Olivier Martinez, every woman can understand her plight. The casting directors of "Unfaithful" must have praised the movie Gods every day for this steamy collaboration.

Kissing Jessica SteinJennifer Westfeldt and Heather Juergensen - Kissing Jessica Stein (2001)

If you're not finding Mr. Right, who's to say you shouldn't be free to find Mrs. Right? The eponymous lead character goes on this journey in "Kissing Jessica Stein," and the pitch perfect romance that ensues, with a woman no less, demonstrates how chemistry trumps all sorts of physical stipulations. Both leads look like opposites - one is a WASPY blonde with a bookish flair, the other an edgy Gina Gershon doppelganger. But their cliché free romance comes off with an airy effervescence. Women everywhere probably gave second thoughts, or at least a second glance, to the "female" section of singles ads.

Jack Nicholson Diane Keaton - Something's Gotta Give (2003)

It's so rare that an older leading man play opposite a female love interest his age, that this novel idea became the premise for "Something's Gotta Give." Seeing these two onscreen legends blow their younger counterparts off the screen, and give a classy, fun spin to their December/December romance, was a treat. These two smolder onscreen simply because they are two powerhouses allowed to do what they do best - be sexy, smart, vivacious artists at the top of their game. When Nicholson cuts off Keaton's ever-present turtleneck in the throes of lovemaking, it's a symbolic gesture that proves sexy doesn't have to come bottled up in a twenty-something trist.

Shondrella Avery and Aaron Ruell - Napoleon Dynamite (2004)

"You're just jealous because I've been chatting online with babes all day." This is the only love story on the list born from our modern day cupid: the world wide web. Kip, a pencil thin white guy sporting high waist pants, and his online queen LaFawduh, a bodacious black woman two feet taller than her farm boy lover, stole the show in "Napoleon Dynamite." To see Kip tilt his skull-capped head and look up adoringly at his LaFawnduh, showering him with unconditional love, was to witness a romance that sweetly defied movie odds.

Jake Gyllenhall and Heath Ledger - Brokeback Mountain (2005)

With Ledger's untimely death, the story of Ennis del Mar and Jack Twist became an even more poignant piece of cinema history. No one could have predicted this would be one of Ledger's last roles. But even with a 100 more great parts, his characterization of a remote, fiercely private cowboy would still stand out for its epic spin on unrequited love. In the dramatic moment where Ennis and Jack reunite after a five-year separation, in plain view outside the home Ennis shares with his wife, we can take in a spontaneous, blissful embrace that transcends gender and is simply exhilarating.

The NotebookRyan Gosling and Rachel McAdams - The Notebook (2004)

"The Notebook" should have been another Kraft worthy chick flick doling out cliches and pitting two pretty stars together in a bunch of pretty scenes. Instead, that tackling kiss in the rain played over and over again and got Gosling and McAdams memorialized in another pop culture cornerstone - the SNL digital short "Lazy Sunday." When two cutting edge comedians use, "I love those cupcakes like McAdams loves Gosling," you know a couple for the ages has arrived.

Honorable Mentions:

Vince Vaughn and Isla Fisher - Wedding Crashers
Sanaa Lathan and Simon Baker - Something New
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie - Mr. and Mrs. Smith

Story by Tiffany Bagster
Starpulse contributing writer