Celebrate Valentine's Day With Cinema's Best Romantic Also-Rans
Valentine’s Day is coming up. Or, as I like to call it, “Sunday.” If you don’t have someone special to spend it with, don’t worry. These wonderful specimens of romantic failure prove that just because you don’t get the girl (or guy), it doesn’t mean you’re not awesome.
Warning: Spoilers for Brooklyn, Man Up, Carol and older movies that I refuse to put spoiler warnings for because really.
Baroness Elsa von Schraeder (Eleanor Parker), The Sound of Music
I know Julie Andrews is Julie Andrews and young Christopher Plummer is a proto-Michael Fassbender bastion of ultimate hotness, but Baroness von Schraeder is UN DE NI AB LY the best character in The Sound of Music, y’all. She realizes the other half of her WWII power couple has fallen for someone else, and she lets him off the hook without argument, because she knows she is TOO. DAMN. AWESOME to be hung up on someone who isn’t that into her: “Fond as I am of you, I really don’t think you’re the right man for me. You’re much too independent. And I need someone who needs me desperately… or at least needs my money desperately. You also have way too many fucking kids, and I am not about that.”
Plus, even at a young, baby feminist age, I was always impressed by how there was no cattiness in the relationship between the Baroness and Maria. The Baroness respects Maria, for all they’re ostensibly romantic rivals, and that’s not something you see in movies often enough.
Baroness more like BaroYES.
Bruce Baldwin (Ralph Bellamy), His Girl Friday
Being The Dude Who Is Not Cary Grant in a movie never bodes well for one’s romantic chances. Poor, boring (but dependable!) insurance salesman Bruce Baldwin never had a chance.
Macaulay “Mike” Connor (James Stewart), The Philadelphia Story
Speaking of Cary Grant, James Stewart from The Philadelphia Story deserves a spot on this list. Leave some romance for other people, Cary! Damn!
Prince Edward (James Marsden) and Nancy (Idina Menzel), Enchanted
These two romantic rejects found love together after their respective intendeds got all googly-eyed and bluebirds over each other. You know what they say about a man who has big sleeves……
…..it’s that he has big sleeves.
Jessica, (Ophelia Lovibond), Man Up
This underseen rom-com follows a jaded thirty-something (Lake Bell) as she accidentally steals the blind date (Simon Pegg) of bubbly, baggage-free, 24-year-old Jessica (Ophelia Lovibond). As this charade goes on, much fun is wrung from Bell trying to live up to the image of this city-loving triathlete who loves self-help books and believes unreservedly in love. But when the truth comes out and Pegg and Lovibond finally do connect, it’s a joy that Man Up doesn’t feel the need to make Jessica an asshole or an idiot. Instead, she happily listens to his tale of the craziest but most kismet experience of his life, and then she encourages him to go find his girl! After all, she believes in love and big romantic moments. She’s 24 and lovely. Jessica will be fine.—Kristy Puchko
Jim Farrell (Domhnall Gleeson), Brooklyn
The Italian plumber living in Brooklyn was cute and all, but if I had the option to live in a nice, big house on the Irish coast with a husband who adores me and looks like Domhnall Gleeson, sign me the fuck up.
Steven (John Cena), Trainwreck
He just wants to love you, Amy Schumer! And possibly to fuck men. You can work with that!
Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth), The Hunger Games
TK threatened to make me review the inevitable third Paul Blart movie unless I included Gale on this list, even though Gale is a limp-dicked, whiny asshole. “KaaAAATTTNISSSSS, I know you’re leading a revolution and all, but why won’t you love me?” “Shut the fuck up, Gale.” You are not best. You are the reverse of best. The only character more reverse of best than you is Duckie from Pretty In Pink. Fuckin’ Nice Guys.
Heck (Matthew Goode), Imagine Me and You
Heck quietly steps to the side after realizing his wife (Piper Perabo) has had a Big Gay Realization and has fallen in love with Lena Headey. It’s a pretty stand-up move, all around. And then he gets a meet-cute with Angel Coulby, so it all works out in the end.
Harge (Kyle Chandler) and Abby (Sarah Paulson), Carol
Harge did some seriously dickish things in Carol, but I feel like he was a basically good person who just made some petty, bad decisions, ultimately? Though that may be because he is played by Kyle Chandler, whom humanity is naturally hardwired to like. His wife is a lesbian who never loved him back! That sucks! Less morally grey is Harge’s arch-enemy (and Carol’s ex) Abby, who also didn’t get the girl. She’ll be fine, though. Her headscarf game is too good for it to be otherwise.
Peter (Jeremy Davies), Secretary
Poor, sweet Peter. The lone vanilla munchkin in a sea of kink. Bad at sex, and in love with a woman who leaves him so she can get all BD up in James Spader’s SM. Hey, it happens.
HONORABLE MENTIONS go to films from the Pajiba hivemind that I sadly (or not-to-sadly) have yet to see: Greg Kinnear and Parker Posey in You’ve Got Mail, Patrick Dempsey in Sweet Home Alabama and Josh Lucas in the Katherine Heigl rom-com Life As We Know It (…DUSTIN), Joan Cusack in In & Out, and Bill Pullman in Sleepless in Seattle. (I know, I know. SHUN ME.) Also, Joanna says hi and wants to make sure everyone’s seen The Baxter.