New film The Shape of Water, currently in theaters (December 1), gives new meaning to the word “unconventional.”
Part fantasy, part Cold War drama, it stars Paddington‘s Sally Hawkins as Elisa Esposito, a mute custodian of a scientific laboratory who befriends and falls in love with… er, an amphibious sea creature.
Things start to make a bit more sense when you know that it’s directed by Guillermo del Toro, the filmmaker behind Hellboy and Pan’s Labyrinth, but even so. The whole premise got us thinking of some of our favorite films that bend the traditional “boy meets girl.”
10. Twilight (2008)
The resolutely unconventional Bella (Kirsten Stewart) finds herself attracted to a pale and charismatic hottie called Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), though it quickly becomes clear why he has such an aversion to sunshine.
9. Mannequin (1987)
This one is a guilty pleasure. The premise may be preposterous (modern-day Frankenstein builds a clothes store mannequin then falls in love with her, anyone?), and the story’s thin at best, but it stars Sex and the City‘s Kim Cattrall and that’s good enough for us. Add to that the soundtrack of Starship‘s “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now.” Just try and stop yourself from singing along when it breaks out towards the end.
8. The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)
We’ve all heard of film fans falling in love with the stars on the screen, but what if one of those stars catches sight of one of their fans in the theater and falls in love with them? That’s what happens in this sweet but madcap film by Woody Allen. Mia Farrow plays a film-loving waitress Cecilia, and Jeff Daniels is the character who walks off the screen and announces he’s fallen in love with her.
7. Lars and the Real Girl (2007)
It’s difficult enough to imagine Ryan Gosling as a lonely and painfully shy young man who can barely stand the touch of another human being. Things get really weird, however, when he falls in love with a blow-up doll he buys off the internet.
6. Harold and Maude (1971)
A lonely teenager obsessed with death (Bud Cort) and a 79-year-old Holocaust survivor with a lust for life (Ruth Gordon) may not seem to be a match made in heaven, but their romance quickly becomes every bit as charming as it is challenging in this pitch-black comedy from director Hal Ashby.
5. Splash (1984)
“All my life I’ve been waiting for someone. And when I find her, she’s a fish.” Those immortal lines are of course uttered by Tom Hanks, who plays smitten grocer Allen in this “tail” about a mermaid (Daryl Hannah) who comes ashore in New York City.
4. Wings of Desire (1987)
This film by Wim Wenders is often named one of the greatest of all time. Shot beautifully, it shows how angels move invisibly through the divided city of Berlin, able to see everything but not participate in any of it. Until, that is, one of them (Downfall‘s Bruno Ganz) falls in love with a lonely trapeze artist (Solveig Dommartin). Oh, and if that wasn’t unusual enough, then Peter Falk makes an appearance too, playing himself.
3. Edward Scissorhands (1990)
This touching and decidedly left-of-center fairytale was the first of many collaborations between director Tim Burton and star Johnny Depp. Things are complicated enough when you’re an artificial man with scissors for hands, but they get even more complicated when you fall in love with a cheerleader (Winona Ryder).
2. Blade Runner (1982)
It’s easy to miss the love story at the heart of a film famous for ushering in a new dystopian aesthetic and a reappraisal of that old sci-fi trope, the robot. But if the film’s central question is whether or not synthetic beings can experience human feelings, then it’s answered by Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford)’s love affair with replicant Rachael (Sean Young).
1. Her (2014)
Boy meets computer operating system, in this sci-fi rom-com (sci-com?) by Spike Jonze. It stars Joaquin Phenix as Theodore, a writer who develops an unusual rapport with the artificially intelligent “being” (Scarlett Johansson) controlling his computer.