Ranking Every Nicholas Sparks Movie Couple, from Pathetic to Passionate

From The Notebook to Message in a Bottle, we're ranking the actors in Sparks' films based on how believable they really are.

While we’ve pretty much established all Nicholas Sparks films are the same, the one factor that truly sets them apart is the chemistry between the lead actors. Sure, we could watch attractive people kissing in the rain, hair blowing in the wind during a slow embrace on the sandy shores of North Carolina all day, but if the passion isn’t there, we ain’t buying it.

As the author’s latest book-to-film venture The Best of Me is currently in theaters, only time will tell where James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan fall on the spectrum of believable couples in Sparks’ movie repertoire.

Of course, not all silver screen couples can be up to par with Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams’ perfectness in The Notebook. The two couldn’t stand each other at first on set, and they were still the most heart wrenching on screen. Take note from these two and bring your A-game, people. Zac Efron got us pumped for The Lucky One with his bra-removing skills, but left us nothing short of disappointed after watching his awkward attempt at intimacy with Taylor Schilling. Not to mention we’re still shocked Miley Cyrus’ face isn’t permanently pouting after doing so for 1 hour and 48 minutes straight in The Last Song. Needless to say, ranking all of these couples was necessary, since some are painfully hard to watch and others make us drown in wine and tears over living the single life.

  1. Taylor Schilling and Zac Efron, The Lucky One (2012)

    When people think of The Lucky One, they generally automatically recall the sex scenes. This is because they were the brief moments of the movie that allowed us to be momentarily entertained thus forgetting about how weird Schilling and Efron were as a pair. It’s amazing what nakedness can do. And Efron in tight, black boxer briefs. Anyway, the two feel mismatched as a romantic couple mostly because Schilling seems so much older than him. It would be more fitting if she was his older sister or cousin seeing as how she has an ex-husband and kid. Since it feels like Efron was in High School Musical two minutes ago, taking in a child basically young enough to also dance in the halls of East High just doesn’t feel right.

  2. Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth, The Last Song (2010)

    Miley Cyrus is like every other moody teenage girl swept off her feet by a nice guy way too good for her — but unlike Kristen Stewart’s Bella (of Twilight) and the others, we don’t secretly root for Cyrus because she’s just plain annoying and not that good of an actress. While a handsome and charming Hemsworth gives a genuine performance and pours his heart out, Cyrus has a continual look of being completely dumbfound, disappointed or sometimes both simultaneously. While Hemsworth carried the weight of the couple’s on-screen believability, looking back, it seems like the movie was foreshadowing what would eventually be the real-life crash and burn of their romance.

  3. Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel, Safe Haven (2013)

    Hough should have kept her moves strictly in the Dancing With the Stars ballroom, because her acting isn’t nearly as good as her dancing. Her performance in this movie causes her character Katie to be distant and unattainable, making it actual effort to become attached to her. While Duhamel’s character goes extra lengths to win her over and break her icy exterior for no apparent reason (seriously, she tore his head off because he gave her a bike), there’s nothing that would make us think the two would actually be a real couple except for the fact that they’re both really hot and in an small, utterly boring town.

  4. Diane Lane and Richard Gere, Nights in Rodanthe (2008)

    While their performances weren’t all that bad, there wasn’t anything particularly memorable about these two as a pair. Especially since the story has them meet and fall in love in such contrived circumstances: Two middle-aged, single adults all alone at an Outer Banks inn with a hurricane looming. How convenient. Plus, we can’t help but compare these roles to their more profound ones like Gere’s ruthless businessman in Pretty Woman and Lane’s broken but determined romantic in Under the Tuscan Sun, which, like the South American mudslide that kills Gere’s character, drowned their Nights roles into a far, far away place.

  5. Robin Wright and Kevin Costner, Message in a Bottle (1999)

    It’s hard to fully appreciate Wright and Costner in the film because the storyline is SO Sleepless in Seattle. Like, basically the same story. And obviously, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan have our hearts forever and ever. However, since this was the first of Sparks’ film adaptations, the two have the advantage of being the most organic before common tropes like war, kissing in the rain, and disapproving parents really became trademarks of every Sparks movie known to man.

  6. Amanda Seyfried and Channing Tatum, Dear John (2010)

    Aside from the fact that the end of this story is beyond frustrating (spoiler: Seyfried and Tatum’s characters don’t even end up together), their performances were still endearing. They work as a couple because they look good together physically (hubba, hubba), and don’t overact or try to be too mushy and romantic in attempts to up the Sparks tear factor. Their chemistry is so believable that you actually anticipate when they’ll have their reunions and make sweet, sweet love between their, what feels like, never-ending letter writing.

  7. Mandy Moore and Shane West, A Walk to Remember (2002)

    If you don’t cry every time you watch Landon (West) lose his shit over Jamie’s (Moore) sickness, you may want to double check to see if you are in fact, human. Even though it’s obvious their characters will end up together, because it is in fact a Nicholas Sparks story, their performances make you think it’s truly an unlikely, yet inevitable romance. Landon is the lost rebel who isn’t the typical high school douchey jock and Jamie is the bible-hugging shy girl, who is again, slightly offbeat from your usual moody high school teen (see: Miley Cyrus). West and Moore’s characters are genuine which makes their journey and love so. damn. believable. Someone pass me a tissue.

  8. Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling, The Notebook (2004)

    Obviously. McAdams and Gosling’s Allie and Noah should be deemed the greatest on-screen couple ever. Is that aggressive? Don’t even care; their performances are perfection – we see their connection from from a budding romance to endless love and what makes them stand apart from the rest is their physical and mental transformation from teenagers to adults. It may be the only Sparks film to date that dudes aren’t completely ashamed of actually liking (“Uh, yeah, it’s okay I guess…”) and there’s a reason. McAdams and Gosling aren’t the least bit corny not to mention Gosling is a damn MAN. I mean, writing letters just doesn’t cut it for him, he builds a whole damn house. Allie and Noah forever. [Photo Credit: New Line Cinema/Walt Disney Studios/Warner Bros./Relativity Media/Screen Gems]

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@taylorferber