Thanks to the Hallmark Channel and Lifetime movies, we’ve been (not brainwashed exactly) led to believe that Christmas is all about falling in love and discovering the perfect romance among the mistletoe and holly. Maybe it is… it’s certainly a time when we all celebrate family and gather with loved ones. We share wonderful meals and give each other well thought out gifts. Maybe, it’s all about love, after all.
Christmas romance movies are a phenomenon unto themselves. They take on familiar romance tropes like lost-then-found love, second-chance love, new love, bad-boy-and-good-girl love, and one-night-stand-turned-something-special love among others. However, it all happens during the holidays. They aren’t particularly about Christmas or New Year’s, but the holidays provide the backdrop for the stories and it somehow makes it even more romantic.
OPINION: My 5 Favorite Romantic Christmas Movies
# 5 | Happiest Season
It’s about time that gay people were better represented in holiday romantic comedies! Why shouldn’t queer people be able to enjoy cute, lowkey holiday fluff that also better represents their stories and perspectives? Under Clea DuVall’s direction, Happiest Season follows a lesbian couple, Abby (Kristen Stewart) and Harper (Mackenzie Davis). Celebrating their first Christmas together, Harper invites Abby to meet her family. However, she hasn’t come out to her conservative family yet and introduces her girlfriend asher orphan roommate. The comedy bits run between cute and clumsy, though the escalation doesn’t rise to the farcical levels you would expect from compounded misunderstandings and secret-keepings.
# 4 | While You Were Sleeping
A delightful romantic holiday film, While You Were Sleeping remains whimsical and fun. The movie revolves around a Chicago toll worker named Lucy (Sandra Bullock) who was working during one lonely Christmas. She has been pining over a man (Peter Gallagher) who goes there every single day. However, they have never met before. She saves him from almost being run over by a subway car. When she’s mistaken for his fianceé at the hospital, she’s welcomed into his family – especially by Peter’s brother Jack (Bill Pullman). The comedy remains incredibly well-written, pulling off farcical humor almost effortlessly.
# 3 | The Holiday
Despite initial reservations, this movie pleasantly surprised many viewers due to its light-humored and touching film. The Holiday revolves around two women who swap houses during Christmastime after bad breakups with their boyfriends. The two women, one in Britain named Iris and one in America named Amanda, predictably falls for local men. However, they realize that their imminent return home may end the relationship. The plot itself remains simple. Despite that, the movie combines a heartwarming and cheesy together. The script is nothing clever and the camera work is average but you will find yourself growing more attached to the characters even if you didn’t want to.
# 2 | Carol
To call Carol a Christmas miracle feels like a gaudy understatement, but that’s sort of exactly what it is. Based on the 1952 novel The Price of Salt, it revolves around a young woman named Therese (Rooney Mara) who longs to be a photographer. However, she finds herself working as a clerk in a department store. She, then, encounters Carol Aird (Cate Blanchett), an alluring woman with a wealthy background. There’s a spark between them and what begins as an innocent friendship later develops into an unexpected love affair that doesn’t follow the conventional norms of 1950s America. Captured magnificently, the movie remains a breathtakingly beautiful film where the cinematography basks in a luxurious palette of colors.
# 1 | Love Actually
Nine intertwined stories examine the complexities of the one emotion that connects us all: love. The characters include David (Hugh Grant), the handsome newly elected British prime minister who falls for a young junior staffer (Martine McCutcheon), Sarah (Laura Linney), a graphic designer whose devotion to her mentally ill brother complicates her love life, Jamie (Colin Firth) falls for his Portuguese housekeeper Aurelia (Lucia Moniz) who doesn’t speak English and they both learn each other’s language to express their love, and Harry (Alan Rickman), a married man giving in to the tempting actions of his new secretary.
Who can forget young Sam (Thomas Sangster) running around the airport just to admit his love for a classmate named Joana (Olivia Olson)? Although Love Actually is a charming movie, I can admit that it’s not perfect. It gets a little too syrupy towards the end. But, the romance, the comedy, and the star-studded cast remain outstanding. Weaving through so many storylines that could have left the viewers confused and unsatisfied, but it pulls the right strings to keep us entertained from beginning to end.
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Angela Grace P. Baltan has been writing professionally since 2017. She doesn’t hesitate to be opinionated in analyzing movies and television series. Aside from that, she has an affinity for writing anything under the sun. As a writer, she uses her articles to advocate for feminism, gender equality, the LGBTQIA+ community, and mental health among others.