Just as viewing Love Actually is a holiday tradition in many households, ranking its plots by all possible metrics and criteria has become a Christmas mainstay in what you might call “the Internet” or “the media” or “society.” (See examples here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.) And we want in on all the fun! So, behold, the plots of Love Actually ranked from “actually, no” to “love it, actually!”
Juliet + Peter + Mark
What the butt is this plot? We open on a very cute wedding scene—all you need is love!—and then we devolve into a sort of sad story of unrequited love and then this shit happens:
“Hey, best friend’s new wife. Just popping by on Christmas Eve to let you know that I will love you until one or both of us is dead. Hope that doesn’t put you in an awkward position for the next, uh, 50 years! Byeeee!”
Ranking: Actually, Keira Knightley was like seventeen when she was shooting this.
Jamie + Aurelia
Jamie’s girlfriend is banging his brother, so he goes away to a cabin to be alone with his sad thoughts and write, but he’s distracted by his sexy housekeeper, Aurelia. Then, on Christmas, he realizes he loves her and tracks her down to
get to know her propose to her. Sorry, but what?
If they had an entire movie to themselves, to learn each other’s languages, have meaningful talks and, you know, bang, this would be a beautiful love story. But instead we’re supposed to believe that two people who have literally never had a conversation are going to get—and stay—MARRIED? The proposal is cute and all but come on.
And why does Aurelia’s dad need to be so mean to her sister and call her fat? Why does that need to be part of it?
Ranking: Actually, this would never work.
Billy + Joe
The great Billy Mack spends most of the movie wishing for one thing and one thing only this Christmas: a number one 1 hit song. And he gets it! Fantastic! Entertaining! Bill Nighy as a sexy old man rockstar! We love it.
And then he realizes that fame no longer gives him the high it once did, the rockstar life is empty, and he wants to spend more time with his best friend and manager Joe.
Why make us learn a lesson? Like…it’s fine, we have no problem with this per se, but there are already so many saccharine-y stories in this movie, why couldn’t this one just be for fun?
And what’s with the gay panic? The movie is so aggressively hetero; this could have been a cute same-sex love story, but they spend an entire scene like, “I don’t love you like THAT Joe. Let’s go make out with women because we are NOT GAY!”
Ranking: Actually, we’d like this more if they were just gay.
The Prime Minister + Natalie
Correct me if I’m wrong, but a prime minister who won’t get confrontational with a foreign head of state until that foreign head of state is caught hitting on the prime minister’s crush, and then blindsides the foreign head of state at a press conference with a suddenly aggressive tone, even though the foreign head of state simply wanted to continue the kind of relationship he had with the previous prime minister, and probably thought that who he flirted with wasn’t going to be part of England’s international relations strategy, is maybe not a great prime minister?
This story does have some extremely cute moments, though. When Natalie can’t stop swearing. And when they make out backstage. And of course…
But why did we have to bring the whole “thighs like tree trunks” thing into it? She’s not even fat!
Ranking: Actually yours, with love, Natalie.
Colin + The Americans
I’d like to make it very clear to our foreign readers that American girls are not “easy.” You’re not gonna get with Denise Richards, January Jones, Ivana Milicevic, Elisha Cuthbert, or the girl who played Harriet just by having a British accent. (Or maybe you will; I’ve never met anyone of those women, so maybe it’ll work. Just don’t take women’s interest for granted, you know?)
This plot is like, nothing. It doesn’t make sense, and it doesn’t try to. It’s also by far the funniest part of an otherwise borderline-treacly movie, and it gives us the best exchange of the film:
Ranking: Actually, LOL.
Karen + Harry + Mia
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh help. It’s too sad. This is one of the two stories that is actually well done and emotionally nuanced and shit (the other is Daniel and Sam), and it’s just…so depressing. The Joni Mitchell of it all. The slow descent into infidelity of it all. And this year, the RIP Alan Rickman of it all.
We could have done with a little less “LOOK AT HOW SLUTTY THIS SLUT IS BEING,” but at least Mia doesn’t get some sort of bitter comeuppance for being “the other woman,” a trope of which we have grown oh so tired.
Ranking: Actually, you’ve also made a fool out of me, and you’ve made the life I lead foolish, too!
Sarah + Karl + Michael
Rip our hearts out, put them in blenders, and make smoothies out of them, why don’t you? What kind of filmmaker lets us see Laura Linney’s boobs, but doesn’t let us see Laura Linney finally have sex with the guy from those Chanel ads?
Ranking: Actually, seasonal depression is caused by this storyline.
Daniel + Sam + Joanna + Carol
PERFECT. Perfect. This arc is perfect. No other story is as consistent, as thought-through, as real, as nuanced, as well-developed. Daniel and Sam have a full beginning, middle, and end, and it’s no coincidence that they are the characters connected to the most other characters. They’re at the center of the character web because this is the heart of the film.
From a death (“ya wee motherless mongrel”) made all the more tragic by the real-life passing of Liam Neeson’s beloved wife Natasha Richardson to a stepfather and stepson bonding over Titanic, of all things, to recovery through music (hey, the drums are a musical instrument!) to first love to that iconic rendition of “All I Want for Christmas Is You” (never has pointing at the audience seemed so shady) to the ultimate run through the airport scene, we are seeing a true journey through the human soul.
A rainbow of emotions, a kaleidoscope of feelings, a trail mix of sentiments. It’s got everything, including Claudia Schiffer (fine, “Carol,” a Christmas Carol, har dee har).
Ranking: Actually, all we want for Christmas is Daniel + Sam + The Bay City Rollers.
John + Just Judy
An extended meet-cute between two porn stand-ins is somehow the purest story in this (or any?) movie.
Ranking: Actually, the best thing.
More From Glamour: This Honest Trailer About Love Actually Is Spot On