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10 Reasons “Love Actually” Is Still Such a Popular Christmas Movie

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Poppy is the author of "A Bard's Lament" and the Black Diamond series. She lives in Enoshima with her husband and young son.

British romantic comedy Love Actually has been considered one of the top Christmas movies since it was released in 2003. It appears in Rotten Tomatoes' top 50, Vulture's top 30, and The Independent's top 10.

But what makes this movie so great? Why does it continue to be watched during the festive season year after year despite it being over 15 years old? Here are ten reasons (please note that spoilers are included) why Love Actually is still considered one of the best Christmas flicks ever:

  1. It's about regular people.
  2. The cast is spectacular.
  3. It makes you laugh and cry.
  4. It's rebellious.
  5. It's not all about Christmas.
  6. It has cute moments without being corny.
  7. It has a sense of wonder while staying true to its Britishness.
  8. The original soundtrack is memorable.
  9. There are 10 different stories.
  10. Not all stories end happily.

1. It's About Regular People

You've got the newlywed couple, the guy who got cheated on, the shy office worker, the widower, the schoolboy, the working-class girl... the list goes on. Love Actually's characters are all real, pretty relatable characters, not the typical family with the professionally decorated suburbian house with the smiling housewife baking perfect Christmas cookies... you get the idea.

We can all relate to at least one of the characters in this movie and their struggle for love. Awkward, shy characters who often make mistakes (think Jamie and John) are much more relatable and likable than witty Hollywood-esque people who always say the right thing.

2. The Cast is Spectacular

Love Actually has a famously impressive cast. Alan Rickman, Liam Neeson, Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Keira Knightley, Emma Thompson, Bill Nighy, Rowan Atkinson, Martin Freeman, all in the same movie! Not only are they well-known actors, but they're also well-loved and unapologetically British.

These actors have brought us dozens of beloved movies between them, and it's fun and a little nostalgic to see them all perform within the same few hours again.

3. It Makes You Laugh and Cry

Christmas movies tend to be sickeningly happy, whereas Love Actually has us holding our sides with laughter as well as reaching for the tissues.

There is plenty of witty banter and funny jokes to get you chuckling, and yet the moment where Daniel (Liam Neeson) is crying for his late wife, or the moment when you realize Mark (Andrew Lincoln) was filming his best friend's wedding because he was in love with his wife... well, nothing makes a story more memorable than if it makes you shed a few tears.

4. It's Rebellious

The moment where the prime minister (Hugh Grant) stands up to the president of the United States in a shamelessly pro-England speech is one of the best moments of the movie. Not that there's any actual anti-Americanism in the film, but it did feel good to see our small country get some credit, something which is lacking more as time goes on.

Many British franchises have become "Americanized" to fit the global market (such as Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them or Kingsmen), but Love Actually does quite the opposite. "We may be a small country, but we're a great one, too..."

Official Trailer

5. It's Not All About Christmas

This may seem redundant considering this is a Christmas movie, but not everybody loves two hours of tinsel, Santa Claus, and elves. Love Actually takes place at Christmas but doesn't rely on the holiday to give it soul. It can be enjoyed any time of the year because its focus is the romance and the comedy.

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6. It Has Cute Moments Without Being Corny

The sweet moments of this movie are carefully written so they aren't cheesy or cringe-worthy, but genuinely sweet.

Jamie (Colin Firth) learned Portuguese just so he could ask the woman he loved to marry him! Daniel bought a drum kit and let his stepson run through an airport so he could say goodbye to the girl he liked! These really sweet moments make the characters even more lovable without resorting to cliches.

7. It Has a Sense of Wonder While Staying True to Its Britishness

Love Actually takes place in England (mostly London) but also has some scenes in Europe, namely during Jamie and Aurelia's story. This gives us a look into a romantic, exotic countryside, giving the story a sense of wonder and adventure.

That being said, the movie is still British and takes place in England. We see department stores, schools, Downing Street, an office - normal places that we can identify with. It gives us a sense of comfort as well as nostalgia for the noughties.

8. The Original Soundtrack is Memorable

Love Actually's OST is instantly recognizable and has some really heartbreaking melodies. It carries a festive tone and yet adds a new layer of emotion to the sadder scenes. The film's spectacular soundtrack is one of the best things about it.

9. There are 10 Different Stories

Who knew you could experience so many stories within a two-hour period? You've got the brilliance of the prime minister's dancing, the innocent young love of Sam and Joanna, the beautiful, feel-good moment when Jamie and Aurelia meet in Portugal, the too-good-to-be-true story of Colin's conquest in the USA, and Karen's heartbreak.

All of the stories have different levels of romance and seriousness, and they are all woven together, too: Karen, Daniel, and the prime minister are all siblings, Mia lives next door to Natalie, and Jamie attends Peter and Juliette's wedding. It's extremely clever.

10. Not all Stories end Happily

There aren't many sad Christmas films out there. Love Actually has enough feel-good moments where you watch the credits feeling happy, but not all of the ten stories in the film have characters who live happily ever after.

Sarah spends Christmas with her mentally ill brother, unable to commit to Karl. Karen continues to be sad about her husband's betrayal. Mark walks away from Juliette, finally accepting that she has married his best friend and he can never hope to have her. Just like real life, things don't always work out the way we'd like them to.

Love Actually will no doubt continue to be incredibly popular for many Christmases to come! This great flick is the favorite of many and for great reasons, too.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2018 Poppy


Poppy (author) from Enoshima, Japan on December 30, 2018:

It’s a winner for sure.

Liz Westwood from UK on December 28, 2018:

This is a very good analysis of Love Actually's enduring popularity. When I first saw it, I wasn't sure how it would last, but it has become a favourite especially over Christmas.

Poppy (author) from Enoshima, Japan on December 28, 2018:

Hi, Rajan! I definitely think you should check this movie out. I've never met anyone who said they didn't like it.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on December 28, 2018:

I'd love to see this movie for its Britishness. It's been decades since I saw one.

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