We’re exactly one week away from the 10th anniversary of the release of Love Actually. I assume on that momentous day it will rain banoffee pie from the heavens and a chorus of angels will flash mob you Love Actually faithful in your homes, at your workplace or in your cars with a fully orchestrated rendition of “All You Need Is Love.” But until then, this post is for you. The Richard Curtis film has been accused of a multitude of sins over the past decade. Too sappy? No way. Emotionally manipulative? Not even! An unstoppable hell beast rom-com hybrid that we can blame for all lesser imitations e.g. Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve, etc.? Gah, I guess so, but that feels unfair. Uneven? Um. Nailed it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m with you. I love this movie with my whole heart. I can quote it backwards and forwards. But every plot is not equal. Here, for your information, is the objective and concrete order, from worst to best, in which Love Actually’s intersecting plots should be ranked. No one denies this.
9. The Writer And His Housekeeper: Yeah, you heard me. Worst to best. This one is the worst. I don’t care that it’s Colin Firth. I don’t care that he is a god amongst romantic leads. This plot is by far the weakest. He falls in love with Aurelia why, exactly? Is it because of the loads of things they have in common? Or is it because she looks lovely in her underthings and has a selo vagabundo? I wouldn’t mind this plot so much if he came back to date her, not to marry her. Colin Firth earns back a lot of lost points from his earlier embarrassing game of charades with the charming language tape antics and “just in cases” is a completely winning line, but this plot is still the weakest. I don’t hate anything about this movie. But if I did hate something, I’d hate Uncle Jamie.
8. Sheriff Rick And His Best Friend’s Girl: Points, of course, for the pre-viral video wedding stunt. Sheriff Rick loves his stunts a little too much, though, and I can’t help but think that the final scene at Kiera Knightley’s doorstep strikes the wrong note. An elaborate cover lie for your best friend while you confess your feelings to his wife via collage? Let’s be clear about this. The man sat in his home and made a collage about his feelings. Not cute, Rick. A little selfish and dishonest. Enough now with this plot. Enough.
7. The Lovely Laura Linney And Her
Hot Cute Karl: I can’t here. I can’t with this. LAURA LINNEY WEARS A KNIT HAT TO A WEDDING. Leaving that aside? This has got to be one of the more infuriating plots of the movie. (A movie I do love, I promise.) Why does Linney have to give up Xerxes for her brother? Can’t she just say, “Xerxes, hang on, keep your shirt off, I’ll be back in a jiff?” I’m not saying she should choose one or the other, I’m just saying both doesn’t feel impossible to me. Points, however, for the aforementioned shirtless Xerxes, for this moment of completely adorable Laura Linney glee.
6. Colin, God Of Sex, And His Big Knob: This plot doesn’t have a whole lot to recommend itself other than the fact that it has American girls and their attitude towards accents dead to rights and it proves that, contrary to popular belief, January Jones can smile.
5. The World’s Cutest Porn Plot: The porn plot is another wafer thin one but unlike some people (COLIN FIRTH), Martin Freeman, Joanna Page and her endearing Welsh accent bond over shared interests and similar world views. Bar none the most adorable story to ever involve the phrase “cheat the nipples.”
4. Uncle Billy And His Fat Manager: Though he’d been around for a long time and had no fewer than eight other credits to his name in 2003, the US wasn’t really aware of Bill Nighy until this movie and his slim-hipped wriggling and butterscotch-voiced drawling were a revelation. I’d buy his Christmas album. I’d but anything he wanted to sell me. I adore the fact that this isn’t a straight-forward love affair but a celebration of friendship.
3. Emma Thompson And A Very Disappointing Alan Rickman: Lest you think the only reason I don’t like the Laura Linney plot is because I can’t handle an unhappy ending, I say ha. HA! We can all squirm a bit at the thought of hating Alan Rickman (and not in the fun, love to hate Hans Gruber way), but leaving out the irritating Mr. Bean Christmas Angel angle, this is the most solid story in the movie and the most believable depiction of a relationship. It doesn’t hurt that they picked Rickman and Thompson, the two most talented members of the cast, to break out hearts. It’s not all tears and Joni Mitchell, though. There are Nativity lobsters and transvestite Barbie Dolls as well. The better and the worse.
2. The Widower And His Titanic-Loving Step-Son: This improbably lovable plot starts with a funeral and ends with Claudia Schiffer, so there you go. We love this plot because it made us love Mariah Carey and Titanic more than we thought possible. Because who would dare risk and airport sprint in a post 9/11 world? Because how can you not absolutely adore someone named Joanna? Ahem. This whole thing works because Neeson is his usually great self and he lucked out by having the great Thomas Brodie-Sangster and not some stickily sweet moppet as an acting partner. Besides, who can resist getting the sh*t kicked out of them by love?
1. The Prime Minister And His Chav: Love it. All of it. Love Billy Bob Thornton’s Bill Clinton. Love his public dressing down. Love Hugh Grant singing Christmas carols. Love her adorable foul mouth.
And, above all else, love this. Actually.