LOVE, FACTUALLY: The Indisputable Ranking of Every Love Actually Storyline

Every year, it seems people spend about as much time watching Love Actually as they do arguing about the best plotlines.  Well the debate stops now.  Here is the official ranking of every Love Actually storyline.

There are many reasons Love Actually was so quickly catapulted into the realm of holiday classic.

There is a storyline for everyone. Hugh Grant dances. Keira Knightly finds love. Colin Firth falls in a lake. There are about 700 silly turtlenecks.

It’s all great stuff.

But now, 13 years later, there is still one thing missing: Consensus.  We all really need to get on the same page about the ranking of the storylines in this movie.  So we’ve taken it upon ourselves to set the record straight.  Here is the indisputable ranking of every Love Actually storyline.

9. The XXX Body Doubles

The Facts: The sad truth of this plotline is that most people forget it even exists.  Love Actually is primarily viewed on cable, and this relationship’s literal pornographic nature causes it to get the axe on most TV airings.  Sorry, John and Judy; your awkward courtship is cute, but you never really stood a chance.

8. Billy Mack and the Number One Christmas Single

The Facts: Bill Nighy is great as Billy Mack, the past-his-prime (but still ultra-stylish) rock star trying to squeeze one last cynical hit out of his career, and his decision to hang with his manager over Elton John is sweet, but it just didn’t make us feel the love like the bigger plotlines.  Also – you can only hear “Christmas is All Around Us” so many times before it gets old.

7. Karl vs. Sarah’s Dumb Cell Phone

The Facts: Everyone loves Karl.  He’s dreamy, mysterious, and completely understanding of Sarah’s constantly-ringing-phone situation.  And while we may understand Sarah’s decision to sacrifice their relationship for her brother, that doesn’t mean we have to be happy about it. #TeamKarl

6. Colin Goes to Wisconsin

The Facts: This story definitely isn’t the most romantic, and it’s a little light on thematic complexity.  But it does all culminate in a killer joke about giggly, gorgeous Wisconsin women falling for Colin (who is the worst) simply because of his British accent.  Seeing future stars Eliza Cuthbert (Happy Endings) and January Jones (Mad Men) is nice too.

5. The Widower and the Drummer Boy, or: Sam Causes a Major Security Breach at the Airport

The Facts: So this one is definitely the weirdest storyline.  It starts off with a man grieving over his recently deceased wife, who then decides to help his son woo a girl (who has the same name his the dead wife / Sam’s mom) through the art of drumming.  Oedipal implications aside, it gets weirder.  After the drumming schtick somehow doesn’t make Johanna instantly fall for Kid Whiplash, his (profoundly irresponsible) father encourages him to evade airport security and catch Johanna before she gets on her plane to NYC.

Despite how cheesy, illegal and evocative-of-national-tragedy this storyline is….it kind of works in a dumb, heart-warming way.  It’s also nice to see that Liam Neeson can be a good dad beyond just rescuing you from a child-trafficking ring.

4. Mia Ruins Everything, Karen Cries

The Facts: Watching the impossibly thirsty, seriously-needs-to-calm-down Mia attempt to seduce a deflecting Alan Rickman definitely has it’s charms, but the heart of this tale of infidelity lies in Karen’s emotional breakdown.

If you don’t get a little misty-eyed when Karen (played by the phenomenal Emma Thompson) works through her husband’s affair with the help of Joni Mitchell, you’re a monster.  (Also: that gift-wrapping scene is pure joy.)

3. The Love Triangle Between Natalie, the US President and a Dancing Prime Minister

The Facts: Is it a little problematic that the Prime Minister of England finally has the courage to stand up to America’s aggressive foreign policy stance after seeing the US President make moves on his work crush Natalie?  You betcha.  But is there anything better than Hugh Grant goofy-dancing through the halls of his estate?  Absolutely not (but his singing comes close).

2. The Subtitled Love of Jamie and Aurelia

The Facts: The romance of Jamie and Aurelia relies on a pretty simple, but undeniably effective gimmick: two characters are saying the exact same thing, but in different languages.  The audience knows they are perfect for each other through the magic of subtitles, but it takes them a little while to figure that out – though a little sexy lake swimming certainly speeds things along.

1. Juliet, Mark and the Cue Card Confession

The Facts: Obviously it had to be this one.  The cue card confession is the defining romantic gesture of the 2000’s.  It is so deeply embedded in pop culture that SNL is still making topical political jokes with it.  But this story has more to offer than just Mark’s non-verbal romantic confession to his best friend’s wife; there is also the brilliant sequence where Mark accidentally reveals his love to Juliet through his recording of her wedding, where the camera was fixated solely on her for the entire ceremony.  He may be able to hide his true feelings, but the camera’s gaze cannot.  This storyline comes so close to being creepy (again, I repeat: he filmed his best friend’s wife for hours and then confessed his love to her while the best friend was in the next room) and YET it has just enough emotional truth and visual wit to keep it from going over the edge, and for that reason, it is Love Actually‘s best storyline.

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