Beside “Die Hard,” “Love, Actually” is one of the Christmas flicks that has inspired many debates. If the “Die Hard” discourse is centered around whether it is or isn’t a Christmas movie, the “Love, Actually” dilemma is about whether or not it’s any good. We’re done with rom-coms where a man treats a woman terribly but, despite not redeeming himself, still wins her heart.
So, in the spirit of Christmas, we have compiled a list of rom-coms that we think better reflect the magic of the season. Here are more inclusive and more exciting Christmas romances to check out.
“Single All The Way”
If you’re one of the people who wished that 2020’s “Happiest Season” was more rom-com than dramedy, “Single All The Way” may be the gay counterpart you’re looking for. To stop his family from bugging him about being perpetually single, Peter (Michael Urie) convinces his best friend- slash-roommate Nick (Philemon Chambers) to come home with him for the holidays and pretend that they’re now in a relationship. But then, they find out that Peter’s mom has set him up for a blind date with her gym instructor. Sometimes, we just really want a cheesy rom-com without homophobia in the plot.
It’s fan fiction-worthy and features Jennifer Coolidge as quirky Aunt Sandy. Will Peter move back home and get himself a gym BF? Or will he stay in L.A. to be the official dog co-parent to Nick’s children’s book-famous dog?
“Christmas Ever After”
Sure, Lifetime Christmas movies are super cheesy. But hear “Christmas Ever After” out. What if Tony winner Ali Stroker plays a romance novelist (think Precious Hearts Romances) who meets Matt, a man who looks exactly like the male lead on the cover of her books? And it turns out that he’s the new owner of the bed and breakfast that she frequents every Christmas.
At first, Stroker’s Izzi Simmons was giving off a bit of a stalkery vibe. But it seems that she and Daniel di Tomasso’s Matt do hit it off. The fact that Stroker uses a wheelchair doesn’t go completely unmentioned, but it isn’t central to the plot and it doesn’t hinder the character. If you notice that the editing for (spoiler!) the kissing scene is a bit weird, they used a plexiglass barrier as a COVID-19 precaution.
In 1961, Billy Wilder’s “The Apartment” won a number of Oscars—including Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. It follows the story of Manhattan insurance clerk C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) who lets company executives use his apartment for trysts so he can get a promotion. But he soon finds out that one of the women brought to his apartment is his crush Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine).
The film does involve a suicide attempt and cheating, so we recommend this with a warning. While Baxter does think of himself as a bit of a good guy, the film presents him as he truly is: a grade A schmuck. Will he and Fran redeem themselves or are they destined to be enablers in a rotten system?
“The Shop Around The Corner”
Hollywood legend Ernst Lubitsch’s “The Shop Around The Corner” is known to many as the film that inspired its famous remake “You’ve Got Mail.” Its enemies-to-lovers meet-cute story is so well-constructed that it’s not as predictable as it seems on paper. It stars Margaret Sullavan and James Stewart as bickering employees who eventually find out that the other is the anonymous pen pal that they’ve fallen in love with.
In between their witty parrying are interesting commentaries on workplace injustices. But do take caution. The plot also involves cheating and a suicide attempt. We couldn’t dare say more, in case we spoil it for you.
Love it for the daddy™ Jude Law or hate it for its no-stakes chessy predictability, Nancy Meyers’s “The Holiday” is a nice example of a 2000s rom-com that didn’t do its women leads dirty. Both looking to heal from heartbreak, Iris (Kate Winslet) and Amanda (Cameron Diaz) swap homes for a holiday vacay where they get a chance to be in healthier relationships.
Jack Black is always a charming leading man and who can resist a younger Jude Law? There’s a little monologue by Winslet that may hit home for folks who have experienced being given false romantic hope and there’s a funny scene where Diaz is drunkenly dancing to “Mr. Brightside.” A cute bonus is the subplot where Iris helps an old Hollywood screenwriter accept an award.