How to Find Love During the Holidays (According to the Movies)

Oh, the holidays. That time of year when everyone wants to stay indoors, cuddle up on the couch, and lose themselves in the arms of another person. Hot cocoa, pot roast, and an endless supply of movies, what else could a single person want or need? Oh, how about those arms I mentioned earlier? Well, if the movies of Christmas have taught me anything in my long-winded existence, it’s that once the snow starts to fall love could be just around the corner. And thank goodness for that, because spending uninterrupted time with one’s family is always made better when you have a cute guy or gal with you.

You might be asking, “Gwen, how am I supposed to find love in just two weeks?” Well, unfortunately I can’t really help you with that specific deadline, however I do think the movies of the season can lend a bit of assistance in the right direction.

1. Not Everyone Gets a Second Chance…

So make the first impression last. Take Ebenezer Scrooge (A Christmas Carol) for example. Here is a man who has squandered every human connection he has ever had with his greed and incredibly sunny disposition. His life has become so dark and full of sadness that even his name has become synonymous with “unhappy.” Scrooge is an utter joy to be around, so much in fact that he is visited by three ghosts the night before Christmas to knock some sense into the man. The Ghost of Christmas Past, a jolly bearded man, shows him a memory of the frustrated fiancée he left behind. This tender moment where Ebenezer tries to explain that “maybe next year” they can finally get married is marred in a cloak of foreboding. There will be no next year, and even though Scrooge wakes the next morning from his ghostly visits a changed man, he will never have the chance to reunite with his lady love.

2. Shake Up Your Routine

Nothing says the holidays quite like “I want to see other people.” So when this happens to both American Amanda (Cameron Diaz) and English Iris (Kate Winslet) they both decide a change of scenery is the perfect solution. Finding each other on a house swapping site, they agree to exchange houses in an attempt to find themselves (and possibly some sexy men?). Iris moves to sunny California and meets Amanda’s screenwriter neighbor Arthur (Eli Wallach) who tells her (and us) all about the “meet cute,” the point in any film where the potential love interests meet for the first time. Iris’ meet cute happens with film composer Miles (Jack Black), Amanda’s coworker, who she eventually allows to share her bed and her heart. The Holiday gives brokenhearted women the hope that they too can flee to America, or England, post break-up and meet their own Prince Charming.

3. Set Your Sights

While You Were Sleeping is one of those rare Christmas movies that’s not really a Christmas movie. Yes, it takes place around the holidays, and it’s about a woman looking desperately for man to help decorate her tree, but in the end it’s much more than that. It is a story about rewarding someone with enough vision to be prepared when the right moment comes. Oprah would be so proud.

Lucy (Sandra Bullock) watches the same man catch the train day after day from her ticket-taker window. She is in love with this man, in a way many of us know from our own Facebook stalking ways. Unfortunately for her, she has never said enough words for him to fall back in love with her. Well, luck is on her side when the man falls onto the subway tracks and she rescues him from death. Life saver! Once at the hospital, Lucy finds out the comatose object of her affect is named Peter (Peter Gallagher) and that the hospital staff (with no dissuasion from Lucy) has informed his family that she is his fiancée. She set her sights, and got what she wanted–too bad now she has to keep up the rouse even though she’s quickly falling for Peter’s brother, Jack (Bill Pullman). I said set your sights, I didn’t say it was going to be easy picking between two men.

4. Determination

Speaking of setting your sights, the next thing you need to keep in mind when searching for love during the holidays is never letting anyone tell you it can’t happen. Both White Christmas and Love Actually (my personal favorite Christmas movie, thankyouverymuch) exemplify what it is like to stay determined when it comes to love. In White Christmas we have two dueling performance duets that fall in love with each other while attempting to save the Vermont hotel where they are scheduled to perform. Songs are song, snow is seen, and the combined power of the two couples keeps both the hotel afloat and the relationships sizzling. They are quite a team together, once they figure out the same determination to save the hotel could be just as well focused on wooing each other.

No searching for love during the Holidays list is complete without the love story vignettes in Love Actually. While the many sub-plots within the entire film show all the many forms of love, when it comes to a perfect example of love through determination no one does it better than young lover Sam (Thomas Sangster). He is set and determined to win the affection of his fellow classmate, enlisting guidance from his stepfather Daniel (Liam Neeson) in the art of wowing a lady. He knows she loves music (as the film eventually reveals she is a talented little singer) so Sam becomes dedicated to learning the drums in time for the school’s Christmas show. Now, I’m no singer but if a man used this same amount of heart and consideration to learn anything to wow me, you better believe I’d come back from the airport to land a highly-anticipated kiss on his lips too. Guys, you have a lot to live up to.

5. The Big Gesture

Finally we come to the moment of confessing our love, be it unrequited or mutual, so let’s return to Love Actually. The lessons this film provide can last well beyond Christmas and New Years. Mark (Andrew Lincoln) is desperately in love with his best friend’s new wife, Juliet (Keira Knightly). So much in fact that he can’t even be around her as just the sight of her face makes his heart hurt (Been there, Mark). She finds out after watching a video from her wedding Mark edited down to only feature her in soft lighting and slow motion. Ultimate sweetness (when not a bit stalkery) certainly. Well, rightfully so Mark is mortified that Juliet knows his secret and makes it a point to get over her. Before he can do that though, he comes to her house on Christmas eve with a cue card slide show spelling out all the reasons he loves her but knows it can never be. It is hands down one of the most tender, most sincere unrequited love gestures committed to screen. He makes her smile and he lets her go—even though it breaks his heart, he wants nothing more for the woman he loves than for her to be happy.

Love at the holidays doesn’t get any better than  that.

Open your heart and make some time for the rest of the entries in our 2011 Holiday Survival Guide.

While Gwen Reyes has only briefly been a film critic and columnist, she's long been telling people what movies they should drop dollars on, regardless if they are listening to her or not. Based out of Dallas, she wants to live the dream by watching movies all day and drinking vodka gimlets all night. She graduated from Sweet Briar College with a surprisingly handy degree in Philosophy and Film Studies--it explains why she spends so much time analyzing the murderers in sexual thrillers (yes, dear reader, that's her excuse!)--and she loves anything to do with gnomes, pot-bellied pigs, and beards. But most importantly, Gwen likes movies about sad people, funny people, naked people, and bearded people.

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