Christmas Entertainment

5 Christmas Romance Movies We Love That Aren't Hallmark

Hallmark & Great American Family may corner the market on Christmas Romance, but these romantic holiday movies that will make you believe in love this holiday season.

by | February 10, 2023

Top 5 Favorite Christmas Romance movies to believe in love this holiday season include Love Actually, Last Holiday, Serendipity, The Holiday, Christmas In Connecticut - Heart-Shaped Candy Cane, Valentine's Day

There's something truly magical about the holiday season that puts people in the mood for love. In fact, there are far more romantic Christmas movies than romantic Valentine's Day movies. (There are actually a lot more similarities between Christmas and Valentine's Day than you may realize)

TV stations like Hallmark Channel, Lifetime, and Great American Family dedicate their entire holiday schedule to original Christmas movies that are all about romance. With over 200 new Christmas love stories made for TV every year, it's hard to pick the best. While many of them do tend to follow a familiar formula, we can't help but root for a beautiful winter romance every time we watch a new one.

But what about the romantic Christmas movies that aren't made for TV or streaming? There may be a lot less Christmas rom-coms and romantic Holiday dramas that debuted in theaters, but they are some of our favorites. Here are a few of the Elf Squad’s top Christmas romance movies that had a theatrical release. Keep them in mind for your next date night and don't forget the microwave popcorn!

1. Love Actually (2003)

The quintessential Christmas rom-com, and a yearly standard for millions of fans everywhere. And it wouldn’t be the same without the ensemble cast of Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Alan Rickman, Keira Knightley, and many more. Though some of the storylines are questionable by today’s standards, it’s still fun to watch every holiday season.

Love Actually centers on eight interconnecting love stories during the month before Christmas in London. Here you’ll find two complicated love triangles, a prime minister and his junior, a pair of professional stand-ins, two wedding guests who speak different languages, two music-loving classmates, and a pair of single parents. See how — or if — they can all get resolved before Christmas.

2. The Holiday (2006)

Sometimes all you need around the holidays is a little pick-me-up… and maybe a trip to somewhere 6,000 miles away. In the end, you just might find what you’re looking for right when you least expect it. That’s exactly what happens in this lighthearted 2006 favorite that pairs Cameron Diaz with Jude Law and Kate Winslet with an unexpectedly perfect Jack Black. Plus, Hans Zimmer's score is downright magical. 

Amanda and Iris, two heartbroken women on opposite sides of the Atlantic, swap houses for two weeks at Christmastime. While navigating their new surroundings, each one meets and falls in love with a local man who helps lift their spirits. Yes, this spontaneous trip was exactly what they both needed. But neither woman has thought about what to do when it’s time to return home.

3. Christmas in Connecticut (1945)

An underrated classic, Christmas in Connecticut knew how to capitalize on the “post-war euphoria” of the time. It was also one of the first films to lay the groundwork for all those beloved Hallmark movies we have to this day. A remake was even released in 1992, directed by Arnold Schwarzenegger and starring Dyan Cannon and Kris Kristofferson.

Food writer Elizabeth Lane is loved by housewives everywhere for her adorable family and charming Connecticut farm. So much so that her publisher asks her to host a Christmas dinner for war hero Jefferson Jones. There’s just one problem — the farm and her family don’t exist. Desperate to avoid a scandal, Elizabeth agrees to marry her editor’s farmer friend and take in a neighbor’s baby for the day. But things go sideways Elizabeth and Jefferson meet and fall in love. What will happen to these two when the big lie is finally revealed?

4. Serendipity (2001)

We appreciate the double meaning of this next entry, starring John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale. A serendipity is an unplanned yet fortunate event, which happens quite a bit during this film. But it’s also the name of the iconic NYC restaurant, known best for frozen hot chocolates, where the main couple have their first date.

In New York City, Jonathan and Sara meet each other while buying Christmas gifts for their respective lovers. Sudden sparks fly and they decide to go on a date, ending up at New York City’s Serendipity chocolate shop. When accidentally Jonathan loses Sara’s number, she decides to fate reunite them instead. Ten years pass, and both are engaged to other people yet still think of each other often. Will these two finally find each other again this year?

5. Last Holiday (2006)

This loose remake of the 1950 British comedy comes with a Christmastime twist and pairs Queen Latifah with LL Cool J. Beneath its comedic tone lies a message about living life to the fullest. Though not a box office success, this one is still a favorite for many holiday rom-com fans.

Georgia lives a mundane life as a salesperson, until she’s diagnosed with a terminal illness. With nothing left to lose, she quits her job, flies to the Czech Republic, and starts living like royalty throughout the holidays. While there, she wins over a famous French chef and gets the chance of a lifetime to work with him. But she’s in for another surprise when Sean, a handsome co-worker, follows her to confess his feelings before it’s too late.

There’s something about the holidays that always feels so romantic. Maybe it's all the sparkly lights, or the sense of coziness and comfort. Or maybe it's the cold weather that just makes you want to cuddle someone close to keep warm. Whatever it is, it’s no wonder there are so many holiday love stories for us to enjoy!

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