This time of year is reserved for a few things in particular: drinking egg nog (spiked or otherwise), listening to seasonal music of the modern age and yesteryear, and, sure, spending time with family. So while surrounded by a lot of people eager to get into the Christmas spirit, one activity is essential (and has been since 2003): watching Love Actually—the holiday film that has spawned so many pale and incompetent imitators since.

And with a parody of one of its most iconic scenes in last week’s Saturday Night Live, it’s officially Love Actually season. So what better way to kick it into full gear than ranking the film’s many, many characters, from worst to best? In this spirit, with a hot seasonal beverage in hand—and because, at Christmas, you tell the truth—sit back and enjoy the truest ranking of Richard Curtis’s Love Actually characters. There are so many storylines in this thing that we’ve decided to limit it here to 20. So please, feel free to let me know any and all grievances with this list: I take Love Actually very seriously.

20. POTUS — Billy Bob Thornton

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Love the actor, but a misogynistic, cartoon character version of an American pig as President? Nope. That would never happen.
19. Harry — Alan Rickman

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Harry seems like a good guy deep down, but he just makes the wrong decisions, and it’s crushing in the end. It says so much about how great of an actor Alan Rickman was (RIP, thanks a lot 2016). How crushing it is to watch this entire scene, hoping that he will wise up, and then see that he never does. Harry, effectively, is Jay Z.
18. Colin — Kris Marshall

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This guy sucks and his storyline is outrageous and it should have been cut from a movie that is already very long. K, bye!
17. Mia — Heike Makatsch

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Mia exists in the film purely as a moral test for Rickman’s Harry—one that he fails, repeatedly. But nonetheless—she knows that he’s married. Becky with the Good Hair, circa 2003.
16. Karl — Rodrigo Santoro

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Karl is fine. He is a good-looking man who attracts Laura Linney’s character’s attention. This is fine. This is his character. Rodrigo Santoro is also in Westworld, and I like Westworld. This has been my analysis of Karl.
15. Joe — Gregor Fisher 

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Everyone needs a Joe—a loyal sidekick, there through thick and thin. Look at that face. This guy is a legend.
14. Peter — Chiwetel Ejiofor

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Again—love the actor, Chiwetel is great. But Peter doesn’t do much. By all means, seems like a good guy! Probably even a better guy than his pal played by Andrew Lincoln, who literally tries to steal his friend’s wife. But, we fall for what the film presents to us, and we are presented with Peter being a good guy who asks Andrew Lincoln to behave himself. AND THAT IS NOT EFFECTIVE.
13. Juliet — Keira Knightley

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Despite being part of one of the movie’s most delightful scenes, Keira Knightley also isn’t given much to do here. Memorable role, very famous person, but Andrew Lincoln does the heavy lifting.
12. John and Judy — Martin Freeman and Joanna Page

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 Random, weird, good at being both of these things, et cetera.
11. Aurelia — Lucia Moniz

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I don’t know, man. She doesn’t have any english dialogue, and this whole storyline literally revolves around that fact, which is pretty thin… and yet, somehow, I’m so in. I think she’s really good and expressive and this storyline just makes me happy because I am a sap.
10. David — Hugh Grant 

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It was only fitting for Richard Curtis to turn to a true veteran of romantic comedies for the de-facto lead of his Love Actually ensemble, and as a result, Hugh Grant is…. pretty charming. Like the romantic comedy veteran he is, Grant’s character makes some mistakes, and then makes up for it, and in the end we’re all back on board. Plus, this.
9. Rufus — Rowan Atkinson

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This is an easy ranking to explain. Point A: It’s Mr. Bean. Point B: he’s either literally or metaphorically a guardian angel. Why didn’t you take the hint, Harry/Alan Rickman? COME ON!
8. Natalie — Martine McCutcheon

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Natalie is the primary love interest of the character at the center of the web, and while she may not be the most three dimensional, the scene when David visits her home, and we see her family, and then her niece and nephew’s Christmas pageant (and an old fashioned make-out), is great. Plus, she deserves this high ranking because she has to deal with President Donal…Billy Bob Thornton. Also, everyone constantly addresses her, condescendingly, as some kind of very obese person, which, first, is clearly not true, and secondly, is clearly not funny… I guess this is one of those movie things that has to be ignored in hindsight, like Luke Skywalker kissing his sister.
7. Jamie — Colin Firth

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Again, this storyline doesn’t make much sense, and theoretically, it really has no reason to. But, again, there’s a reason why Colin Firth has an Academy Award and I don’t and you don’t (unless if Martin Scorsese is reading, in which case, I apologize, sir): it’s because Colin Firth is good at making us feel what he’s supposed to make us feel, because he is both charismatic and good at the acting thing.
6. Sarah — Laura Linney

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Much like Colin Firth, Laura Linney is one of the very best people in the world at acting, and we’re lucky enough to get to see her use that talent in movies. Her story is so full: she is caring for her sick brother, and looking to maintain a social life of her own in the meantime. When she’s happy, we’re happy. When she’s sad, we’re sad. Look at her on the left. RELATABLE.
5. Mark — Andrew Lincoln
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Before we knew Andrew Lincoln was a zombie-hunting Sheriff, he was the scene-stealer in this heartwarming moment. But, as alluded to earlier, we also have to consider the reality of this situation: this man is trying to STEAL THE WIFE of his best friend. Poor Chiwetel has no idea! What a move! OK, in too deep, moving on.

4. Billy Mack — Bill Nighy 

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I… I really want this guy to top the list. I really, really want to. Billy Mack, expertly played by Bill Nighy (not the Science Guy), is the heart and soul of the movie. Great dancing. Great singing. Absolutely electric personality. Perhaps he is the ultimate reason I like this movie as much as I do. “Christmas Is All Around” plays from start to finish, and it’s supposed to be an awful retooling of The Troggs’ classic, but guess what? I like it! I would buy that song! We want more Billy Mack!
3. Sam — Thomas Sangster

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This fucking kid. This kid drums, and is a ladykiller, and is in general a boss. If you don’t like this child, then your feelings are the wrong ones, and maybe you have some kind of emotional deficiency. Have you ever run through an airport out of pure passion after a loved one? No? Well THIS KID HAS, SO NEVER TALK BAD ON HIM EVER.
2. Karen — Emma Thompson

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Probably the only one in the cast more decorated with praise than Colin Firth and Laura Linney is Emma Thompson, who has not only one but two Oscars. And in general, the rule of thumb, in any movie, should be don’t fuck around with Emma Thompson, because she’s a badass and deserves the best. She’s the Beyoncé to Alan Rickman’s Jay Z—Love Actually told the story of Lemonade before it ever happened. As Beyoncé rhetorically asked this year, Karen echoes the sentiment: “Jealous or Crazy?” When she opens her gift from Harry and sees not a necklace, but a crappy CD, she, and we, heartbreakingly know the answer.
1. Daniel — Liam Neeson

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The absolute best character of Love Actually is Liam Neeson’s Daniel, a widower whose side we’re on, and whose journey we feel invested in, the entire time. It’s easy to forget, because of the killing machine that we recognize him as ever since Taken, but Liam Neeson is a tender man with an absolute heart of gold. How likable is this guy?

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We see his wife’s funeral, and we see him forge an almost obscenely heartwarming bond with his stepson. When Sam calls him “Dad”? That is what christmas is for (after telling the truth). In the wake of his wife’s passing away, he needs an adventure with a payoff just as much as his stepson, and watching them eventually achieve that joy is not only a Christmas miracle, but a gift to us all.
This has been your definitive ranking. Feel free to discuss.

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1 COMMENT

  1. At first I disagreed and thought that David and Billy Mack should be in the top 3 (reasons being David’s epic Prime Minster dance / shading the USA and Billy Mack’s Christmas jam), but I ultimately agree with your top choices. You can’t have Daniel without Sam, and Emma Thompson is the ultimate hero of this movie. She is a queen.

    I do think that Mark should be lower on the list. He creepily video taped his best friends wife at their wedding and then showed up at their house unannounced WHILE HIS BEST FRIEND WAS THERE to claim his love for the girl. It’s a little too far Mark.

    GREAT assessment of the movie’s characters.

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