It’s the most beautiful time of the year! Holiday romance season, of course.
It’s the most beautiful time of the year! Holiday romance season, of course. The days when Hallmark, Lifetime, and Netflix flood us with dozens of movies about big-city girls returning to their hometowns and realizing their flannel high school crushes are actually the key to their happiness. That, and hot chocolate. So much hot chocolate.
With so many movies to choose from, it’s hard to know what to spend your precious time on. As someone who spends a ridiculous number of hours consuming these movies, here are my suggestions for holiday romances of 2020 that are worth checking out …
Christmas tree alley
This one is a pretty classic saying from the Hallmark movie: a woman tries to save the community icon from destruction while accidentally falling in love with the man working for the big bad company responsible for said destruction.
In this case, she owns a music store and tries to save her street – the titular Christmas Tree Lane. As the plots of these films are often completely interchangeable, what sets the individual vacation romances apart is the chemistry and charisma of the cast. In this case, our hero is played by Andrew Walker, or, as I like to call him, Charming McHandsomeface, and he has it in PIQUE. The principal lady Alicia Witt is also very good.
It’s another one worth watching because of the cast – the ever-delicious Merritt Patterson and Luke Macfarlane aka Handsome McCharmingface (not to be confused with Charming McHandsomeface). Patterson plays a famous pianist who returns to his family castle (as you do) for the holidays and meets his ex-boyfriend / former bandmate (McCharmingface) who helps him rediscover his passion for music and of course , Xmas.
Christmas with the darlings
If you guessed that I recommend this based on casting alone, you are right! Katrina Law is one of the most charismatic actors in romantic vacation country and can sell almost anything. Here, she plays an assistant who quits her job just before Christmas, but ends up helping her boss’s younger brother as he tries to take care of his orphaned nieces and nephew. Because if there is one thing that stirs the romance in these films, it is the presence of orphans.
The Princess Switch: Switched Again
If you liked The Princess Switch in 2018, you will already be enthusiastic about its follow-up, The Princess Switch: Switched Again.
This time, Vanessa Hudgens is playing not one, not two, but THREE different characters. The original two Vanessa swap places again for European Vanessa to rekindle her romance with the hot baker, but the third Vanessa – a villain! – changes places with the American who pretends to be European Vanessa in order to steal her money. Understood? Costs. The problem with the sequels to any of these movies is that they tend to distract from the romance, which is roughly 89% of the reason we connect. Still, Vanessa Hudgens seems to be having the best time and it’s fun to watch.
Dashing in December
A gay cowboy Christmas! Holiday romance staple Peter Porte stars as a man from a big city who returns home for the holidays to convince his mother – played by Andie MacDowell – to sell their Winter Wonderland business as well as the ranch. family. Step into a ranch ready to remind him of all the vacation comforts of his hometown that he lacked.
The pun in the title alone is enough to make this movie worth checking out.
Mario Lopez plays the NaviDAD in question, a bachelor high school principal whose daughter puts him on a dating app that luckily leads him to hook up with the client he got to know in real life (oh, yeah, is he also a delivery man in his time reserve?). AnnaLynne McCord plays love interest and the film is directed by Melissa Joan Hart. It’s the kind of vacation romance that feels like a feverish dream – and I say it in the best possible way.
A little Christmas charm
If you’ve ever said to yourself, I wonder what Alice dusk lives up to these days, here’s the answer: Christmas romantic comedies!
In A little Christmas charm, she plays a jewelry designer who discovers a lost charm bracelet and calls in an investigative journalist to find its owner and return the bracelet to him before Christmas. Because that’s the kind of thing investigative journalists do? Anyway, he’s played by Brendan Penny aka the sexy brother in Chesapeake Ribs, a show that I watch exclusively when struggling with insomnia.
Robert Buckley from A tree hill and iZombie The celebrity plays an actor who returns home for a traditional Christmas, with literally all the bells and whistles, as his parents turn their home into a wonderland.
He reconnects with his high school crush who happens to be a real estate agent and possibly sells his beloved childhood home. The drama! There is also a subplot with Bad girls‘Jonathan Bennett, who plays Robert Buckley’s brother and is trying to adopt a baby with her husband.
The happiest season
It’s a movie (it’s even hitting theaters in Australia!) So it might be unfair to include it on this list, but it’s a vacation romance. Just on another level.
Directed and co-written by Clea DuVall, it stars Kristen Stewart as Abby, who wants to propose to his girlfriend Harper (Mackenzie Davis) at her family’s holiday party, but realizes then that Harper has yet to come out to his family. The supporting cast includes Mary Steenburgen, Alison Brie, Dan Levy, Mila Kunis and Aubrey Plaza. Like I said, it’s on another level.
Speaking of another level: Melissa Joan Hart (a busy woman during the holiday season) stars opposite Jason Priestly, with cameos from Hilarie Burton and Antwon Tanner (another A tree hill meeting!).
Hart plays a woman who hosts a podcast about real vacation romance, but who has never known love herself – until she returns home and meets a local firefighter who has her. illuminates completely.
Five star christmas
Let me say I will watch Bethany Joy Lenz in anything. Yes A tree hill trash can, but she’s also one of the best actors to make that holiday romance, bringing an endearing and natural charm to all of her roles.
Here she plays the daughter of a B&B owner who, along with other family members, masquerades as guests to make a visiting travel writer believe the place is a success. It’s like this episode of Dawson Creek where Pacey and the gang helped Joey and his sister with their B&B. But Christmas!
People attending: Once upon a time there was a main street
A People brand lifelong vacation romance? Why not. It stars Vanessa Lachey and Ryan McPartlin (yet another charming white man with a chiseled jaw) as a pair competing to buy property and do their best to win over the owner. Most importantly, I intend to lead the decoration committee of a holiday contest on the main street of the city. Because it’s totally one thing.
Let’s meet again on Christmas Eve
I’m a fan of second chance romance, and this one looks cute. This is a college loving couple who go their separate ways and agree to meet again on Christmas Eve – but for ~ reasons ~, they’ll never see each other again. Until years later, and another Christmas Eve, which they find themselves working on together. Oh, the fate of it all!
It’s time for us to come home for Christmas
Lacey Chabert is the queen of the holiday movies, so at least one of her own from this year’s crop deserves a mention (yes, there is more than one). This one is a cozy mystery in which five strangers are invited to an inn on Christmas by a stranger. They soon discover that an event in the past could unexpectedly connect them. Of course, there will also be romance.
Tony-winning Broadway star Ali Stroker stars as a romance novelist dealing with writer’s block going to a B&B for Christmas. The owner of the B&B looks strangely like the hero of her novels and may well be the key to unlocking her. Hmm.
After years of holiday romances being a straight-only event, there’s actually more than one featuring gay characters in lead roles this year – and this one stars an IRL married couple, Blake. Lee and Ben Lewis. They play old high school friends who get together over Christmas and reconnect in new ways, with a little nudge from Lee’s character’s mother – played by none other than Fran Drescher.
A holiday of sugar and spices
It’s 2020, and it’s the first ever film focused on an Asian American family. Progress? With Tony Giroux, Jacky Lai and Tzi Ma, A holiday of sugar and spices is about a tall town girl who returns to her hometown and teams up with her old high school friend to follow in her grandmother’s footsteps and compete in the local gingerbread house contest (a great thing in this movies). Amusing!