Love Actually Is A 2003 Time Capsule

This year, there are teenagers who were not even born when Love Actually was released. I hope you feel good about that, because I feel awful. Still, I cannot deny that 2003 was a really long time ago. The global economy and politics were different, technology was worlds apart, clothing has changed enough to look absurd now. I always expect this with 90s movies, but seeing a movie from the 2000s look dated – my high school years! senior year, in fact! I worked at a movie theater when it came out! – is a bit of a shock. There’s no denying it: now that Love Actually is a teenager old, it is a veritable 2003 time capsule.

Keira Knightly’s two pieces of hair

2003 was the year side bangs started to make their way back in after those 1990s curled-under round brush bangs were officially out. But it was a transitional time, and if you wanted a bit of interest you’d just part your hair in the middle and leave two little pieces out in front.

Natalie Had Those Side Bangs, By The Way

See also, my haircut c. 2004.

Keira Knightly herself

Keira Knightly 2003, Keira Knightly 2016. WHERE IS THE DIFFERENCE. She’s like a walking 2003 time capsule.

(I remember being floored that I was roughly the same age as Keira when this came out, because she looked like a beautiful, sophisticated leading lady and I looked like a Cabbage Patch Kid without makeup, or an American Girl doll with.)

This Ringtone

Thomas Sangster As A Child

You may remember that for what felt like a 10-year period in the early 2000s, all child roles were played by Thomas Sangster, Dakota Fanning and Freddie Highmore (that English boy with the brown bowl cut from Finding Neverland). It went on for so long that it seemed almost like they were being pumped with puberty-surpressing drugs. Nothing says 2003 like Child Thomas Sangster.

(Upon further Googling, Thomas Sangster is now a 26 year old man, lending further weight to my theory that he played little boy roles forever)

Maroon Five

Just, in general.

Keira Knightly’s newsboy cap

Or baker boy hat, I guess? These aren’t totally gone, but they were really having a moment in the early 2000s

A VHS tape as a plot device
Dido

as the soundtrack to an angsty scene, in particular.

Norah Jones

as the soundtrack to a slow dance, in particular.

The American girls’ ‘going out outfits’

As discussed in our analysis of mid 2000s fashion, the Going Out Top was a very real phenomenon. That blue sparkly one, in particular, is a prime example of a 2003 Going Out Top in the wild.

Natalie’s off-shoulder Christmas sweater

Way more subtle than the fun yet garish 80s/90s Christmas sweaters, but really throwing me back to the off-shoulder thing that was going on my last few years of high school.

Joanna’s 2003 Pop Star Ensemble

I present: sequin top, a handkerchief hemline, sparkly jeans (totally had a pair) and accent braids. All ready for an American Idol audition.

Lax Airport Security

Things tightened up after 9/11, but the rigid check in/ security protocol as we know it took a few years to develop, making dramatic airport confessions of love possible.

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I’m Just A Girl, Standing In Front Of A Boy…

It’s day one of RomCom Week! We’re kicking things off with one of the most frequent tropes in the RomCom world – the confession of love. Even if you’re not a RomCom fan, you know this scene. It’s the one that you see coming towards the end of the movie, but when the main character does it, it might be in a way you don’t expect, and all of a sudden you’re tearing up and questioning your sanity (No? Just me?). There have been plenty of confessions of love throughout the history of romantic comedies, but here are just a few of our favorites from over the years (in no particular order).

Notting Hill

Notting Hill is one of my top three romantic comedies of all time. Maybe even one of my favorite films, ever. I was obsessed with it in high school, and basically wore out my VHS tape from rewinding it over and over again. This particular scene is one of the iconic scenes in all of movie history, where Hollywood superstar Anna (Julia Roberts) tries to convince British bookshop owner Will that despite the fact she’s a celebrity, she’s “also just a girl, standing in front of a boy… etc. etc. etc.” There’s a second confession of love in the film that often times gets looked over, but at the end, Will realizes he’s been dumb and chases Anna to a press conference and admits he’s been “a daft prick” in front of all the cameras. He proves that the whole ‘celebrity’ thing is out of his mind now, and he’s ready to be with her. I mean.

When Harry Met Sally

Hey, guys, remember the time I hadn’t seen When Harry Met Sally until last summer, and then I promptly became completely and utterly enamored with it? Yeah, because that happened. How have I been living my life having not seen this amazing film?! I don’t know either. But what I do know is that Harry loves Sally, and it’s apparent the entire time they were ‘just friends’. But they just didn’t realize it. When Harry rushes to the New Year’s Eve party to tell her how he loves how she hates things and she straight out just says she hates him, it’s a romance that you know was just meant to be.

Love Actually

While Love Actually has a bunch of confessions of love sprinkled throughout the last half of the film, this one might be my favorite. Jamie learns Portugese just to propose to Aurelia – and in front of her family, friends and co-workers and all of the restaurant. And while it’s amazing that he spent so much time learning her language, I think it’s even more amazing that they fell in love with each other having barely being able to understand each other when they speak. Love, while all around, knows no barriers.

10 Things I Hate About You

Raise your hand if you can recite any or all lines from Kat’s poem. This was one of those movies that made our particular generation, and especially pulls at the heartstrings because of the brilliance that is Heath Ledger. While his redemption performance of Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You on the stadium stairs is unforgettable, it is this scene where Kat outwardly admits her love for Patrick that makes your dark heart turn a lighter shade of red.

The Wedding Singer

Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler are obviously RomCom royalty, and this is one of their best films they’ve done together. The ’80s just work for both Drew and Adam, and they created a wonderful world of the wedding circuit that was the perfect background for two unlikely lovers. In this scene, Robbie (Adam) books a flight to Vegas in hopes of stopping Julia (Drew) from eloping with her boyfriend. They end up on the same flight – as Billy Idol – and wouldn’t you know- Billy Idol helps Robbie orchestrate a special mile-high serenade to Julia. The song is the perfect sentiment and the perfect ending for a couple who meet while working for a wedding.

Jerry Maguire

Speaking of movies I’d never seen until last year – this girl waited a super long time to watch Jerry Maguire. It’s a pretty good movie, y’all. I suggest you see it! Despite the fact Tom Cruise has been ruined to me by XENUscientology, his realization that Dorothy is actually the best thing to happen to him is fantastic. Any time someone confesses their feelings in front of unsuspecting members of society, it’s bound to be good. And while Dorothy was good after he said ‘hello’, I gotta admit the rest of that speech wasn’t half bad, either.

Something Borrowed

I love John Krasinski. He is the reason I even paid to see this movie in the theater. I hadn’t even read the book – but J Kras in a romantic comedy? Yes. I’m available. Despite being more well known for his comedic roles, he’s actually a great dramatic actor, and when he brings that depth to a comedic role unexpectedly, he hits it out of the ball park. He did it with his Jim and Pam scenes and he did it when he confessed his love to BFF Rachel in Something Borrowed. I honestly don’t know how you can say no to this guy after this speech.

Runaway Bride

Okay, don’t X out of the window after you read this, but I’ve only seen like 10 minutes of Pretty WomanI KNOW I KNOW. It’s on the list. I can tell you that during my Notting Hill phase I was just overall obsessed with Julia Roberts, which is why my VHS tape of Runaway Bride is also worn out. Runaway Bride was Julia and Richard Gere’s “sequel” to Pretty Woman, but this time, she plays a far different character who is known for ditching her fiances on their wedding day – hence the Runaway part. Richard plays a reporter who is writing an article about said Runaway Bride and believe it or not, they fall in love. But what makes them a match is that he challenges her in ways she had never been challenged before, particularly egging her on to be her own person, and not just who she thinks her boyfriend/husband thinks she should be. So when she proposes to him – and turns in her running shoes – it’s obviously a big deal

You’ve Got Mail

I recently re-watched You’ve Got Mail for the first time since circa 1995, and let me tell you, it’s quite a different experience. Not only because I am an adult now, but – EMAIL! AOL!! CAN YOU BELIEVE WE HAD TO WAIT FOR A DIAL-UP MODEM TO LOG ONTO THE INTERWEBZ?! I digress. The plot obviously still holds up, and that’s why the basis of the story dates all the way back to 1937. Two anonymous pen pals write each other and fall in love, while in real life, they meet each other and are sworn enemies. The final scene isn’t much a confession of love, but rather a big reveal with very little dialogue. But it doesn’t need it – we know exactly how they feel.

I Saw 10 Ships: The Best Christmas RomComs

When you think of what children’s Christmas movies are really about – elaborate holiday fantasies about befriending Santa, visiting the North Pole, and getting the ultimate present – it’s a wonder that any kids like them at all. Real life never matches up.

You could say the same thing about holiday rom coms. I don’t know why I love watching attractive people fall head-over-heels in love (right in time for Christmas!) while sporting designer wardrobes. I could die alone in clothes from Target, but that won’t stop me from loving a good Christmas rom com. If you love rom coms too, make some time between now and 12/25 to see these three ten ‘ships come sailing in.

Traci’s Picks

Love Actually

What’s a Christmas movie list without Love Actually? Shit – is what it is. I remember going to see this with some friends in high school (at the theater Molly used to work at!) and immediately loving it about 10 minutes in. I was enamored with Christmas in London, hot Karl, Jamie and Aurelia’s unspoken love story, ‘Ifyou real-ly love Christtt-mas’ charming Prime Minister Hugh Grant, pre-fame Chiwetel Ejiofor & January Jones, everything about Emma Thompson, SAM – all of it. I bought the soundtrack and played it on repeat, even when it wasn’t Christmas. Needless to say, it’s not only one of my favorite Holiday RomComs, but all time movies in general. Besides Crash, Richard Curtis brought the intersecting storylines way of filmmaking into the the 2000s, and it’s been an influence on movies ever since.

The Best Man Holiday

Let’s be real. I only went to see this movie theater because of the impressive amount of HBMs (<- click for explanation). I hadn’t see the first one, but I figured I didn’t really need to know much about it, and they would recap me if necessary. And if you haven’t seen it either, the good news is that when you watch The Best Man Holiday, they’ll do just that. This group of longtime friends gets together for some quality time over Christmas, and while there are many laughs and near panty-dropping moments (like the one shown above), all I’m telling you is to watch with a box of tissues next to you. You will probably need them.

I’ll Be Home For Christmas

I wasn’t one of those girls into JTT. Just call me the 1%. I was too busy fangirling over Leo and BSB, I didn’t have time for a silly crush on a 90s It boy. However, I wasn’t exactly immune to his movies either. Like this one, a fun and festive adventure which has JTT speeding across the country in a Santa suit to get from California back home to New York in time for Christmas. Yes, that is Jessica Biel as his girlfriend. Yes, of course, the ride in a one-horse open sleigh together.

Bad Santa

Does this really constitute as a romantic comedy? Maybe not entirely, but these is some ‘romance’ in it, thanks to my girl Lauren Graham and her naughty relationship with Billy Bob Thornton’s Santa. He’s a disaster, but you know who really wins Christmas in this movie? THIS KID.

When Harry Met Sally…

When Harry Met Sally doesn’t entirely take place over the holidays, but a chunk of it does, and of course the end at New Year’s Eve, so I’m counting it. If you’ve read my previous post about this film, you’ll know that I was a late bloomer to this amazing movie, but I’m all in now. WHMS is a reminder that New York at Christmastime is a magical beautiful place – and then you snap back into reality watching Sally try to haul a Christmas tree by herself in the snow down the street. But all of it, the good and the bad, is a reminder why RomComs like this are the perfect thing to watch at the holidays. They make you laugh, make you cry, make you all tingly inside knowing that the season isn’t just about the trees and the snow and the presents – it’s about being around the people you love.

Molly’s Picks

The Holiday

The Holiday is one of my top two Christmas rom coms (it sort of shares first place with Love Actually). It has everything I could want in a Christmas movie: aspirational real estate (both the California mansion and the Cotswolds cottage), just-as-aspirational hair and wardrobe, precocious English tots, a kindly old man, and Jude Law right in the middle of what will someday be remembered as his golden era. Sure, it does fall into the romcom trope of everyone thinking the obviously pretty and charismatic Kate Winslet is some sort of sad sack, but – spoiler! it turns out she’s leading lady material after all. With Jack Black and Cameron Diaz rounding out the main cast, the Holiday is the perfect balance of rom and com.

Meet Me In St. Louis

As with regular-season rom coms, it’s important not to disregard the classics at Christmas. This musical (come on, you knew there would be a musical!) follows a year in the life of a turn-of-the-century family. However, the film ends at Christmas time, and is the origin of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. To be honest, I never would have bothered with this movie if (1) I weren’t in the play in 8th grade, and (2) it didn’t star Judy Garland while she was still … doing well. But it’s worth watching if you like musicals, holiday cheer, and one of the most talented performers of a generation.

The Family Stone

I recommend this rom com with one reservation: I am recommending the whole thing except for the last, oh, five-ish minutes. If you’ve seen it, you know why. But the rest of it is great, sort of a Yuletide This Is Where I Leave You. And like TIWILY, it’s at least somewhat relatable if you have a large family of grown siblings, in-laws, nieces and nephews. The comedic parts of it hit a little harder than a lot of Christmas movies, which stick to the feel-good fluff. Plus, the cast is incredible: Christmas King Dermot Mulroney, as well as Diane Keaton, Craig T. Nelson, Luke Wilson, Sarah Jessica Parker, Claire Danes, Rachel McAdams,  Elizabeth Reaser and Paul Schneider (Mark Brendanawicz himself).

But I mean it about the last 5-10 minutes.

Elf

Elf, a rom com? I say that it is! It may be a children’s/ family movie, but I think it’s one of the funniest films out there. And I know I’m not the only one who thinks so, because just about every other adult I know can quote the whole thing. After a rocky start (the musical Law and Order: SVU episode setup that is Baby It’s Cold Outside), the gentle love story of Buddy and Jovie is a big part of what makes Elf so sweet. What can I say? Smiling’s my favorite.

While You Were Sleeping

If I had to explain to someone what 1995 was like, in the romcom world anyway, I’d show them While You Were Sleeping. This movie is just so delightfully normcore, before we had a word for it. Everyone’s hanging out in Chicago, wearing Gap sweaters and Land’s End khakis, telling lies about their romantic history and falling in love during comas and stuff. If you’re wondering why your mom still calls Sandra Bullock America’s Sweetheart, just watch While You Were Sleeping.

Happy (Fictional) Presidents’ Day!*

*Today is not Presidents’ Day. Monday is Presidents’ Day. Today is Lincoln’s Birthday. But we all know all these holidays blend together because we really never know which day is which, we just used to get them off when we were still in school.

But in honor of ALL the presidents of these United States of America, I think it’s also appropriate to celebrate the fictional presidents who have also put in hard work to pretend to be the leader of the free world. I’m sure I’ve missed some on my list, so chime in with some of your favorites!

And Happy Presidents’/Lincoln/Washington’s Birthday Day!

President Thomas J. Whitmore {Bill Pullman}

Independence Day

Independence Day is so American that I bet anyone who’s not American will feel American while they watch this movie. Especially during this epic speech. While it’s unlikely we’ll need a President to get us through an unexpected alien attack in the near future, I want Bill Pullman in charge of an air strike if that day does come. Or he can just give motivational speeches to me every morning instead. That works too. “We’re going to live on! We’re going to survive! Today we celebrate our MONDAY!!”

President Andrew Shepard {Michael Douglas}

The American President

For some reason, The American President was one of the first movies I remember being my favorite ‘grown up’ movie. I was nine when this film came out. Maybe it was the allure of Michael Douglas. Maybe it was the romance between him and Annette Benning. Maybe TBS just kept playing it over and over again and I had no chance but to like it. Either way, Michael Douglas is one of the few actors who is actually really believable as the president, and if he’s romancing a woman while in office, count me in.

President James Marshall {Harrison Ford}

Air Force One

Presidential Badassery at its finest.

The President {Billy Bob Thornton}

Love Actually

Okay, maybe he wasn’t a good guy, but Billy Bob played a smarmy, womanizing, douchey prez and I can’t help but think a lot of our former leaders had a little bit of this guy in them.

President George Richmond {Dabney Coleman}

My Date with the President’s Daughter

Basically this movie is a classic DCom and I unapologetically love it. I mean, Eric Matthews! (sidenote: if anyone is interested in watching other DComs like Model Behavior & Life Size it’s all on YouTube, per my research for this clip. I know what I’ll be doing on Valentine’s Day)

President Fitzgerald Grant {Tony Goldwyn}

Scandal

It’s no secret we’re #Gladiators here. So what’s a list of faux presidents without our favorite adulterous Commander-in-Chief? He may have a lot of faults, and may not be the best pres the U.S. has seen, but Shonda Rhimes & co. are brilliant and make you root for a man who’s not only married and having an affair, but his wife knows about it and he STILL pretty much ignores her and their kids. And lest us forget he has also **SPOILER** killed a Supreme Court Justice, who was already on her death bed dying of cancer. But ugh, crisis, because Olitz scenes are 2 hot 4 TV.

Yet the scene above doesn’t involve any handsy moves by the pres. It’s a flashback scene which reminds us why these two fell in love in the first place. They’re no dumb dumbs. They’re independently smart and bring out the best in each other. Without Olivia’s faith in Fitz – the faith he never had in himself – he would have never won the presidency (election rigging aside). And without the dedication and devotion he constantly gives to her, she would have never been able to open up and love a man like Fitz (thanks to her Daddy Pope problems). So I guess all cheating aside, this apparent ‘love’ is what makes us (sometimes begrudgingly) root for them after all.

President Josiah ‘Jed’ Bartlet {Martin Sheen}

The West Wing

You didn’t think I’d make a list without the best TV president, did you? He had too many great moments on the show, from the Butterball hotline to the time he *another spoiler alert* got shot to the time he was high on drugs to the time he walked to the Hill, to the entire Two Cathedrals episode etc. etc. But this particular clip is from an episode called The Midterms which originally aired in 2000. He basically tells off this conservative radio talk show host in a tactful, humorous, ‘don’t disrespect me bc i’m the GD president’ way and it’s this attitude that won him two terms in fake office.