The Working Title Films production, budgeted at $45,000,000, was released by Universal Pictures. It grossed $62,671,632 in the United Kingdom, $13,956,093 in Australia and $59,472,278 in the US and Canada. It took a worldwide total of $247,472,278.
While Love Actually received generally positive reviews in Britain, United States reviews were generally mixed. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported that 63% of critics gave the film a positive rating, based on 191 reviews, with an average score of 6.4/10. Its consensus states "'A sugary tale overstuffed with too many stories. Still, the cast charms." On Metacritic the film holds a 55/100 rating, based on 41 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews". In 2013, the movie was analysed on whether the movie was a modern day Christmas classic.
Todd McCarthy of Variety called it "a roundly entertaining romantic comedy," a "doggedly cheery confection," and "a package that feels as luxuriously appointed and expertly tooled as a Rolls-Royce" and predicted "its cheeky wit, impossibly attractive cast, and sure-handed professionalism... along with its all-encompassing romanticism should make this a highly popular early holiday attraction for adults on both sides of the pond". Michael Atkinson of The Village Voice called it "love British style, handicapped slightly by corny circumstance and populated by colourful neurotics". Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 3 1⁄2 out of 4 stars, describing it as "a belly-flop into the sea of romantic comedy [...] The movie's only flaw is also a virtue: It's jammed with characters, stories, warmth and laughs, until at times Curtis seems to be working from a checklist of obligatory movie love situations and doesn't want to leave anything out [...] It feels a little like a gourmet meal that turns into a hot-dog eating contest." Susan Wloszczyna of USA Today wrote "Curtis' multi-tiered cake of comedy, slathered in eye-candy icing and set mostly in London at Christmas, serves sundry slices of love—sad, sweet and silly—in all of their messy, often surprising, glory."
Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly rated it B and called it "a toasty, star-packed ensemble comedy... [That's] going to make a lot of holiday romantics feel very, very good; watching it; I felt cosy and charmed myself." Nev Pierce of the BBC awarded it four of a possible five stars and called it a "vibrant romantic comedy... Warm, bittersweet and hilarious, this is lovely, actually. Prepare to be smitten." Carla Meyer of the San Francisco Chronicle opined "[it] abandons any pretext of sophistication for gloppy sentimentality, sugary pop songs and bawdy humour – an approach that works about half the time [...] Most of the story lines maintain interest because of the fine cast and general goodwill of the picture."
In his review in the New York Times, A.O. Scott called it "a romantic comedy swollen to the length of an Oscar-trawling epic – nearly two and a quarter hours of cheekiness, diffidence and high-tone smirking" and added, "it is more like a record label's greatest-hits compilation or a very special sitcom clip-reel show than an actual movie [...] The film's governing idea of love is both shallow and dishonest, and its sweet, chipper demeanour masks a sour cynicism about human emotions that is all the more sleazy for remaining unacknowledged. It has the calloused, leering soul of an early-60s rat-pack comedy, but without the suave, seductive bravado." In Rolling Stone, Peter Travers rated it two stars out of a possible four, saying "there are laughs laced with feeling here, but the deft screenwriter Richard Curtis dilutes the impact by tossing in more and more stories. As a director... Curtis can't seem to rein in his writer... He ladles sugar over the eager-to-please Love Actually to make it go down easy, forgetting that sometimes it just makes you gag."
Christopher Orr of The Atlantic described Love Actually as the least romantic movie of all time.
Awards and nominations
- Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film (nominee)
- BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Bill Nighy, winner)
- BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Emma Thompson, nominee)
- Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy (nominee)
- Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay (nominee)
- Empire Award for Best British Film (winner)
- Empire Award for Best British Actress (Emma Thompson, winner)
- Empire Award for Best Newcomer (Martine McCutcheon, winner)
- Empire Award for Best Newcomer (Andrew Lincoln, nominee)
- Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Actress (Emma Thompson, winner)
- Evening Standard Peter Sellers Award for Comedy (Bill Nighy, winner)
- European Film Award for Best Actor (Hugh Grant, nominee)
- European Film Award for Best Director (Richard Curtis, nominee)
- London Film Critics Circle Award for Best British Supporting Actor (Bill Nighy, winner)
- London Film Critics Circle Award for Best British Supporting Actress (Emma Thompson, winner)
- Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor (Bill Nighy, winner)
- Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor, Musical or Comedy (Bill Nighy and Thomas Sangster, nominees)
- Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress, Musical or Comedy (Emma Thompson, nominee)