Christmas can be one of the busiest times of year. Between shopping and other seasonal chores, when it’s time to relax, there’s nothing better that chilling-out with a holiday film. Below is a selection of 10 films (and one very funny cartoon) reinforcing the message that, in the end, Christmas is never about how much money you can spend—its true meaning is about love, joy, family and friends.
Best Man Holiday (2013)
A chick flick that will even have grown men weeping, The Best Man Holiday reunited the cast of originals and delivers a wonderful sequel that perfectly captures one of the real meanings of Christmas: great friends.
The Preacher’s Wife (1996)
Denzel Washington, Courtney B. Vance and Whitney Houston starred in this Christmas story about an angel, a preacher and his wife. Unbeknownst to the preacher and his wife, the man they’ve befriended is an angel who’s been sent to help save their marriage. This was Whitney at her best.
The Perfect Holiday (2007)
Morris Chestnut, Gabrielle Union and Queen Latifah star in this romantic comedy about a young girl hoping that a department store Santa Claus will help find a new husband for her divorced mother.
A Diva’s Christmas Carol (2000)
Although you might’ve seen a million and one versions of A Christmas Carol, this 2000 film starring Vanessa Williams as Ebony Scrooge is one of the best. Williams plays a nasty singing diva who sees her life from a different perspective after ghostly visitations on Christmas Eve.
The Kid Who Loved Christmas (1990)
This 1990 television feature about a young charming young orphan hoping to be adopted by Christmas, this movie is as warming as Yule logs. Starring Cicely Tyson, Michael Warren, Ester Rolle, Sammy Davis Jr. and Vanessa Williams, it was produced by Eddie Murphy. Attention Sammy fans: this was the Candy Man’s last film.
Black Nativity (2013)
Based on a Langston Hughes play, this drama has a cast that includes Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett and newcomer Jacob Latimore, who turns in the strong performance of a teenage boy trying to reconnect his broken family.
Christmas in Compton (2012)
Keith David plays Big Earl, owner of a Christmas tree lot in Compton, trying keep his son Derrick (Omar Gooden) on the right road towards grown-up responsibility. Of course that’s much, much harder than it sounds.
This Christmas (2007)
Christmas with the Whitfields becomes a mess when all the siblings return home for the first time in years. Secrets are revealed and bonds are tested as they try to join together and help each other discover the true meaning of family—starring Loretta Devine, Regina King, Delroy Lindo, Mekhi Phifer, Chris Brown, Columbus Short and Idris Elba.
J. T. (1969)
A young Kevin Hooks plays J. T. Gamble, a shy, withdrawn Harlem youngster who shows compassion and responsibility when he takes on the care of an old, one-eyed, badly injured alley cat days before Christmas and secretly nurses it back to health. Shot on location on the old gritty streets of New York City, the film co-stars Ja’net DuBois as J. T.’s mother.
Last Holiday (2006)
When Georgia Byrd (Queen Latifah) thinks she’s dying, she books a gourmet European vacation leaving on Christmas day and vows to live her remaining days to the fullest. Co-starring LL Cool J as her love interest, this romantic film makes for perfect holiday fare.
“A Huey Freeman Christmas” (The Boondocks, 2005)
From the first season of The Boondocks (currently on Netflix), this parody of A Charlie Brown Christmas shows Huey losing the meaning of the holiday spirit when he becomes the director of the school play while his gangsta baby brother Riley stalks the mall Santa. Written by Aaron McGruder, it’s brilliant.
Cultural critic Michael A. Gonzales has written cover stories for Vibe, Uptown, Essence, XXL, Wax Poetics and elsewhere. He’s also a columnist for soulhead.com. Read him at Blackadelic Pop and follow him on Twitter @gonzomike.