For generations, Black folks have gathered ‘round living room sets or taken family trips to movie theaters to get lost in joyful, snowy on-screen worlds for the winter holidays. Sink your teeth into this collection of Black holiday fare, from TV movies and indies to bonafide blockbusters that will distract you from the fact that you’re eating your weight in ham and still haven’t completed your Christmas shopping.
Here are 14 Black holiday films, ranked.
14) Miss Me This Christmas
The holidays are a time for love, but what happens when love is soured by infidelity? Erica Ash (Survivor’s Remorse), Redaric Williams (The Quad, Young and the Restless), Eva Marcille (Real Housewives of Atlanta, America’s Next Top Model), Allen Maldonado (Black-ish) and Nathan Davis Jr. (Detroit) star in this story about “the perfect couple.”
13) The Kid Who Loved Christmas
Filled with tragedy and triumph, this sweet story focuses on an orphan named Reggie. A short time before his adoption, the wife of the couple dies and her husband is left to prove if he’s fit to raise the child. A tearjerker indeed.
12) Santa, Baby!
Do your homework, kids. Rankin/Bass Productions has gifted us all with a lifetime of seasonal staples (see: Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty The Snowman). In one of their latest animated specials—voiced by Gregory Hines, Patti LaBelle, Vanessa Williams and Eartha Kitt—songwriter Noel struggles to make a hit song. But after the wish of his daughter Dakota, he might have a chance.
11) Black Nativity
Based on Langston Hughes’ play, this come-to-Jesus movie centers on Langston (Jacob Latimore) as he embarks on a spiritual journey. Angela Bassett, Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Hudson, Forest Whitaker, Tyrese, Vondie Curtis-Hall and Nas help bring this film to life.
10) The Last Holiday
What would you do if you knew this Christmas would be your last? For Georgia Byrd (Queen Latifah), she ditches her boring life for a spontaneous life makeover. Her crush? LL Cool J. Watch to see what happens.
9) The Perfect Holiday
A single mother of three and a divorcee, Nancy (Gabrielle Union) is a woman who could use a good man under her Christmas tree. Enter Benjamin (Morris Chestnut), a shopping mall Santa and aspiring songwriter. With help from her kids, Mrs. Christmas (Queen Latifah) grants Nancy’s wish. Additional laughs brought to the screen by Charlie Murphy, Katt Williams, Faizon Love and Terrence Howard.
8) The Fat Albert Christmas Special
Created by Bill Cosby, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids was an animated childhood favorite in the ‘70s and ‘80s. This particular primetime special finds the Cosby Kids rehearsing for a Christmas pageant they plan to perform for their families at their junkyard clubhouse.
7) Holiday Heart
During a time of need for each of them, drag queen Holiday (Ving Rhames), takes in a drug addict and her 12-year-old daughter Niki (Jessika Quynn Reynolds) to create a makeshift family. Through a series of heartaches, all three define what family truly is. Directed by Robert Townsend, Holiday Heart will have you crying and holding your family just a little tighter.
6) Almost Christmas
Keeping his bickering children from ruining holiday tradition is no easy task for Walter Meyer (Danny Glover), the patriarch of the family. Starring Mo’Nique, Gabrielle Union, Kimberly Elise, Omar Epps, Nicole Ari Parker, Keri Hilson, Jessie Usher, and Romany Malco, the film is not only a star-studded laugh factory but a story of family, grief and forgiveness.
5) A Diva’s Christmas Carol
Singer Ebony Scrooge (Vanessa Williams) makes Ebenezer look like a kind-hearted Christmas caroler. In this VH1 Charles Dickens remake, the prima donna gets a reality check and a change of heart.
4) Best Man Holiday
The Best Man sequel tugs at your heartstrings much more than watching Lance Sullivan (Morris Chestnut) weep at the altar. As he prepares to face the gridiron on Christmas Day and masks his wife Mia’s (Monica Calhoun) terminal illness, the college gang tries to mend its various, worn relationships and make the most of their reunion.
3) This Christmas
This ensemble film is centered around a family navigating secrets, laughs and love while trying to survive the first holiday in years that everyone’s home. Named for the unofficial Black theme song for Christmas, Donny Hathaway’s “This Christmas,” this now classic holiday gem continues to age as well as Regina King, who stars with Loretta Devine, Idris Elba, Sharon Leal. Chris Brown, Columbus Short, Lauren London, Delroy Lindo, Keith Robinson and Mekhi Phifer round out the cast.
2) Friday After Next
Is there a holiday film funnier? Absolutely not. Ice Cube’s third installment in the Friday series is a gut-achingly hilarious watch from beginning to end. After Santa Claus (Rickey Smiley) robs Day Day (Mike Epps) and Craig (Cube) on Christmas Eve, the duo meets a host of old and new characters, including Katt Williams’ Money Mike, on a quest to raise their rent money.
1) The Preacher’s Wife
Though Whitney Houston is our angel now, it’s Denzel Washington who plays a charming, saintly guardian named Dudley who comes to save a Baptist church. Starring Courtney B. Vance and featuring an award-winning soundtrack, this ‘96 feature is a timeless and unforgettable holiday tour de force.