And May All Your Christmases Be Less White: Blister Winter Warmers (Part 1)
Earlier on in December we asked you for your best Christmas film recommendations. We loved your enthusiastic responses, but it really got us thinking... where are all the Christmas films that don't center White people? Luckily for you - we've done the research! Below is part 1 of our Winter Warmer recommendations to keep you going in this (bizarre) festive season.
Black Nativity (2013)
Musicals are par for the course over the holiday season, and Jennifer Hudson’s voice alone is enough to make this one a must-see. Beyond vocals that combine R&B and gospel - a welcome respite from the showtunes so ubiquitous to Christmas film soundtracks - the story is heartfelt and the cast is great. 15-year-old Langston must spend Christmas with his estranged grandparents, as his single mother fights to make ends meet to avoid losing her home. This film deals with complex issues of class, family and faith with sincerity and warmth, hitting that sweet spot between depth and cheese.
The Preacher's Wife (1996)
This film offers every element you would expect in a cheesy 90s Christmas film: painfully naff (‘magical’) chime sound effects, borderline offensive children’s fashion, and buckets of fake snow - but boy is it enjoyable. Heaven-sent Angel ‘Dudley’ (Denzel Washington) is tasked with saving the preacher’s struggling marriage, yet somehow engages in a kind of biblical adaptation of ‘Mr Steal yo Girl’, instead falling for Julia (Whitney Houston) in the process and borderline seducing her, all while her husband is out helping the city’s disadvantaged youth. The plotline is a little sketchy, but the rousing gospel hits, the adorable childhood friendships, and the attempts to milk Whitney’s singing at every available moment spark festive joy, as every Christmas film should. Bonus points: this film is 100% safe for consumption around your Grandma.
Bride and Prejudice (2004)
It’s Bollywood’s answer to Jane Austen… what else? Frankly this film bears such a cursory resemblance to Austen’s source material, that if it weren’t for the pun in the title, you probably wouldn’t spot its similarities. In fact, it is the liberties that Gurinder Chadha takes in this film that make it such a joy to watch. It combines the polite scandal of a period drama with the emotion and vibrance 9and countless song and dance numbers) of a Bollywood film. It may be an odd combination, and it is certainly not one without a critical reception, but when I was growing up, my British-Indian family returned to this film year on year to bring light and laughter into the strange liminal space-time between Christmas and New Year. After all, there is nothing more festive than watching Ashwarya Rai turn men down left, right and centre.
Last Holiday (2006)
How would you spend your Christmas if you thought it was your last? Georgia, a department store worker from New Orleans (played by the positively regal Queen Latifah) decides to spend hers in style, after she is diagnosed with a rare brain condition and told she has three weeks to live. After a couple of glasses of white wine and a good cry, she decides to grab her last days by the balls, and live out as many of the dreams scribbled in her book of possibilities as she can. She quits her crappy job and flies to the Czech Republic to stay in a gorgeous spa resort; she base jumps, orders everything on the dinner menu and radiates such joy that everyone around her is affected and inspired by it. The message of this feel-good festive favourite is to live your damn life, and stop infinitely delaying your dreams into the fantasy land of the future. While it definitely oozes cheese, it’s not without punch and politics, and Georgia’s story offers poignant commentary on class and capitalism. Both warm and real, this film is the perfect tonic to a Covid Christmas.
Stay tuned for part 2 - coming soon!