During the holiday season, there is nothing quite like gathering with family and friends. No matter what the family tradition may be, more than likely, we’ll all wind up around the TV watching our favorite holiday films, laughing and reciting every line. This is the time of year to break out all the classic films that we love to watch to get us into the holiday spirit.
To commemorate this season, here’s a list of the Top 12 Black Holiday Films Of All Time.
Cast: Denzel Washington, Whitney Houston, Courtney B. Vance, Loretta Devine, Jennifer Lewis, Gregory Hines, Justin Pierre Edmound
If you don’t go to church during the holiday season, you can at least watch it on TV. A bona fide classic holiday film is The Preacher’s Wife. A remake of the 1947 film The Bishop's Wife, The Preacher’s Wife tells the story of Rev. Henry Biggs (Courtney B. Vance), a pastor of a struggling Baptist church in New York City. The church membership and finances are declining, and Henry is feeling the pressure from real estate developer Joe Hamilton (Gregory Hines) to sell the church so that Hamilton can build luxury condominiums in its place.
While serving the needs of the church, Henry is forgetting the needs of his wife, Julia (Whitney Houston), who feels like their marriage was falling apart. Henry’s prayer to God for help is answered when Dudley (Denzel Washington), an angel, arrives on the scene to show him what’s really important.
Not only is The Preacher’s Wife a great holiday film but the soundtrack was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Music, Original Musical or Comedy Score featuring the legendary Whitney Houston returning to her gospel roots.
Cast: Vanessa L. Williams, Ebony Scrooge, Vanessa Morgan, Helena-Alexis Seymour, Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas, Brian McNamara Kathy Griffin, John Taylor Amanda Brugel Olivia, Stephanie Biddle
A Diva's Christmas Carol is a 2000 Christmas television film starring Vanessa L. Williams, Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas, Brian McNamara and Kathy Griffin. The film is based on the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol, featuring a high-strung, narcissistic pop singer who is brought back to reality after being visited by three Christmas spirits.
Ebony Scrooge (Vanessa Williams) is one of the most popular singers in the world, but she lacks the Christmas spirit and lives up to her last name. After receiving visits from Marli Jacob (Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas), who died in a car crash, and the spirits of Christmas past, present and future, Ebony Scrooge finally understands the true meaning of Christmas and transforms into a brand new Christmas diva.
Cast: Whoopi Goldber, Nigel Hawthrone, Taylor Negron, Victor Garber
Call Me Claus is a television comedy film movie starring Whoopi Goldberg and Nigel Hawthorne (in his final performance). The movie involves Santa Claus (Hawthorne), who needs a replacement Santa after serving for the past 200 years. He decides on Lucy Cullins (Whoopi Goldberg), an eccentric, grouchy shopping network executive who hires him to promote Christmas decorations and presents on the network. When Lucy hires Nick to play Santa Claus, she gets way more than she bargained for.
Cast: Ice Cube, Mike Epps, John Witherspoon, Don "D.C." Curry, Anna Maria Horsford, Clifton Powell, Terry Crews, Katt Williams, K.D. Aubert
Anytime you have Ice Cube, Mike Epps, John Witherspoon, Kat Williams, Don “D.C.” Curry and Terry Crews together on a film, big laughs are guaranteed. In the third and last installment of Cube’s Friday series, Friday After Next picks the crazy tales of Craig (Cube) and Day-Day (Epps), who are back at it as mall security cops after the house is robbed by a hood Santa Claus (Rickey Smiley) who swiped all of their Christmas gifts and their rent money.
Behind on their rent and being threatened by their landlord and her fresh-out-of-prison son, Damon (Crews), Craig and Day Day throw a party to come up with the rent money.
Cast: Queen Latifah, LL Cool J, Timothy Hutton, Gérard Depardieu, Alicia Witt, Giancarlo Esposito
Based loosely on the 1950 British film of the same name by J. B. Priestley, Last Holiday stars Queen Latifah as Georgia, a store assistant who is suddenly faced with life-changing news that she has a rare brain condition and now only has a few weeks to live.
Instead of going into a deep depression, Georgia switches it up and immediately decides to spend her last bit of change on a luxury holiday in Europe before she dies. Georgia lives her best life across the pond and makes the most of the little time that she thinks she has left.
Cast: Gabrielle Union, Morris Chestnut, Charlie Murphy, Malik Hammond, Jeremy Gumbs, Khail Bryant, Faizon Love, Jill Marie Jones, Katt Williams, Queen Latifah, Rachel True, Terrence Howard
Finding love during the Christmas season definitely will make it a perfect holiday. In The Perfect Holiday, Nancy (Gabrielle Union), a divorced mother of three, is feeling mad lonely during the holidays. Picking up on her mother’s bad vibe, Nancy's youngest daughter, Emily (Khail Bryant), concocts a plan to try to make her mom happy again. She asks Benjamin (Morris Chestnut), who works as a department-store Santa Claus, to pay Nancy a compliment.
Benjamin, who is also a struggling songwriter, seems to know the right words to lift Nancy’s spirits. After falling in and out of love, both Nancy and Benjamin ultimately discover what Christmas is all about.
Cast: Loretta Devine, Delroy Lindo, Idris Elba, Regina King, Sharon Leal, Columbus Short, Laz Alonso Ricky Harris, Keith Robinson, Jessica Stroup, Lupe Ontiveros, Lauren London, Chris Brown
Produced and directed by Preston Whitmore and Will Packer and based on the 1970 Donny Hathaway song of the same name, This Christmas centers on the matriarch of the Whitfield family, Shirley Ann "Ma'Dere" Whitfield (Loretta Devine), her lover (Delroy Lindo) and all her children who have who returned back home for the holiday season for the first time in four years. The siblings, played Idris Elba, Regina King, Sharon Neal, Chris Brown, Lauren London, Columbus Short and Laz Alonzo, all bring the funny and the drama that’s sure to take place whenever family gets together.
Cast: Morris Chestnut, Taye Diggs, Regina Hall, Terrence Howard, Sanaa Lathan, Nia Long, Harold Perrineau, Melissa De Sousa, Monica Calhoun
After releasing the classic The Best Man in 1999, 14 years later, the sequel The Best Man Holiday hit theaters. Written and directed by Malcolm D. Lee, The Best Man Holiday picks up 15 years later since the crew were last together at the same place, at the same time. College friends Lance (Morris Chestnut), Harper (Taye Diggs), Candace (Regina Hall), Quentin (Terrence Howard), Robyn (Sanaa Lathan), Jordan (Nia Long), Murch (Harold Perrineau), Shelby (Melissa De Sousa) and Mia (Monica Calhoun) finally reunite over the Christmas holidays, and major laughs and drama ensue.
Cast: Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Tyrese Gibson, Jennifer Hudson, Mary J. Blige, Jacob Latimore, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Nas
Black Nativity was originally written by Langston Hughes in 1961, but in 2013 the stage play got a theatrical release. The updated version tells the story of Langston (Jacob Latimore), who’s being raised by a single mother (Jennifer Hudson), and all of the challenges they are facing.
Jacob makes his way to New York City to spend the Christmas holiday with his grandparents, the Rev. Cornell Cobbs (Forest Whitaker) and his wife, Aretha (Angela Bassett), who have a strained relationship with him and his mother. Soon thereafter, Langston refuses to comply with the Cobbs’ strict rules and rebels against them. This leads him on a path back to his mother, where he finds the value of faith, healing and reconciliation with his entire family. On top of all that, the singing throughout the film is epic.
Cast: Malinda Williams, Brad James, Victoria Rowell, Gregory Alan Williams, DeEtta West, Jason Weaver, Tamara LaSeon Bass, Karon Joseph
What do you do when your family is pressuring you to get married around the holiday season? You fake it until you make it. That’s exactly what takes place in Marry Me for Christmas. When Marci (Malinda Williams) a single, successful business woman tries to please her family (Victoria Rowell, Gregory Alan Williams, DeEtta West, Jason Weaver, Tamara LaSeon Bass) during the holidays, she pretends to be engaged to her employee (Brad James) as they try to put the "marry" in Merry Christmas and impress her demanding family. Can they pull it off? The Marry Me for Christmas series spun two other sequels, A Baby for Christmas and Merry Christmas, Baby.
Cast: Kimberly Elise, Mo'Nique, Nicole Ari Parker, Gabrielle Union, Keri Hilson, Jessie Usher, Danny Glover, Omar Epps, John Michael Higgins, D.C. Young Fly, and Romany Malco
When the patriarch of the family summons everyone home for Christmas, you show up even if you don’t really want to. That’s exactly what goes down in David E. Talbert’s Almost Christmas, and sparks fly.
Walter Meyer (Danny Glover) is a recently retired mechanic and a widower. In an attempt to cope with the loss of his wife, he invites daughters Rachel (Gabrielle Union) and Cheryl (Kimberly Elise) and sons Christian (Romany Malco) and Evan (Jessie T. Usher) to his house for a family celebration. Walter discovers that with all the fighting between his children and the craziness of the rest of the family, it will take a Christmas miracle for them to survive the next five days together.
Cast: Eddie Murphy, Dan Aykroyd, Ralph Bellamy, Don Ameche, Denholm Elliott Jamie Lee Curtis Kristin Holby Paul Gleason, James Belushi, Bo Diddley
It’s easy to forget that Trading Places is not only a legendary comedy but one of the greatest holiday films of all-time. From the beginning of the Christmas season and going all the way to New Year’s Eve, Trading Places captures the two different worlds of the “haves” and the “have nots,” race, class and poverty in a hilarious way.
The films tells the story of an extremely successful, upper-class executive, Louis Winthorpe III (Dan Aykroyd), and a down on his luck hustler, Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy), who are pawns in a game set up by two brothers, Mortimer (Don Ameche) and Randolph Duke (Ralph Bellamy), who own a commodities brokerage in Philadelphia. An employee of the Dukes, Winthorpe is framed by the brothers for a theft and is fired. Then, the brothers place Valentine as a new broker in their firm with street-smarts. When Winthorpe and Valentine uncover the plot, they come up with a plan of their own to run the Dukes out of business.
Noted for classic performances from Saturday Night Live alums Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd (who rocks one the grossest Santa suits ever), Trading Places is one the essential Christmas comedies that's sure to have everyone laughing during the holiday season.
Photo Credit: Universal Studios.