It has been awhile but I am going to try and write more often. Today’s topic is unsurprisingly Christmas, Christmas films to be exact. I have always loved Christmas movies. We never celebrated Christmas really in my Muslim home but I have always loved the spirit of Christmas, in particular the pagan aspects of it but I digress. Around this time of year I inhale a lot of Christmas related content. This year was no different, I have probably seen at least 30 Christmas films in the last month. I may have a problem. So below I will list my winners of this year and some of the ones I am on the fence about (going to leave off the ones I didn’t like in an effort to remain positive). Will try not to spoil any of the films.
- Marry Me At Christmas
A good portion of these films will be Hallmark films, the reigning champion of Christmas films. I have other things to say about Hallmark and my issues with its white heteronormative stance, but will save it for the end. Instead I will discuss how cute I thought this movie was. A movie star’s little sister is getting married in a random small town (of course) and he starts to fall for the wedding planner, love follows. I am a sucker for a natural, immediate chemistry, a quickly resolved misunderstanding, and the ability to communicate what is wrong. And this film had all three. Starring 90210‘s Trevor Donovan, a regular in Hallmark films and Lost Girl‘s Rachel Skarsten, this film worked for me. The glaring lack of people of color made it a bit of a frustrating watch, but I liked it despite its extremely silly plot.
2. Miss Christmas
Another Hallmark film, you can usually tell from the very white protagonists. In this tale we have the tree organizer for a fictional mall in Chicago trying to convince a Scrooge of sorts to give her a tree on his lot in his cute small town (of course). This one won me over with much of the same things that won me over about Marry Me at Christmas. Plus I have a giant crush on Marc Blucas. And I love all Royal Pains alums. The two leads have easy chemistry and the child actor is adorable. The ending is a bit frustrating, I think he should have put in more effort given that HE was the one to mess up but whatevers. Again glaring lack of people of color always complicates my affection for Hallmark films.
3. Enchanted Christmas
This film made me so very very happy. And guess what, despite the very clearly Latinx couple, it is indeed a Hallmark film! The lovely PenaVegas starred in this adorable film about giving your first love a second shot that surprisingly felt Latinx the entire way through. From the family traditions to the adorable daughter, this film gave me a bit of hope for hopelessly white Hallmark channel. I also appreciated that there was no female villain, was worried that Hallmark would bring back that shitty trope they have frequently in their films that pits women against each other. Instead it was a story about how relationships are about timing and choices. Plus white dude is a straight up villain in the film and I was totes down for that.
4. Coming Home For Christmas
Another Hallmark movie and if I am being honest, I shouldn’t like this film. It is rich white people problems in film form; the major conflict is not giving up this major estate for a smaller estate. And the only person of color is the cook. I mean this movie should have grated my last nerve, but I find Danica McKellar so endearing. I think they purposely put her in the most frustrating plotlines because they know she has that something that makes you root for her. If you do not find McKellar endearing in everything, maybe skip this one, it is kind of problematic. But if you need another another reason to watch it, Neal Bledsoe has beautiful captivating eyes. I like eyes and his are magnificent.
5. Angry Angel
This was probably one of the best surprises of the Christmas season. I have always enjoyed ABC Family’s Christmas films, even though they occasionally would pretend Christina Milian was white, so I was excited to see Freeform pick up the tradition. When I saw it was starring Brenda Song, I was super pumped because she is amazing and gorgeous and needs to be in more things. This movie has turned out to be one of my favorites this year, actually one of my favorites of the last few years. Song stars as an angel trying to earn her way into heaven with occasionally disastrous results. It is a story of letting go and not just doing good but also being a good person. And it features a black best friend who is a fully actualized character. I also really appreciated that the film did not shy away from the racial implications of angels of color. Jason Biggs was also adorable in this film as Songs’s angel guide. It was just a fun ride all the way through, I highly recommend watching. I hope it gets turned into a series.
6. Christmas At Holly Lodge
Progress! Another Hallmark film but there is a bit of progress. First, summary. Jordan Bridges plays a real estate guy who is tasked with buying Alison Sweeney’s lodge but falls in love with her instead. Misunderstandings ensue. The main romance is actually quite cute, the two leads have easy chemistry and you root for them to be together. I also really appreciated that no one has to quit their jobs in the end (spoiler, sorry). But the thing that really makes this film is the supporting storylines. There are 3 bonus storylines in this film and each one stars a woman of color. Now it is not as good as being the lead in the film but it’s a start. It made me very happy to be able to watch female characters of color be more than just the supportive best friend in the film.
7. The Christmas Cottage
Another second chance at love film from Hallmark. A workaholic big city designer who values the ability to stay in one place meets up with her ex, the traveling chef, at her best friend’s wedding. Feelings return. The two of them are cute together and I think Steve Lund is attractive. I wish there was more to add but not really, this was enough for me to enjoy the film.
8. Christmas Getaway
A travel writer gets stuck in the same cabin as a cute single father and his adorable daughter. Happiness and cuteness ensues. I just couldn’t stop smiling through the film. I love the leads. So cute.
9. A Very Merry Toy Store
Lifetime went heavy on the nostalgia this year, bringing in a lot of 90s faves. I have actually seen Holiday in Handcuffs so I knew these two would have great chemistry. The plot is a bit silly, two owners of rival toy stores team up against a new giant commercial store coming to town, but it works because these two work together. Melissa Joan Hart is always fun to watch and Mario Lopez is lovely as well.
10. Snowed-Inn Christmas
This one was another great one from Lifetime. The story of two reporters competing against each other for the top spot at their magazine who end up stuck together in a cute little town. The film works best when it is just the two of them going back and forth, they have really good chemistry and should team up more. The Santa Claus plot is silly though. The thing that really did it for me though was the very cute black niece, cute little black girls are my weakness.
11. You Can’t Fight Christmas
This film was a welcome surprise. If you are tired of watching white people fall in love, this is a great watch though I kept thinking of Kaldrick King as I watched.
- A Gift to Remember
I really wanted to like this one. I liked the leads enough, and who doesn’t like a good mystery, plus it had a very cute dog and a bookstore, what’s not to love. The story of a bookstore worker who lives purely in her books who accidentally hits a guy with her bike and he gets amnesia so the hunt to figure out who he is begins, cute nonsense right? But the way it wrapped up in the end was a bit frustrating. I mean he is just going to abandon his students, not cool. The saving grace of the film is that, like Holly Lodge, the supporting character of color got a storyline. And not just a storyline, she got a boyfriend who owns his own restaurant. It was a sweet secondary story that helped keep this film still on this list, albeit in the meh pile.
2. Christmas Next Door
I loved Passions. Like really loved that soap. Like have considered going to the con for Passions (yes, there is a convention, the fandom for Passions is intense). But Jesse Metcalfe has been playing the same guy since he left the show. One of my guilty pleasure films, it is also on my bad day film list, is The Other End of the Line also starring Metcalfe and honestly the character he plays in my guilty fave and in this film could very well be the same person with a career change. Anyway in this film Metcalfe plays a writer of bachelor life books who is a bit of a Scrooge. He gets stuck with his niece and nephew for a few days and falls for his violinist neighbor who loves Christmas. There are two black guys in the film who play best friend-esque characters but they at least have a little agency, eh. The film’s saving grace, surprisingly, are the kids, who are adorable and I hope get used in more Hallmark films. Noticed how I skipped over the female lead, she’s kind of a yawn fest. I mean I like her but she kind of is interchangeable with the parade of blondes that Hallmark puts in these films.
3. The Christmas Connection
I had just watched View From the Top (don’t ask, Mark Ruffalo is one of my weaknesses) when I decided to give this film a try. Remember when there was this whole period where there were so many flight attendant themed content, weird time. Anyway there was nothing particularly wrong with this film about a flight attendant who grows attached to the family of an unaccompanied minor she took care of during a flight, I just didn’t feel the chemistry. A shame really because I really liked the mystery aspect of the film though not how tidily it got wrapped up.
4. Wrapped Up in Christmas
It hurts me that this film is in the meh pile. I wanted to love it so so bad. It had everything I love, a black female lead played by Tatyana Ali. The supporting cast was filled with favorites like Kim Fields and Jasmine Guy. The male lead was played by Roswell alum, and one of my first TV crushes, Brendan Fehr. All the makings for greatness and it just fell flat. The two of them just didn’t do it for me, I didn’t believe it. And if I don’t feel the chemistry then the whole film falls apart for me. The film gets points though for the very cute daughter of Kim Fields who made me miss my little sister.
And there you have it. 2017 Christmas movies. As you can see still overwhelming white, completely heteronormative and these don’t even include the films that I did not like. I want better for next year. I am tired of just watching films about straight cis white people falling in love. We can do better, we need to do better.