Although the film industry has steadily improved representation both on and behind the screen, some audiences still have a challenging time finding diverse Christmas movies that reflect their own identity and experience. But the movies that take place during or around Christmas transport us into a glittering place that beckons the holiday spirit, and that inclusivity is key to spreading that cheer to a broader audience.
Most Christmas films follow a predictable formula. Irritating family members, random acts of kindness, conveniently-placed mistletoe, snow dusting lamp-lit roads and trees sparkling in windows – all with a predominantly white cast.
So, whether you’re on the hunt for a Yuletide romantic comedy with Black main characters or a queer musical, there happen to be a few movies that will satiate your craving for diverse winter wonderlands. Don’t worry; each of these diverse Christmas movies we’ve rounded up still incorporates the genre’s quintessential tropes, with each story ultimately revolving around finding joy in life.
With the most wonderful time of the year upon us, it’s time to add some diverse Christmas movies to your holiday binge list. More and more diverse Christmas movies have been released, even in the last decade, so, remember that these are only some to get you started.
If “Die Hard” is considered a Christmas movie, why not “Rent?”
Maybe most don’t think of “Rent” as a classic Christmas movie, but its diverse cast, moving music and holiday fun fit the bill. Chris Columbus, who also worked on Christmas movies like “Home Alone,” “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” and “Gremlins,” directs this film adaptation of Jonathan Larson’s beloved musical.
“Rent” begins on Christmas and ends exactly a year after. From New York’s wintry streets to Angel’s Santa costume, this movie musical includes several Christmasy aspects. But in between the joy of Christmas, “Rent” explores themes of addiction, gentrification, love, loss and more. Be prepared to experience the bittersweet music and relationships of a friend group plagued by flaws and saved by their love for each other. Oh, and did we mention the film’s abundance of people of color and LGBTQ characters?
Starring Kristen Stewart, Mackenzie Davis and Dan Levy, “Happiest Season” delivers on lesbian drama during the holidays. Abby (Stewart) hasn’t felt the holiday spirit since her parents died, but she’s willing to try for her girlfriend, Harper (Davis). In fact, Abby plans to propose to her at Harper’s family’s holiday party.
Unfortunately, things take a disappointing, albeit comedic turn, when Harper reveals she isn’t out to her perfectionist, conservative family. Oops!
Embark on the train wreck that is “Happiest Season,” featuring Levy as a gay best friend who can’t keep a fish alive, and Aubrey Plaza as a hot lesbian doctor – and Harper’s ex.
Spoiler alert: pretty much everyone hates Abby’s love interest, Harper.
“A Sugar & Spice Holiday”
At long last, a predominantly Asian-American cast appears in a Lifetime movie! “A Sugar & Spice Holiday” follows up-and-coming architect Suzy when she visits her hometown for the holiday season. Convinced to dive back into her love of baking, she enters a local gingerbread house competition. And her assistant in the competition happens to be her high school crush (of course). It’s just as corny and familiar as other Lifetime Christmas movies, but with an added nuance of more diverse cultural representation.
How would we not include a period piece? This classic lesbian love story between an ingenue and aspiring photographer and a more experienced but damaged mother breaks the Christmas movie mold, given that some do regard it as a cinematic triumph. From the wistful music to the timeless winter outfits, the beauty of the movie shines through in its undeniably romantic depiction of the holiday season.
“A New York Christmas Wedding”
If “It’s a Wonderful Life” taught us anything, it’s that our paths in life could go a number of different ways. It’s all about choices. Inspired by Jimmy Stewart’s classic Christmas movie, “A New York Christmas Wedding” is a film about a queer Black woman who has the opportunity to see what life could have been like if she had chosen a relationship with her best friend Gabrielle. The out-there plot twists might hinder your ability to sink comfortably into the holiday spirit, but you might as well laugh and move on to the next Christmas movie when it’s all said and done.
“Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey”
Let’s take a break from romantic comedies and head for a movie so over-the-top your eyes might hurt. The movie begins with a grandmother reading a Christmas bedtime story from a stunning, intricately decorated book, and then you’re suddenly tossed into a steampunk Dickensian plot with an all-Black cast. “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey” jumps into the world of musical movie fantasy with a toymaker that brings to life a mechanical matador who wants to be the only one of his kind.
The bullfighter’s selfishness sabotages his inventor’s dream to bring to life hundreds of toys like him by persuading the inventor’s assistant to steal him and his creator’s designs. The inventor is bereft and loses his inspiration. Years later, he is visited by his granddaughter for Christmas. She also has a talent for creation, and her gift brings magic back to his fingers. The plot may be a bit chaotic, but the infectious song and dance numbers will bring a smile to your face.
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