There’s something about corny
that has me in the tightest chokehold every single year around this time, and well into January. If you need me, I’ll be on my couch bingeing every overly saccharine movie about a workaholic city woman who reluctantly goes to a small town — sometimes
hometown — during the holidays only to discover, also reluctantly, that the true meaning of the season is to fall in love with a man who works with his hands and usually wears plaid. The moral of the story is that only Scrooges care about their jobs and that Christmas is
about realizing you’re in love with someone after a few days and sharing a chaste kiss after 90 minutes of sexual tension. Not only do most of these stories go against all my beliefs and values as a workaholic woman who lives in a big city, but they also aren’t as
horny as I typically prefer my movies
to be. And yet, I will watch them all. For whatever reason, they hit the spot like a cup of hot chocolate on a cold, snowy, Christmas night.
The thing is, there are so many of these movies that sifting through the really bad to get to the good-bad (let’s be honest, they all fall on the so-bad-it’s-good spectrum) can be tough, and a lot of these Best Hallmark Holiday Movies roundups are as white as the snow that falls at the most romantic moments in said films. But in the past few years, we’ve seen a new crop of corny rom-com queens emerge like Kat Graham (
A Christmas Calendar
) Christina Millian (
Memories of Christmas
), Kelly Rowland (
Merry Liddle Christmas
), and Tia and Tamara Mowry (too many to count!). So, here’s a breakdown of the best (read: corniest, most comforting, oddly calming)
Black Christmas movies
We all know there’s no better Christmas music than Black Christmas music at church ( Christmas In Harmony (Hallmark) The Preacher’s Wife hive, where you at?) — apologies to Mariah Carey, but you know I’m telling the truth! This corny Christmas movie is set against the backdrop of a church choir called The Holiday Chorus and two competitive exes who are thrust back into each other’s lives. Ashleigh Murray and Luke James play the exes who hit all the right notes. Michelle Williams in a diva role she was born to play (don’t sleep on Michelle’s comedic timing) and Loretta Devine being, well, divine, round out the stellar cast. Photo: Courtesy of the Hallmark Channel. Not all rom-com tropes are created equal. I don’t love some of them (like the heartless big city girl who needs a man to find her soul) and others I am all here for (can’t get enough of the fake romance-to-falling-in-love pipeline). A Picture Perfect Holiday (Lifetime) A Picture Perfect Holiday starring Tatyana Ali and Henderson Wade includes one of my favorite tropes: when two extremely hot people get stuck sharing a room against their will. Ali plays Gaby, an ambitious freelance photographer looking to move up in her industry. In order to do so, she must attend a Christmas photo retreat. Wade plays Sean, a wildlife photographer also in town for the retreat. A mixup leaves them as roommates, and as their personalities clash, they also — wait for it — fall in love! At Christmas! I haven’t actually seen the movie yet, but I think it’s a safe bet. They had me at Miracle In Motor City (Lifetime) Tia Mowry-Hardrict and Mark Taylor. Not only did the two work together over two decades ago on Seventeen Again, they are also the stars of two of the most important shows from my childhood: Sister, Sister and Student Bodies (a Canadian classic) respectively. I was already sold on Miracle In Motor City based on the leads alone, but it’s also a love letter to Detroit (the city I got engaged in) and Motown (the soundtrack of my parents’ youth) featuring the one and only Smokey Robinson playing himself. Mowry-Hardrict plays Amber, a social worker who must take charge of her church’s Christmas pageant and reconnects with her ex-boyfriend Eddie (Taylor) as they attempt to stage the best pageant Motor City has ever seen. Inject it! What’s Christmas without some family drama? If you’re looking for a movie that digs a bit deeper than a wholesome romance and gets into the complexities of grief during the holidays with a side of sibling rivalry, the Chance family is here to deliver it all. The movie follows two sisters Noel Chance (Nafessa Williams) and Naomi Chance (Sharon Leal) who are forced to work together to save their family’s multi-million-dollar film company after a sudden tragedy. Richard Lawson (aka A Holiday Chance (In Theatres and VOD) Miss Tina’s husband) also stars as their dad. There is drama, but you’ll also get some laughs and a little bit of romance too. Yes, one half of the leading men of Single All The Way (Netflix) Single All The Way is white, but since there aren’t a lot of Black gay Christmas romances, a swirl couple is going to have to do (for now — expecting more out of this genre aside from straight Black couples next season!). Single All The Way is about Peter, played by Michael Urie, who is a perpetually single man attempting to avoid his family’s judgment during the holidays and convinces his best friend Nick to pretend to be his boyfriend. Newcomer and extremely handsome ass man Philemon Chambers plays his fake boyfriend (my favorite trope!) and I’m sure this isn’t the last we’re going to see of Chambers or his abs. When Peter’s mom sets him up on a blind date with a hot personal trainer (played by Luke Macfarlane), things don’t go exactly as planned. Another corny rom-com that doesn’t star two straight characters. It’s a Christmas miracle! Under The Christmas Tree (Lifetime) Under The Christmas Tree is Lifetime’s first lesbian romance. It’s about Alma (Elise Bauman) and Charlie (Tattiawna Jones) who cross paths when Charlie finds the perfect tree for a holiday celebration in Alma’s backyard. Sparks fly instantly — just kidding, they hate each other at first, of course. The enemies-to-lovers trope is another Christmas rom-com classic. The animosity soon turns into affection and both learn to take a leap of faith for the sake of the season, and the magic of falling in love. At Christmas! I think about A Christmas Dance Reunion (Lifetime) often — way too often — and the main thing that keeps me up at night is the fact that Chad Danforth and Taylor McKessie deserved MORE. Corbin Bleu (Chad) and Monique Coleman (Taylor) were relegated to the sidekick Black best friends and didn’t get the shine they should have in HSM. Well, Bleu and Coleman are back, they’re grown, they’re THEE stars, and they’re falling in love. High School Musical A Christmas Dance Reunion is about a New York attorney Lucy (Coleman) who is invited to a Christmas farewell at a resort where her family has celebrated holidays in the past where she is reunited with her childhood dance partner, Barrett (Bleu). The two get to know each other again as they plan the Christmas Dance at the resort. It’s delightful and entertaining for the entire family — not just the High School Musical stans. Here’s a Christmas romance that features not one but two characters at a career crossroads, and it’s not just the workaholic woman. You know what that is? A Christmas Treasure (Hallmark) Growth. Jordin Sparks plays Lou, a woman who discovers a 100-year-old time capsule with her grandfather’s journal in it. After uncovering the relic, she questions whether she should move to New York to further her writing career or stay in her hometown, Pine Grove, to take over her family’s local newspaper. Meeting a charming chef Kyle (Michael Xavier) who is also questioning his future helps her on her journey. And so does the magic of Christmas! In the third — yes, third — installment of the Merry Liddle Christmas Baby (Lifetime) Merry Liddle franchise, Kelly Rowland is back as Jacquie and Thomas Cadrot returns as Tyler, the beloved Liddles. They are gearing up for the birth of their first baby as Jacquie’s sister Treena (Latonya Williams) and her husband Julian (Jaime M Callica) are contemplating adoption. If you’re familiar with the Liddle family, you know some mischief and magic will ensue. Give Christmas Deja Vu (BET) Amber Riley all the things!!! That’s it. That’s the description. OK fine, I’ll give you a bit more. Riley plays Kandi, an aspiring singer who’s still reeling from the death of her father. The holiday season isn’t looking great until all she’s ever wanted for Christmas comes true: an angel makes her dreams of becoming a singer a reality. Can a Christmas angel grant my wish of being the lead in a Christmas rom-com opposite Michael B. Jordan? I’ll take a fake dating trope please! Anyway, for now, Kandi’s Christmas miracle will have to do. Loretta Devine also blesses us with her presence in this film.
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