Dreaming of a Brown Christmas?: Five Must See Films this Holiday Season

By Tracey Michae’l

Sure…a white Christmas is fun. Whether your idea of a white Christmas is making snow angels on your beautiful, snow-covered lawn in New Jersey or catching a beautiful post-Thanksgiving sale on white, Egyptian cotton towels in Los Angeles, a white Christmas brings with it a kind of sweet nostalgia that many of us savor during the holidays. But did you know that there is something way more moving than a white Christmas? How about a Brown Christmas?! Yesss, that's what I'm dreaming of this holiday season. This fall/winter, beautiful brown sisters are starring in or rocking out behind the lens of some of the most anticipated movies of the season. Here are five MUST SEE films to check out:

Beyond the Lights (November 14th)
Besides the fact that the soundtrack is bananas, Beyond the Lights, with all its 2014 The Bodyguard-ish themes, is a date-night worthy, sweet romance film written and directed by the much loved Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love and Basketball and Disappearing Acts). It's the kind of cinematic treat that will make you shout "awww" in all the right places and clap wildly when the girl gets her life and then the boy (see what I did there?).

Description: Though she's been groomed for stardom all her life by an overbearing mother (Minnie Driver), singer Noni (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) is having trouble dealing with her success. Feeling unable to cope any longer, Noni tries to kill herself, but luckily Kaz (Nate Parker), the police officer assigned to be her bodyguard, thwarts her suicide attempt. Noni and Kaz feel an instant attraction, but those in their orbit oppose the romance for fear the pair will stray from the course planned out for both of them.

Annie (December 25th)
Although usually a skeptic when it comes to what I call "diversified remakes," I have to admit that I've been impatiently waiting for this film since I saw the trailer earlier this year. That probably has something to do with the fact that I have mentally adopted Quvenzhané wallis as my own daughter's older play cousin who comes over to the house to eat cookies and play Doc McStuffins ever since I was captivated by her debut performance in Beasts of the Southern Wild. Since the holidays are the perfect time to do family time at the movies, pile your kids in the car, get your popcorn and Junior Mints (or put your foil-covered jerk chicken in your big tote bag—I see you.) and check out this good time on film.

Description: Annie is a young, happy foster kid who's also tough enough to make her way on the streets of New York in 2014. Originally left by her parents as a baby with the promise that they'd be back for her someday, it's been a hard knock life ever since with her mean foster mom Miss Hannigan (Cameron Diaz). But everything's about to change when the hard-nosed tycoon and New York mayoral candidate Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx) - advised by his brilliant VP, Grace (Rose Byrne) and his shrewd and scheming campaign advisor, Guy (Bobby Cannavale) - makes a thinly-veiled campaign move and takes her in. Stacks believes he's her guardian angel, but Annie's self-assured nature and bright, sun-will-come-out-tomorrow outlook on life just might mean it's the other way around.

Selma (December 25th)
First, can I say that Ava DuVernay is everything? Okay, great. Writer, Director, crush for every Black female creative in the world, Ava DuVernay is everything. Now that I've gotten that out of the way, I have to say that out of all the films listed here, Selma has had the most buzz. And rightfully so. There's something amazing and authentic about being able to tell your own story and this one is all ours. Co-Produced by Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Productions and featuring amazing performances by David Oyelowo and Carmen Ejogo, this is one of the ones that everyone—black, brown, white, purple—needs to take their green to the movies to see.

Description: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. along with James Bevel, Hosea Williams, and John Lewis (SNCC), wages a historic, but dangerous, battle to secure voting rights for all, culminating in an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala.

Top Five (December 5th)
Rosario Dawson, Gabrielle Union, Chris Rock, Kevin Hart, Cedric the Entertainer, Sherri Shepherd, Tracy Morgan, and Karli Redd. Overkill? Yeah, if overkill means you, buckled over in laughter, are holding your sides in "please make it stop" surrender at the straight foolery that is this film. And in true Rock fashion, there's a message in the mess. Go enjoy yourself!

Description: Though he began in stand-up comedy, Andre Allen (Chris Rock) hit the big-time as the star of a trilogy of action-comedies about a talking bear. Andre is forced to spend the day with Chelsea (Rosario Dawson) a profile writer for the New York Times, whose film critic has just panned Andre's passion project about the Haitian Revolution. Unexpectedly, Andre opens up to Chelsea, and as they wind their way across New York, Andre tries to get back in touch with his comedic roots.

Let me switch things up a bit for this last one. Like everyone else, I love a good drama or comedy featuring names I know. But I have a special place in my creative soul for the independent documentary—particularly when they challenge me and are intelligently done. 

The New Black (Limited release early this year, currently in full release)
Description: Directed by Yoruba Richen, The New Black is a documentary that tells the story of how the African-American community is grappling with the gay rights issue in light of the recent gay marriage movement and the fight over civil rights. The film documents activists, families and clergy on both sides of the campaign to legalize gay marriage and examines homophobia in the black community's institutional pillar-the black church.

So that's the roundup! Whether you are doing a girls night, date night, or riding solo, there's a little something for everyone. Happy Moviegoing!

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