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Holiday movies with brown sugar

Gail Choice | 12/12/2012, 5 p.m.

Christmas movies are my favorite. They always have a happy ending and leave you with that feel-good feeling, like everything is going to be all right. I especially like it when holiday movies have that touch of "brown sugar," or when they are Black-themed, so I've compiled a list of movies I think you might like. Most of them are on DVD, Netflix or some other form of movie viewing.

"This Christmas" (2007) is one of my all-time favorite holiday movies. The all-star cast stars Loretta Devine, Idris Elba, Regina King, Chris Brown, Laz Alonso, and Delroy Lindo, just to name a few. It's the story of the Whitfield family's first holiday together in four years. You know the sparks are going to fly when a long-lost son returns home and another yearns to leave, or when one sister plots against the family while the other finds true love. And that's only part of the story.

"The Last Holiday" (2006). Talk about a feel-good movie! Queen Latifah brings it with this off beat love story that's more about living your life to the fullest resulting in everything falling into place. The movie stars Queen Latifah, LL Cool J, Timothy Hutton, Giancarlo Esposito and Gérard Depardieu.

She's got a mad crush on a co-worker, and she's an undercover wanna be chef. When she's erroneously diagnosed with a deadly disease, she decides to live her dreams, which takes her halfway around the world--and magic happens.

"The Preacher's Wife" (1996). This Christmas remake really touches the heart. Denzel Washington is incredibly charming as an Angel named Dudley who is supposed to be the answer to the prayer of the Rev. Henry Biggs. Biggs' church is in trouble and unbeknownst to him, so is his marriage. Dudley's job is to fix things, but it gets a little complicated.

Whitney Houston is the preacher's wife and Courtney B. Vance is the preacher. The late, great Gregory Hines also stars.

It is a lovely, heart-warming story, and the performances are, of course, excellent.

"Diva's Christmas Carol" (2000). This TV movie stars Vanessa Williams as Ebony Scrooge and TLC's Chilli plays Marli Jacob. Yes, it's a takeoff on Charles Dickens' classic "A Christmas Carol," but this remake has a lot of soul . . . you know what I mean. Ebony Scrooge is a one of the world's most successful pop singers. Yet her coldhearted soul and nasty attitude makes her a great candidate to be haunted by three ghosts in the hopes of changing her evil ways. Lots of singing and a lot of fun.

"Call Me Claus" (2000). Nobody does it better than Whoopie Goldberg, in my opinion. She stars as Lucy Collins, a successful but cranky producer at a home shopping network that hires an actor named Nick (Nigel Hawthorne) to play Santa Claus. She gets more than she bargained for because Nick really is Santa Claus, and he faces mandatory retirement after 200 years on the job. Nick must find his replacement by Christmas Eve or the world will face dire consequences. And he has his sights set on Lucy. Oh, my!

"Trading Places" (1983). Talk about funny! This movie helped put Eddie Murphy on the road to mega-success. This is a film about getting even.

Murphy is street hustler Billy Ray Valentine, and he's being used by two brothers Mortimer (Don Ameche) and Randolph Duke (Ralph Bellamy), who are bickering about whether it's a person's environment or heredity that determines how well they will do in life. They pit Valentine against Louis Winthrope (Dan Aykroyd) who works for them with disastrous results, until Valentine and Winthrope turn the tables on the two brothers.

The above films by no means represent all of my favorite holiday films; I've just run out of space.

Happy holiday viewing!

Gail can be reached at gail@hollywoodbychoice.com