Whether or not the weather outside is frightful, your DVD player is delightful with this fortnight of holiday flicks that appeal to gay and lesbian sensibilities — just in time for our Hollywood issue of movies, coming this Friday.
Home for the Holidays. Claudia Larson (Holly Hunter) navigates dysfunctional family dramedy during her solo trip home for Thanksgiving when her teenage daughter opts out of the year’s celebration. Tensions predictably boil over at the family table, but the weekend is wrapped nicely in a bow when the special guest of Tommy, Claudia’s gay brother, offers a second helping of stuffing. The Jodie Foster-directed Home for the Holidays celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.
Make the Yuletide Gay. Astonishingly, there are few holiday films that feature LGBT characters (this list is fairly comprehensive as a result), let alone films that have gay main characters. But out Texas-native director Rob Williams changed that in 2009 by adding the spritely sweet Make the Yuletide Gay — about an in-the-closet college student (Keith Jordan) whose boyfriend (Adamo Ruggiero) suddenly shows up on his doorstep — to the Christmas-movie canon. MTYG has earned several awards, including Best Narrative Feature at FilmOut San Diego, Festival Favorite at Philadelphia QFest, and the Jury Award for Best Men’s Feature at the Long Island Gay & Lesbian Film Festival.
Holiday Heart. Ving Rhames stars as a Christian drag queen (how’d that fly under your radar until now!?) who takes in a drug addict (Alfre Woodard) and her daughter after his police-officer boyfriend dies. Based on the Cheryl L. West stage play of the same name, this made-for-Showtime movie has an astonishing 92 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Scrooge & Marley. A modern-day variation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, this reimagined version depicts Scrooge as a bitter old queen whose bah-humbug attitude gets a makeover from the ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Future… and Bruce Vilanch.
Love, Actually. Widely regarding as one of the best holiday movies of the new millennium (by straight girls, at least), this romantic comedy told via 10 separate-but-intertwining stories throws the gays a bone with Billy Mack (Bill Nighy) and Joe (Gregor Fisher) — a rock star and his manager, respectively — who decide that getting drunk and watching porn together for Christmas is better than being alone. Because duh. (The writer-director recently revealed he had intended to include a lesbian relationship in the film.)
24 Nights. An unlucky-in-love gay man (Kevin Isola) thinks his new co-worker (Stephen Mailer) may be a gift from Santa Claus himself after making a Christmas wish for a boyfriend. Mental illness works in mysterious ways, y’all. David Burtka — before he was ever a twinkle in NPH’s eye — also stars in this 1999 romantic comedy.
Red Lodge. An impromptu marriage proposal is given at a train station en route to a holiday celebration with family in Montana. In lieu of an engagement ring, there’s a cock ring – because these dudes are classy AF.
Holiday in Handcuffs. There’s not a chance you missed this ABC Family staple that premiered in 2007 – what with all the endless promotion the initial season (Clarissa and A.C. Slater are together on your TV for the first time — watch!) and the subsequent showings during the channels “25 Days of Christmas” schedule. It’s about as well acted as any Melissa Joan Hart/Mario Lopez vehicle should be, but they’re cute, so there’s that.
The Family Stone. As if Carrie Bradshaw’s alter ego, Sarah Jessica Parker, isn’t enough to get you on board with this Home for the Holidays-esque romantic comedy-drama, the brood’s deaf, gay son Thad (Tyrone Giordano) and his interracial partner Patrick (Brian J. White) should be. Plus Dermott Mulroney, Paul Schneider and Luke Wilson!
Too Cool for Christmas. Perhaps the Christmas film with the most interesting backstory, Too Cool for Christmas (a tale about a teenage girl who shuns the reason for the season — and her gay parents — in favor of a ski getaway with friends) actually has a straight-parent companion version that appeared on Lifetime in December 2004. Not much has changed since then — there are still no holiday movies with prominent gay characters on Lifetime — which is why you should support this festive anomaly all the more.
Miracle on 34th Street. Shirley Temple! Do you need another reason?
Holiday Inn. If it’s an Irving Berlin musical, it must be Christmas! There’s a void of LGBT characters in this 1942 black-and-white musical starting Mr. Holiday Bing Crosby and the light-on-his-feet Fred Astaire — well, none that are specifically labeled as such, at least. But we’d be fooling ourselves if we thought there’s nary a nancy-boy singing and dancing around that hotel all day.
Rent. A year in the life of Bohemian New Yorkers set between Christmas Eve 1989 and 1990. You’ll come for the story, but you’ll stay for the soundtrack.
Love the Coopers. Technically you won’t be able to pick up this newly released film on DVD until next year, so instead you’ll have to head to your local cinema to watch yet another dysfunctional family handle the holidays the best way they know how: with binge eating and alcohol. But between bickering and laughing and crying — and more bickering — there’s Anthony Mackie (one of only a handful of black gay characters in a holiday film) as a closeted cop who doles out life advice… even if he should be practicing what he’s preaching.