Updated: Dec 14, 2020
There’s no doubt—2020 has been a strange year, but as we near 2021 we still have the holiday season to celebrate at home with new and classic holiday movies. Here are 10 must-see films for 2020 that include women filmmakers, writers, and producers.
First, let's look at the new movies:
1. Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
If you’re a musical fan, or a whovillian because you can’t get enough of Christmas, this flick is for you! The heartwarming story follows an unhappy toymaker who reconnects with his work and discovers hope with the help of his granddaughter. The fantastical film, released on Netflix in November, became an instant success for its brilliance and talented cast: Forest Whitaker, Phylicia Rashad, Keegan-Michael Key, Anika Noni Rose, and Ricky Martin. One of the most successful female producers in the industry, Lyn Sisson-Talbert, worked 20 years alongside her husband, David E. Talbert, who wrote and directed the movie.
2. Happiest Season
You might see this film posted all over the internet, and it’s really no surprise as to why when you give it a watch or read the synopsis. This romantic comedy is about a young woman who wants to propose to her girlfriend when she discovers her partner hasn’t come out to her family. The film is truly unique, being the first genre to feature a same-sex couple while tackling homophobia and the pain inflicted on the LGBT community. The groundbreaking rom-com was written and directed by longtime LGBTQ icon, Clea Du Vall, who worked with rising and big-name stars like Kristen Stewart, Mackenzie Davis, Dan Levy, Alison Brie, and Aubrey Plaza.
3. Christmas on the Square
Anyone a Dolly Parton fan? This movie features original songs from Parton and is sure to bring you joy this Christmas season. The musical is a reimagined take from the classic, A Christmas Carol, which focuses on a bitter woman who plans to sell a small town in exchange for a mega-mall when she receives a visit from an angel. I wonder who the angel could be? The peppy Netflix film is written and produced by Dolly Parton, and also stars, Christine Baranski.
Cheesy romantic movies are always fun, but what about cheesy romantic Christmas movies? You might want to consider this rom-com, about two strangers who make an agreement to be each other’s platonic dates all year long, until they actually fall in love along the way. Did you see that coming? The film is about embracing the single life, while also tackling the issue of families prying on individuals’ love lives during the holiday season. The movie is written and produced by award-winning Tiffany Paulsen, and stars, Emma Roberts and Luke Bracey.
5. Dear Santa
Instead of the usual rom-com, or musical, here’s a documentary that takes a look at a name and address recognized by the U.S. Postal Service: thee Santa Claus, located in the North Pole. The film takes a closer look into the 100-year-old “Operation Santa” program where hundreds of letters from around the country are adopted by individuals and organizations to send responses and gifts in Santa’s place. Independent documentary and fiction filmmaker, Dana Nachman, makes Dear Santa possible for the perfect time of the year!
Now let’s take a look at some classics:
6. Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas
It seems impossible to miss the TV short, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, which released in 1966. It seems just as impossible to miss the live-action family film that made its debut in 2000, starring Jim Carrey as the reclusive green Grinch, who tries to ruin Christmas for the Who’s of Whoville—that is, until his plans change when he meets the courageous and sweet Cindy Lou Who. The live-action adaptation received multiple awards, and included two female producers: Linda Fields, and Louisa Velis.
7. A Christmas Story
“You’ll shoot your eye out,” “Fra-gee-lay,” “Oooh, fuuudge,” “I triple dog dare you,” the list could go on and on for memorable quotes from the 1983 comedy, which follows the perspective of Ralphie, played by Peter Billingsley, who dreams of receiving a, “Red Ryder air rifle,” for Christmas, while dealing with his kooky parents, little brother, bullies, friends, and one memorable bunny costume. Leigh Brown, an actress and writer, was one of the writers for the humorous flick that runs a 24-hour marathon on TV every year for Christmas.
Here’s another classic take on, A Christmas Carol, that was made long before our pandemic days in 1988, starring Bill Murray as Frank Cross, a successful television executive who leads a cold selfish life. The movie, however, is anything but cold; it’s a funny heart-warming movie with an intertwined love story that’s perfect for family movie nights. No matter what era we’re in—Dickens tale is a timeless classic for all ages; one that was produced by Jennie Lew Tugend, who has produced some of the most memorable franchises, such as Lethal Weapon, and HBO’s Tales from the Crypt.
What happens when you take Will Ferrell and throw him in an Elf costume along with stars like James Caan, Mary Steenburgen, and Zooey Deschanel? You get another classic! In 2003, the hilarious story of Buddy, a human raised to be an elf among Santa’s elves, who travels to New York as an adult in search for his biological father, was released to the world. You can’t help but smile at Ferrell’s portrayal of the child-like elf who scarfs down maple syrup and lives by the quote: “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” The movie’s producers include, Shauna Robertson, and Julie Darmody.
10. It’s a Wonderful Life
Lucky #10 might be the most classic of them all. Jimmy Stewart stars as George Bailey, a man who puts his community and loved ones before himself. On Christmas Eve, George contemplates suicide, but he’s confronted by his guardian angel who shows him a world in which George was never born, erasing his good deeds and the town as he knew it. The wonderful 1946story about family, love, and hope remains an all-time favorite movie that is sure to make us cry, laugh, and remind us to appreciate everything in our lives.
The weather outside may be frightful, but inside, the Christmas season is upon us with the help of holiday-binge films free to stream on Netlfix, Hulu, HBO Max, or right on the TV with channels like Lifetime, Freeform, AMC, and Hallmark. I hope this list helps and I hope whatever you watch for the remaining month of 2020, it's merry and bright!