It's the most wonderful time of the year, especially for holiday movie nerds, like me! Hallmark is already 2 weeks in to their Countdown to Christmas. Lifetime's "It's A Wonderful Lifetime" movies start November 12th and this year everyone from GAC Family to the Food Network to VH1 is producing new holiday movies (I can't wait for RuPaul's The Bitch Who Stole Christmas).
As the new releases come out, and as I have the time to consume them, I will be updating this list. So, enjoy the holidays, take these brief reviews with a grain of gingerbread seasoning and find the movies that put YOU in the holiday spirit!
The Christmas Promise - Hallmark Movies & Mysteries
This is a heartbreaker, but in a good way.
It's one of the most beautiful and powerful Hallmark movies I've seen in a while.
Without giving away too many spoilers, something very sad happens early on, in the story. That leaves Torrey DeVitto grieving and in search of healing.
Torrey plays this perfectly. She is so sweet and believable and likable. She perfectly plays the balance between someone genuinely in pain, but also deep down a truly joyful person,.
It also has a great supporting cast including Karen Holness as the hilarious Christmas-party obsessed friend and the legendary Patrick Duffy as Pops (grandpa).
Then, there is Dylan Bruce who plays 'Joe'. An appropriate name for his character, since about 3/4 of the way through the movie, it gives off major "You've Got Mail" vibes.
If you're someone grieving this holiday season, give this one a watch. It might be the cry and the motivation you need to start healing.
My Christmas Family Tree - Hallmark Channel
It surprises me that this one shot right to the top of my list, so far, for 2021. When I first heard the concept, I wasn't sure if I would enjoy it. But I did!
The story was so powerful, about a young woman, who's mother had died and who never knew her father - but suddenly learns that through a DNA test, her father has been identified.
As she and her biological father meet, it has all the awkwardness you would expect in that kind of situation - expertly portrayed by Aimee Teegarden and James Tupper.
Aimee is even more beautiful, sweet and sincere than she was on Friday Night Lights. And Tupper plays the patriarch of this family, perfectly.
For the first time in a long time, I had no idea how this Hallmark movie was going to end. An emergency call from the DNA agency threatens to blow up this moving family reunion. The plot isn't centered around a love story between a man and a woman. But instead, around a love story about a family.
It will leave you with all the feels (and some tears). Oh, and don't worry - the always handsome and convincing Andrew Walker does still provide some sweet, Hallmark romance.
Christmas in Harmony - Hallmark Channel
This movie was a joyful, musical delight! Ashleigh Murray has the voice of angel (and she is stunning). I loved her character and the love story with Luke James. Then, you throw in some gorgeous choir performances, the legendary Loretta Devine and the Destiny's Child icon that is Michelle Williams and you have one beautiful holiday movie.
Gingerbread Miracle - Hallmark Channel
Is it possible that Jon Ecker is the most handsome man ever to star in a Hallmark movie? Or was his character just so sweet and lovable that it seemed that way? Either way, it's impossible not to fall in love with this guy. He and Merritt Patterson were star-crossed teenage crushes, that had to wait years before finally getting their timing right.
The movie is wonderful. The family relationships, the handsome men (did I mention the handsome men?), the beautiful representation of Latinx Christmas traditions and the gingerbread! While Starbucks and Dunkin' have both chosen to remove gingerbread lattes from their menu, this movie celebrates one of the most important flavors of the season!
Grab a specially shaped cookie, make a wish and fall in love!
Christmas in My Heart - Hallmark Movies & Mysteries
It's always a treat when you know nothing about a movie going in and are delighted by what unfolds. This turned out to be another musical delight. There is something for the country music fans, something for the classical musical fans and then there is Mariah Nash. This little bundle of joy, child star, steals the movie. With all due respect to the beautiful Heather Hemmens, the handsome (and darn good country singer) Luke Macfarlane and the legendary Sheryl Lee Ralph, this is Mariah's movie and she adorably steals each scene. Plus, shoutout to Hallmark for truly embracing diversity in their storytelling.
You, Me and the Christmas Trees - Hallmark Channel
There was a reason Hallmark chose this as the movie to kick off their huge, annual event. It's really sweet and a really smart love story. Danica McKellar (a childhood crush of mine) finally gets to play a scientist, which is what she is in real life. While real Danica may be a mathematician, this character is a tree scientist who must help save one farmer's Christmas Tree business. The love story and mystery solving that ensues is so much fun to watch, I really got caught up in it. And, if you grew up watching Danica on The Wonder Years, like I did...you will love the surprise appearance from the bully, Wayne Arnold (Jason Hervey) who still hasn't outgrown his evil ways.
Boyfriends of Christmas Past - Hallmark Channel
This is a really fun take on the classic Charles Dickens tale; A Christmas Carol. Instead of the ghosts of Christmas past, it's ex's. The movie is a lot of fun, features a lot of handsome men, and is wonderfully diverse in its casting. if you're looking for a sweet rom-com with all the holiday feels, this is one to check out.
Coyote Creek Christmas - Hallmark Channel
This movie is just a good old fashioned Hallmark holiday love story. There's the handsome, single dad played by Ryan Paevey, his adorable son played perfectly by Azriel Dalman and the beautiful marketing expert played by Janel Parrish. Ryan is a real estate investor, brought in to buy up a quaint, mountain Inn. But Janel is in the dark that her family plans to sell it. Thus the drama and meet-cute begins! The scenery is gorgeous, the set design is wonderful and the aforementioned kid is constantly cute. There is also a beautiful, quiet, understated LGBTQ love story that was a wonderful surprise.
Love Hard - Netflix
The good news is that this movie is funny and goes down so easily, it's over before you know it. The bad news...it's not great. While Jimmy O. Yang is the most loveable catfisher ever, Darren Barnet is still handsome and Nina Dobrev is lovely (and hilarious while doing karaoke during an allergic reaction) the film is nothing special. It doesn't quite have the heart of Hallmark, and at times it is borderline superficial. But overall, it's something fun to have on in the background while you make cookies or decorate your tree.
The Santa Stakeout - Hallmark Channel
I can't say I loved this one. The pacing and the story dragged on at times. But, thank goodness for the treasure that is Tamera Mowry-Housley. Everytime she opened her mouth to speak or sing, she brought new life to this movie. Come for Tamera, stay for Emmy-winning Soprano's legend Joe Pantoliano, and forgive the otherwise kinda boring plot.
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