Monday, December 31, 2018

Ranking Hallmark's 2018 Christmas Movies

For the last two months, Hallmark has treated us to new Christmas movies multiple times per week. I've watched countless hours of Hallmark programming: according to the Countdown to Christmas app, I watched 15 of 21 new Hallmark Channel movies and 12 of 17 Hallmark Movies & Mysteries offerings. I also watched portions of several of the other new movies, and I've caught many favorites from past years when they aired, as well.

Over on Instagram, I've been posting my reactions to each new movie in my stories. My sister suggested I rank the movies here, and of course I thought that was a great idea 😄. I also thought it would be fun to include the "hot takes" from my stories here.

Side note: if you want a hilarious take on these movies, check out the Deck the Hallmark podcast. Bran, Panda, and Dan covered every movie this season in a way that only they can ... definitely worth the listen!

Now that I've had a chance to compare these movies head-to-head, some of them have risen (or fallen) in the rankings ... so the stars here might not match the stars I initially gave. I'm going to rank from last to first, 'cause it's more fun that way, right? So, here we go!!!

27. A Christmas for the Books ⭐⭐ (Hallmark Movies & Mysteries)

This movie wasn't originally on Hallmark's schedule—it was added about a week before it aired. Hallmark bought this film instead of making it, and it shows. 

26. Entertaining Christmas ⭐⭐ (Hallmark Channel)

I like Jodie Sweetin. I like Brendan Fehr (A Christmas Kiss is one of my favorite Christmas movies, even though it's totally ridiculous). But together, they don't make magic, that's for sure!

25. Last Vermont Christmas ⭐⭐1/2 (HMM)

Like A Christmas for the Books, this movie was not made by Hallmark, and it just has a slightly different feel to it. The leads lacked chemistry, a sub-plot with the little sister felt like it was trying for slapstick comedy and missed, and overall the movie just wasn't very memorable. 

24. Christmas at Graceland ⭐⭐1/2 (HC)

This movie was ... not good. The thing is, I enjoyed the story quite a bit. But some of the acting was downright terrible, and that made the movie nearly unwatchable, at least until the end. I loved the concert at the end, and that was the one time that Kellie Pickler was in her element.

23. Pride, Prejudice, and Mistletoe ⭐⭐1/2 (HC)

Though this wasn't the worst movie or my least favorite of the season, it was the biggest disappointment for me. I generally like Lacey Chabert's movies, and I love all things Jane Austen, so I had pretty high hopes for this one. Plus, Mark Wiebe, who was in the absolutely adorable A Very Merry Mix-Up, had a supporting role, and it was fun to see him again. But overall it was a major let-down—boring, zero chemistry between leads, and virtually no Austen to be found.

22. Jingle Around the Clock ⭐⭐⭐ (HC)

This was a story I liked with a romance I didn't care about. Actually, I wanted more of the romance between the male lead's sister and the female lead's (male) best friend. And no, I don't remember any of the names at this point!

21. A Veteran's Christmas ⭐⭐⭐ (HMM)

Confession time: If I hadn't listened to the Deck the Hallmark episode about this movie (it's episode 7) before watching, I probably would have liked it a lot more. But once that horror movie image was in my head, I was seeing the signs everywhere 🤣. That said, I cried a lot while watching. Those pets get you every time!

20. It's Christmas, Eve ⭐⭐⭐ (HC)

I remember virtually nothing about this movie except that I really liked "You and Me and Christmas," the LeAnn Rimes song that was on it. It's definitely a middle-of-the-road movie for me; I have no strong feelings about it.

19. Christmas in Love ⭐⭐⭐ (HC)

Brooke D'Orsay carries this movie, without a doubt. Also, there's a kiss with 30 minutes left in the movie; whenever there's an "early" kiss, the movie always goes up in my estimation, no matter how good or bad it is overall. (Seriously, I'm getting so tired of the "movie ends with the couple's first kiss" formula. Let's mix it up a bit!)

18. Once Upon a Christmas Miracle ⭐⭐⭐1/2 (HMM)

While this is a good story, I found it a little boring. But it's a true story, and I'm a sucker for those!

17. Return to Christmas Creek ⭐⭐⭐1/2 (HMM)

While I liked both of the leads, I didn't particularly care about their story. But I loved the sub-plot with Steven Weber and Kari Matchett. 

16. Christmas at Pemberley Manor ⭐⭐⭐1/2 (HC)

While I'm not a huge fan of Jessica Lowndes, I love Michael Rady ... and this pairing actually worked for me, even though they didn't have loads of chemistry. Of the two Jane Austen-themed movies this season, this one was by far the best. It's not overly similar to Pride & Prejudice, but the basics are there. This was the very first new movie to air this year, and I actually still remember a lot about it, so that says something!

15. A Majestic Christmas ⭐⭐⭐1/2 (HC)

While this was fairly predictable, it was also engaging and interesting, if a little long. I thought the female lead (Jerrika Hinton, who was in the aforementioned A Christmas Kiss) was way better than the male lead, so their pairing didn't really work for me. Also, I would welcome a multiplex in my hometown—I don't understand why the people of this town were so against it.

14. Christmas at the Palace ⭐⭐⭐1/2 (HC)

I was surprised by just how much I liked this movie! When I read the synopsis, I thought it sounded dumb, but it was actually written and acted well. Points off for the super-fast declaration of love.

13. Christmas Joy ⭐⭐⭐1/2 (HC)

I really like Danielle Panabaker (The Flash!!!), and this was a good role for her. The leads had great chemistry, but Ben (Matt Long) drove me nuts—he was too overdramatic.

12. Christmas in Evergreen: Letters to Santa ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (HC)

Christmas in Evergreen was one of my least favorite of 2017's originals, so my expectations for Letters to Santa were very low...and I was so pleasantly surprised! I would be happy to return to Evergreen for future movies—I like the episodic feel this has.

11. Christmas on Honeysuckle Lane ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (HMM)

This isn't the best Alicia Witt Christmas movie (hello, A Very Merry Mix-Up and Christmas List), but it's still quite enjoyable. I loved the sibling dynamics, and the mystery surrounding the mom's former love was intriguing.

10. Mingle All the Way ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (HC)

Jen Lilley is one of my favorite Hallmark actresses—she elevates every movie she's in. This is similar to two other Hallmark films where people agree to be each other's +1 through the holiday season (Hitched for the Holidays and The Mistletoe Promise), but it's still a fun concept, and this one is slightly different because the two are matched through an app. While the acting wasn't always great, the film was always enjoyable.

9. Homegrown Christmas ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (HC)

This is not a great movie. There are plot holes you could drive a truck through. Yet I still loved every second I spent watching it. Victor Webster and Lori Loughlin are completely charming, and I enjoyed watching the love story play out.

8. Time for Me to Come Home for Christmas ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (HMM)

This movie has one of the dumbest (and certainly the longest) titles of the season, but it's a really good movie! It has a ton of plot—it's way more complex than many of the other movies. With all that plot comes several plot holes, but it's still quite enjoyable. 

7. Small Town Christmas ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (HMM)

I really enjoyed this movie about a writer who based her novel on the hometown of a former coworker. When they reunite in that hometown, sparks fly. I could've done without the love triangle aspect, which wasn't really a love triangle but looked like it from the outside, but otherwise the film was wholly enjoyable.

6. Road to Christmas ⭐⭐⭐⭐1/2 (HC)

This road trip movie was such fun! It was my first favorite of the season (it did get passed up by a few movies, as you'll see). Also, bonus points for being partially set in Nebraska, the state Hollywood forgot.

5. Christmas Everlasting ⭐⭐⭐⭐1/2 (Hallmark Hall of Fame)

Hallmark Hall of Fame movies are usually a bit better (production and acting-wise) than regular Hallmark movies, and that's definitely the case here. While Christmas Everlasting wasn't my favorite film of the season, I did like it a lot. It's based on the book The Second Sister, and I did like it just a hair more than I liked the book. (See my post comparing the two here.)

4. Christmas Bells Are Ringing ⭐⭐⭐⭐1/2 (HMM)

This is such a sweet movie! I didn't particularly care about the romance, even though I liked both leads. But the relationship between Sam, her dad, and her stepmom was so sweet, and I loved watching Sam and her stepmom get closer. Emilie Ullerup is totally believable—she's one of my Hallmark faves!

And now here's where we have a major divide. My top three movies are SO FAR ahead of the rest. I loved them all so much, and it was like splitting hairs trying to put them in order.

3. Christmas at Grand Valley ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (HMM)

Hands down, Danica McKellar and Brennan Elliot are my favorite pairing this season. Their chemistry is off the charts, their banter is fantastic, and there's a kiss with 40 minutes left in the movie

2. A Shoe Addict's Christmas ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (HC)

This movie is such fun! A big part of that is Jean Smart as the guardian angel. She's just fantastic! Also, there's a mystery regarding the man Noelle would have married had her life been different, and I totally fell for the filmmakers' trick (I know other people didn't, but I appreciated it!). This is based on a novella, and it's so much better. (Maybe I'll get that Book or Movie post up someday ...) 

1. A Godwink Christmas ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (HMM)

Oh, how I love this movie! I actually watched it again today :-) It feels like it could happen in real life, especially Paula's journey of accepting a proposal because it seems like the right thing to do and then discovering that's not what she really wants. And, well, it really DID happen! The real Paula and Gery are pictured at the end. I don't know how closely the movie follows the real-life story, but I certainly loved the movie's story!

Well, there you have my rankings! What did you think of Hallmark's offerings this year? I'd love to hear your opinions!

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