‘Tis the season to be merry and watch every new holiday movie as it debuts. Each Monday, we’ll take a look back at the previous weekend’s premieres to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year with a new list of superlatives.
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A Cowboy Christmas Romance gave us the first sex scene in a Lifetime holiday movie in years (shout-out to 2009’s 12 Men of Christmas), when cowgirl-turned-real estate closer Lexie (Jane Kramer) and rancher/single dad Coby (Adam Senn) took their kitchen makeout to the barn. It would have been a literal roll in the hay if Coby hadn’t been urged to fetch a cot instead.
Newest Hallmark Heroine
The woman who’s so stressed out at Christmas she wishes it didn’t exist! Christmas disappeared in Where Are You, Christmas?, Countdown to Christmas’ opening weekend B&W winner. In Hallmark Movies Now’s Rescuing Christmas, starring Rachael Leigh Cook, it’s gone again!
Most Dramatic Meet Cute
We haven’t seen this one before: In Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ To All a Good Night, small-town photographer Ceci (Kimberley Sustad) calls for help after stranger Sam (Mark Ghanimé), an Army vet-turned-real estate developer, crashes his motorcycle near the land she inherited from her late father. His odd “marry me” request before he passed out was later explained…
Best Delivery of Exposition
Bravo to Ghanimé (and To All a Good Night writer Betsy Morris) for keeping us riveted as we were told how Sam had met and bonded with Ceci’s father and was inspired to get his life back together after he lost friends in combat. Like Ceci, we gasped when we realized Sam was reciting from memory the letter her dad had mailed him, asking him to check on her this Christmas. “And P.S. If it comes up, tell her that I said to go ahead and marry you, because she healed my heart and she might heal yours, too.” Tears!
Most Terrifying Prop
We think it’d be hilarious if this evil-eyed musical Santa collectible that haunted To All a Good Night‘s Ceci surfaces in the background of Sustad’s holiday movies for years to come.
Kimberley Sustad popping up as a barista in frequent costar and cowriter Paul Campbell’s latest Hallmark Channel offering Magic in Mistletoe was great. As was Alison Araya, who played Sustad’s pet store coworker in 2014’s The Nine Lives of Christmas, costarring in To All a Good Night as the B&B owner with a kleptomaniac dog. (Buddy Valastro portraying a baking mentor from New Jersey named Bobby in Lifetime’s Yes, Chef! Christmas, however, was just confusing. Why couldn’t he have just played himself?)
Most Welcome Trend
We love that more movies are taking place in a world where real pop culture exists. Hallmark Channel’s excellent Hanukkah movie Round and Round goes all in, allowing Dungeons & Dragons-loving, Richard Donner’s Superman-adoring, comic book-reading geeks to help Rachel (Vic Michaelis) end her Groundhog Day-style loop. (Also fun: Rachel’s dad, played by Suits‘ Rick Hoffman, has a brother named Harvey!)
Biggest Headscratcher, In a Bad Way
In LMN’s surprisingly enjoyable Silent Night, Fatal Night, best-selling mystery writer Mallory Dearborn (Alex Camacho), who wanted to end her signature detective series, is kidnapped by her money-hungry agent (Matthew Pohlkamp) and announced as dead “from natural causes” so he can force her to write one more novel that he’ll release “posthumously.” So no authorities, news outlet, or friend thought to follow-up for details (or a body!) before a super fan started sniffing around?
Biggest Headscratcher, In a Good Way
Hallmark Channel’s moving Christmas on Cherry Lane was clearly inspired by This Is Us, with three storylines taking place in what we eventually realize is the same home in 1973, 1999 and 2023. The script by Rick Garman kept us guessing on the connection between the families until the end. If we have this right: The ’70s couple (Erin Cahill and John Brotherton), who deliver their baby, Ivy, at 7 Cherry Lane, sold the house to the cop and his wife, which was Catherine Bell’s Regina, eight years later when they moved to Michigan. In 1999, widow Regina is selling 7 Cherry Lane, and her angry son Conrad (Matthias Falvai) storms out to go see his friend Ivy, who is back living nearby. In 2023, it’s been one year since 7 Cherry Lane came up for sale again and Regina’s daughter, Winnie (Veronica Long), told her friend Mike (Jonathan Bennett) that he and his husband, Zian (Vincent Rodriguez III), should buy it. The sweetest reveal of all: The magical Christmas Eve welcome that Zian is trying to recreate for their new foster daughter is the one he’d experienced at Ivy’s house when she temporarily fostered him for the holiday when he was just a boy and nicknamed Sam.
Hotel Room We’d Most Like to Stay in
We’ll pack our bags for Austria now if we can have that suite with amazing views, and indoor and balcony fireplaces in Prime Video’s Your Christmas or Mine 2. Book us those spa appointments as well.
Best Over the Top Office Decorations
“Christmas is my favorite time of year. I don’t know if you can tell,” joked self-aware advertising exec Lauren (Mignon Von) in BET+’s Never Alone For Christmas.
Worst Office Decorations We’ve Ever Seen
We all like to make fun of the excess in holiday movies, but after you see the more realistic display in book editor Sarah (Alexandra Harris)’s office in UPtv’s Christmas at the Amish Bakery, you understand why production designers pray they have the budget to pour it on.
Sexiest Xmas Sweater
Both Jeff Pierre and Michele Weaver (the center duo above) should star in more holiday movies because they were a delight in OWN’s Christmas of Yes. Their characters, Nico and Amy, agreed to shop for each other’s ugly Christmas sweater soirée apparel. We’re sure Amy innocently guessed his size wrong.
Christmas Time Is Here! Your Guide to 110+ Holiday Movies on Hallmark, Lifetime, Netflix and Others
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