‘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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Best Exterior Illumination
The garlands were hung by the balcony with care, in hopes that toy-company saint Blake (Matt Trudeau) soon would be there…shirtless, because someone had knocked on his door while he was showering in Hulu’s Reporting for Christmas.
Photographer Jack (Dan Payne) busted sophisticated CEO Nora (Teri Hatcher) spilling hot chocolate on a stranger to stage a meet-cute, then proceeded to bicker with her about it in Roku Channel’s How to Fall in Love by the Holidays. A meet-cute via failed meet-cute! (Disclaimer: We DQ’d Hallmark Channel’s The Santa Summit because we refuse to believe two people flirting for more than three minutes wouldn’t have removed their Santa beards.)
Biggest Tear in the Space-Time Continuum
Workaholic Rachel (Erica Peeples) had no scar after undergoing a heart transplant in BET+’s Heart for the Holidays. And yet, somehow more distracting was the bakeoff at the end of Great American Family’s A Dash of Christmas. Megan (Laura Osnes) put her “Victorian Christmas fruit cake torte” in the oven with less than 19 minutes left on the clock and managed to cool it enough for that perfectly-piped filling not to run? Great British Baking Show fans call foul!
Least Predictable Ending
By default, Hallmark Channel’s Never Been Chris’d. First we weren’t sure which lifelong pal/business partner, Naomi (Janel Parrish) or Liz (Pascal Lamothe-Kipnes), would end up with their mutual high school crush, Chris (Tyler Hynes). Then, once we realized this was actually a story about two friends acknowledging they need space to grow as individuals, it was conceivable the answer would be neither. Maybe it should’ve been?
Best Reason to Blow the Music Budget
We’re always pleasantly shocked when a Hallmark movie uses a track by a recognizable artist. Cher’s joyful “DJ Play a Christmas Song” was the perfect choice for The Santa Summit‘s silent disco, where Ava (Amy Groening) confessed her feelings and Jordin (Hunter King) realized she could be happy dancing on her own and with her friends even if she never found her mystery Santa again. And yes, that was network fave Niall Matter making an unbilled cameo as DJ Ginger Jeff!
Most Ready to be a Leading Lady
Groening has paid her dues as “the friend” and “the sister” — in The Santa Summit and A Dash of Christmas this week, but also in years past. She’s too good, smart, funny, and likable of an actress not to be front and center in Countdown to Christmas 2024.
MVP (Most Versatile Player)
Ansley Gordon, who wrote Hulu’s A Christmas Frequency and stars opposite Denise Richards, also penned Hatcher’s How to Fall in Love by the Holidays, our must-watch of the week. Gordon’s charming on-screen, and clearly understands something behind the scenes: There’s a market for more holiday movies about women in their 40s and 50s because viewers in theirs 40s and 50s have been watching these movies for 15 years.
Most Audaciously Decked Halls
Does the office of the radio station manager (John F. Henry II) in A Christmas Frequency look great on-camera? Yes. Do you know anyone who decorates their individual office with a Christmas tree and this much holiday décor? Only every other character in this movie!
Most Reasonably Decorated Home
The only thing excessive in Nora’s grand How to Fall in Love by the Holidays apartment is her fabulous feather-fringed pajamas.
Biggest Beverage Pet Peeve
The prop folks can’t win: Give actors an empty cup to carry and fake sip from, we notice. Give actors a cup of presumably faux hot chocolate topped with a mound of marshmallows that they leave totally untouched (as the gals did when they went to bed in A Dash of Christmas), and we really notice.
Forget the snowballs and silly misunderstandings. We want more of Cydney (Loren Lott) threatening to use her shoe on villainess Jannelle (Sydney Mitchell), who popped up at Cydney’s brother Todd’s (Terayle Hill) engagement party to tell him she never signed their divorce papers in the BET+ sequel A Wesley Christmas Wedding.
Most Creative Use of Gingerbread
The Santa Summit: Builder Liam (Benjamin Hollingsworth) constructed the Spanish-style dream home he’d seen embroidered on Jordin’s wallet, hoping she’d spot it in the gingerbread house contest and find the note tucked within. Runner-up: Architect Sarah (Tamara Duarte) created a large gingerbread model for a pitch after the Virtual Ghost of Christmas Present hacked her electronic devices in UPtv’s We’re Scrooged.
Sexiest Xmas Sweater
The color coordination on top of that dreamy blue base made for a very strong entrance for contractor Bo (Marcus Rosner) in Hallmark Channel’s Flipping for Christmas. We forgive him for putting cranberries on hot dogs.
Greatest Splurge on Extras
It’s always a bit sad in TV movies when corporate holiday parties, royal balls, charity events, and wedding receptions aren’t well-attended. So thank you to The Santa Summit producers for giving us crowded bars, a packed Santa sing-a-long (for Stephanie Sy’s fantastic bluesy rendition of “Jingle Bells”), and busy streets and slopes. It kept the energy high and truly festive.
ALLBLK’s Christmas Holidate surprised us when Holly (Jasmine Burke) saw the ghost of her dead uncle. Flipping for Christmas got us when grieving widower Edward (Peter MacNeill) Clark Griswold’d the house for his adult daughters. But it’s tough to top Annie (Ava Weiss) cozying up to her blind father’s new dog in Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ My Christmas Guide: “Goodnight, Max. Thanks for everything you’re doing for my dad,” she said with a kiss. Never work with children or animals!
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