I am what one might call a rom com connoisseur. Every little terribly cheesy trope brings me immense joy for someone who is a cynic for most of the year. Christmas season is Hallmark season, starting when I go home for the holidays and lasting past Christmas, well past Epiphany, all the way to the end of January. So, for the second year in a row, I’ve decided to rank all 41 that came out this year.
41. Five More Minutes: An art teacher wishes she had more time with her dead grandfather and runs into her army ex boyfriend to find her grandfather’s old journal from when he was in the army. It’s really weird that there are random references to Vietnam, and that the military is what brings them together.
40. Debbie Macomber’s A Mrs. Miracle Christmas: I think I can explain this one as Mary Poppins for old people. There wasn’t really a romance, the married couple never really changed in their relationship with each other, so it didn’t feel like there was much of a plot. I liked that the husband was Jake from Schitt’s Creek, but even he couldn’t really save this one.
39. The Santa Stakeout: Two detectives who hate each other have to engage in a fake relationship to follow a lead. Listen, if I wanted a cop show, I would watch a cop show. Not in my Hallmark holiday movie marathon, please.
38. A tie between Sister Swap Part 1: A Hometown Holiday, and Sister Swap 2: Christmas in the City: Two tight knit sisters swap cities leading up to the holidays in a kind of boring, too long version of The Holiday. It really did not need to be two movies.
36. The Christmas House 2: Deck the Halls: A decoration competition for the Christmas house ensues among three brothers. A sequel to the gay-baiting “first gay Hallmark movie” that didn’t even really focus on the gay couple. I really wish there were more gay Hallmark movies.
35. Our Christmas Journey: A single mom has to figure out how to best support her autistic son. The actor is actually autistic and apparently this is the first Hallmark movie with an autistic character but boy this was awkward. It was just handled in a very clunky fashion.
34. Christmas Sail: A woman returns home to help her father, reunites with childhood best friend. Blah blah blah she wears red he wears green, it was very stereotypical and nothing that sparked anything interesting to me.
33. A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love: A nurse and a writer are accepted for fellowships to work with families in need. I don’t remember this one. At all.
32. ‘Tis the Season to be Merry: A blogger named Merry (ha ha, get it?) blogs about relationships but is secretly unlucky in love. It’s fine. The naming and cheesiness passes the point of fun to just eye-rolling, even for me.
31. A Holiday in Harlem: An executive has to return home for the holidays instead of going on a sunny vacation, and falls in love with her childhood best friend. I really don’t connect to the way she does not seem to have a care in the world for her family, even though they’re lovely and supportive.
30. Next Stop, Christmas: This follows a surgeon with a sportscaster ex who goes back in time on a Christmas train to when she was in a relationship with him in order to see she was in love with her childhood friend the whole time. It was a bit confusing and boring, but I liked the message that the past is different than we remember it.
29. The Christmas Promise: a woman wants to sell her house because of its ties to her dead fiancé, enlisting a carpenter to help her renovate. She also sends letters to her dead fiancé’s old phone number, finding someone on the other end. This one just felt too grim. While loss has been touched on in many Hallmark movies, this one was too much.
28. Christmas in Tahoe: A talent booker has to work with her rock star ex in order to potentially get her dream job in Vegas. It seems that Laura Osnes is really pushing the Hallmark angle now that she has been limited in theatrical gigs lately by the fact that she is anti-vaccine. Anyways, her character has a strange coping mechanism of eating candy canes that gets really weird really fast.
27. Making Spirits Bright: Think Romeo and Juliet but the feuding families are competing Christmas home decorating businesses. What I really want to know is what these businesses do the rest of the year? Do they only do Christmas decorating? Do they do other holiday themed decorating? Are they just house stagers?
26. Open by Christmas: A woman finds an unopened Christmas card from a high school secret admirer and tries to track him down. Although the premise was intriguing, this one was just such a drag to get through. It was terribly boring.
25. The Nine Kittens of Christmas: A vet and her firefighter ex have to work together in order to find homes for 9 abandoned kittens. I’m not going to lie, the reason this is so high is pretty much just due to the cute animals.
24. Every Time A Bell Rings: Three sisters reunite to complete their dead dad’s final scavenger hunt. It baited me with the actor who played Coach Bolton in High School Musical as the dad in the first scene, just for him to not show up ever again. There’s a gay sister who has a fun romantic plot line, so I suppose it’s the closest thing we have to a gay Hallmark movie.
23. Coyote Creek Christmas: A party planner comes home to her parents’ local inn when a single dad comes in, whose company is buying the inn, a fact she is completely unaware of. The male lead is from one of my favourite Hallmark movies, Christmas in the Plaza, but this one is not the most compelling, and the sister’s romantic subplot is more interesting than the main couple.
22. A Christmas Treasure: Jordin Sparks plays a writer living in a small town when a chef comes to visit his aunt while the town plans a renewal of the 100 year time capsule. Jordin Sparks is likeable and charming, but as a whole, the movie’s kind of dull.
21. Christmas CEO: An uptight CEO has to get her former best friend and toy maker to sign off on a merger for her company to join a big box toy company. I like to call this one girlboss Christmas, and I thought it was fun. A bit slow at times, but hey, according to this movie, they invented ZhuZhu Pets.
20. Nantucket Noel: After a classic falling meet cute, a businessman single dad wants to buy and rebuild the wharf where a toy store owner has been running her late mother’s business. The kid character is hilarious, and the dad is hilariously stuck up, but the mermaid subplot is really neat. This one loses points because, spoiler alert, gentrification wins.
19. An Unexpected Christmas: Exes have to pretend to still be together. What really makes this one is the family, they are so fun and Christmas obsessed, it really makes you want to root for the couple as much as they do.
18. A Dickens of a Holiday!: Off-Broadway director comes home to direct A Christmas Carol and has to convince a hometown action movie star to fill in as the lead. Perfectly serviceable, not super memorable.
17. Boyfriends of Christmas Past: A woman in marketing is visited by boyfriends of the past to figure out why she has had such bad luck with love. The chemistry between the leads is phenomenal, and I love her family—viewers might recognize her dad as Appa from Kim’s Convenience. Although the premise is great, the dialogue is especially bad, and they somehow got me to hate the main character with how blind she is to her terrible decisions.
16. Sugar Plum Twist: a dancer loses the part of the sugar plum fairy and goes back home to be an assistant choreographer. She creates a sort of “The Nutcracker goes Latin,” mixing ballet with Latin ballroom in dance scenes that are very entertaining to watch.
15. A Very Merry Bridesmaid: In case you were missing some Disney channel nostalgia, Emily Osment stars in this one, and when her 30th birthday is the same day as her brother’s wedding (and Christmas Eve), best man and her childhood crush Drew tries to make her birthday special. The couples are endearing, and Emily Osment shines in this one.
14. A Christmas Together With You: Woman takes her father figure on a road trip to find his long lost love, falling in love with the small town that may be the key to finding her. Hey, I moved to Sackville, so I’m always a sucker for a charming small town in these.
13. Christmas for Keeps: Childhood friends go home to celebrate their former high school teacher who has just passed away. Okay, maybe this one has a special place for me because I had many a parental figure high school teacher, but the ensemble cast is really strong, with Christa B. Allen (of young Jennifer Garner in 13 Going on 30 fame) the shining star.
12. Christmas in My Heart: A classical violinist becomes the violin teacher for the daughter of a country music star. There are some strange ideas about classical music (that it does not have lyrics?), but the hard hearted cowboy opens up, and the connection between the two and the daughter is heartwarming. They do hit you over the head with the “music as a metaphor for understanding,” but that is just what’s expected.
11. Christmas at Castle Hart: Hallmark favourite Lacey Chabert and her sister are servers that want to be event planners, and use their dead dad’s money to go to Ireland to discover their family’s past, meeting an Earl in the process. They are so very “annoying Americans in a foreign country,” but the mistaken identities and pretty castle sights make up for it tenfold.
10. The Christmas Contest: Exes compete in a Christmas contest to win money for different charities. The scripts are always not the greatest, so it’s really the romantic leads that make or break a Hallmark movie, and Candace Cameron Bure might be my all time favourite Hallmark star. Her self awareness of the COO to Christmas cheer character arc is also especially fun.
9. A Kiss Before Christmas: CEO workaholic father gets It’s A Wonderful Life-ed into a reality where his family no longer exists. The CEO having to win back his wife was very enjoyable, and showed how much he loved her all along.
8. You, Me and the Christmas Trees: A “Christmas tree whisperer,” or, in her words, evergreen specialist, has to help a generational Christmas tree farm from going under. The fact that she is an anti-Christmas Christmas tree whisperer is hilarious, and the movie as a whole is charming.
7. Christmas in Harmony: A music industry girlboss got fired and returns home to direct the hometown choir with her ex. The leads have good chemistry, and when we learn the reason they broke up, it actually makes their relationship stronger. However, fair warning, the lip syncing and conducting is quite atrocious.
6. My Christmas Family Tree: A social worker finds her biological father through a DNA test and gets to spend the holidays with her new family. This movie brought up some surprisingly profound ideas about chosen family vs biological family, and also called me out with the line “you are about to binge Christmas movies with your dog.”
5. Gingerbread Miracle: Childhood friends Maya and Alex help Alex’s uncle sell the family bakery, which holds a legend of magic wishing cookies. It seems that Hallmark has traded out the workaholic woman with the workaholic man this year. This one’s more likeable than the others though, and I tend towards the ones where the romantic leads have a past together. It makes the relationship more believable and the family magic more interesting.
4. A Royal Queens Christmas: We start out with a prince who does not want the throne and a baker who does not know who he is, two very classic Hallmark occupations and conundrums. They shove in your face how very New York Italian American her family is with lines such as “We have cannolis!” but what I really want to know is the lore of this movie. He is the Prince of Exeter, so is this an alternate universe British monarchy? Where does it divert from our universe? Does it explain why her choir conducting is hilariously bad? My questions will never be answered, but this was a perfectly stereotypical Hallmark movie in the best way.
3. Time for Them to Come Home for Christmas: I absolutely believe this was written by someone who has written a lot of fanfiction. A nurse tries to help an amnesiac by driving her back to a clue that might help unlock her memories. Don’t let the strangely wordy name fool you, this is a good one. There is bonding over pie, roadtrip hijinks, and a good dose of misunderstandings just enough to make this not as sickly sweet as your typical Hallmark movie.
2. Eight Gifts of Hanukkah: Optometrist Sara receives a surprise gift for each night of Hanukkah, and tries to find out which of her possible love interests is the secret admirer. Is it a little weird to have the token Hanukkah one as the second best? Maybe, but the two romantic leads are adorable together, and the connections to Sara’s grandma added a lot of background and heart.
1. One December Night: Former rockstar played by Peter Gallagher and his former partner butt heads when planning a reunion concert, but are brought together by their music manager children. This one was a lot of fun, the relationships between Quinn, Jason, and both dads was really compelling, and the music was lovely.