Can we be real for a moment? Hallmark Christmas movies are a genre all their own. And they are the best holiday movies around.
When it comes time to talk about Hallmark movies, a true fan of this genre (yes, they are an entire genre all their own) tends to channel one particular character — Bill Hader’s Stefon of SNL Weekend Update fame.
Let’s take the plot of one mystery movie: “This film has it all. Angels returning to Earth to spread Christmas cheer. A holiday gingerbread bakeoff. And a town pageant that cannot go on because the community center is in danger of being shutdown.”
The plots are predictable. The casts repeat. And the couple never gets together until the last three minutes of the film. Ever. It is the golden rule.
And while it’s fun to joke that all Hallmark movies are interchangeable and almost MadLib-like, that is also a major flaw. It truly is a White Christmas in the small towns, log cabins, and ski lodges of the Hallmark world.
Of the 87 new movies of 2017 (yes, that is a real number), diversity was not high on the list in casting, writing, or directing categories.
Here two writers take on the task of choosing the best Hallmark Christmas movies. It was a tough battle, and many hours of research, Googling random plot lines to identify titles, and phone calls finally led them to their top five.
The Best Hallmark Christmas movies
Brittany’s Favorite Hallmark Signature Moment:
I love a good Christmas activity montage. Especially if one person is not in the Christmas spirit. What melts away a frosty exterior quite like decorating a gingerbread house, putting up a Christmas tree after years of protests, and a cup of hot cider and/or cocoa?
Donya’s Favorite Hallmark Signature Moment:
There’s nothing quite like conveniently placed, and magically appearing, Christmas Carolers. Whether they’re there to chip away at the last of an icy heart, determined to hate Christmas, or set the mood as two characters get ever closer, there’s no denying they’re a Christmas movie staple.
Brittany’s Favorite Hallmark Holiday Movies:
A Heavenly Christmas (2016): This is one the best angel-sent-to-save-a-family stories Hallmark has put together. Beyond having two of my all-time favorite actors, Eric McCormack and Shirley MacLaine, the series has a single man put in charge of his niece after her parents die. Okay, that’s not exactly something to cheer for in a movie plot, but I love a good “man must prove he is a suitable guardian” moment.
Additionally, this movie has a huge plot hole at the end in which the guardian angel is allowed to return to Earth with a second chance, but the lead’s dead sister must remain dead and watch. How unfair!
A Joyous Christmas (2017): A motivational speaker loses herself in the words she preaches to the masses. But when a local producer is hired to host her hometown event, well, can you guess what happens next? There is an eccentric town lady who runs the church group, a center that may not have enough funding, a fractured family relationship, and so much more.
Plus, be on the lookout for a huge twist in the final half hour about a boy, now man, who was given up for adoption. It will have you cheering from your couch!
A Gift to Remember (2017): Give me a movie with a main character who loves books and is named Darcy any day of the year. Toss in some amnesia, confused identities, and efforts to keep a bookstore in the hand of people who care about the locals, and you’ve got the recipe for a hit.
A Gift to Remember‘s conclusion is perhaps the best part of the entire film. After thinking he is a Scrooge and hates Christmas because he is staying at a friends’s empty apartment, Aidan returns home to what seems like a wife and kids. A classic sibling mistaken for romance plot is truly the icing on the cake of this holiday cookie.
Charming Christmas (2015): David Sutcliffe starring as the man who brings Christmas joy to all the girls and boys as a department Santa? Check! A woman who realizes that business is just that, business? Check! A magical Mrs. Claus outfit? Check!
If this movie doesn’t have you believing in Santa, I don’t know what will.
A Nutcracker Christmas (2016): Amy Acker. Sascha Radetsky (aka that guy you know from Center Stage). In a dance movie? Yes! When a production of The Nutcracker needs a helping hand, a woman who lost touch with her love of dance years ago magically dances again like no time has passed!
This movie features a ton of Nutcracker performance moments in the final hour, which is honestly the best part. There are heated rehearsals, last minute substitutions, and, of course, love!
Donya’s Favorite Hallmark Holiday Movies:
Crown for Christmas (2015): What’s better than a Christmas movie? A Christmas movie with royal intrigue and some serious family drama. And we think we’ve got it bad at this time of year!
Danica McKellar plays an ex-New York maid who takes a job as a governess for a European princess. There, she becomes a role model and friend to the princess, and happens to fall for the girl’s widowed father. All while a countess schemes to become the next Queen. Don’t worry, there’s only happy endings in Christmas movie land.
Window Wonderland (2013): The window displays put on by retail stores throughout the holiday season are nothing short of spectacular. So, of course Hallmark jumped on the opportunity to turn it into the plot of a Christmas movie.
Chyler Leigh — yes, the Alex Danvers from Supergirl — faces off against her rival for the coveted position of decorating the department store window for Christmas. Sparks fly, and so does the glitter, as the two vie for the job. But, of course, love is the real winner here.
Christmas Land (2015): Ah, yes. The staple Christmas movie trope of being left something in a will, and moving from your high-flying city life to learn about the true spirit of the season. This time, with a theme park.
Despite how magical and wondrous it might be to run a Christmas theme park, it’s not so fun when a local tycoon is trying to buy up the land. But at least the lawyer handling the estate is cute? Yeah, you can see where this one might be going.
Every Christmas Has a Story (2016): Not everyone loves Christmas in these movies. You do get the occasional grinch. Lori Loughlin plays a television personality who accidentally lets slip that she hates Christmas.
In order to rehab her image, she’s sent to the most Christmas obsessed town in all of America. Even better? She has to go with her ex-boyfriend, who is the producer on her show. This sticks close to the Hallmark formula, but proves why there’s even one to begin with — it’s just that good.
The Nine Lives of Christmas (2014): How can you improve an already perfect Christmas movie? Add Brandon Routh and cats, of course.
Routh plays a firefighter, who is adopted by a cat — yeah, you read that right… the cat always adopts you — and ends up falling for a veterinary student. Turns out that his commitment to his bachelor lifestyle isn’t quite as steadfast as he originally thought. Sprinkle in a little Christmas, and you have a pretty magical recipe.
Hallmark movies are airing now through the new year on Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries!