Hallmark Channel's 7 best and 7 worst holiday movies

Hallmark Channel's holiday movies have become a seasonal mainstay. Whether you can't get enough of them or wish their fall premieres would stop stealing Thanksgiving's spotlight, these made-for-TV holiday flicks aren't going anywhere anytime soon — and the Hallmark Channel is consistently churning out more titles to add to its festive film roster. Much to the delight of Hallmark fans everywhere, the network announced the addition of a whopping 40 brand-new holiday movies for its 2019 season (via USA Today). And, with each new holiday season, viewers can surely expect to see even more Christmas-themed movies. 

However, considering the sheer number of Hallmark Channel holiday films out there, it's safe to say they can't all be winners. While most Hallmark movies are generally entertaining, heartwarming tales the whole family can enjoy, the network is home to quite a few holiday films that you might want to skip. Here are the best and worst holiday movies on the Hallmark Channel. 

Best: Hallmark Channel's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year lets Henry Winkler shine

Henry Winkler is one of the most beloved actors of his generation, so it should come as no surprise that the Hallmark Channel holiday movie in which he stars is among the network's best. 

Winkler stars in The Most Wonderful Time of the Year as Ralph, the well-meaning uncle of Jen Cullen. Having lost her father at a very young age, Jen isn't a person who loves the holidays. However, as a stand-in father figure for Jen, Uncle Ralph takes it upon himself to help his niece find her Christmas spirit by sneakily trying to set her up with a new acquaintance of his, professional chef Morgan Derby. 

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year has everything you could possibly want in a Hallmark Channel holiday movie — a sad backstory, an adorable meet-cute, a silly misunderstanding, a happy ending, and, of course, Henry "The Fonz" Winkler. You'll definitely want to add this flick to your must-watch list this holiday season. 

Worst: Hallmark Channel's holiday movie A Boyfriend for Christmas is just plain odd

The Hallmark Channel is home to a roster of holiday movies with cleverly concocted, punny titles, including Christmas Under Wraps, A Very Merry Mix-Up, and A Christmas Carol. However, not every title can be a winner — and A Boyfriend for Christmas is a Hallmark Channel holiday flick with a title that leaves little to the imagination. 

As you've probably guessed, A Boyfriend for Christmas tells the story of a woman who wishes for a boyfriend for Christmas. The only problem here is the woman at the center of the film, Holly Grant, was just 13 when she told a mall Santa that she wanted a boyfriend. Fast-forward 20 years later, and Santa literally sends a boyfriend to Holly's doorstep in the form of a man named Ryan

While it's certainly odd for Santa to grant a teen's wish for a significant other, it's even more odd that he held onto Holly's request for a whopping 20 years. Did Santa somehow have the ability to see into the future and know 33-year-old Holly would be single and ready to mingle? We have so many questions, Hallmark. 

Best: Help for the Holidays is a must-watch Hallmark Channel holiday movie for Elf fans

After reading the description for the Hallmark Channel Christmas flick Help for the Holidays, you might find yourself thinking the movie's plot sounds familiar. According to the Hallmark Channel website, Help for the Holidays tells the story of Christine, one of Santa's elves, who "wonders if there could be more to life than making toys in the North Pole." The film's description continues, "When Santa receives an emergency wish from a little boy in Los Angeles, he puts Christine on a special assignment." That special assignment? Traveling to Los Angeles to "give the VanCamp family ... a holiday wake-up call."

While far from an exact replica, Help for the Holidays does seem to take inspiration from Elf — the popular holiday movie starring Will Ferrell and Zooey Deschanel. Still, this Hallmark Channel Christmas original stands on its own as an incredibly entertaining ride from start to finish. With a little something for the whole family, Help for the Holidays is definitely one of Hallmark's best holiday movies yet. 

Worst: Hallmark Channel's holiday movie Fir Crazy romanticizes problematic behavior

Hallmark Channel holiday movie Fir Crazy tells the story of Elise, a recently out-of-work shoe company executive who's put in charge of her family's New York City tree lot. While reluctantly managing the tree lot, Elise meets Darren — a school teacher who not only buys three trees from the lot in various attempts to make a connection with Elise, but even admits to walking by the lot regularly to try and catch a glimpse of her. Even more upsetting is the way Darren continues to pursue Elise, even after she initially expresses disinterest in starting a relationship.

Honestly, if someone replaced Fir Crazy's cheery, instrumental Christmas music with the soundtrack to a B-list horror movie, this film would be genuinely terrifying. Before agreeing to a first date, Elise even asks Darren, "How do I know that you're not some sort of homicidal maniac with a sense of humor?" Immediately, Darren provides her with multiple forms of identification — which is exactly what a homicidal maniac with a sense of humor would probably do. 

Hey, perhaps all of Darren's red flags will make for festive Christmastime decor. 

Best: The Nine Lives of Christmas is a purrfect Hallmark Channel holiday movie

While it may be the Hallmark Channel holiday movie of every cat lover's dreams, The Nine Lives of Christmas is a wholly entertaining film certain to be a crowd-pleaser even for the dog people of the world. 

In The Nine Lives of Christmas, a lost cat named Ambrose finds his way to Zachary, a charming firefighter who takes the kitty under his wing — despite objection from his model girlfriend, Blair. This chance encounter leads Zachary to the cat food aisle of a supermarket, where he has an adorably awkward encounter with Marilee, an aspiring veterinarian and part-time pet shop employee. Marilee is also housing a cat against someone else's wishes. However, that someone else isn't her significant other — it's her landlady. 

While Marilee's love for her cat ultimately gets her kicked out of her apartment, Zachary — who also restores and flips houses — just so happens to have a room available. A misunderstanding throws their burgeoning relationship off course for a bit, but, in true Hallmark style, The Nine Lives of Christmas wraps up with the purrfect happy ending. 

Worst: Hallmark Channel's holiday movie A Christmas Detour sends a confusing message

Full House's Candace Cameron Bure stars in A Christmas Detour as Paige Summerland — a magazine writer flying to New York City to meet her fiancé's family. However, in a twist of Christmas fate, a snowstorm causes Paige's flight to be redirected. As a result, she ends up forming a bond with her seat-mate, Dylan MacKenzie.

Despite Dylan's cynicism and Paige's, you know, engagement — these two travelers eventually fall head over heels in love. Following a grand gesture from Dylan, Paige decides to call off her wedding, and this Hallmark Channel holiday movie ends with the new lovebirds riding off into the snowy sunset together. 

It's important to keep in mind that Paige has known Dylan for a grand total of three days when she abandons any and all plans of a future with her fiancé. She's either dangerously impulsive or incredibly exhausted from her days-long trek — or, perhaps, both. Hallmark would obviously like viewers to buy into Paige and Dylan's serendipitous romance, but we just can't bring ourselves to root for a relationship between two people who are virtually strangers. 

Best: A Wish for Christmas is an empowering Hallmark Channel holiday movie

Mean Girls star Lacey Chabert stars in A Wish for Christmas as Sara, a junior web developer at a big-city marketing firm. The movie starts with Sara pitching a proposal designed to land the firm's biggest client yet, something she calls "Christmas 365." Dirk, Sara's boss, immediately shoots down her proposal. However, at the company Christmas party, it's revealed that Dirk has repackaged Sara's proposal and successfully pitched it to the company's CEO, calling it "Holidays 365." 

Later that evening, Sara runs into none other than Santa Claus, who tells her he'll make whatever she wishes for come true — but only for the next 48 hours. Still reeling from having her idea stolen, Sara wishes for courage to be brave and speak out when she feels like she has an idea that deserves to be heard. Santa grants her wish, and, as a result, Sara storms back into the Christmas party to reclaim her pitch.

Of course, this Hallmark Channel holiday movie is centered around a love story — but the real love story is Sara learning to stand up for herself. 

Worst: The Hallmark Channel holiday movie A December Bride seems like a stretch

While Hallmark Channel holiday movies are famously formulaic, A December Bride is especially predictable — which is part of the reason it falls into our "worst" category. Starring Jessica Lowndes and Daniel Lissing in the leading roles, A December Bride tells the story of Layla O'Reilly, an aspiring interior designer dreading the wedding of her ex-boyfriend, who just so happens to be marrying her cousin. Desperate to have a date to the event, Layla is forced to take Seth Murphy — who, incidentally, is the man responsible for setting up Layla's ex with her cousin. 

An overzealous people-pleaser, Seth takes it upon himself to announce at the wedding reception that he and Layla are engaged, despite this being 100 percent false. However, by the end of the movie, Seth and Layla aren't just fake-engaged — they're literally married

As with most Hallmark Channel holiday films, the relationship at the center of this movie doesn't make a whole lot of sense. However, we're even more befuddled that Layla's family would be so supportive of her cousin marrying the guy who broke Layla's heart. What gives?

Best: Christmas at Graceland is a Hallmark Channel holiday movie packed with talent

While the Hallmark Channel usually relies on little-known actors to carry its holiday films, as well as repeat appearances by tried-and-true stars like Candace Cameron Bure, the network sometimes branches out to showcase the acting talents of stars you'd likely never expect to see in a made-for-TV Christmas movie. Such was the case with the Hallmark Channel holiday movie Christmas at Graceland, which features country artist, television host, and former American Idol star Kellie Pickler. 

Whether or not you identify as a country music fan, Christmas at Graceland makes it impossible to deny Pickler's industry-spanning talent. While she may not be winning an Oscar for her work in the Hallmark Channel Christmas movie, Pickler's performance as Laurel – a big-city business executive who reconnects with a former flame — is seriously impressive. In fact, Christmas at Graceland is so popular with viewers that, in early 2019, Hallmark announced not one but two sequels to the film (via Commercial Appeal). 

Worst: Hallmark Channel's Every Christmas Has a Story takes the holidays too seriously

The college admissions scandal (known as "Operation Varsity Blues") might have been the first time Lori Loughlin's reputation was called into question for the entire world to see; however, the actress once played a character dealing with her own tarnished reputation in the Hallmark Channel holiday movie Every Christmas Has a Story

In the film, Loughlin plays Kate Harper — a Los Angeles-based morning television show host who accidentally admits her disdain for the holiday season on the air. The slip-up angers Kate's boss and her morning show's advertisers — because, in Hallmark Land, Christmas is very serious business. 

In fact, Kate's accidental admission is such a colossal error that she winds up having to visit Hollyvale — a tiny, Christmas-obsessed town in North Dakota — to find her holiday spirit and repair her public image. Only in the Hallmark Channel universe would disliking the holidays nearly cost a person their livelihood. If you ask us, the "story" in Every Christmas Has a Story could use a bit of a reality check. 

Best: My Christmas Love is a Hallmark Channel holiday movie with a surprise twist

Featuring Search Party star Meredith Hagner in the leading role, Hallmark Channel's My Christmas Love is a lighthearted holiday romance flick with a plot twist you'll likely never see coming. If you don't want to ruin the surprise, you might want to skip over this next bit.

Hagner stars in My Christmas Love as Cynthia — a bubbly young woman reeling from a breakup and grieving the loss of her recently deceased mother. When she returns to her childhood home for her sister's wedding, Cynthia is surprised to find herself the recipient of mysterious 12 Days of Christmas-themed gifts. Naturally, this sends Cynthia on a quest to uncover the identity of her anonymous admirer. However, after a series of unsuccessful attempts to solve the Christmas case, the truth is revealed: Cynthia's mother had arranged for the gifts to be delivered to her husband (a.k.a. Cynthia's father) following her death. 

At its core, My Christmas Love is a holiday movie about enduring love, even after death. If that doesn't bring a tear to your eye, we're not sure what will. 

Worst: Mingle All the Way is a Hallmark Channel holiday movie with a cast of unlikable characters

Unfortunately, the main characters in the Hallmark Channel holiday movie Mingle All the Way are seemingly unredeemable. The made-for-TV Christmas rom-com tells the story of Molly, the creative mind behind Mingle All the Way — an app designed to help business people find dates to networking events so their peers don't judge them for being single. Oh, the horror! 

When an investor wants Molly to prove the app's worth, she's forced to use Mingle All the Way herself, which leads her to Jeff. Despite being the romantic male lead, the film does nothing to make Jeff appealing to viewers. In fact, Jeff is a total jerk to Molly in what we can only assume was meant to be their meet-cute — and his attitude doesn't improve much throughout the course of the film. 

Basically, Mingle All the Way is a love story about a woman who thinks people should lie about their relationship status to climb the corporate ladder and a man who has a bit of a mean streak. Yeah, we think we'll swipe left on this one. 

Best: Christmas Getaway is an original Hallmark Channel holiday movie with a lot of heart

While they may technically be geared toward adults, Hallmark Channel's holiday movies are family-friendly films, lighthearted and simple enough for even kids to enjoy. However, the network seemingly took a risk with the made-for-TV holiday movie Christmas Getaway, which tells a more complicated story of finding new love after the death of a spouse.

In Christmas Getaway, Bridget Regan plays Emory Blake, a brokenhearted writer who decides to spend the holidays alone in a wooded cabin. As luck would have it, the cabin has been double-booked, leading Emory to meet widower Scott Hays (played by Travis Van Winkle) and his young daughter, Katy. 

Scott is obviously still grieving his late wife. However, Emory proves herself to be more than empathetic and understanding. It doesn't take long for these two to fall head over heels in love, but — unlike the progression of relationships in some select Hallmark Channel holiday movies — Emory and Scott's romance never once feels rushed or forced. With its careful storytelling, Christmas Getaway will break your heart and put it back together again in less than two hours. 

Worst: Hallmark Channel's Christmas at the Palace is a royally bland holiday movie

It's no secret that we, as a society, are totally obsessed with royalty. Particularly, Americans seemingly can't get enough of the British royal family. Decades after her death, Princess Diana is as relevant as ever, and her sons — Prince William and Prince Harry — continue to enthrall the masses. According to data provided by Nielsen, over 29 million Americans tuned in to watch Prince Harry's May 2018 wedding to American-born actress Meghan Markle. Like we said, we're obsessed. 

This collective obsession with the royal family likely inspired the Hallmark Channel holiday movie Christmas at the Palace. However, just as royal fever is nothing new, neither is Hallmark's penchant for making movies centered around unexpected royal romances. Because the network already has a roster of royal flicks, Christmas at the Palace feels entirely unnecessary and painfully predictable. 

In theory, the story of Kate — a former professional ice skater — accidentally falling in love with King Alexander of San Senova (a fictional country) is a cute idea. Unfortunately though, this cute idea lacks the originality needed to make it memorable.