The Top 10 Worst Movies I Saw in 2022

My worst movies list of 2022 is different from that of the previous year. This time, I’ll be talking about more films that were “so bad they were bad”, as only three of these movies were disappointments. The Dishonorable Mentions portion of the list has also returned! Though I did see more good movies than bad, I couldn’t avoid coming across a “stinker” every now and then. I like to think I’ll, one day, see less than ten films for my annual worst list. But someday has not come this year, as the title of this article suggests. As I’ve stated in past lists, I did not write my list to be mean-spirited or negative. It’s just a way to express my own, honest opinion. Since some of these films have been reviewed on my blog, I will provide links to those reviews.

Dishonorable Mentions

Signed, Sealed, Delivered: The Vows We Have Made, A Place for Annie, Swim Instructor Nightmare, Nikki & Nora: Sister Sleuths, The Corsican Brothers (1985), and Donnie Brasco (I only watched forty minutes of the film before turning it off)

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10. The New Adventures of Heidi

In 2022, I was hoping to finally find my coveted “so bad, it’s good” movie. Sadly, The New Adventures of Heidi was not it. As I said in my review, this film is “spectacularly average”. The more I think about the 1978 made-for-tv movie, the less justifiable reasons I can think of for the project’s existence. Yes, The New Adventures of Heidi was intended as a “modern” re-telling of Johanna Spyri’s story. But the movie didn’t feel unique enough, despite all the changes. Every year I’ve participated in the So Bad It’s Good Blogathon, there has been a pattern between movies that turned out ok and movies that were just disappointing. Hopefully, in 2023, I can break this pattern.

Take 3: The New Adventures of Heidi Review

9. Love in Wolf Creek

When I first read the synopsis for Love in Wolf Creek, I was excited at the idea of a “cozier” story filled with adventure and excitement. The 2022 television film seemed better on paper than in practice. For a movie titled Love in Wolf Creek, there was very little romance in the story. The writing was weaker than I hoped, filled with scenarios that were too unrealistic for my liking. This project was too ambitious for INSP, the network who created the film. It was so disappointing, I didn’t bother watching its sequel, Christmas in Wolf Creek.

8. Harvey (1950)

I think the 1972 Hallmark Hall of Fame adaptation of Harvey is better than its 1950 predecessor. While I’m aware how controversial my opinion is, the 1972 film had more success executing its intended points. A mistake the 1950 movie makes is trying to be a comedy and a drama. This decision led the comedy to not only be underutilized, but also showcased medical negligence in a way that didn’t sit well with me. “Magical realism” was lacking in the 1950 film. This took away any opportunity for the story to be charming and whimsical. When I reviewed Harvey back in January, it was the most disappointing movie I saw in 2022. Now, eleven months later, the 1950 picture still holds that title.

Take 3: Harvey (1950) Review

7. Journey

The 1995 Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation made the same mistake Durango did: not giving the audience a reason to care about the characters and their story. In the case of Journey, the creative team failed to provide explanations for the characters’ choices. At the beginning of the film, the protagonist’s mother, Min, abandons her family, claiming she hates her parents. But the script never explains why she made this decision. Even when there are cut-away scenes featuring Min, she isn’t doing anything significant. How am I expected to care about Min’s choice affecting her family when I don’t even know why she left in the first place?

6. My Mom Made Me Do It

According to a synopsis I read for this 2022 Lifetime film, the protagonist, Jade, turns to stealing in order to help her mom pay the bills. Both the title and synopsis turned out to be a lie because 1) Jade’s decisions were made on her own and 2) Jade never steals anything. What she does instead is crash wealthy people’s parties and photographs their belongings. Other issues contained in this movie are weak lead performances and characters who make one dumb choice after another. I will admit there was at least one effective plot twist. But I wish it had taken place in a better film.

Harvey (1950) poster created by Universal Pictures

5. The Sundowners (1960)

For a little while, I thought The Sundowners was going to be the worst movie I saw this year. Even though I was proven wrong, the 1960 film has still remained in my top five. Like I said in my review, one of the worst things you can do as a film-maker is waste your audience’s time. The story felt longer than necessary, which made the movie two hours and thirteen minutes not well spent. One of my biggest issues with The Sundowners was its “bait and switch” ending. While I won’t go into detail about the ending, as I don’t want to spoil the film, I will say it was cruel for both the characters and the audience.

Take 3: The Sundowners (1960) Review

4. The North Avenue Irregulars

This movie attempts to answer the question; “Wouldn’t it be funny if a group of women came together to solve a mystery”? By the time The North Avenue Irregulars was released in 1979, that question made the film dated on arrival, as there were several television programs from the ‘70s featuring at least one female character solving mysteries or fighting crime. The movie’s creative team told too many types of stories, yet failed at all of them. One minute, the film felt like a precursor to the Mitford series, revolving around a preacher trying to live his best life. The next minute, the film turns into a gangster heist picture, paired with car chases that were longer than necessary. Honestly, I wish this movie was a Scooby Doo-esque story about the film’s fictional band, Strawberry Shortcake. Maybe then the movie would seem more timeless.

3. Lake Effects

For the first time in 18 Cinema Lane history, all the movies in my worst list’s top three are Hallmark productions. Accepting the bronze is the 2012 film, Lake Effects. This movie has so many Hallmark movie clichés, you could create a bingo game around them. You could also create a bingo game around the many storylines found in this script. Lake Effects is a production that relies on style over substance. While Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia was captured well on film, there’s only so much the movie’s creative team could do with the weak script at their disposal. In my review from August, I stated how the movie seemed forgotten over the years. Its poor quality makes it not worth remembering.

Take 3: Lake Effects Review

2. A Boyfriend for Christmas

In 2019 and 2020, a Hallmark Christmas movie ended up in the top three of my annual worst movies list. History is kind of repeating itself with A Boyfriend for Christmas in second place. Like Lake Effects, the 2004 film contained a weak script. But in A Boyfriend for Christmas, I only liked two minor parts of the story. The lack of Christmas magic made my movie viewing experience unenjoyable. It was one of those stories that became worse the longer I watched it. I know this movie is one of the most beloved titles in Hallmark’s cinematic library. Honestly, though, I found it over-rated.

Take 3: A Boyfriend for Christmas Review

1. Francesca Quinn, PI

Remember when I said one of the worst things a film-maker can do is waste their audience’s time? Well, another worst thing a film-maker can do is disrespect their audience’s intelligence. As I watched Francesca Quinn, PI, I was given the impression the film’s creative team didn’t want me to solve the mystery alongside the protagonist. That’s because Francesca explained things that didn’t need explaining. Despite Francesca being a professional private investigator, she constantly made decisions an amateur detective would likely make. Her lack of personality didn’t help either. According to IMDB, Francesca Quinn, PI could replace the Mystery 101 series. The reason is “the main characters’ relationship and the crime at the end of Deadly History are the same as the main characters’ relationship and crime in Francesca Quinn, PI”. If this is the case, the Mystery 101 fans, including myself, deserve so much better.

A Boyfriend for Christmas poster created by Hallmark Entertainment,  MAT IV,  Alpine Medien Productions, Larry Levinson Productions, Gaiam Entertainment, and Hallmark Channel 

Have fun in 2023.

Sally Silverscreen

The Top 10 Best Movies I Saw in 2022

As the sun begins to set on 2022, it’s time to publish my best and worst movies of the year lists! Last year, every film on my best list had been reviewed on 18 Cinema Lane. But that’s not the case this time around. For this list, only two movies were not reviewed, while another movie served as an editorial subject. Any film I covered on my blog will have a link included in this post. I’m thankful another year was filled with more good movies than bad. I’ll even have more titles in my Honorable Mentions! While these lists have become great traditions on their own, the variety of this collection of films has become another tradition. So, without any delay, let’s begin the list of the best movies I saw in 2022!

Honorable Mentions

Cut, Color, Murder, Sailor Moon S: The Movie, Cyrano de Bergerac (1950), Children of a Lesser God, Sweet Revenge: A Hannah Swensen Mystery, Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Honeymoon, Honeymurder, The Princess and the Pirate, Dirty Little Secret, Singin in the Rain, McBride: Tune in for Murder, McBride: Dogged, McBride: Requiem, Hugo, Akeelah and the Bee, The Shoplifting Pact, and Secrets at the Inn

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10. Fiddler on the Roof

When I reviewed the 1971 musical back in February, I said it was too early to say whether it would be one of the best movies I saw this year. But Fiddler on the Roof captivated me so much, the film ended up on my annual top ten list! I described the movie as a well-made quilt, with each of the film’s strengths representing a different quilt piece. The inclusion of Jewish faith/culture also gave the project a unique identity by asking questions and discussing topics that aren’t often found in musicals. Looking back on this movie, Fiddler on the Roof was three hours well spent. It’s a special project in both the world of musicals and cinema. I hope to check out more Jewish cinematic stories in 2023!

Take 3: Fiddler on the Roof Review

9. The Lost Empire/The Monkey King

Out of all the movies on my best list for 2022, The Lost Empire/The Monkey King is the most unique one! A fantasy film based on Chinese folklore, this was an imaginative production I enjoyed watching. The story was sometimes thought-provoking and even somewhat educational, as it included literature related discussions. Strong acting performances brought to life characters who seemed believable. The set designs boasted a realistic and fantastical setting, which effectively presented the illusion of an immersive world. I wish Hallmark created more movies like The Lost Empire/The Monkey King, where the stories and ideas are more creative. With the network prioritizing rom-coms and dramas, though, I don’t know what their decisions will be in the new year.

Take 3: The Lost Empire/The Monkey King Review

8. Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Haunted by Murder

Talking about this movie is bittersweet, as it is the last film in the Aurora Teagarden series. I’ve thought about all the moments the fans will never get to see, such as Aurora and Nick’s first Christmas, Phillip’s college graduation, and Sally falling in love. But if this is where the story must end, at least it ended on a strong note. The realistic and supernatural elements of the story complimented each other nicely. Supernatural elements being incorporated at all gave this chapter a more creative approach to the series. It was nice to spend time with Lawrenceton’s favorite residents; the acting performances and on-screen camaraderie remaining consistent. Even though I would have loved to see the Aurora Teagarden series continue for many more years, I know nothing lasts forever. But as the saying goes “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened”.

7. Redwood Curtain

There are very few movies I found better than their source material. Redwood Curtain just so happens to be one of them! The creative team behind the Hallmark Hall of Fame adaptation took advantage of the expansive nature of film by providing the story with more locations. Allowing characters like Julia and Laird to appear in the movie showcase the Riordan family dynamic not present in the play. I found Geri more likable as a character in the movie. Lea’s performance paired with the screenwriting gave Geri an empathetic and understanding personality. Redwood Curtain is a Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation I wish was re-released on DVD.

‘Redwood Curtain’: From Stage to Screen

6. The Pit and the Pendulum

The Pit and the Pendulum was one of the biggest pleasant surprises of 2022! Despite the film not being my first choice for its respective blogathon, I thought it was engaging and entertaining. Vincent’s performance didn’t disappoint, as his portrayal of Nicholas was versatile and fueled on emotion. The mystery not only started right away, but it also allowed the audience to experience the journey alongside Francis, the main character. The Pit and the Pendulum is, to me, one of the more effective horror movies, like 1962’s Cape Fear. While this film would be a perfect choice to watch on Halloween, I’m glad I had the opportunity to see it around Vincent’s birthday!

Take 3: The Pit and the Pendulum (1961) Review

Redwood Curtain poster created by Chris/Rose Productions, Hallmark Hall of Fame Productions, American Broadcasting Company (ABC), and Republic Pictures (II)

5. The Song of Bernadette

And another film of Vincent’s joins my list! Faith based films come in two forms; those that emphasize a message and those that emphasize a story. The Song of Bernadette falls into the latter category, as it revolves around religious phenomena affecting a small town. What I like about the 1943 film is how different perspectives relating to the phenomena are explored, highlighting how various members of the town view the events unfolding. The story doesn’t choose sides on the main topic, allowing the audience to come to their own conclusions about what is taking place in the movie. Even though The Song of Bernadette was released during the Breen Code era, the film is a good representation of the quality from that period in cinema. As I said in my review, Easter would be an appropriate time to watch the movie!

Take 3: The Song of Bernadette Review

4. Heaven Is for Real

Heaven Is for Real shares a major similarity with The Song of Bernadette. The 2014 film also revolves around religious phenomena affecting a small town. But what Heaven Is for Real does differently is encourage the audience to have a conversation about their beliefs on Heaven. Like I previously stated, faith based films come in two forms; those that emphasize a message and those that emphasize a story. However, I’ve rarely seen a movie of this nature start a discussion about one of their themes. This creative decision brings something new to the table and gives Heaven Is for Real a unique identity.

3. Words on Bathroom Walls

It seems like I’ve been talking about this title for as long as my blog has been around. But I’m glad I finally got the chance to see Words on Bathroom Walls this year, as it was such a good adaptation! There were changes between text and film. Despite that, the adaptation was, for the most part, respectful to its source material. The visual presentation of the story gave the audience a glimpse inside Adam’s mind. Interactions between the characters were believable, thanks to the actors’ performances and screenwriting. As I mentioned in my review a month ago, the adaptation for Words on Bathroom Walls seems more underrated. Based on the response my review received, my statement may be wrong.

Take 3: Words on Bathroom Walls Review

2. Top Gun: Maverick

I’m going to be honest; I had low expectations for Top Gun: Maverick. That’s because sequels released over ten years after their predecessor can be hit or miss. Top Gun: Maverick ended up surpassing my expectations, making it in the top three of my best of the year list! From what I know about Top Gun, the sequel respected what came before it. At the same time, new elements were added to the story, like focusing on an overarching mission. In a cinematic landscape where a film receiving over a billion dollars has become a rarity, Top Gun: Maverick achieved what some studios only dream of. As the 2020s move forward, maybe more filmmakers will turn to this film as an example of what can be cinematically possible.

Take 3: Top Gun: Maverick Review + 450 Follower Thank You

1. A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love

When it comes to “Godwink” stories, I prefer those that focus on a conflict. While that is the case for A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love, I found the overall production impressive! The interactions among the characters, as well as each volunteer’s talent being showcased, provided a nice amount of character development. Christmas activities were incorporated in more unique ways, such as the Romero family’s gift exchange. The inclusion of Advent was a newer approach to the Christmas movie genre. I don’t know what’s in store for the Godwink series. But I’d love to see more adaptations of these stories!

Take 3: A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love Review

A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love poster created by Crown Media Productions and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries

Have fun in 2023!

Sally Silverscreen

A Movie Blogger’s Christmas Wish-List 2022

Tis the season for my Movie’s Blogger’s Christmas Wish-List! For readers who don’t know, this is an annual tradition where I create a list of movie related things I want for Christmas. This year, there are four items on my list. Some of them are realistic, while others are wishful thinking. My Christmas wish-lists take me a whole year to create. That is because I try to put a lot of thought into each category. These categories follow the quote; “Something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read”. So, with that said, let’s begin this year’s Movie’s Blogger’s Christmas Wish-List!

Christmas letter to Santa image created by Freepik at freepik.com Image by Freepik

Something You Want

In March of 2021, I published an editorial about why Bai Ling should join the main cast of When Calls the Heart. This post explained the reasons why Bai’s inclusion would be beneficial for the show. Unfortunately, she didn’t make any appearances in When Calls the Heart’s ninth season. As far as I know, there have been no major cast announcements either before, during, or after season ten’s production. Therefore, as of December 2022, I have no idea if Bai will become a “Heartie” in 2023. If When Calls the Heart’s creative team decides not to cast Bai in their upcoming season, then I would be interested in seeing her join the cast of Fast & Furious 10. From what I’ve heard, this film is still in the pre-production stage. I also don’t believe Bai has ever appeared in the series. Based on her projects I’ve seen, Bai has talent to offer to the Fast & Furious franchise. But like I said in my aforementioned editorial, Bai’s career is her own, which means her decision to join either the Fast & Furious or When Calls the Heart series will ultimately be up to her.

Here is a screenshot from Bai’s Asian Voices interview from 2018. Screenshot taken from the Youtube channel, AsianVoices Tv.

Something You Need to See

Last month, I wrote an editorial explaining why Das Sound Machine should represent Germany at Eurovision 2023. In this article, I discussed how Das Sound Machine could realistically compete in next year’s song contest and why that idea should work. As of mid-December, 2022, none of the participants in Germany’s national final have been announced. If Das Sound Machine did compete in Germany’s national final, that information wouldn’t be revealed until sometime in early 2023, as the national final is scheduled to take place in March. You can read my editorial at the link below if you’re interested in learning more about this idea:

Why Das Sound Machine Should Represent Germany at Eurovision 2023

Das Sound Machine image created by Gold Circle Films, Brownstone Productions, and Universal Pictures

A movie related piece of clothing or accessory I’d want to wear

In A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love, one of the protagonists, Joy, carried a purse. This purse was a red, satchel style bag with a cross-body strap. I really like how versatile this purse is! It not only looks great during Christmas-time, it also looks great any time of year. The combination of color and style work together to create a visually appealing accessory! I would love to have this purse in my wardrobe!

Out of all the scenes in A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love featuring this purse, this was the best shot of it I could find. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

A book I’ve read that I’d like to see adapted into a film

Years ago, I read To Catch a Pirate by Jade Parker. From what I remember, I really liked it! It’s one of those stories I always thought would lend itself to a film adaptation, as To Catch a Pirate contains action, adventure, romance, and intrigue. In the 21st century, Disney has dominated the pirate movie genre with their Pirates of the Caribbean series. But as I said in my Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama review, this shouldn’t discourage other studios from creating their own pirate stories. If the success of Top Gun: Maverick has showed the world of film anything, it’s how audience members will show up if the movie contains a solid story. Maybe, just maybe, they would also show up if To Catch a Pirate became a movie.

To Catch a Pirate book cover found on Goodreads

What are your thoughts on my Christmas wish list? Are there any movie related things you’d like to receive for Christmas/the holiday season? Please tell me in the comment section below!

Have fun at Christmas!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love Review

As I stated in my USS Christmas review, I will be making a greater effort this year to review more Christmas movies. For my second Christmas film of 2022, I will be writing about the 2021 title, A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love! In my list of the top five Hallmark films based on a true story, I mentioned the 2019 movie, A Godwink Christmas: Meant for Love. While talking about that film, I said the sequel was stronger than the first movie. This is because the 2019 title did a better job at explaining and showcasing what a “Godwink” is. Since publishing that list, I have seen the third and fourth films in the Godwink series. The 2020 movie, A Godwink Christmas: Second Chance, First Love, was, in my opinion, fine. However, it was reminiscent of the first movie, where the “Godwinks” feel more like plot conveniences. What are my thoughts on the fourth film? Keep reading to find out!

A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love poster created by Crown Media Productions and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries

Things I liked about the film:

Character interactions: Like I said in my Words on Bathroom Walls review, interactions between characters are only as good as the actors and actresses portraying those characters. In A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love, I enjoyed watching these character interactions, as they were pleasant! One reason why was how believable the camaraderie felt! A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love revolves around Joy and Eric’s experiences volunteering during the Christmas season. During their time together, they work alongside two other volunteers, Adam and Sadie. Anytime these four actors (Katherine Barrell, Alberto Frezza, Josh Ssettuba, and Faith Wright) interacted with each other on-screen, I always got the impression their characters truly got along with one another and enjoyed each other’s company. This was accomplished partly with the help of the actors’ and actresses’ acting talents!

The inclusion of Advent: Advent is an important part of the Christmas season that, almost always, gets overlooked in Christmas cinema. So, imagine my shock when I see Advent included in A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love! Advent was the name of the non-profit Eric and Joy volunteered for. However, the candle lighting and messages associated with Advent were incorporated into the script, correlating with what is happening in the story. The non-profit’s volunteer leader, Angelo, lights each candle at select moments in the film, explaining the significance of every one. Honesty is a message associated with the Advent candles, which connects to a dilemma Joy is facing in her personal life.

The incorporation of a conflict: It’s been several years since I’ve seen A Godwink Christmas: Meant for Love. From what I remember, the story contained a conflict the characters were working to resolve. As I said earlier in this review, Joy and Eric volunteer during the Christmas season in A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love. The volunteers’ goal is to help a family who lost their house due to a fire. Because the characters work together to resolve this conflict, this part of the story gave the audience a reason to stay invested in the film. It also provided better explanations for what “Godwinks” are.

Showcasing each volunteer’s talent: As I said in my Top Gun: Maverick review, it can, sometimes, be difficult to evenly distribute character development to every character in a group. But in A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love, the group of volunteers was smaller, which allowed the audience to get to know the characters. One way the movie’s characters received character development was having their talents showcased in the story! Sadie is one of the volunteers, like I mentioned earlier in my review. She is an expert when it comes to computers and technological equipment. When she discovers the Romero family’s computer hard-drive was destroyed in the house fire, Sadie finds a way to save at least some family photos. These photos were given to the Romeros as portraits for their new baby’s room.

Necessary Christmas items image created by Moonstarer at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/christmas-elements-collection_994916.htm’>Designed by Moonstarer</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/christmas”>Christmas vector created by Moonstarer – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Joy’s relationship subplot: At the beginning of the movie, Joy is introduced as a woman in a serious romantic relationship. She has been dating her boyfriend, Danny, for five years. Throughout the film, Joy wonders if she should continue her relationship with Danny. I know A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love is based on a true story. I’m also aware Joy needed a personal conflict to work through. However, I, personally, didn’t think the relationship subplot was necessary. In fact, I found this subplot to be the weakest part of the overall story.

An unresolved story: In this review, I’ve been mentioning how the Romero family lost their house due to a fire. This is why the volunteers of the Advent non-profit are helping them. Because the Romero family play such a vital role in the film’s story and because A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love is based on a true story, I was hoping they would receive an update at the end of the movie. Unfortunately, the Romero family was never mentioned. This exclusion made their story seem unresolved.

A missed opportunity: When Joy and Eric first meet Katie Graber and her husband, Dr. Louis Graber, they learn about “Godwinks”. Louis claims that, because he’s a man of science, he thinks “Godwinks” are simply coincidences. Meanwhile, Katie is a firm believer “Godwinks” are God’s intervention. While Louis eventually changes his mind on “Godwinks”, I feel the movie’s creative team missed a good opportunity to explore how people can have differing opinions around a singular subject. As I’ve been saying in this review, A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love is based on a true story. I also know there’s only so much story you can tell in two hours. However, I wish a little more time had been given to that aforementioned idea.

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My overall impression:

A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love is only the second Christmas movie I’ve reviewed this year, so far. But based on what I saw, I was impressed! The fourth chapter in the Godwink series was reminiscent of the 2019 movie, A Godwink Christmas: Meant for Love. This is because both films a) do a better job showing and explaining what a “Godwink” is and b) featured a conflict the characters were trying to resolve. These types of Godwink stories are the ones I prefer. The movie’s creative team adopted interesting choices that made the story feel more unique. One example was how gift exchanging was incorporated into the script as a way for the Romeros to become acquainted with their new neighbors.  While gift exchanging has been featured in countless Hallmark productions, the way it was presented in A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love was creative. From what I’ve gathered, there were no Godwink films released or planned for release in 2022. Perhaps we’ll receive one in 2023, on either Hallmark Movies & Mysteries or maybe even Great American Family?

Overall score: 8.4 out of 10

Have you seen any of the Godwink films? Are there any “Godwink” stories you think should be adapted into a movie? Please tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: USS Christmas Review

While looking through some of my movie reviews from last year, I came to the realization I only wrote about two Christmas films. To make up for that, I will make a greater effort this year to review more Christmas movies. As it was Veteran’s Day two days ago, I decided the first Christmas film review of 2022 would be for USS Christmas! In the two years since its release, I’ve heard good things about this particular Hallmark picture. The network also has a pretty consistent track record when it comes to their military related Christmas titles. This is not the first time I’ve talked about USS Christmas. Back in 2020, I wrote a Word on the Street story about the project. I mentioned that the only Tiger Cruise movie I knew of was the 2004 Disney Channel movie, Tiger Cruise. Therefore, USS Christmas was filling a creative void that hadn’t been revisited in over ten years.

USS Christmas poster created by Crown Media Productions and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Jen Lilley portrays the protagonist, Maddie. Her reason for joining the Tiger Cruise was to spend Christmas with her sister, Amelia, who was portrayed by Stefanie Butler. I really liked the on-screen camaraderie between the sisters! While sharing breakfast at a local restaurant, Amelia and Maddie talk about a variety of subjects. Throughout their conversation, Jen’s and Stefanie’s facial expressions changed with fluidity. The actresses also had nice on-screen chemistry, giving the impression the sisters got along really well. It’s been a while since I’ve seen one of Trevor Donovan’s movies. However, I have always thought he was one of Hallmark’s strongest actors. In USS Christmas, Trevor portrayed Lt. Billy Jenkins. At the start of the story, Billy is distant with Maddie, maintaining a sense of professionalism. As the film continues, a kind hearted, more spontaneous side to Billy breaks forth. This progression in Billy’s personality was well executed through Trevor’s acting talents! The naturalness of this progression allowed Billy’s part of the story to be believable.

The set design: Like any Hallmark Christmas film, USS Christmas contained its fair share of seasonal décor. But it was the way this décor was incorporated into the set design that caught my eye. When Maddie’s family has their first dinner on the Tiger Cruise, the dining room is surrounded by white walls. White and blue Christmas decorations are placed in the background, from a blue garland to a white Christmas tree with blue ornaments. These complimentary hues added a sense of elegance to this space! Garland was a nice touch to other sets. A traditional green garland paired with red ornaments and bows was framed around the dark wood windows of the Jenkin family home. A similar looking garland framed the kitchen window of the Contino family home, a room that contained white cabinets. That garland shows how a simple Christmas decoration can complement various different spaces!

The mystery: Mysteries are uncommon in Hallmark’s Christmas films. So, the inclusion of a mystery in USS Christmas was a pleasant addition! In an effort to write a story about finding love on a Tiger Cruise, Maddie finds a journal written by a man named Sam. In this journal, Sam talks about falling in love with a woman named Dorothy. Maddie and Billy spend the rest of the movie searching for Dorothy and Sam, going on a journey to figure out what happened to this couple. While I won’t reveal what Billy and Maddie discover, I will say the mystery itself was intriguing! It gave me a reason to stay invested in the story.

Children holding American flags during a sunset image created by rawpixel.com at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/people”>People photo created by rawpixel.com – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The Tiger Cruise itself getting overshadowed: It’s been years since I’ve seen Tiger Cruise. From what I remember, the cruise itself was focused on to the point where it was its own character. With USS Christmas, I felt the cruise was overshadowed by the mystery of Sam and Dorothy. As I already said in this review, I liked the mystery in this story. However, that part was prioritized above everything else. When Maddie and Billy go to New York, I thought, “Wait, isn’t this movie supposed to be about the Tiger Cruise”?

Underutilized characters: On the Tiger Cruise, Charlotte is boarding alongside her brother, who is a member of the U.S.S. Polaris. Because Charlotte is also a writer, I assumed she would help Maddie in her quest to find Sam and Dorothy. Unfortunately, Charlotte and her brother briefly appeared in the film for about three scenes. These are just two characters I feel were underutilized.

Inconsistent use of Easter Eggs: The inclusion of Easter Eggs can be a nice treat for viewers and, if done right, can be cleverly woven into the story. There were some nice Easter Eggs in USS Christmas. But I was confused what the overarching direction for these Easter Eggs was. Toward the beginning of the movie, I found a few Easter Eggs related to It’s a Wonderful Life, as Maddie says that is her favorite Christmas film. Throughout the movie, there were at least two Easter Eggs referencing Top Gun. I even caught an Easter Egg connected to Hallmark itself. I wish the film’s creative team had chosen one topic for their Easter Eggs and consistently stuck with it.

Blue sparkly Christmas tree image created by Macrovector at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/frame”>Frame vector created by Macrovector – Freepik.com</a>. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/merry-christmas-card_2875396.htm’>Designed by Macrovector</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

As I said in the introduction, Hallmark has a pretty consistent track record when it comes to their military related Christmas titles. While some of these titles have been better than others, I haven’t seen a military related Hallmark Christmas movie that was bad or disappointing. With USS Christmas, it was a nice, pleasant film. It isn’t an instant classic for me or a new favorite movie. But, for what it was, USS Christmas was fine. Hallmark’s efforts to tell more creative stories seems to be an exception to the rule. So, I appreciate how the creative team behind USS Christmas strove to create a type of story that isn’t common in entertainment media. It also helps how a mystery was incorporated into the film, as mysteries aren’t often found in Hallmark’s Christmas offerings. I’ve heard Jen Lilley and Trevor Donovan have begun appearing in Great American Family’s (GAF) movies. I’ll have to check out their films from that network!

Overall score: 7.1 out of 10

Have you seen USS Christmas? Which military related Hallmark Christmas movie do you like? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Word on the Street: ‘Aurora Teagarden’ Series Ends as Candace Cameron Bure Walks Away from Hallmark

Earlier this week, it was reported Candace Cameron Bure, one of the most popular actresses in the Hallmark community, has chosen to start a new chapter at GAC Family. With this decision, she will not only star in the network’s future projects, she will also be involved with the behind-the-scenes process of these projects’ creation. Now, Emily Longeretta, from Variety, writes that “there are no plans for new “Aurora Teagarden Mysteries” films”. Emily’s article states that Candace’s partnership with GAC Family “is not exclusive”. Despite this, she will not participate in Hallmark’s ‘Countdown to Christmas’ or ‘Miracles of Christmas’ line-ups either. An official spokesperson for Hallmark gave a statement about Candace’s choice. The spokesperson mentioned how Candace has worked with the network for “over 10 years”. They also said, “We respect her decision and thank her for her many contributions”.

Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Til Death Do Us Part poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries

The unceremonious end of Aurora Teagarden Mysteries does not look good for Hallmark. Including this series, the network has cancelled eight programs since 2021. These programs are the following:

  • Home & Family
  • The Bubbly Sesh Podcast
  • Good Witch
  • Matchmaker Mysteries
  • Hailey Dean Mysteries
  • Picture Perfect Mysteries
  • Chesapeake Shores
  • Aurora Teagarden Mysteries

Aurora Teagarden Mysteries is, arguably, the most popular series on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. In fact, as of late April 2022, Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Haunted by Murder has the highest number of viewership, with 1.7 million viewers. With this series gone, that means Hallmark’s second network will receive less viewership. Less viewership means less sponsorships, which equals less revenue. As for Candace, I’m curious to see what her talents and acting experience have to offer to GAC Family. I haven’t seen any original programming from this network. But I have heard good things about them. Who knows? Now that Candace has an executive role with GAC Family, maybe she and the rest of the network’s leaders can transfer the Hallmark Hall of Fame collection to GAC and rebrand it “Great American Hall of Fame”?

What are your thoughts on Candace’s new partnership with GAC Family? Are you interested in her future projects? Please tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Here are the links to the references in this articles:

https://variety.com/2022/film/news/candace-cameron-bure-aurora-teagarden-canceled-hallmark-movies-1235235735/

Sally Watches…Diagnosis Murder!

For the We Love Detectives Week Blogathon, I was originally going to create a tier rank list of every film from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries I’ve seen. But the more I thought about this idea, the more ambitious it became. Instead of following through on such a daunting task, I decided to submit an entry that was simpler in nature. I’m currently reading The Magician’s Accomplice by Michael Genelin. But I might not finish the book within the blogathon timeframe. So that’s how I came up with my back-up plan! Recently, while on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ website, I came across an episode of Diagnosis Murder titled “An Education in Murder”. What caught my attention was the episode’s synopsis, as it reminded me of an episode of Murder, She Wrote I reviewed back in 2019: “School for Murder”. Curious to see how similar or different “An Education in Murder” was to “School for Murder”, I thought now would be a good time to introduce myself to a “new” mystery show! Before I continue with my review, I’d like to point out the irony of the situation. That aforementioned review of “School for Murder” was not only the first time I had watched Murder, She Wrote, but that was my submission for a mystery themed blogathon!

Episode Name: An Education in Murder

Season 5, Episode 19

Premiere Date: March 5th, 1998

The title card for “An Education in Murder”. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

What I liked about this episode:

I was impressed by the acting in “An Education in Murder”! But there was one performance that really outshined the rest. Portraying a student named Noelle, Danielle Harris did such a great job with the acting material given! When it comes to describing her character, think Cher from Clueless but more manipulative. There were two sides to Noelle; the sweet, good-natured side she used to give a good first impression and the edgy, sadistic side that causes her fellow classmates to face a living nightmare. Throughout this episode, Danielle effortlessly wove in between these polar opposites, changing her character’s demeanor like a chameleon. It was also interesting to see Noelle interact with the other characters, her unpredictability leaving me wondering what she’ll do next. Danielle’s strong acting talents worked in her favor, as she helped bring to life one of the most memorable characters I’ve seen in any tv show!

What I didn’t like about this episode:

Similar to “School for Murder”, “An Education in Murder” took place at an affluent private school. Kelly, one of the students of the school, explains to Dr. Mark Sloan, the show’s protagonist, just how affluent the student body is. After class, she says that if a student doesn’t keep up with current events, their GPA will suffer. She also tells Mark how she doesn’t have a wealthy father. Despite these words, Norrington Hall, the school featured in this episode, didn’t feel like an affluent private school. I know there are a variety of private schools with their own unique communities, traditions, and ways of operating on a day-to-day basis. But I couldn’t find anything about Norrington Hall that screamed “look how much money can be dumped into a child’s education”. For one, all the students in this episode didn’t behave or interact any differently from public school students in a typical movie or television show. Mark’s science class at Norrington Hall seems like a standard AP (advanced placement) science class. Sure, the school’s interior and exterior had a nice appearance. But if entertainment media and real-life have taught me anything, public school buildings can look just as nice as those belonging to private schools. The way the characters’ words didn’t match up with the visuals reminded me of Chippewa Falls Library from the Hallmark Christmas movie, Holly and Ivy.

The reason I included this screenshot is to show readers how nice the interior of Norrington Hall is. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

The mystery itself:

I’m glad “An Education in Murder” wasn’t a carbon-copy of “School for Murder”! Even though the Diagnosis Murder episode had a main plot and two subplots, similar to Murder, She Wrote’s episode, the story felt unique from the predecessor. Despite having three stories in one episode, it never seemed overwhelming. Each of these plots held a connection to the mystery. Unfortunately, that mystery was so painfully obvious, you might as well place the guilty party under the brightest neon sign you can find. Because of the mystery’s painful obviousness, the resolution was anti-climactic. This led to a weak mystery.  While watching “An Education in Murder”, I was hoping the guilty party was a red herring, with an unexpected twist hiding around the corner. Sadly, this episode was “cut-and-dry”, leaving little room for intrigue.

The other factors from this episode:

  • “An Education in Murder” brought up several messages relating to medicine and murder mysteries I hadn’t thought of before. For instance, after a classmate from Norrington Hall passes away, Mark tells his students how that student’s death is going to make a difference. As morbid as that sounds, he brings up a good point about murder mysteries. Because we, the audience, are so caught up in the story, the murder mystery’s effect on the characters and their surroundings can sometimes be overlooked. This can, to an extent, also be said about real-life cases.
  • At certain points in the episode, Mark gives Kelly advice, ranging from how to prevent dizzy spells to figuring out her life after high school. He helps her in an attempt to provide a trustworthy figure in Kelly’s life. This served as a major difference between Diagnosis Murder and Murder, She Wrote. Out of the episodes of Murder, She Wrote I’ve seen, I don’t recall Jessica Fletcher giving noteworthy advice to younger characters. Maybe the infrequent presence of younger characters on that show was a reason why? Even though this is my first time watching Diagnosis Murder, it makes me wonder how often younger characters appeared on the show.
  • In one scene, Mark’s son, Steve, gives Mark information about the guilty party’s background. This information was used to explain the motive behind the guilty party’s behavior. After hearing this explanation, it made me wonder if the show was implying the guilty party had RAD (reactive attachment disorder)? I’m not asking this to diagnose a character, but simply out of curiosity. If the guilty party did have RAD, why wouldn’t any of the characters mention this? I know this show doesn’t revolve around the psychological aspect of the medical world. Still, I’m surprised the disorder wasn’t openly stated in this episode.

My overall thoughts:

For my first time watching Diagnosis Murder, I was left desiring more from the mystery. Even though it was a different story from Murder, She Wrote’s “School for Murder”, it was painfully obvious who the guilty party was. Because of that, I didn’t find the mystery interactive. However, the parts of the story surrounding the mystery made up for the episode’s weaknesses! “An Education in Murder” was more thought-provoking than I expected, sharing interesting ideas about murder mysteries and medicine. Each plot was connected to the mystery, allowing these stories to share importance in the script. But, as I said in the review, the amount of stories never felt overwhelming. Based on the series synopsis I read on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ website, it seems like Diagnosis Murder wanted to enjoy the fruits of Murder, She Wrote’s labor. I came to this conclusion because each show shares some common aspects, such as featuring an older protagonist. Like with Murder, She Wrote, I might check out more episodes from Diagnosis Murder.

Rating: A 3.5 out of 5

We Love Detectives Week Blogathon banner created by Hamlette from Hamlette’s Soliloquy

Have fun in Malibu!

Sally Silverscreen

The 4th Annual Gold Sally Awards Has Arrived!

18 Cinema Lane recently celebrated its fourth anniversary! To commemorate such an important milestone, I am, once again, hosting the Gold Sally Awards! As I said last month, each award post will feature two polls at a time. This decision was made to help the voting process move at a faster pace. With that said, this year’s Gold Sally Awards will begin with the Best Movie and Story polls! Because I didn’t post any announcements for the Gold Sally Awards, the first two polls will be available for two weeks; from February 16th to March 2nd. Like years past, you are allowed to vote for more than one nominee. But you can only vote once per person. The link to the polls will be located under each poll. Just click on the word ‘PollMaker’.

Similar to last year, I thought featuring this anniversary image was appropriate for the start of the Gold Sally Awards! Anniversary image created by WordPress.
What was the Best Movie of 2021?
1. The Karate Kid (1984)
2. The Three Musketeers (1948)
3. The Love Letter
4. Perry Mason: The Case of the Telltale Talk Show Host
5. Sincerely, Yours, Truly
6. Rigoletto
7. Holly and Ivy
8. The King and I (1956)
9. A Star Is Born (1937)
10. Poisoned in Paradise: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery
 
Created with PollMaker
What was the Best Story of 2021?
1. The Karate Kid (1984)
2. The Three Musketeers (1948)
3. The Love Letter
4. Perry Mason: The Case of the Telltale Talk Show Host
5. Sincerely, Yours, Truly
6. Rigoletto
7. Holly and Ivy
8. The King and I (1956)
9. A Star Is Born (1937)
10. Poisoned in Paradise: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery
 
Created with PollMaker

Have fun voting!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Cut, Color, Murder Review

The last time I reviewed a Hallmark Movies & Mysteries film was last August, when I wrote about Poisoned in Paradise: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery. To make up for that, I thought it made sense to review one of the network’s newest titles. As of February 2022, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries only has two new mystery releases; Cut, Color, Murder and Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Haunted by Murder. Like the title of this review says, I’ll be writing about Cut, Color, Murder! For years, I’ve been waiting for Hallmark to create a movie that revolved around pageants. Sure, I received Signed, Sealed, Delivered: The Impossible Dream back in 2015. But the pageant in that movie played such a minor role in the overall story. I’ve also heard some of the network’s series have been cancelled, such as Picture Perfect Mysteries, Hailey Dean Mysteries, and Matchmaker Mysteries. So, the idea of a new series is exciting! But is Cut, Color, Murder worthy of the crown? Let’s solve this mystery by starting this review!

Cut, Color, Murder poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries

Things I liked about the film:

The chemistry among the cast: In most of my movie reviews, I talk about specific acting performances. But this time, I’ll be writing about the chemistry among the cast in Cut, Color, Murder! Within Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ movie series, the chemistry and camaraderie between the characters has been a consistent component. This is especially true when it comes to the network’s newest mystery film! At the beginning of the movie, the protagonist’s sister, Chelsea, is concerned about an upcoming college tuition payment. After the protagonist, Ali, suggests working on pedicures at the salon in order to make extra money, Chelsea sarcastically responds to her sister by saying, “I’ve seen some of those women’s feet. I’d rather drop out”. The interaction I just described came across as realistic, like a conversation two siblings might typically have. This is because Julie Gonzalo’s and Grace Beedie’s acting talents complimented one another. At a restaurant called ‘The Jackson’, Ali and Chelsea have lunch with their mom and some of Ali’s co-workers. Their conversation during this meal revolves around Chelsea possibly joining the Miss Golden Peak Pageant. In this scene, each character is presented with their own unique personality. Ali’s co-workers play a specific role at the salon, as each one volunteers to help Chelsea on pageant day. The way these characters interacted with one another feels like a family, with each member giving Chelsea their love and support. Interactions like this one feel genuine and believable because of the cast’s acting strength!

The banter: A component that can make or break a film is the banter among the characters. With Cut, Color, Murder, the banter was one of the strongest aspects of the overall production! While at the aforementioned restaurant, ‘The Jackson’, Ali meets Golden Peak’s newest detective, Kyle Crawford. During their initial interaction, Ali makes educated analyzes about Kyle’s background based on her observations about him. The way these analyzes were delivered was sharp and precise, showcasing the strength of Julie’s acting abilities and the screen-writing. Kyle takes Ali’s words in stride, as Ryan McPartlin, the actor who portrays Kyle, remains consistent in his performance. At the salon, Ali talks with Golden Peak’s resident officer, Fred Wright, about new develops in the film’s murder mystery. As they exchange details with one another, their banter sounds like an exciting game of ping-pong! Both Julie and Fred Henderson, the actor who portrays Fred Wright, are quick with their line delivery, with each actor effectively meeting with other at their level. The screen-writing also helps with the strength of Ali and Fred’s banter!

How the subject of death was handled: When a mystery story revolves around a murder, death is going to be one of the story’s overarching themes. In the case of Cut, Color, Murder, I’m referring to how the movie’s creative team handled the subject of a deceased spouse, which was unrelated to the movie’s main mystery. During the film, Ali reveals how she lost her husband, Dan, in the line of duty. Whenever this subject was brought up, it was spoken by the characters with a serious tone in their voices. But it was also brought up with a sense of reverence and respect. At two points in Cut, Color, Murder, Ali visits Dan’s gravesite. She has conversations with him as if Dan was sitting right next to her. Ali does try to move forward from Dan’s passing, as his death took place two years prior. Ali decides to move forward on her own terms and she doesn’t receive any negativity for visiting Dan’s gravesite. With the strong acting performances and screen-writing, Ali’s gravesite visits and the characters’ reactions to Ali’s grief felt realistic. The inclusion of Dan’s passing also emphasized how death can impact a community and the people within it.

Princess tiara image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/ornamental-princess-crowns_1109199.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/gold”>Gold vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

A limited insight on pageantry: When I discovered Cut, Color, Murder would take place during a pageant, I was excited to see the world of pageants shown through a Hallmark lens. While I did receive some insight into this particular industry, I was left desiring more. It was interesting to see how local businesses and aspiring professionals were affected by a pageant. But other aspects related to this subject felt surface level, such as squabbling pageant mothers. The majority of the story focused on the mystery itself. Because Ali’s sister was the one entering the Miss Golden Peak Pageant, the pageantry in this story felt like a subplot. Looking back on this film, it makes me wish the story had been set in the pageant world, instead of being a bystander to it.

An unclear setting: The majority of Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ movie series take place in a small town. While this is true for Cut, Color, Murder, I was unsure where this story took place. For about half the movie, I was confused over the story’s location. When I first saw the salon Ali works at, I thought the story took place in New York City. Because Fred Wright consistently wore a cowboy hat, I then thought Ali’s town was situated in Texas. Before realizing the owner of ‘The Jackson’ shared the restaurant’s name, I also thought the town was in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. At the film’s half-way point, I learned Ali, her family, and her co-workers lived in Idaho. Despite receiving this knowledge, the setting didn’t feel like Idaho. In fact, it looked and felt like any other small town from any other Hallmark production.

Few interactions with Ali and Kyle: A lot of mystery films from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries feature a male and female protagonist who eventually form a romantic relationship. In the case of Cut, Color, Murder, these protagonists are Kyle Crawford and Ali Bowden. Since it’s unknown at this time if this movie will lead to a series, it’s unclear if Kyle and Ali will come together as a couple. But compared to other Hallmark Movies & Mysteries projects, these characters didn’t spend much time together. Their limited interactions mostly took place in a professional context, whether at the police station or while crossing paths interrogating suspects. Unprofessionally, Ali and Kyle stayed in their own worlds and focused on their own careers. I liked the on-screen chemistry between Julie Gonzalo and Ryan McPartlin. Because of their short amount of time together on-screen, however, I don’t know how this chemistry is going to work in a long-term series.

Image of hair and makeup station created by freepik at freepik.com. Woman photo created by freepik – www.freepik.com

My overall impression:

As the saying goes, “put your best foot forward”. This can apply to any movie, television, or book series. From what I remember, most of the series from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries have not only put their “best foot forward”, but have also presented a collection of films I enjoyed watching. Like I said in my review, it’s unknown at this time if Cut, Color, Murder will lead to a series. But if it is, the movie certainly was a strong start to a potential one! This film gave the audience a variety of suspects, providing many possible directions to the final outcome. Sometimes, clues were discovered through the characters’ dialogue, which showcased the unique inclusion of some of these clues. Cut, Color, Murder displayed other strong qualities, such as the banter and chemistry among the cast. The work of salon employees hasn’t often been featured in Hallmark films. Depending on who you ask, this work can also be seen as important. But as I said in my review, I wish the story had been set in the pageant world. While watching Cut, Color, Murder, I kept thinking how different this story/potential series would be if it had been from Chelsea’s perspective. Come to think of it, Chelsea’s perspective would have made the story a little more interesting. But what will also be interesting, though, is what will happen if this story receives a second chapter.

Overall score: 7.5 out of 10

Have you seen Cut, Color, Murder? Would you like to see this movie become a series? Please let me know in the comment section below!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

The Top 10 Best Movies I Saw in 2021

Like I said in my list of the worst movies I saw in 2021, this year is a little different. Since 2018, most of the movies on my best list have been those I have reviewed. But a few titles on those lists weren’t covered on my blog. 2021 is the first year where every film on my best list has been reviewed on 18 Cinema Lane! It should also be noted how each of these titles were either blogathon entries or Blog Follower Dedication Reviews. Therefore, I will include a link to each of these reviews on my list! As I said in my worst movies of 2021 list, I saw several films this year that I liked. This article is reflective of those feelings. But unlike my aforementioned list, there will be Honorable Mentions. So, with that said, let’s end 2021 on a high note with the top ten best movies I saw in 2021!

Honorable Mentions

Cape Fear (1962), Bathing Beauty, Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Til Death Do Us Part, Elizabeth Is Missing, and The Girl Who Spelled Freedom

<a href=”http://<a href=”https://www.freepik.com/vectors/christmas”>Christmas vector created by BiZkettE1 – http://www.freepik.com</a>&quot; data-type=”URL” data-id=”<a href=”https://www.freepik.com/vectors/christmas”>Christmas vector created by BiZkettE1 – http://www.freepik.com2021 New Year image created by BiZkettE1 at freepik.com.

10. Poisoned in Paradise: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery

Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ Martha’s Vineyard Mystery series is a newer story that began last year. Despite how young this series is, it has grown over the course of four movies! This chapter not only recognizes its strengths, but also improves on some of the previous movies’ mistakes. Giving equal focus to the main and side mysteries is one example. Speaking of the mysteries, the overarching story was intriguing and engaging. There were even new characters added to this film I wanted to know more about. In Poisoned in Paradise: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery, Jeff’s story didn’t receive a lot of development. With this and everything else said, I hope this series continues in 2022!

Take 3: Poisoned in Paradise: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery Review + 360, 365, 370, and 375 Follower Thank You

9. A Star Is Born (1937)

In my three (soon to be four) years of movie blogging, I never thought I’d ever see any version of A Star Is Born. But now that I have seen the original from the ‘30s, I can honestly say it was better than I expected! The story’s honesty about the entertainment industry and maturity toward heavier subjects was such a surprise. What was also a surprise was the use of mixed-media throughout the film, as it was ahead of its time. Even though A Star Is Born was released toward the beginning of the Breen Code era, it highlights the quality storytelling that came from this period in time. With the constant changes in the entertainment landscape, as well as technology, I can kind of see why this story has been remade on more than one occasion.

Take 3: A Star Is Born (1937) Review

8. The King and I (1956)

In 2021, there is at least one movie from the ‘50s on my best and worst movies list. But since I already talked about I Dream of Jeanie and The Trap, it’s time for The King and I to shine! This was the first time I had seen this version of the story in its entirety. Despite that, I found the film to be quite enjoyable! It is a good looking and sounding film, with the costume design, musical numbers, and set design building an aesthetically pleasing picture. The most memorable part of the movie was Tuptim’s interpretation of Uncle Tom’s Cabin! As I said in my review, it served as a good example of how everyone can view a text differently. The scene itself was more interesting than I expected.

Take 3: The King and I (1956) Review

7. Holly and Ivy

Because Hallmark creates so many Christmas movies, it can sometimes feel like they blend together. However, that is not the case for Holly and Ivy! What helps this title stand out is showing realistic characters dealing with realistic situations. This is quite different from those Hallmark pictures where the conflict either revolves around returning to a small town, saving a beloved establishment, or planning a major event. The emotional balance within this story added to my enjoyment of the picture. It never felt like the creative team was trying to emotionally manipulate me or force a reaction out of me. Looking back on the few Christmas films I reviewed this year, I can say with all honesty that Holly and Ivy was the best one!

Take 3: Holly and Ivy Review

6. Rigoletto

In my opinion, Rigoletto is to Beauty and the Beast what Ever After: A Cinderella Story was for Cinderella. What I mean by this is Rigoletto does an effective job at executing a non-magical version of Beauty and the Beast! Even though there have been musical versions of this particular story, such as the 1991 animated production from Disney, the 1993 film chose music as one of the story’s themes. This was an interesting choice, as it showed the audience the talent and skill it takes to be a good singer. Another interesting choice was the story taking place during The Great Depression. As I said in my review, this creative decision helped the film achieve its own identity.

Take 3: Rigoletto Review + 350 and 355 Follower Thank You

A Star Is Born (1937) poster created by Selznick International Pictures and United Artists

5. Sincerely, Yours, Truly

This is the first year an UP Network movie has appeared on any of my best lists! While Sincerely, Yours, Truly does contain a similar story to those found on Hallmark Channel, it makes up of that in genuineness and sincerity. The movie also presented interesting ideas, such as a grant proposal process and avoiding the “it’s not what you think” cliché. The on-screen chemistry and witty banter between the lead actor and actress definitely added to my enjoyment of this film! I don’t know what’s in store for UP Network in 2022. But I hope they continue to release quality productions like Sincerely, Yours, Truly!

Take 3: Sincerely, Yours, Truly Review + 295, 300, 305, 310, and 315 Follower Thank You

4. Perry Mason: The Case of the Telltale Talk Show Host

This entry in the Perry Mason movie series is one of the most memorable titles! One of the reasons why was the titular talk show host. Featuring real life talk show hosts in this story was a good idea. Having them portray talk show hosts on the radio was an even better idea, especially since some of those hosts had their own television show. That creative decision gave them new material to work with. The engaging nature of the mystery, where the outcome unfolds as the story goes on, maintained a steady amount of intrigue. This served as another way Perry Mason: The Case of the Telltale Talk Show Host stood out in the mystery genre!

Take 3: Perry Mason: The Case of the Telltale Talk Show Host Review + 290 Follower Thank You

3.  The Love Letter

Over the years, I have enjoyed finding and watching Hallmark Hall of Fame movies from years, even decades past. Sometimes, there are hidden gems that can be discovered. 1998’s The Love Letter is one of those gems! Unlike Chasing Leprechauns, the creative team behind the Hallmark Hall of Fame title found a way to allow the realistic and whimsical aspects of the story to co-exist. In fact, the whimsical part of the movie is what made the project one of the most unique in Hallmark Hall of Fame history! The film does contain the elements you’d usually find in a production of this nature, such as historical accuracy. But that just adds to the strength of The Love Letter!

Take 3: Hallmark Hall of Fame’s The Love Letter Review

2. The Three Musketeers (1948)

Isn’t it interesting how another Gene Kelly movie made it to my best list’s top three? Despite the weird coincidence, I did enjoy this version of The Three Musketeers! There was so much about this project I liked, from the strength of the ensemble cast to the stellar fight choreography. However, the best part of the film was how much detail went into it. This can be seen in the set design and costumes, where research and care are also reflected. While I still haven’t gotten around to reading the novel this movie is based on, The Three Musketeers was definitely an entertaining story!

Take 3: The Three Musketeers (1948) Review

1. The Karate Kid (1984)

When it comes to the world of cinema, nothing beats the classics! The timelessness of 1984’s The Karate Kid allows the film to have a strong rate of re-watchability. The film’s story also contained ideas and messages that caused me to think, which is not something I’d expect from a sports movie. As I write this list, Mr. Miyagi’s words immediately come to mind. Whether it’s the famous “Wax on, Wax off” quote or his wisdom about karate, these words not only help The Karate Kid remain a memorable picture, but also give the audience something to apply to their lives. Add some exciting karate sequences and you have a solid film that has stood the test of time!

Take 3: The Karate Kid (1984) Review (Olympic Dreams Double Feature Part 1)

The Karate Kid (1984) poster created by Delphi II Productions, Jerry Weintraub Productions, and Columbia Pictures

Have fun in 2022!

Sally Silverscreen