2020 Hallmark Christmas Movie Report

For the 3rd year, I am honored to report on new Hallmark Christmas Movies shown in 2020. The popularity of Hallmark Christmas offerings makes them the “go to” channel during the holiday season.  For Hallmark that season stretches from late October to early January when 40 new Christmas movies and another 150 favorites from previous years are shown almost 24/7.  

HALLMARK COMES THROUGH IN THE CLUTCH  

I am so pleased to announce that I saw all 40 of the new Holiday Movies.  But a greater accomplishment was Hallmark’s ability to deliver these films under the most trying circumstances.  During the lockdown, Hallmark took the time to work out an accelerated schedule that allowed them to streamline their typical 3-week shoot.  Film crews and actors were brought to film locations early to quarantine. In the movies, you will note fewer crowd scenes and many scenes with fewer actors.  But fewer animals?  I don’t understand.. More dogs were needed!  

In late June, filming began with 34 movies made in Canada and 5 more in the US.  Christmas in Vienna was filmed during December 2019.to capture holiday locations the city provided.   Filming most of the movies in Canada was very beneficial since our neighbors to the north have weathered the storm better than the US.  Hallmark also has a long-standing and good relationship with the film offices and studios in Canada. Vancouver is called “Hollywood North” due to excellent production facilities and locations from big city to rustic rural.  

HALLMARK GOES BROADWAY

With Broadway going dark, Hallmark was provided a unique opportunity to feature New York City’s best talent in One Royal Holiday.  The cast consists of 3 Tony Award Nominees and 1 Tony Award Winner.  Hallmark broke out their Royal Christmas Movie template.  A beautiful and friendly commoner from the US has a rough encounter with a snobbish Royal from a fictitious county. After some obstacles, including a stubborn Royal mom, love prevails.  The Connecticut location provided stately mansions, old castles, luxurious inns, and lush scenery. The movie features traditional music and dance performed by leads Laura Osnes and Aaron Tveit.

LOST HALLMARK MOVIE – A NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION - SURFACES

Last year I sadly reported only seeing 39 out of 40 Hallmark Holiday Movies.  A New Year’s Resolution never aired on its original viewing date of December 31, 2019.  Hallmark has decided to rebrand its January movies from Winter Fest to New Year.  Apparently this movie is considered a better fit for viewing in January rather than late December.  So A New Year’s Resolution will be shown on January 9, 2021,   

HALLMARK FILM FEATURES GAY COUPLE IN MAJOR ROLES  

Hallmark history was made in their 2020 movie The Christmas House.  In this movie the “Last Christmas in the Family Home” template is used to bring the Mitchell family together for a last Christmas before the home is sold by young realtor Andi (Ana Ayers).  The family consists of recently retired father Bill (Treat Williams), mother Phyllis (Sharon Lawrence), unemployed son Mike (Robert Buckley), baker son Brandon (Jonathan Bennett) and Brandon’s partner Jake (Brad Harder).  For some romance, Mike has a meet up with Andi who had a crush on him in high school.  Most of action revolves around outrageous decorating and abundant baking.   

Hallmark introduces the same sex couple with the assumption of total acceptance.  So the family acts as if they are a straight couple.  Maybe not real, but that’s Hallmark! 

HEAVY.COM WEBSITE AND AN INSIDE LOOK AT HALLMARK MOVIES

While pursuing additional information on each movie, I use a website that provides location, plot detail, actor background and most important, behind-the-scene pictures (see below) on the set. I try to use these candid photos for my report.   A google search of the film with a mention of Heavy.com usually provides the link.  

Brian Paevey and Erin Cahill from A Timeless Christmas doing a Facebook Q&A

HALLMARK MOVIE APP

With so many Hallmark Movies, I need a checklist that will keep track of movies I’ve seen and provide a timely alert for movies I have not seen. The Hallmark MovieChecklist is the app. The checklist also includes the prior year movies to be shown and carries forward indication of movies seen from prior year’s checklist.  A search feature makes it easy to find the movies.  With this app you will be sleeping better knowing that your Hallmark movie watching is not out of control. 

SPECIAL KUDOS TO LACEY CHABERT

Lacy gets extra credit for being the only female lead to appear in 2 Holiday Movies.  In addition, she bruised her ribs and broke her toe before filming Christmas Waltz.  What a Trouper!

THE 2020 HALLMARK CHRISTMAS MOVIE AWARDS

In the spirit of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, I announce the following 2020 Christmas Movie awards:  

The Darcy Award for Best Movie

I am pleased to award best picture to Christmas with the Darlings.  Darlington family lawyer Jessica Lew (Katrina Law) and rogue son Max Darlington (Carlo Marks) are given the unexpected task of watching over orphan nieces and nephew Emma (Islie Hironven), Abby (Madeline HIronven) and Henry (Anthony Bolognese). The playful rearing approach of Msx and the stern attitude of Katrina not only blend well in terms of caring for the children but also in developing a love interest. Hallmark veteran Katrina Law delivers her typical charming performance that works well into the chemistry with Carlo Marks.  The cute antics of the children keep the story moving.  A solid supporting performance by the family-business oriented son Charles (Steve Basic) reminds one of the all-work son vs all-play son in the movie Sabrina

The de Bourgh Award for Worst Movie

I select Deliver by Christmas as the worst Hallmark movie in 2020 with mixed feelings.  Widower and city newcomer Josh (Eion Baley) wants to provide the best Christmas ever for his son Charlie (Kelser Talbot). Josh and Charlie get involved in the city’s holiday festivities.  When Josh and Charlie go to a tree lot, they have a brief encounter with Molly (Alvina August), hard-working baker with no time for romance.  They part ways after viewing the same tree.    

Later Josh orders some cookies online from Molly not knowing they have already met.  A follow up inquiry on the order by Josh starts a series of soul searching phone calls. However, a misunderstanding causes a physical meet up to be delayed until the last few minutes of the movie.  Hallmark newcomer Alviina August deserves the Rookie of the Year award for her radiant perky performance that make this movie watchable.    

So what’s wrong?  The problem is the robotic performance of Eion Bailey as Josh.  His ultra serious relationship with son Charlie is performed in a worried manner that borders on paranoia. Josh’s behavior would make sense if he was under a witness protection program.   His phone dialogue is cluttered with trite.  Molly does her best to engage Josh in a meaningful conversation. So by the end, a budding relationship seems rushed and artificial. Some viewer reviews applauded the acting of Eion Bailey.  As far as I am concerned, a Hallmark movie doesn’t have room for a Brando type acting performance.  

The Bennet Lifetime Achievement Award

The last 2 years I awarded Candace Cameron Bere and Lacey Chabert the Hallmark Lifetime Achievement Award.  Both winners had Holiday movies in 2020.  Candace starred in If I Only Had Christmas; while Lacey did double duty starring in Time for Us to Come Home for Christmas and The Christmas Waltz The success of Hallmark movies lies in the leading actresses who do the heavy lifting.  In recognition of their importance, I have selected Danica McKellar for the 2020 Hallmark Lifetime Achievement Award.  

Danica has made 12 Hallmark movies over the past seven years including 6 Christmas pictures, including Christmas She Wrote this year. She also plays the role of a relationship consultant on the successful Matchmaker Mysteries, part of the Hallmark’s prestigious Signature Mysteries

Danica is a spokeswoman for the channel in press interviews during which she extols the positive effect of Hallmark movies on viewers especially during the Holidays. She also makes appearances on the daily Hallmark morning show Home & Family.  She embraces her place in the Hallmark family with a wholesome attitude. As result of her hard work, she gets some of Hallmark’s best scripts and usually pairs up with the best male actors.  

On theacademic side, Danica graduated summa cum laude from UCLA with a BS in mathematics.  She is a two-time New York Times bestselling author with books “Kiss my Math” and “Math Doesn’t Suck”.  Danica has come a long way since being Fred Savage’s girl friend on The Wonder Years.  

I am often asked two questions; “Is this year’s crop of movies as good as in prior years?” and “How come Hallmark Movies are so popular?”  The answer to the 1st question is a resounding “yes” based on the average IMDB user rating of 6.73 (out of 10) this year as compared to 6.52 last year.  In response to the 2nd question, I can only say that in these difficult times, watching Hallmark rather than CNN or MSNBC News sounds pretty good.