I finally finished watching all of Hallmark Channel’s 31 2022 holiday movies. I have to say, all in all, the Countdown to Christmas holiday movies (including a Hanukkah and Kwanzaa movie) were, for the most part, pretty darn good.
Hallmark has said they were committed to diversity and inclusivity, and they definitely walked the walk this year. There were two Asian-Americian focused movies, three African-Americans, and even a same-sex couple as the featured romance. While there certainly is room for much more, this is progress in the right direction.
In addition to the diversity, Hallmark Channel did a lot right with the 2022 holiday movies. As in every year, there was some good acting, plus the writing this year was especially fresh and sometimes brilliant. Hallmark more than ever pushed beyond their typical formulaic storylines.
Another bright spot this year were the performances in the supporting roles. Several were downright iconic, often stole the scene.
As every Hallmark movie fan knows, kids in Hallmark movies are usually plagued with a blend of bad acting and terrible roles. At best, they are merely annoying. However at their worst, kids can make a movie unwatchable. Yet somehow in this season’s holiday movies, the kids were, for the most part, enjoyable characters.
Back in September, I did a complete preview ranking of the entire Countdown to Christmas lineup based on three criteria:
- The description Hallmark provided for the movie
- My understanding of the story and the trope
- The actors, writers, and producers involved in the movie.
I got some of them right and several of them wrong. Plus have to say, some were absolute shockers, both good and bad.
This ranking only discusses the Hallmark Channel’s Countdown to Christmas holiday movies. I will later rank the nine Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ holiday movies.
Ok, now that we have that out of the way, let’s get to the rankings of all thirty-one Hallmark holiday movies.
#31 - When I Think of Christmas
Preview Rank: #12
Stars: Shenae Grimes-Beech, Niall Matter, Beth Broderick
I had high hopes for this one. While I wasn’t expecting it to be one of the best, I certainly didn’t expect it to be the worst.
I like Shenae Grimes-Beech and Niall Matter had a strong performance earlier in the year in Rip in Time.
This is at the bottom of the rankings, not because it was the worst movie, but rather because it was simply just the least memorable. At least the next couple of movies elicited a response from me. Negative, but at least I felt something watching them.
#30 - The Most Colorful Time of the Year
Preview Rank: 26
Stars: Katrina Bowden, Christopher Russell
I didn’t have a lot of faith this one was going to be good, but it failed for a completely different reason than I thought.
I was expecting the plot of the color-blind teacher (Russell) to find the Christmas spirit through the help of the uber-beautiful optician (Bowden), to be corny. Ye somehow, with lots of suspension of belief often required in Hallmark movies, they actually pulled this plot off to be fun and cute.
So why did this bomb? Simple, there was way too much toxicity in the characters.
Bowden’s character had severe boundary issues. When a patient says they are not interested in pursuing treatment, and a doctor ignores their wishes and enrolls them in a medical study regardless, that is just too unsettling.
And as horrific as that is, she wasn’t even the worst character. Her ex-boyfriend goes full-scale stalker on her multiple times.
Any chance this movie had of being just a fun background holiday flick was ruined by the toxicity of these characters.
#29 - All Saints Christmas
Preview Rank: 17
Stars: Ledisi, Roger Cross
I was expecting more from this one. I typically like music plots, and the actors seemed intriguing.
Roger Cross did his job and was charming and likable. Ledisi, as expected, was sensational when she was singing. However, her acting isn’t there yet.
This was her first acting role, and it showed. I found her acting laborious and, at times, painful to watch.
I also never got any chemistry between the two of them. It was one of the movies where they hang out and, BOOM, are in love and want to be with each other. There was no simmering or brewing.
#28 Inventing the Christmas Prince
Preview Rank: 24
Starrs: Tamara Mowry-Housley, Ronnie Rowe Jr.
“Plus, I worry that the kid will have too large of a role, and for the most part, kids ruin Hallmark movies.”
While Grace was not a terrible actor or excessively annoying, she did have much too large of a role for a rom-com. As a result, this felt more like a family movie than a romance.
And speaking of romance, this is another movie where the romance just appeared.
Tamara Mowry-Housley and Ronnie Rowe Jr. were both likable but didn’t generate the chemistry.
And why do we watch Hallmark movies?
#27 Undercover Holiday
Preview Rank: 19
Stars: Noemi Gonzalez, Stephen Huszar
There was a lot of fun Hispanic dynamics in this movie; the rest of it was pretty much a hodge-podge.
I was counting on Stephen Huszar to make this one good but he wasn’t enough.
#26 A Royal Corgo Christmas
Preview Rank: 20
Stars: Hunter King, Jordan Renz
I don’t like royal movies.
I like Hunter King.
Mistletoe, the Corgi, was cute.
That sums it up.
#25 A Cozy Christmas Inn
Preview Rank: 28
Stars: Jodi Sweetin, David O’Donnell
This was total old-school Hallmark. The plot of the big city developer coming to the small town to buy her ex’s local business has been done too many times.
It wasn’t necessarily bad. It was just redundant.
There was one big shining star to this one. This sequel to Christmas Under Wraps starring Candance Cameron Bure starred her Full House co-star and ideological polar opposite Jodi Sweetin. With CCB’s departure from the Hallmark Channel, seeing her legacy erased by Sweetin was enjoyable.
#24 A Magical Christmas Village
Preview Rank: 10
Stars: Alison Sweeney, Luke Macfarlane, Marlo Thomas
I ranked this pretty high in my preview, so obviously, I had high expectations.
I ranked this pretty low in my recap, so obviously, I was disappointed.
The movie had a lot of promises but just never delivered. I didn’t hate it when I first watched it, but as new movies premiered, it just kept slipping down the list.
On a bright note, Maesa Nicholson was the first of many enjoyable kids in this year’s Countdown to Christmas.
On a weird note, Alison Sweeney’s character was named Summer. Summer in a Christmas movie? Grace, Noelle, Carol, Holly, Mary, or even Angelica. But Summer?
#23 A Holiday Spectacular
Preview Rank: 30
Stars: Ginna Claire Mason, Derek Klena, Eve Plumb, Ann-Margret
I ranked this pretty low in my preview, and I still have it towards the bottom here.
But it isn’t because it is a bad movie, its simply not my kind of movie. I am usually not into period pieces and am not interested in The Rockettes.
The movie is actually well-written (one of two scripts written by Hallmark legend Julie Sherman Wolfe), and the acting is solid. Ginna Claire Mason is someone I want to see again in another role.
Based on the Hallmark Instagram community, most people enjoyed this movie, and you probably will. But these are my rankings.
One thing that bothered me was the whitewashing of The Rockettes’ racist history. I don’t expect Hallmark Channel to be The History Channel, I don’t even want it, but it felt wrong for them to rewrite history on such an important topic.
#22 In Merry Measure
Preview Rank: 25
Stars: Patti Murin, Brendan Penny, Jennifer Robertson
This one pretty much ended up where I expected. It was a perfectly enjoyable movie. It wasn’t great; it wasn’t bad.
Patti Murrin was another tremendous new fresh face I hope to see in more movies down the road.
The real highlight of this movie was the secondary characters. Jennifer Robertson was fantastic and should have her own lead. The real star of this In Merry Measure is the Celine Dion-loving Rick (Garfield Wilson).
This was another Hallmark movie where the kids were fun characters. Not only were they not annoying, there were really talented singers.
#21 A Kismet Christmas
Preview Rank: 9
Stars: Sarah Ramos, Carlo Marks, Marilu Henner
I had such high hopes for this one. Magical cookies. The usually solid Carlo Marks and Marilu Henner paired with the delightful Sarah Ramos. All the ingredients for a surefire holiday hit.
But the kid (Jazzy) ruined it. It wasn’t so much her acting as it was the writing of her character. Everything that Travis (Marks) did was about Jazzy. EVERYTHING. I get being a dedicated father, but the guy had no life outside of his daughter, and it just annoyed me.
“Jazzy would like to decorate the tree.” “Jazzy would like some hot cocoa.” “Jazzy would like to come on a date with us.”
Maybe her stupid name triggered me so much, but Jazzy completely ruined this movie for me. I wish it spent more time on the magical cookies and the adults than on Jazzy.
OK, I need to lie down and calm down now.
#20 My Southern Family Christmas
Preview Rank: 22
Stars: Jaicy Eliot, Bruce Campbell, Ryan Rottman, Moira Kelly, Brian McNamara
This was a perfectly enjoyable movie. There were a lot of characters and a lot going on, but all in all, it worked.
Many people felt it dragged a bit, especially in Campbell revealing she was Everett’s daughter. But having personally gone through a similar scenario, I actually thought it was very realistic. Being cautious, even overly cautious, is totally reasonable.
While I connected personally to the film, there was also something I just didn’t connect with. I can’t really put the finger on it, but it is why a pretty good movie is here at #20.
#19 Christmas Class Reunion
Preview Rank: 13
Stars: Aimeé Teegarden, Tanner Novlan
In my preview, I hoped that Aimee Teegarden could carry a weak story, and that is what pretty much happened. But she had help with Hallmark newcomer Tanner Novian.
I was unsure who Novian was, but he proved he has what it takes to be a Hallmark leading man.
Skylar (Yasmeen Kelders) proved to be another talented kid actor that was able to successfully walk the line between being enthusiastic and annoying.
Overall, the movie was fun and enjoyable, but some structural flaws prevented it from being a top-ten holiday movie.
The most glaring was Elle’s (Teegarden) seeming ambivalence to her company’s collapse based on the founder’s fraud. She was more concerned with planning the class reunion than losing her job (and potential legal issues). But hey, it is Hallmark, so we can look past that reality stuff.
The ensemble cast was also interesting, but their stories were not fully developed due to what I assume were time constraints. That left me feeling a little empty—especially Samantha, who deserved more character development.
The main issue for me was this just seemed like a movie where Hallmark called the writer and had them tweak the script to change it from being a June release to making it a Christmas movie.
#19 A Big Fat Family Christmas
Preview Rank: 18
Stars: Shannon Chan-Kent, Shannon Kook, Tia Carrere, Jack Wagner
I predicted 18, and it came in at 19. I guess it met my expectations.
This was one of the two holiday films that featured Asian Americans. The overall premise of the movie was silly, but as I previously stated, so what? This is Hallmark.
How is the chemistry? That is what we care about, after all, right?
First, Henry (Shannon Kook) was a treat. He had a fantastic smile that immediately made you like him. Plus, he was utterly charming. A great lead.
Second, Henry and Liv (Shannon Chan-Kent) were an adorable couple, which makes us overlook the plot’s silliness.
#18 A Tale of Two Christmases
Preview Rank: 6
Stars: Kat Barrell, Chandler Massey, Evan Roderick
I had super high expectations for A Tale of Two Christmases. I love the alternate universe plotline. A couple of my favorite Hallmark movies are The Birthday Wish and Love Strikes Twice. And, of course, there is the iconic Sliding Doors’ that this imitates.
Unfortunately, this proved to be too big of a goal to be accomplished in the constraints of a Hallmark movie. I am unsure if the time constraint or the need for a happy ending ultimately led to the movie’s disappointment.
It would have really been interesting and quite bold had writers, Cylin Busby and Nanci Katz, ended without her choosing one life over the other. Based on her character, she seemed like should could have been happy with a good looking successful environmental lawyer.
The movie was actually fun and enjoyable. The characters were all likable. The final kiss was fire. Chandler Massey and Evan Roderick are both worthy leading men. Kat Barrell is truly a delight.
I just wanted more and sadly in the end, I felt let down. . s
Preview Rank: 23
Stars: Claire Bowen, Brant Daugherty
I still stand by the fact that this is the worst named Hallmark Christmas movie ever.
But the movie was better than I was expecting. Brant Daughtery is the guy every woman wants as a significant other. Claire Bowen, with her wickedly curly hair, is super cute.
The movie dealt with some serious issues (perfectionism, insecurity, etc.) while mainly remaining an entertaining rom-com. There was just some major clunkiness to the story that prevented this from being higher ranked.
#16 Christmas at the Golden Dragon
Preview Rank: 30
Stars: Kara Wang, Osric Cheu, Sara Canning, Antonio Cupo, Barbara Niven
This was one of the pleasant surprises of the Countdown Christmas season.
This was a fun ensemble cast with a variety of stories and characters. While this was enjoyable on the one hand, it was also its downfall on the other.
Osric Cheu was especially notable for his fantastic performance as Rick Chen, the wannabe heir to the Golden Dragon. He was equally adept in his role’s many facets; he navigated a romantic interest, a friendship, a complex family dynamic, and his personal aspiration to be a chef.
There were at least seven stories going on. This could have been a great movie if they had cut it down to five and developed them a little more.
But as is, it is still a movie that is worthwhile watching.
#14 A Fabled Holiday
Preview Rank: 2
Stars: Brooke D’Orsay, Ryan Paevey
This movie seems like a major disappointment, being ranked a loft #2 in my preview and then coming in at #14 in my recap rankings. But that is not entirely accurate.
In hindsight, I probably over-ranked this in my preview based on Paevey’s outstanding performance in Two Tickets to Paradise. Being paired with the cute and slightly quirky D’Orsay, and a magical script, I was expecting the same fun Ryan.
In A Fabled Holiday, he delivered his usual solid but emotionally-controlled performance. He was more Mr. Darcy than Josh Wyatt.
The story had a lot of magic, so, of course, we had to suspend belief and critical evaluation of a lot of the movie, but that is fine.
All in all, the movie was entertaining movie and D’Orsay was refreshing, as always.
#13 We Wish You a Married Christmas
Preview Rank: 16
Stars: Marisol Nichols, Kristoffer Polaha
Many people questioned my sanity about having a Kristoffer Polaha movie ranked in the middle of the pack.
Well, here is what I said then:
“Well, based on the overview, this movie seems like it is kind of a downer, with Nicholas and Pohala portraying an unhappy couple. Hopefully, they get to the cute reconnecting part early and don’t get us blah before they make us feel good.”
Unfortunately, my fear was valid. Despite excellent performances by both Nicols and Polaha, the movie was mostly a downer. I just don’t want to see a scene in a marriage counselor’s office.
The movie is actually quite good; it is just misplaced. It should have been over on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, which is more appropriate for a story as serious as this one. Yes, it had its funny moments, but at the end of the day, this was a romantic drama, not a rom-com.
#12 Noel Next Door
Preview Rank: 27
Stars: Natalie Hall, Corey Sevier
Go read my preview of this movie. You will see I was very pessimistic about this movie. Very pessimistic. I was almost mad at Hallmark for starting the season with a movie I was sure was going. to be a flop.
Well, guess what? Noel Next Door was enchanting. I was totally wrong.
Previously when you saw a movie featuring Natalie Hall, you knew it would be disappointing. She seemed to be handed every bad script Hallmark had. But when she was finally given the opportunity to shine, Hall seized it with a stellar performance.
Corey Sevier, who seems like he is suddenly in every other Hallmark movie, was equally good. He played a curmudgeon that was likable.
They had fantastic chemistry that was missing the last time they paired up in Road Trip Romance.
While not perfect, the movie was a heck of a kick-off to Countdown to Christmas.
#11 Holliday Heritage
Preview Rank: 21
Stars: Lyndie Greenwood, Brooks Darnell, Holly Robinson-Peete
Ok, call me a hypocrite, but like We Wish You a Married Christmas, this movie was probably better suited for Movies & Mysteries, yet I still ranked it pretty high.
And you know what, I don’t really have a reason other than Lyndie Greenwood, Holly Robinson-Peete, and Darlene Cooke all contributed to an amazing story of the complexities of a family dealing with grief and change.
The movie also introduced me to Kwanzaa, which seems like a pretty cool holiday based on some great traditional family values. Not the kind of exclusionary ones they peddle over on GAC.
#10 Jolly Good Christmas
Preview Rank: 5
Stars: Reshma Shetty, Will Kemp
I was expecting heat in this movie. Off-the-chart heat. I didn’t think it was possible to wrong with these two insanely attractive leads as long as the script let them unleash their sexual energy. All would be fine.
Will Kemp playing an American while camouflaging that delicious British accent?
I just wanted to see their blistering chemistry. I wanted to feel it!
Sadly, it turned out it was possible to write a story that restrained their intensity.
Reshma was gorgeous, and Will was charming. The story just didn’t generate much chemistry between them. And that was a drag.
It makes me too sad to talk about so I am just moving on.
#9 The Royal Nanny
Preview Rank: 31
Stars: Rachel Skarsten, Dan Jeannotte, and Greta Scacchi
“So maybe they will overcome the lousy trope, but doubtful.”
Well I was wrong. So wrong.
Instead of being called The Royal Nanny, maybe this should have been called The Royal Shocker.
Harry and Meghan have been less shocking than this movie being, not just watchable, but darn good.
Rachel Skarsten was magnificent as the MI5 agent going undercover as a nanny.
Dean Jeannotte was the best Hallmark prince ever.
The kids were funny and likable
The story had a fun mystery that was actually not predictable.
What can I say other than this movie was just a whole lot of fun to watch and one of the best of the holiday season?
#8 Three Wise Men and a Baby
Preview Rank: 15
Stars: Paul Campbell, Tyler Hynes, Andrew Walker, Margaret Colin
I ranked this movie 15th in my preview because I was worried there would be too many stories to develop any of them sufficiently.
Paul Campbell and Kimberley Sustad handled that quite well in their fun script of this spin on the 80s classic movie.
Tyler, Andrew, and Paul were all enjoyable, developed individual and collective characters.
The story had a lot of laughs, and Fiona (Ali Liebert) and Susie (Fiona Vroom) were excellent as the brothers’ romantic interests.
The baby could not have been any cuter. This kid was seriously adorable.
The movie smashed cable viewership records and is undoubtedly the most popular holiday cable movie ever.
I still think this would have been even better broken up into three chapters, like The Wedding Veil Trilogy. But it is still a must-see.
#7 'Twas the Night Before Christmas
Preview Rank: #7
Stars: Torrey DeVitto, Zane Holtz
I expected this to be a refreshing and entertaining movie, and it delivered.
Torrey DeVitto was exquisite and engaging. I simply could not take my eyes off her when she was on the screen.
Zane Holtz played perfectly opposite her. There was excellent chemistry between the two of them.
I spent the second half of the movie pleading for them just to kiss as the romantic tension grew and grew.
The movie also featured magical characters that could easily come off as corny, yet instead were, well, magical.
#6 A Christmas Cookie Catasrophe
Preview Rank: 1
Stars: Rachel Boston, Victor Webster
This was my top-ranked movie in my preview, primarily on the expectations of Rachel Boston (my #1 ranked Hallmark Actress) and Victor Webster (my #2 ranked Hallmark actor). She is always magnificent, and he is always charming.
But I also found a cookie caper to be an intriguing storyline.
The movie didn’t disappoint.
It was fun. It was cute. It was romantic.
It was everything we want in a Hallmark Christmas movie.
One of the best characters was Sam’s (Webster) daughter, Bella, played by Averie Peters. She was absolutely adorable and quite hilarious as his over-eager sleuth of a daughter. It would be great if every kid in Hallmark movies were as delightful as her.
The only reason this movie is ranked so “low” is just how good the movies are that are ranked higher.
#5 Lights, Camera, Christmas
Preview Rank: 3
Stars: Kimberley Sustad, John Brotherton
I will be honest; I had this movie ranked so high because, like everyone else on this planet, I love Kimberley Sustad.
She could read the dictionary, which would probably be a top-ten movie.
But this movie was so much more than just Kimberley (who was exceptional, by the way).
John Brotherton was fantastic in creating a character with a movie star ego, yet remained likable and relatable. No easy task.
The script, written by Gary Goldstein, is a masterful movie-in-a-movie parody of the Hallmark Christmas movie industry, filled with intelligent dialogue, funny lines, and endearing romance. (not just of the leads either)
This could easily have been my top-ranked movie had it not been for a fateful director’s decision to rush the ending resulting in a messy final five minutes.
#4 Hanukkah on Rye
Preview Rank: 11
Stars: Jeremy Jordan, Yael Grobglas, Lisa Loeb
Some people have complained that this movie included every Jewish stereotype. But I can say, as someone raised in a Jewish household, these aren’t stereotypes – this is what it was really like!
I loved this movie because there was fantastic, and I mean amazing, chemistry between Jacob (Jordan) and Molly (Grobglas).
But it was also hilarious. It was as if writer Julie Sherman Wolfe knew my uncle Schlomo, Aunt Henia, and the rest of my relatives.
But you didn’t have to be Jewish to enjoy this. It delivered all the feels viewers want in a Hallmark rom-com.
It was just a great holiday movie that just happened to be about Hanukkah.
#3 Haul Out the Holly
Preview Rank: 4
Stars: Lacey Chabert, Wes Brown, Ellen Travolta, Peter Jacobson, Melissa Peterman, Stephen Tobolowsky
I said Lacey Chabert doesn’t make bad movies, and Haul Out the Holly proved me right.
This movie put the comedy in romantic comedy. It was hilarious from start to finish. The movie had every form of comedy, from the cerebral to slapstick.
With her performance, Lacey proved why she has always been the Queen of Hallmark. For most of the movie, she was the straight one letting Wes Brown, and the absolutely hilarious duo of Melissa Peterman and Stephan Tobolowsky, do the heavy lifting in the laughs.
But when it came time for her to step up and show her comedic skills, Lacey proved she was more than up to the challenge. And it was a pure delight seeing her show this rarely-seen side of her talents.
In addition to the great cast, there were a couple of surprise cameos (another theme this season) that were absolutely delightful.
The movie was just hilarious. ‘Nuf said.
#2 The Holiday Sitter
Preview Rank: 14
Stars: Jonathan Bennett, George Krissa, Chelsea Hobbs
I will be honest; this movie had me nervous.
While Hallmark Channel has made a concerted effort in the last couple of years to be more inclusive with their characters, this was their first time featuring a same-sex romance as the primary romance in a movie.
The haters were going to come out in full force, and if Hallmark didn’t get it right, it would have made it hard to defend.
Fortunately, Jonathan Bennett partnered with Greg Baldown and Tracy Andreen to write a great movie. It beautifully showed love is love, and a rom-com is a rom-com. It was funny, tender, romantic, and plain fun.
Bennett (Sam) and his wacky physical comedy paired brilliantly with George Krissa’s (Jason) subtle yet effective wit.
While Bennett could make us laugh with his arms flailing, Krissa could do it with the slightest side-eye.
This was yet another movie where Hallmark got it right with kids that were cute and, well, not annoying.
Chelsea Hobbs was perfect as Sam’s sister, and her amazing bangs deserved their own recognition.
The movie beautifully addressed the challenges an LGBTQ couple can face in trying to have a traditional relationship without getting preachy.
The movie was both much bigger than just a Hallmark holiday movie and just another great Hallmark holiday movie at the same time.
#1 The Ghosts of Christmas Always
Preview Rank: 7
Stars: Kim Matula, Ian Harding, Beth Leavel, Lori Tan Chinn, Reginald VelJohnson
This was my entire preview of The Ghosts of Christmas Always: “The dude from Die Hard! Enough said.”
First, I will say I wasn’t wrong. Reginald VelJohnson was amazing as the Ghost of Christmas Future.
But it was so much more than just him that made this movie the best of this year’s Countdown to Christmas line-up and, maybe, the best movie of the year.
The story was unique and very well-written. While there is a Hallmark formula that us fans accept and actually embrace, Ghosts of Christmas Always had me unsure of what was going to happen next. It would lead you down a path only to surprise you with an unexpected fork in the road.
The performances by the entire cast were nothing short of spectacular.
Lori Tan Chinn and Reginald VelJohnson were so good as the Ghosts of Christmas Past and Future. They masterfully let Kim Matula and Ian Harding shine with their supporting roles.
While we mentioned them, Ian Harding was so so so good as a leading man. He was charming, funny, caring, and vulnerable.
And Kim Matula. I will just sum up her performance that if every Hallmark movie, from now through eternity, featured her as the lead, I would not complain. I would have to bust out the Thesaurus to come up with enough adjectives to describe what an amazing job she did.
If you only watched one Hallmark movie this year, this is the one you should pick.
2022 Holiday Movies and onto 2023...
There we have it.
All 31 Hallmark holidays ranked. Some were surprised (good and bad!) and others delivered just what we expected.
It is important that to remember that these are my rankings based on my tastes and what I look for in a movie For example, I had one person reach out to me on Instagram and tell me that The Most Colorful Time of the Year was her favorite movie of Countdown to Christmas. They are wrong of course, but the point is we all have our own preferences.
We were introduced to a lot of new faces that were refreshing and enjoyable. This new wave of talent should help anyone that was concerned over the departures of Candance Cameron Bure, Danica McKeller and the rest of the actors that signed with GAC.
Hallmark is better than ever. Time to start looking forward to 2023.