Christmas is a big deal at Hallmark Channel. Every year, the network churns out dozens of holiday flicks brimming with hot cocoa, cozy sweaters, and meet-cutes. This year, a whopping 40 new movies debuted across Hallmark Channel and its sister network, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. Some were charming and some were a little (or a lot) corny. But these five rose above the rest and made the list of our favorite Hallmark Christmas movies of 2022.
‘Ghosts of Christmas Always’ is Hallmark’s twist on ‘A Christmas Carol’
Every year brings new twists on A Christmas Carol. Ghosts of Christmas Always is Hallmark’s updated take on Charles Dickens’s classic story. Kim Matula plays a Ghost of Christmas Present who is sent to help Peter (Ian Harding), the very un-Scrooge-like heir to a grocery store empire, rediscover his Christmas spirit.
Spoiler alert: Yes, Peter falls in love with a ghost in this movie, which is maybe a little weird. But there are a few nice twists to this story, plus some genuinely touching moments toward the end when we learn about Katherine’s life before she died and her connection to Peter’s family. There’s also a pair of charming supporting performances from Reginald VelJohnson and a very funny Lori Tan Chinn as the ghosts of Christmas present and future. Overall, Ghosts of Christmas Always deftly mixes romance with comedy and also manages to touch on the fact that Christmas isn’t always a happy time for everyone, which helps it rise above the average fluffy holiday rom-com.
Jonathan Bennett plays a bachelor who falls for his sister’s handsome neighbor in ‘The Holiday Sitter’
For a network built on romance, Hallmark was disappointingly slow to recognize that love isn’t just for straight people. Fortunately, there have been some changes at the channel in the past few years, which means that we’re finally getting more stories featuring LGBTQ characters. Still, it took until 2022 for Hallmark to make The Holiday Sitter, its first Christmas movie with two male leads.
The story itself is run-of-the-mill Hallmark fare. Jonathan Bennett plays a big-city bachelor named Sam who is called on to babysit his niece and nephew around Christmas. He’s not thrilled about his sojourn in suburbia, but his attitude changes when he unexpectedly finds love with his sister’s handsome neighbor, Jason (George Krissa). Bennett hams it up in a delightful way, and he and Krissa have solid chemistry. There’s also a believable obstacle standing in the way of their happiness: Sam fears commitment, while Jason knows he wants to settle down and have kids of his own. Of course, it all works out in the end, and the two guys get the Christmas Day happily ever after we know they deserve.
‘A Cozy Christmas Inn’ is a sequel to a Candace Cameron Bure Christmas movie
One-time Hallmark star Candace Cameron Bure jumped ship to the more conservative Great American Family network earlier this year. But that didn’t stop Hallmark from moving ahead with a sort-of sequel to one of Bure’s most popular Christmas rom-coms: Christmas Under Wraps. Bure’s Full House co-star Jodie Sweetin takes over from her sitcom sis in A Cozy Christmas Inn. She plays a big-city business lady named Erika whose mean boss (Vivica A. Fox) sends her to the small town of Garland, Alaska, just before Christmas. Her mission? Convince the owner of the only hotel in town to sell his business. Of course, the owner, Andy (David O’Donnell), just happens to be Erika’s ex-boyfriend.
A Cozy Christmas Inn is chock full of Hallmark movie cliches. But the movie leans into its more goofy aspects. (The town of Garland has a secret that we won’t spoil, but that you can probably guess.) And Sweetin is amusing as a fish-out-of-water in a small town. Most notably, A Cozy Chrismas Inn is the rare Hallmark movie that acknowledges that sometimes things don’t work out after the credits roll. There’s a totally believable, non-tragic explanation for why Bure’s character, who ended up with Andy at the end of Christmas Under Wraps, is no longer in Alaska. If you’re a big fan of Christmas Under Wraps, you might want to skip A Cozy Christmas Inn, but otherwise, it’s worth adding to your to-watch list.
‘Lights, Camera, Christmas!’ pokes fun at Hallmark movie cliches
Want proof that Hallmark knows its Christmas movies can be a little cheesy? Look no further than the surprisingly meta Lights, Camera, Christmas! When a movie crew rolls into a small Colorado town to make a Christmas flick called My Favorite Santa, Kerry (Kimberly Sustad) gets roped into serving as the costume designer. That means she gets to spend a lot of time with the movie’s star, “King of Christmas” Brad Baxter (John Brotherton, who is clearly enjoying himself).
Brad has a Hollywood-sized ego, which doesn’t exactly endear him to Kerry. But there’s a definite spark between them, and their romance builds in a natural way. We like that the heroine ends up trading small-town life for an adventure in the big city, rather than vice versa. Plus, a big part of the story revolves around both Kerry and Brad wrestling over the next step to take in their life and career, not an attempt to throw the perfect holiday party or save the town’s Christmas festival. Our verdict: Come for the sly commentary on Hallmark movie cliches, stay for a romance between two characters who feel like actual people, not cardboard cutouts.
‘Three Wise Men and a Baby’ is one of the best Hallmark Christmas movies of 2022
Who knew that Hallmark would knock it out of the park this year with a riff on the 1987 comedy Three Men and a Baby? Three Wise Men and a Baby rounds up three of the channel’s leading men – Andrew Walker, Tyler Hynes, and Paul Campbell – and saddles them with caring for an adorable infant around the holidays. Hilarity and a heartwarming reconciliation between three estranged brothers follow.
Luke (Walker) a type-A firefighter; Taylor (Hynes) a snarky video game designer; and Stephan (Cambell), a socially awkward pet therapist, all still live with their infinitely patient mother (Margaret Collins, who played Tom Selleck’s girlfriend in Three Men and a Baby). When someone leaves a baby at Luke’s firehouse with a note asking him to take care of it, he does what anyone would do, and calls child protective services. Just kidding. He takes the baby home, fully expecting his mom to help with diaper duty. But she’s called away on a family emergency, and Luke and his brothers are left to care for the baby themselves. Chaos ensues, but in the process, the brothers learn something about themselves and are able to start healing their fractured relationship.
While Three Wise Men and a Baby is light on traditional Hallmark romance, it more than makes up for it in laughs, from the brothers’ rivalry with their meathead neighbor Mark LaClark to their choreographed Nutcracker dance routine It’s no wonder that this was the most-watched TV movie of 2022 on any network.
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