We Ranked All of Hallmark Channel's 2020 Christmas Movies—and You're Going to Have Some Feelings

Countdown to Christmas came to an end on Dec. 20, with the last of the network's 39 seasonal rom-coms airing. So which movie was our favorite of the season?

By Tierney Bricker Dec 21, 2020 12:34 PMTags
Watch: Candace Cameron Bure Tells Why People Love Christmas Movies

Not all heroes wear capes. But we do wear Hallmark-branded slankets.

It's mere days before Christmas and we've officially watched 78 hours of new Hallmark Channel Christmas movies. Let us repeat that: 78 hours. (So next time Aunt Nancy asks what we're working on and what exactly it is we "do" for a living, we'll be proud to show her this.)

Countdown to Christmas, the network's longrunning programming event, kicked off on Oct. 24, with four new movies airing every weekend. (Sorry Halloween and Thanksgiving!) Between Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, 2020's slate had 39 movies. The wicked think they don't rest? Try scheduling your life around Hallmark movies.

And Candace Cameron Bure's annual showing on the Sunday after Thanksgiving weekend has always marked the peak of C-to-C (How we refer to Countdown to Christmas in our home, obviously), bringing to a close a week of new movies. We truly had no room for stuffing and mashed potatoes 'cause we were stuffed from Hallmark. 

 Alas, all good things must come to an end and the final two movies of the 2020 season aired. And, we don't know, maybe it was the emotion of it all ending, but it may have just been the best night of programming between the two networks. So did Cross Country Christmas or Project Christmas Wish manage to pull off a Christmas miracle and take the top spot on our ranking?

Breaking Down Hallmark's Roster of Leading Ladies

As we noted when the line-up was announced, Hallmark's slate was more diverse and inclusive than ever and we definitely noticed subtle shifts in the movies. But that welcome (and belated) change doesn't mean every flick was worthy of canceling recordings of some of our beloved Bravo shows to make room for more than three dozen (!) of these candy cane-filled and cheerily cheesy movies.

Hallmark Channel

Without further ado, here's our ranking and let us preface this by saying we know for longtime Hallmark fans this isn't personal and it's not business. No, it's personal business. So please know this comes from a place of love and a heart of snark.

WORST: The Christmas Ring (Hallmark Movies & Mysteries)

OK, we are just going to pull the band-aid off quick here: This really was not good. Like, at all. Its two biggest offenses? It was illogical (saying something for a Countdown to Christmas offering) and it was boring. And, worst of all, it never paid off one of the biggest storylines with the lead not locating her mom's lost wedding ring after looking for it the ENTIRE movie. Like that piece of jewelry, we'd sadly like The Christmas Ring to be nowhere to be found when it comes time to schedule repeat airings.

A Godwink Christmas: Second Chance, First Love (HMM)

It may be time to retire the Godwink franchise ‘cause it's a no for us on this snoozy one. Also, note to writers: Your lead cannot ponder (multiple times, mind you) what would've happened if had had made a different choice in life IF HE HAS CHILDREN. At least Brooke D'Orsay and Sam Page looked, like, super pretty together?

Christmas With the Darlings

Sorry, but we can't get over the fact that the family's last name in the movie is Darlington but they just decided to make it Darlings in the title. We notice these things! Anyway, our time with the fam was more meh than darling, if we're being honest.

A Glenbrooke Christmas (HMM)

Excuse us, but Autumn Reeser, the artist formerly known as Taylor Townsend on The O.C., deserves better! Like, it was fine? But the big obstacle for the couple being that he doesn't like rich people felt forced and weaker than our resolve when we see a table full of peppermint-flavored treats. 

Christmas She Wrote

Listen, we loved seeing two of Hallmark's top talents—Danica McKellar and Dylan Neal—team up. But, um, maybe just not in this movie? The stars felt miscast in the story of a fired columnist being wooed to return by the boss who let her go. One of the rare Hallmark movies where we actually rooted for the lead to pick the other guy!

Chateau Christmas

We know we watched this movie and distinctly remember liking the leads—Merritt Patterson and Luke MacFarlane—and yet we cannot tell you for one million candy canes what it was about. And we love candy canes!

Time For Us to Come Home For Christmas (HMM)

We loved the concept—five strangers are brought together at an inn by a mystery host—but we did not love the execution. Definitely the lesser of the two Lacey Chabert outings this season. Apologies to her father, the inventor of Toaster Strudel. 

A Christmas Carousel

Why this was not titled The Prince and the Painter is beyond us, especially when you consider another movie had a time-traveling carousel. Now that the unnecessary rant is out of the way, we'll just say out of Hallmark's many movies about a royal just wanting to find love on their own terms and ending up with a commoner, this one definitely doesn't make it to the top of the list—not even for this year. Sorry Neal Bledsoe, but we are powerless when it comes to Aaron Tveit as a singing prince. It's not you, it's us. 

And listen, we know most people come to these movies for the romance, but we definitely would've liked to see more time given to the relationship between Lila (Rachel Boston) and her father. 

Jingle Bell Bride

It's never easy going first and JBB (cool if we call you that?), while charming, was a victim of an early debut. Like a snowflake during a light flurry, the memory of it melted from our minds before it had the time to stick.

Meet Me at Christmas (HMM)

Is there anything more aggravating than a character attempting to explain a prior incident for an entire movie, only for another character to not want to hear it? Yeah, that happens until like, the last five minutes of this one, making for a somewhat aggravating viewing experience. Spoiler alert: Mark Deklin just wanted to tell you he stood you up because HE AND HIS LITTLE BRO WERE LITERALLY HIT BY A CAR, CATHERINE BELL. Bonus points, though, for staging one of the most beautiful outdoor winter weddings we've ever seen. We want to go to there.

Christmas Tree Lane (HMM)

Not even the power of Andrew Walker, one of our favorite leading men, and the musical talents of Alicia Witt could save this one from being tossed in a pile of many subpar movies that have come before it. Still, we're not sure we'll ever get over Walker's character realizing he's technically the bad guy set to demolish Christmas Tree Lane MIDWAY through!

Never Kiss a Man in a Christmas Sweater

Despite having two of our favorite leads—the always-quirky-yet-inviting Ashley Williams and the underrated Niall Matter—this one never lived up to its full potential. And by that we obviously mean that iconic title.

The Christmas Doctor (HMM)

One scene in this movie completely saves it: Traveling doctor (Holly Robinson-Peete) learning the man who brought her into a charming small town is the father of a soldier she treated and lost while working as a military physician. Reader, we wept. Oh, and Luke Holmes as the leading man…please Hallmark Channel, may we have some more?

A Little Christmas Charm (HMM)

Brendan Penny and Ashley Greene's early courtship in this one felt so modern we almost felt like we could've been watching a Netflix rom-com. Like, he asks her out one minute after bumping into her on the street. Bold! Still, the mystery of the lost charm bracelet wasn't enough to drive the whole movie, unfortunately, and the most interesting character was the random woman who pretended to be the owner because she knew it was worth a lot of money. Like, what is her backstory?!

If I Only Had Christmas

In her most recent Christmas movies, the queen of the C-to-C programming Candace Cameron Bure has gotten more ambitious and pushed the boundaries of Hallmark. This one, a modern homage to The Wizard of Oz, was her biggest swing yet. So props for that, but unfortunately, it doesn't totally work and we wish they would've actually gone more over-the-top with the references and storyline. Instead, there was a standard plot with just a few, at best, vague and, at worst, forced nods to the classic film. Still, there's no lead like CCB.

A Nashville Christmas Carol

Can we just say how sick we are of the "single hardworking woman needs to learn there are more important things in life than work" trope? We feel attacked! Anyway, this country music spin on A Christmas Carol is as charming as it can be. (But, like, no Christmas Future?! Damn those time constraints!) Solid performers Wes Brown and Jessy Schram do their things, but IRL country stars Wynonna Judd, Sara Evans, RaeLynn and Kix Brooks steal the show purely by feeling sort of out of place. Oh, and network mainstay Kimberly Williams-Paisley made a choice when it came to her take on the Spirit of Christmas Present.

The Angel Tree (HMM)

The premise had us intrigued: Reporter returns to the small town she grew up in determined to unmask the identity of a mysterious wish-granter after the desire she placed on the titular tree went unfulfilled. And the leading lady had us excited. We love a Jill Wagner movie in this house. So it is with much (OK, just a little) sadness that we express our total meh-ness when it came to The Angel Tree.

Christmas in Vienna

"Sarah Drew is just so charming" was a sentence we said aloud to absolutely no one no less than six times while watching the Grey's Anatomy alum play a violinist who somehow never practices during her trip to Vienna despite heading there to perform one of the most important pieces of her life. Who cares when there are endless desserts to be consumed and a romance with a widowed diplomat (Brennan Elliot doing his Brennan Elliot thing) to be sparked?

Christmas Comes Twice

The only thing we love more than a magical carousel giving someone a second chance at love is a Mowry sister starring in a Hallmark rom-com. Tamera Mowry-Housley is charming as an astrophysicist (a rarity in the party planner and teacher-filled Hallmark universe) transported five years into the past, hoping to make a difference in her life. Of course, that includes a romance with a childhood rival (Michael Xavier, how you doin'?!). 


The Christmas Waltz

The chemistry between network darling Lacey Chabert and the charismatic Will Kemp (costars in Love, Romance & Chocolate) as a heartbroken woman and her dance instructor fully explains why celebs fall for their partners on DWTS. (Also, her ex-fiancé's pure suckage legitimately made us LOL.)

Swept Up By Christmas (HMM)

Is Lindy Booth the most sincere female lead on the Hallmark roster? Quite possibly. And she is evenly matched with Justin Bruening—he who recently made Netflix viewers swoon on Sweet Magnolias—as an antique dealer and a cleaner who clash when downsizing a magnificent estate...until, you know, they fall in love. So yeah, the storyline wasn't the most thrilling or inventive, but it was charming enough. (And the B story romance centering on Joshua Cassidy's Mike was sweeter than a gingerbread man.)

USS Christmas (HMM)

We've said it before and we'll repeat it now: If Hallmark were to assemble a leading man in a lab, it would come out looking exactly like Trevor Donovan. And the 90210 vet deliver his best performance for the network yet as a Navy lieutenant whose Grinch-like views melt after basking in the warmth that is Jen Lilley's charm. Military stories is a pool Hallmark loves to dip its toe in and USS Christmas is one of its better offerings.

A Christmas Tree Grows in Colorado

Did you hear a collective gasp ring out across the country at approximately 8:57 p.m. ET on Nov. 24? It's because the two leads kissed for the first time at that mark. Yes, clutch those pearls because a couple actually kissed before the midway point of the movie. Shooketh, we were.

Aside from that PG-13 moment, this one was pretty much what you'd expect: Erin (Rochelle Aytes) is trying to get single adoptive dad/firefighter Kevin (Mark Taylor) to give her his spruce tree. Sadly, not a euphuism. 

A Timeless Christmas

This is straight-up a Kate & Leopold rip-off. Luckily, we are low-key stans for that Meg Ryan and Hugh Jackman joint, so we didn't mind! Alas, we do wish they would've milked the whole hot-old-timey-dude-can't-deal-with-modern-times bit more.

Heart of the Holidays

So no one told Vanessa Lengies she wasn't acting in a Netflix Christmas rom-com and it shows. It's also a good thing. (And it also makes sense when you discover it's the only movie Hallmark acquired for their programming slate that wasn't their own.) The Glee star is feisty and fun in a role as old as time: Hardworking girl returns to her small town from the big city and reconnects with the ex-boyfriend she left behind. Arguably Hallmark's most millennial-feeling movie and it's noticeable but not in a way that is distracting. Dare we say this, mostly because of Lengies, was the most pleasant surprise of the season thus far? 

The Christmas House

First: It's about damn time a Hallmark movie featured an LGBTQ+ lead couple. Second: No, that's it. It was about damn time.
This film—actually inspired by star Robert Buckley's real-life festive home growing up, for real!—took on a lot, not just the expectations of featuring the network's first gay romance. There were virtually six leads (with Buckley and Mean Girl's Jonathan Bennett really shining as brothers), three major storylines and one underserved adoption storyline. Funny and, at times, meta, The Christmas House was a little messy but in a way that worked. Still, Bennett's character's marriage felt on the periphery of the action and a little token when their desire to start a family was more than A-plot worthy.

Christmas By Starlight

Paul Campbell is a curious Hallmark leading man. Why? Because he acts with an awareness that he is in a Hallmark movie. And that works totally in his favor in Christmas By Starlight, which he wrote with co-star Kimberely Sustad. Filled with more with more wit than probably half of the rest of the slate combined, the duo pushed the material as far as the network would allow. But, really, at the end of it all, it was a pretty run-of-the-mill story with just a few extra winks ands quips. 

Props, however, for fully winking at Sustad's resemblance to Schitt's Creek star Annie Murphy by naming her character Annie. We love that journey for her.

Cranberry Christmas (HMM)

Nikki DeLoach could literally knock over our Christmas Tree and we'd apologize to her, that's how much we love her. And man, does she bring it in Cranberry Christmas as an aspiring Joanna Gaines-like lifestyle personality torn between advancing her career and nurturing her struggling marriage. Yes, Hallmark actually featured a couple on the brink of separation, which is so rare it'd be like Snooki popping up in a Martin Scorsese movie. Alas, we were hoping they would've explored that dynamic even more. Baby steps!

One Royal Holiday

Listen, make Aaron Tveit a prince who sings and we are going to like your movie. This is a scientific fact. One Royal Holiday enlisted Tveit and fellow Broadway stars Laura Osnes and Victoria Clark to win us over and give us a much-needed dose of the Great White Way after its shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Cross Country Christmas

Maybe it's the fact that this aired on the final day of 2020's C-to-C and we're, at this point, delirious, but this may just be the most hijinksy movie in Hallmark history. But it's not a bad thing and Rachael Leigh Cook (always charming!) and Greyson Holt bring a banter reminiscent of Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds in The Proposal to their misadventures. 

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