2015 Hallmark Movie(s) of the Year

Ribbon

The final awards of the year go to the best Hallmark movies of the year.  This year they cranked out 18 new Christmas movies, and another 18 non-holiday movies.  First up, the non-holiday awards.

Winner non-holiday category: I Do, I Do, I Do

Rating 7.3

Why it won: A groundhog-day type movie, repeating her wedding day over and over until she gets it right.  This movie was hilarious, but probably unintentionally so.

Runner-up: All of My Heart

Rating 7.25

Why it didn’t win: Genuine chemistry between the two leads and the best sidekick Hallmark has produced yet, but can’t overcome the sheer absurdity and hilarity of I Do, I Do, I Do.

Honorable Mention: Love on the Air

Rating 7.15 (review here)

Why it didn’t win: It was a tough year in the non-holiday category, and this likable film didn’t have the humor to beat I Do, I Do, I Do nor the characters to best All of My Heart .

Dishonorable Mention: So You Said Yes

Rating: 5.6

Why I didn’t like it: Kelly Martin plays a sanctimonious, arrogant, hypocrite, who thinks she knows it all, but is wrong almost every time.

Now for the Christmas Category, brought to you by Folgers fake-coffee.  Every movie this year had a warehouse-sized Folgers canister prominently displayed on the counter (sometimes with a random close-up of the “coffee.”)

Winner Holiday Category: On the Twelfth Day of Christmas

Rating: 7.15

Why it won: A logical and believable film (a rarity for Hallmark) with a solid enjoyable cast.  It represented Christmas well.  Review here.

Runner-up: 12 Gifts of Christmas

Rating: 6.74

Why it didn’t win: The conflict that arose was probably illegal.  All the characters reeked of desperation. Review here.

Honorable Mention: Crown for Christmas

Rating: 6.6

Why it didn’t win: It’s exactly like all the other princess movies.  Review here.

Dishonorable Mention: Karen Kingsbury’s The Bridge

Rating: NA

Why I didn’t like it: The logic was missing.  A couple has a miscarriage, so they decide to move to Tennessee from North Carolina to start a bookstore.  I imagine the book explained this decision a whole lot better than the movie.  It would be an injustice to dimensional space to describe the lead characters as flat.  Their personalities were null.  For a large portion of the movie, there was no conflict, perhaps because they decided to stretch this movie into two movies, to be continued in 2016 – seriously?  We have to wait a whole year to find out what happens?  I don’t care that much to wait.  No review, no rating until the

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Hallmark Movie Review: Christmas Land

 

christmasland-poster

Aired: 12/20/15

Hallmark likes to recycle plots (see all the princess/royalty movies, e.g.)  It is rare though, that they have the same plot twice in the same year.  Christmas Land has the same plot as Northpole: Open for Christmas shown earlier this year: A woman inherits a Christmas location, her intention is to sell it, but then has a change of heart, yet sells it anyway, then the contract is torn up, happily ever after.

Jules inherits Christmas Land from her grandmother.  It is completely understandable that Jules would want to sell it – her life is in NYC, she has a new promotion and a boyfriend there.  Christmas Land is somewhere in the mountains (we are never told where), so she cannot have both – her life in New York and Christmas Land.  When she announces her intention to sell it and not re-open it, the townspeople are jerks to her.  Apparently, they cannot run Christmas Land without a figurehead.

Jules sells Christmas Land without reading the contract (a contract that was way too short, I think I filled out more paper work to adopt a cat than the contract she signed.  Real Estate contracts have dozens of pages to sign, but I digress.)  It comes as a surprise to her that the man she sold it to wants to develop the land and essentially tear down Christmas Land.  If she truly wanted to keep Christmas Land intact, she should have stipulated that in the contract – rather easy for her lawyer boyfriend to do– something as simple as the land shall not be subdivided, and/or Christmas Land is to be operated in perpetuity.

Since she did none of the smart things, she begs for the contract to be torn up – the new owner agrees, but only if she buys it back for nearly double the selling price.  She finds the money through an investor and with help from Christmas Land employees, who happen to have nearly $500,000 lying around.  Christmas Land must pay really well.

While the plots are the same, what separates Christmas Land from Northpole: Open for Christmas is the acting.  The acting in Christmas Land was a significant downgrade from Hallmark’s usual standard (take that however you want).

Rating: 5.55

Ranking: 62

61. Charming Christmas

63. Best Christmas Party Ever

2015 Movie of the Year

movie of the year

Much like Book of the Year, eligibility for this award goes to any movie I have seen for the first time this year regardless of release date.  I will caveat this by saying I have not seen Force Awakens yet.

Winner: The Martian

Rating: 9.0 (Review here)

Why it won: Prototypical example of how movies should be made.  It had a good story, acting, and special effects.  There was high tension, but comical moments.

Runner-up: St. Vincent

Rating: 7.5 (Review here)

Why it didn’t win: St. Vincent was funny, but the main character was unlikable – only saved by the incomparable Bill Murray

Dishonorable Mention: Hot Tub Time Machine 2 Rating 4.0 (Review here) Why I didn’t like it: Crude-humor movie that failed to live up the original.

It sure felt like I watched more movies than the 15 that I reviewed in the second half of the year, but that is it.  I might have to make a New Year’s Resolution to watch more movies.

2015 New TV Show of the Year

tv show of the year

Another Award – New TV Show of the Year.  Unlike the Book of the Year, this award goes to a show that premiered in 2015.  There were over 400 scripted shows on TV this year.  I did not watch all of them.  With the quantity of shows out there, new shows need to do something special to break into a very crowded lineup.

Winner: Mr. Robot

Rating: 8.0 (Review here)

Why it won: In the era of procedurals, this unique drama had the viewer constantly guessing – what’s real, what isn’t?

Runner-Up: Limitless

Rating: 7.5 (Improved from pilot rating of 6.51)

Why it didn’t win: As much as it improved from the pilot, it still amounted to little more than a procedural, but the humor and creativity were top notch.

Honorable Mention: Fargo – Season 2, is not technically eligible for the award, but with an entirely new cast, this is a almost a new show.  Rating: 7.0 Why it didn’t win: It isn’t eligible, but I might have made an exception right up until the UFO – seriously, what the heck was that?

Dishonorable Mention: Blood & Oil Rating 2.0 Review here Why I didn’t like it: Other than bad plot, characters, and dialogue this show was still bad.

There was more bad than good this year.  I hope the midseason replacements will do better.  The best show on TV remains The Americans with a rating of 9.0 (The Walking Dead is second with 8.5).

2015 Food Establishment of the Year

food of the year

This award goes to any food establishment – food truck, or brick and mortar location.  It also doesn’t matter if I have eaten there before or not, as long as I ate there during the past year.

Winner: Lola Mexican Fish House

Rating 7.9 (Review here)

Why it won: Good food, and good atmosphere

Runner-up: 1515 Restaurant

Rating: 7.5  (Review here)

Why it didn’t win: The food was as good as Lola, but overall I thought the value was better at Lola

Honorable Mention: Taco Fest food.  Why it didn’t win…

Dishonorable Mention: Taco Fest organization.  Just a disaster of an “organized” event.  40 minute plus waits just to get to a food truck.  I heard of two-hour waits just to get into the event.

 

2015 Book of the Year

Book Character with trophy

By now, you are probably sick of end of the year lists.  Good, now it is time for What’s Worth Your Time’s awards.  First up – Book of the Year.  The rules are simple, I must have finished reading it in 2015 – it doesn’t matter when it was published.

Winner: The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicle #1) by Patrick Rothfuss

Rating 9.3 (Goodreads Rating: 4.55/5)

Plot: Kvothe relates the story of his remarkable life to a chronicler.  He starts as a tinker’s (gypsy) son, his parents are murdered when they sing the wrong song.  As an orphan, he lives on the streets until he is old enough and he joins an exclusive magic school.  The title of the book comes from the magic system – when you know the true name of something, you have power over it.  The wind’s true name is ever-changing (like wind itself), so to learn the name of the wind is a truly remarkable feat.

Why it won: Well-written, fast paced, interesting magic system, past events and current events are linked – we don’t know how, but we want to.

Bonus: Lionsgate bought the rights for both TV and movie.  It will translate well to the screen.

Runner-Up: The Way of Kings (Stormlight Archive #1) by Brandon Sanderson

Rating: 9 (Goodreads 4.62/5)

Why it didn’t win: Until I read The Name of the Wind, it was the best book I had read in a couple years.  It probably would have won last year, but the magic system is too similar to his Mistborn series [one caveat, that might bump this up – it is hypothesized that all his books are inter-related and that they all just take place on different planets (he has a sci-fi series or two out there.)]

Honorable Mention: The Wise Man’s Fear (Kingkiller Chronicle #2) Rating: 8.9 (Goodreads: 4.56/5)  Why it didn’t win: The sequel to the book of the year, but it had digression upon digression, each digression a couple hundred pages, so it was probably 400 pages too long.

Words of Radiance (Stormlight Archive #2) Rating 8.8 (Goodreads: 4.76/5).  Why it didn’t win: Every bit as good as The Way of Kings, but I didn’t like the focus character as much.

Dishonorable Mention: Wizard’s First Rule (Sword of Truth #1) by Terry Goodkind Rating: 3.0 (Goodreads: 4.12/5) Why I didn’t like it: Horribly written, contradicted itself in the first 100 pages, also already saw the TV series The Legend of the Seeker

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Neffenegger Rating: 4.5 (Goodreads 3.93/5) Why I didn’t like it: Questionable logic, confusing POV’s, storylines unanswered.  Full review here.

It was a tough year to crack into even the honorable mention list, with #4 rating a startling 8.8.  Not making this year’s cut is Joe Abercrombie’s First Law Book 1 – The Blade Itself, but easily could have made the list.  Next year may also be a difficult year.  Abercrombie’s First Law series, highly regarded Robin Hobb’s Farseer trilogy, and a Brandon Sanderson book are all sitting in my queue for 2016.  Not to mention I have been eyeing Steven Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen series – though that has very mixed reviews with a love it or hate it reputation.

Hallmark Movie Review: On the Twelfth Day of Christmas

12th day of christmas hallmark

Aired: 12/12/15

Hallmark movies are so similar to each other that it’s a wonder why sometimes they work, and sometimes they don’t.  On the Twelfth Day of Christmas has the same basic plot as every other Hallmark movie, but it works better than most.

Mitch, a college DJ, who gives Maggie a ride home for Christmas.  When they are caught in a snowstorm, Mitch gives Maggie a Christmas to remember.  Ten years later Mitch moves to Maggie’s hometown to run the local radio morning show.  He’s different, though, the death of his mother on Christmas soured him on everything Christmas.  Maggie is determined to get Mitch’s Christmas spirit back – she gives him a series of Secret Santa gifts that are meant to inspire him.  She doesn’t count on being assigned to write the story for the local paper, violating every journalistic standard there is by creating the story she is writing.  From there it is the standard Hallmark fare.  She gets a big out-of-town promotion; he finds out she lies; he gets mad; they make-up in the final five minutes; they live happily ever after.

As standard as this plot is, On the Twelfth Day of Christmas is an enjoyable film.  The gifts are fantastic and represent the spirit of Christmas well.  Mitch and Maggie are believable as a couple.  All the actions of the characters are logical.  The sidekicks are awesome (Mitch’s production manager and Maggie’s sister).  It’s the best movie of the season so far.

Rating: 7.15

Ranking: 5

4. A Very Merry Mixup

6. Matchmaking Santa