The best Hallmark movies offer up a mix of what the network is known for: romantic comedies, holiday fare, and even tear-jerkers. The first Hallmark movie, Amahl and the Night Visitors, came out in 1951, soon after the Hallmark Corporation started the channel to promote its products. This started a trend among American companies to start their TV networks. Hallmark is the only channel remaining from this era and is still going strong and producing quality movies.
Many of their movies over the years have earned critical acclaim and have been more than well-received by fans. It’s the rare Hallmark movie that is so popular that it earns a sequel or ends up producing a series of films. There is one thing all the best Hallmark movies have in common: they all explore love in its many forms, whether that is familial, romantic, or platonic.
15 Don’t Go Breaking My Heart (2021)
Don’t Go Breaking My Heart has one of the most unique Hallmark movie concepts among its romances. While a lot of the channel’s modern movies pair up main characters who have two very different lifestyles, this particular movie pairs up two people who approach the aftermath of a heartbreak a little differently.
Italia Ricci stars as an instructor at a boot camp that helps people heal from a broken heart. Ryan Paevey stars as the journalist investigating whether her methods actually work. Naturally, the two fall for one another. While the outcome of the movie, like most Hallmark romances, is easy to predict, it’s the journey that is fun and original for the network.
14 The Magic Of Ordinary Days (2005)
The Magic of Ordinary Days takes place during WWII. former teen star Kerri Russell stars in this Hallmark movie as a young woman, Livy, who unexpectedly gets pregnant out of wedlock and is sent by her father to marry a lonely farmer who lives in rural Colorado. The farmer is immediately taken with her and is looking forward to the birth of the baby, while Livy is slow to warm up to her new life.
Eventually, Livy learns to love her new life, along with her patient and supportive new husband, and the two fall in love. This movie is a lighter period drama that is full of sweet moments. It’s a great example of what the network offers in its historical romance movies.
13 Once Upon A Christmas Miracle (2018)
Former Friday Night Lights star, Aimee Teegarden, plays the role of Heather, a young woman who is in need of a liver transplant. She unexpectedly meets a stranger, Chris, who is not only her perfect match but also volunteers to give her half of his liver. The two develop a strong friendship and eventually fall in love. This movie really lives up to its name and brings so much hope for the holiday season.
It’s also a great showcase for Teegarden and Brett Dalton, who often end up in supporting roles. Dalton is best known as a villain in Marvel’s Agents Of SHIELD, but this Hallmark movie allows him to be at his most charming, while fans of Teegarden’s teen roles get to see her in a more mature light.
12 The Nine Lives Of Christmas (2014)
One of the most popular Christmas movies from the Hallmark Channel, The Nine Lives Of Christmas got a sequel nearly a decade after its original premiere. The movie combines many of the tropes Hallmark is known for in its holiday romances, but it does it with the added bonus of a cat.
Brandon Routh stars as a firefighter named Zachary who finds himself adopted by a stray cat. He seeks help in taking care of the cat from Kimberly Sustad’s Marilee, a veterinary student. The two slowly fall for one another, and Zachary gets to have a new cat as well. While Hallmark movies often focus on the unexpected bonds between people, this one focuses on the unexpected bond between a person and a cat, which provides a new way for the network to highlight a character’s personality in this unique holiday tale.
11 The Lost Valentine (2011)
This Hallmark movie is the story of enduring love that stars Betty White and Jennifer Love Hewitt. Betty White plays Caroline, a woman who was separated from her husband during WWII when he went missing in action. Before disappearing, he made a promise to his wife that he would meet her at the train station where they said goodbye. Since then, she has waited at the train station on their anniversary, Valentine’s Day, for her husband to return for 60 years.
A reporter (Jennifer Love Hewitt) learns of the story and joins the search for her husband, the lost Valentine. Betty White delivers an exceptional performance that is both stirring and equally full of her usual charm. It’s hard to dislike any project Betty White is involved in and even the most cynical of movie fans will enjoy her performance here.
10 The Wedding Veil (2022)
Fans who love movies like Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants will likely enjoy this movie. One of Lacy Chabert’s best Hallmark movies, The Wedding Veil is part one of a trilogy that tells the tale of longtime friends who find an enchanted bridal veil that unites its bearer with her true love. They purchase the veil together and then take turns using its magic in their lives.
Avery (Lacy Chabert) is the first of the trio to find love. The remaining movies follow the love stories of her other two friends. This is by far the most lighthearted movie on the list and definitely a bright spot. Chabert has definitely found her niche in Hallmark projects.
9 A Season For Miracles (1999)
A young woman, Emilie, and her niece and nephew end up stranded in a small town called Bethlehem right before Christmas. A series of coincidences and kind acts from the people of the town give the trio a chance at happiness. Emilie finds love with one kind stranger, Nathan, who goes to extra lengths to help her and the children ensure they have a magical holiday.
This is the story of an epic journey to keep a family together that pays off. Parts of it may be a little cheesy to those who aren’t Hallmark Channel aficionados, but the movie has the charm that makes a lot of the holiday season offerings popular. A Season For Miracles features great performances by Carla Gugino, Laura Dern, Mae Whitman, and Patty Duke as well.
8 November Christmas (2010)
Starring Academy Award Nominee Sam Elliot, this is a story of a farmer named Jess, whose son passed away many years ago and becomes involved in helping a young family. The father, Tom (John Corbett), and mother, Beth (Sarah Paulson), have a daughter who is seriously ill. Fearing that she will not live through the year, they are determined to make sure her remaining time is happy.
With the help of Jess, they are able to celebrate Halloween and Christmas months ahead of schedule with the pumpkins and Christmas trees he provides. With the best Hallmark Christmas storyline of the decade, this is a truly remarkable and heartwarming film, best watched with a loved one.
7 Beyond The Blackboard (2011)
This movie was inspired by a true story about a first-time teacher in Albuquerque, New Mexico, who teaches homeless children in a shelter. One of Emily Van Camp’s lesser-known movies, she stars as Stacey Bess who is a mother of two and fresh out of college when she steps into her first classroom.
She overcomes fears and prejudices to give the children the education they deserve with the support of her loving husband. This movie can hold its own among other great teacher movies such as Freedom Writers and Stand And Deliver.
6 The Best Bad Thing (1997)
Based on a children’s book with the same title, The Best Bad Thing is the story of a young Japanese-American girl who lives in northern California during the Great Depression. She is sent to her aunt’s rural farm during the summer in order to “build her character” and work.
During her time on the cucumber farm, she not only learns the value of hard work but also learns the value of her Japanese-American heritage. This is a sweet coming-of-age story about the importance of positivity and learning to overcome. It’s also one of the rare Hallmark movies to feature an Asian-American story, one of the most underrepresented groups among Hallmark’s projects.
5 Promise (1986)
Promise is the most awarded single program in the history of television, including five Emmy Awards for Best Picture and Best Actor and two Golden Globes. It is the story of Bob Beuhler (James Garner), a man who has long been absent from his family. When his mother dies, he returns home to inherit her estate and take care of his brother, D.J. (James Woods), who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and epilepsy.
Bob had always promised to look after his brother, but he is eager to leave again. Slowly, he and his brother build a relationship and heal their scars, including the ones left by his childhood sweetheart. This movie deals with some very significant issues and is not for the faint of heart, but has a beautiful ending.
4 A Smile As Big As The Moon (2012)
A Smile As Big As The Moon sounds as wonderful as the title. John Corbett makes the list again, this time playing Mike, a special education teacher and football coach in Michigan. Hoping to build his students’ self-esteem and expand their worlds, he decides to take them to Space Camp.
Although the camp is for gifted students, he sees it as an opportunity to realize an incredible dream, especially for one particular student who has always wanted to become an astronaut. This movie will leave the viewer with a smile and a strong desire to go to Space Camp, no matter one’s age.
3 The Watsons Go To Birmingham (2013)
The Watsons Go To Birmingham is a beloved middle-grade novel about a Black American family that travels to Alabama in 1963. Hallmark adapted that novel into a TV movie in 2013 with a cast that includes such talents as Skai Jackson, Anika Noni Rose, and David Alan Grier.
The movie sees the Watson family try to come together when the oldest child is rebelling. That coming together is done in a time of civil unrest in the American South as the Civil Rights Movement comes to a head. The Watsons witness first-hand what it means to be Black in the South in the ‘60s. It’s not the usual historical drama for Hallmark, which often sets romances along the backdrop of war. The story of family and community set it apart from Hallmark’s other historical offerings and makes it one of Hallmark’s best movies.
2 Front Of The Class (2008)
First of The Class is the story of Brad Cohen (James Wolk), a young man who goes undiagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome for the majority of his life and struggles to fit in and find success. An understanding principal takes him under his wing and helps him, encouraging him to fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming a teacher.
This is a touching story about a man who overcomes his past and achieves what he has always wanted for his life. It also examines how others react to Cohen when his outbursts are not in his control, holding a mirror to society and how the world views anyone considered different from the norm.
1 The Color Of Rain (2014)
Lacey Chabert is one of the most prolific Hallmark Channel actors, so it’s no surprise that she would appear in more than one of Hallmark’s best movies. While Chabert is probably best known for more romantic comedies through Hallmark, The Color of Rain leans more toward the dramatic side of Hallmark’s catalog.
Chabert stars opposite Warren Christie as a widow grieving the loss of her husband to cancer. To help herself through the grieving process, Chabert’s character starts volunteering at the school of her sons. There, she meets Christie’s character, a recent widower himself with young kids. Their families bond in their grief and their healing, and the two fall for one another. The movie is a great exploration of grief and moving forward, but also the communal opposition to that as rumors spread about the two characters, and not all of their kids are ready to move on.