Lifetime and Hallmark TV movies have a reputation for being cheesy, sensationalist, or just plain ridiculously bad. Whether it’s due to a low budget, a tight schedule, poor acting, or something else, most of these films wouldn’t win Oscars even if they were eligible.
Although the rise of streaming services has made this category less popular as these services invest more in their movies, many are still being produced. This begs the question: what TV movies (with at least 5,000 IMDb reviews) were actually great movies?
10 Horatio Hornblower: The Duel – 8.0
Prior to his portrayal of Reed, Richards was one of the few things in the 2000s Fantastic Four film that has aged well, Ioan Gruffudd made his mark in two ways: He played the lifeboat captain titanicand played Horatio Hornblower in a number of television films.
The duel is the first in the series and follows Hornblower, a private in the British Navy during the Napoleonic Wars, on his rise to the rank of captain who was the focus of the original novels. The youthful Gruffudd gives a performance of stoic yet enthusiastic intelligence here that makes his casting as Reed Richards even more meaningful. Maybe he should return as a character in some form.
9 Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer – 8.1
As the most popular TV movie genre out there, Christmas movies are associated with romance and this started to be the case around the time of stop motion Rudolf the red-nosed reindeer debuted on television back in 1964.
A must-watch Christmas TV special full of funny quotes, Rudolph holds up quite well despite his almost 60 years, although some elements are dated or don’t really make sense of how Rudolph is treated by his father. The film became even more popular when home media meant viewers didn’t have to rely on television broadcasts to enjoy it.
8th Something the Lord made – 8.1
Something the Lord made Stars Alan Rickman and Mos Def as Alfred Blalock and Vivien Thomas, two pioneers in heart surgery who had a volatile relationship but were also pioneering doctors who together changed the world of medicine forever.
Thomas is one of many African American innovators historically overlooked by history, and Something the Lord made does a good job of bringing its story to light. The performances are great, the story is intriguing, and received nine Emmy nominations from both critics and audiences upon release.
7 It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown – 8.2
The cartoonist Charles Schulz has created something special with his strip peanuts, which debuted in 1950 and on which he worked until his death in 2000. Although many fans grew to love the characters from the newspaper, the TV specials stand out the most; They gave voices and movement to these delightful characters.
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown was first broadcast in 1966, but was already the third peanuts Special. The movie follows that peanuts Gang as they prepare for Halloween, while Linus in particular awaits the mythical Great Pumpkin.
6 An adventure in space and time – 8.2
A great movie for Doctor Who fans can be seen An adventure in space and timea 2013 BBC-produced biopic written by Doctor Who Writer Mark Gatiss on the original development of Doctor Who back to the 1960s.
The film focuses on William Hartnell, who played the first incarnation of the Doctor throughout the series, while also recounting the behind-the-scenes origins of how the show became what it is. Considering how durable and popular Doctor Who is, it’s an incredibly fascinating watch. But even for non-fans, it offers a compelling look at the making of a historical show that has a much broader appeal.
5 Temple Grandin – 8.2
Best known for her starring role in the TV show hometownClaire Danes portrayed and co-starred in the 2010 HBO film of the same name Temple Grandin, an autism advocate and innovator in farm animal treatment Schott’s Creek‘s Catherine O’Hara and nightmare alleyis David Strathairn.
The film is one of the better depictions of autism because it gets close to Grandin’s early life while giving a nuanced portrayal of what it’s like to live with autism. It’s not a superpower or something ridiculed; rather it is a different way of experiencing the world.
4 A Charlie Brown Christmas – 8.3
The best Charlie Brown’s Peanuts Special, A Charlie Brown Christmas was also the first TV special in the peanuts Series that aired in 1965 and helped cement the name “Charlie Brown” in viewers’ minds as the name of the franchise, as opposed to the original “Peanuts” for the comic strip.
The special itself received critical acclaim and influenced future Christmas TV specials, delivered a classic Christmas carol, and has been featured in venues as diverse as the FOX comedy series arrested development. Not bad for the “Made for TV” level.
3 How the Grinch Stole Christmas! – 8.3
It’s amazing to think that the Narrator and the Grinch were in the 1966’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas! are both voiced by Boris Karloff, who played the monster in the 1931s Frankenstein and its spin-offs, as well as the titular mummy in the 1932s The Mummy. He even won a Grammy for his grinch Role.
According to IMDb, this 1966 classic is the best Christmas special of all time and one of the best adaptations of Dr. seuss Even today, with versions by Jim Carrey and Benedict Cumberbatch, this one holds up as the best.
2 Larry David: Curb Your Enthusiasm – 8.3
Die-hard fans of Larry David Curb your enthusiasm know that the long-running comedy series actually started with this HBO TV special. It first aired on October 17, 1999, two days less than a full year before the actual series premiered.
Like the show that started it, the special follows a fictionalized version of His field Co-creator Larry David. Metafictionally, he introduces HBO to the idea of having an hour-long special and his experiences trying to prepare for the special once it’s approved. It’s not as good as the series that spawned it, but for fans of the show it’s a fun glimpse into its early days.
1 Heart of a Dog – 8.6
Amazingly, the best TV movie doesn’t come from the United States or Britain like previous movies; Instead, it originated in the Soviet Union during Mikhail Gorbachev’s tenure and was only allowed to be produced because of his liberalizing cultural policy of perestroika.
published in 1988, heart of a dog is a black and white adaptation of a novel written in the early years of the Soviet Union, as an allegory in the same way as George Orwell’s animal farm was. It is an artistic film that will delight cinephiles, especially those who are fans of Soviet cinema, for its atmosphere, cinematography and acting.
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