Here's a checklist of all the Hallmark original romance movies from 2020 along with my comments on those I've seen.
Special movies of note are marked Favorite, Good, Okay, and BAD.
✓ Good Winter in Vail (Winterfest • Lacey Chabert and Tyler Hynes • January 4, 2020)
Event planner Lacey Chabert inherits a chalet from her uncle in Vail. Quitting her crappy job that keeps passing her over for promotion, she heads to Vail where she meets a Tyler Haynes and they do not hit it off. But eventually warmer hearts prevail and they decide to host Strudelfest together in order to save a restaurant. Yes. I'm being serious. Tyler Hynes has a dry delivery that was flawless for his smartass character and made the entire movie for me. The beautiful Vail scenery is just icing on the cake.
✓ Love in Winterland (Winterfest • Italia Ricci and Chad Michael Murray • January 11, 2020)
Woman gets selected as the winner of a dating show and gets to take the bachelor guy back to her hometown (Winterland!) so they can find out if his pick results in true love. Of course her high school vision-board sweetheart is there, so now she's torn between the romance that didn't work out... and the handsome European guy who's falling in love with her. CAN YOU GUESS WHO SHE CHOOSES? This was a pretty boring movie, and the whole "dating show" angle was done far, far better in last year's My One and Only. Not only that, but Kewlona's Big White Ski Resort was used to much better effect in last year's A Winter Princess. And lastly, she should have picked Jack Turner over Chad Michael Murray!
✓ Good Love on Iceland (Winterfest • Kaitlin Doubleday and and Colin Donnell • January 18, 2020)
SHE'S a podcast producer in Chicago. HE'S a photographer who lives a nomadic life around the world. THEY dated when they were students at Northwestern University. Now they end up together again with friends on a vacation to Iceland. This is essentially a travel video for Iceland, which is to say it's fantastic because the country is fantastic. And boy did it make me want to go back. Much of the interaction with the native Icelandic actors (all excellent, especially the guy playing Jóhann) is klutzy and a little embarrassing... but it wouldn't be Hallmark if there wasn't a cheesy awkwardness to it. I enjoyed this one because it was actually shot on location in Iceland (instead of Canada doubling as Iceland, as Hallmark usually does) and they took full advantage of the scenery. But the best thing about it? Hallmark took the same story they've told a hundred times AND ACTUALLY DID SOMETHING TO MAKE IT DIFFERENT! I hope this trend continues because, holy cats, are these getting tired. UPDATE: The guy who played Jóhann is Jóel Sæmundsson and if Hallmark has a brain in their head, they will get him another movie. He is one of my all-time favorite Hallmark characters.
✓ Amazing Winter Romance (Winterfest • Jessy Schram and Marshall Williams • January 20, 2020)
An inspirational columnist has lost her inspiration. To get it back, her boss sends her back home to her small town to see if she can figure out what's missing in her life. Of course she runs into her old boyfriend (don't they always?). In this one, her bland boyfriend has build a giant snow maze, and apparently that's what it takes to turn things around. And while the whole maze idea is pretty cool, the idea that it would take AN HOUR to solve the thing is hilarious. A pity they slapped the tired old "journalist returns to her small town and ends up falling in love with her old flame" trope on top of everything, because I spent all 90 minutes swearing I had seen this one already. And the complete lack of chemistry destroys whatever hope there is for entertainment value, so I was checked out almost instantly. So... in the end... not so amazing.
✓ Hearts of Winter (Winterfest • Jill Wagner and Victor Webster • January 25, 2020)
Boy. Hallmark really didn't reach much with this one, did they? Widower's daughter enters a television contest to get a home makeover. When they win, designer Jill Wagner shows up and turns their lives upside-down while she fixes up their house... and their lives. Love ensues. Or does it? His love for his deceased wife could end things before they begin. I found it almost impossible to find anything interesting about this generic pain-by-numbers movie. Especially sad since Victor Webster usually ends up in stories that have at least a little more life to them.
✓ A Valentine's Match (Love Ever After • Bethany Joy Lenz and Luke Macfarlane • February 1, 2020)
TV personality gets fired from her job in San Francisco because she's lost her "oomph." Rather than sit at home worrying about it all, she heads back to hometown Portland so she can clear her head. While there she's manipulated into running into her former fiancé and running a Valentine's Day auction... with her ex, of course. After a while she starts to fall for him again, eventually finding out that when he broke up with her to go to art school in Europe that all was not as it seemed. Then her boyfriend shows up to surprise her and... predictability ensues. This is a fairly straight-forward Hallmark movie with good performances, great use of the song We Belong by Pat Benatar, and not a lot else.
✓ Matching Hearts (Love Ever After • Taylor Cole and Ryan Paevey • February 8, 2020)
FOR THE LOVE OF PETE, WHY ARE WE STILL DOING MATCHMAKER GETS MATCHED MOVIES?!? IT'S BEEN DONE TO DEATH! Drop-dead beautiful Taylor Cole works at a highly successful matchmaking service which has an algorithm that rarely fails. So of course she runs into a guy who thinks that matchmakers are silly. Then she runs into the same guy at her parent's flower shop... he just opened a pet adoption center down the street! Then she finds out that the guy is the half-partner owner of a ballroom she wants to rent... the other half-partner is somebody she matched of course. And just when you think that the coincidences couldn't possibly be more pathetic... the guy is in a magazine article telling people that his best dating advice is to stay single. AND THEN somebody at the matchmaking company wants to use him as publicity for their service and, YOU GUESSED IT, Taylor Cole is the one in charge of finding his perfect match! HOLY CRAP! YOU DON'T THINK HIS PERFECT MATCH WILL BE HER, DO YOU?!? If you don't, this must be your first Hallmark movie. This was just so frickin' pathetic and sad. I know there's a formula to Hallmark movies, but this one is 100% missable and not worth your time. You've seen it before... and done better than this mess.
✓ The Secret Ingredient (Love Ever After • Erin Cahill and Brendan Penny • February 15, 2020)
Pastry chef's ex-fiance pastry chef shows up in town from Paris just as she gets nominated to appear on a Valentine secret cooking face-off TV show in New York City. When she gets to NYC, she happens to run into her ex-fiance again. I wonder what he could be doing there? Surely it couldn't be to compete in the same competition? Of course it could be! Absolutely everything is about as predictable as you'd imagine for Hallmark... except the ending, which doesn't end up in a tie for once.
✓ Love in Store (Love Ever After • Alexandra Breckenridge and Robert Buckley • February 22, 2020)
Two home shopping network hosts are paired up to sell a variety of merchandise on a television show. But while they're together on the show, they're competing to take over the channel when their boss retires. Oh noes... you don't think they'll fall in love, do you? Yes you do. How could you not? You have seen a Hallmark movie before, haven't you? Nothing new to see here. Move along.
Just My Type (Spring Fever • Bethany Joy Lenz and Brett Dalton • March 28, 2020)
You're Bacon Me Crazy (Spring Fever • Natalie Hall and Michael Rady • April 4, 2020)
A food truck chef is out to win $100,000 by entering her food in a city-wide Portland contest. Just as she's gaining confidence in her chances, a guy opens up a "Mo-Bacon" food truck across the street and starts poaching her business. But will a friendly competition lead to romance? Oh probably. It's Hallmark. This is one of those cases where the movie ended up being less than the sum of its parts. I've always liked Michael Rady, and Natalie Hall starred in my second-favorite Hallmark movie of all time, A Winter Princess, so my expectations were rather high. But there just wasn't much here for the actors to work with. Every scene was by-the-numbers, the story was painfully straightforward with no surprises, and I couldn't help but think there was a better movie in here somewhere.
Fashionably Yours (Spring Fever • Kat Graham and Kendrick Sampson • April 11, 2020)
Haven't seen yet.
Nature of Love (Spring Fever • Emilie Ullerup and Christopher Russell • April 18, 2020)
Haven't seen yet.
Adventures in Love & Babysitting (Tammin Sursok and Travis Van Winkle • April 21, 2020)
Haven't seen yet.