2015 in Review: The Best of Lifetime

Today, I continue my look back at 2015 by posting my picks for the best of Lifetime!  My nominees for the best Lifetime films and performances are listed below, with the winners starred and listed in bold!  Congratulations to all the nominees and winners and thank you for making this one of the most entertaining years in my long history of watching Lifetime movies!


Best Picture
Babysitter’s Black Book, produced by Robert Ballo and Ken Sanders.
Cleveland Abduction, produced by David A. Rosemont and Stephen Tolkin
*A Deadly Adoption, produced by Fritz Manger, Max Osswald, Will Ferrell, and Adam McKay.*
If There Be Thorns, produced by Richard D. Arredondo and Harvey Kahn.
A Mother’s Instinct, produced by Oliver De Caigny and Timothy O. Johnson
Patient Killer, produced by Barbie Castro.
The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe, produced by Joseph Boccia, Don Carmody, and David Cormican.
The Spirit of Christmas, produced by Andrea Ajemian
Stalked By My Neighbor, produced by Robert Ballo.
The Unauthorized Beverly Hills 90210 Story, produced by Ian Hay.

Best Director
Jason Bourque for A Mother’s Instinct
Doug Campbell for Stalked By My Neighbor.
*Rachel Goldenberg for A Deadly Adoption*
Alex Kalymnois for Cleveland Abduction
Vanessa Parise for The Unauthorized Beverly Hills 90210 Story
Casper Van Dien for Patient Killer


Best Actor
Shaun Benson in Kept Woman
Dan Castellaneta in The Unauthorized Beverly Hills 90210 Story
*Will Ferrell in A Deadly Adoption*
Travis Hammer in The Bride He Bought Online
Adam Kaufman in A Mother Betrayed
Eric Roberts in Stalked By My Doctor

Best Actress
Josie Bissett in A Mother’s Instinct
Anna Camp in Caught
Kimberly Elise in Back to School Mom
Kelli Garner in The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe
*Taryn Manning in Cleveland Abduction*
Kelcie Stranahan in Stalked By My Neighbor

Best Supporting Actor
Ken Camroux-Taylor in Sugarbabies
MacKenzie Gray in If There Be Thorns
Richard Harmon in A Mother’s Instinct
*Patrick Muldoon in Patient Killer.*
Eric Roberts in A Fatal Obsession
Peter Strauss in Sugar Daddies.

Unauthorized Beverly Hills

Best Supporting Actress
Angeline Appel in Babysitter’s Black Book.
Barbie Castro in Patient Killer
Olivia d’Abo in Stolen From The Suburbs
Sarah Grey in A Mother’s Instinct
Jessica Lowndes in A Deadly Adoption
*Samantha Munro in The Unauthorized Beverly Hills 90210 Story*

Best Adapted Screenplay
*Cleveland Abduction, written by Stephen Tolkin*
If There Be Thorns, written by Andy Cochran.
The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroewritten by Stephen Kronish and J. Randy Taraborrelli.
Seeds of Yesterday, written by Darren Stein.
Turkey Hollow, written by Tim Burns and Christopher Baldi.
Wuthering High School, written by Delondra Williams.

Best Original Screenplay
*Babysitter’s Black Book, written by Richard Kletter and Michele Samit*
A Deadly Adoption, written by Andrew Steele.
The Murder Pact, written by John Doolan
Patient Killer, written by Bryan Dick and Brian D. Young.
Stalked By My Neighborwritten by Doug Campbell.
Stolen From The Suburbs, written by Alex Wright


Best Cinematography
*Cleveland Abduction, Richard Wong.*
Fatal Obsession, Ronnee Swenton.
If There Be Thorns, James Liston.
The Murder PactBranden James Maxham.
Patient Killer, Bernard Salzmann
The Spirit of Christmas, Michael Negrin.

Best Costume Design
Grace of Monaco, Gigi Lepage
If There Be ThornsShanna Mair, Rebekka Sorensen.
Kept Woman
*The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe, Gersha Phillips.*
Seeds of Yesterday, Claire Nadon.
The Spirit of Christmas, Jennifer Lynn Tremblay.

Best Editing
Babysitter’s Black Book, Ely Mennin
Cleveland Abduction, Henk Van Eeghen.
*A Deadly Adoption, Bill Parker.*
A Mother’s Instinct
Stalked By My Neighbor, Clayton Woodhull.
The Unauthorized Beverly Hills 90210 Story, Allan Lee.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
*Cleveland Abduction, Dugg Kirkpatrick, Susan R. Prosser, Tina Roesler Kewin, Alan Tuskes, Alicia Zavarella*
Grace of Monaco
If There Be Thorns, Jenine Lehfeldt, Tana Lynn Moldovanos.
The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe.  Jordan Samuel, Cliona Furey
The Spirit of Christmas
The Unauthorized Beverly Hills 90210 Story, Amber Crombach.

Best Original Score
Dangerous Company
Cleveland Abduction, Tony Morales.
Her Infidelity, Russ Howard III
Kidnapped: The Hannah Anderson Story, Matthew Janszen
*The Murder Pact, Matthew Llewellyn.*
Sugar Daddies.  Steve Gurevitch.


Best Production Design
Cleveland Abduction, Derek R. Hill.
*If There Be Thorns, Linda Del Rosario, Richard Paris.*
A Mother’s Instinct, Jason Sober.
The Murder Pact, Caley Bisson.
The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe.  Rocco Matteo.
The Unauthroized Beverly Hills 90210 Story

Best Sound
*The Bride He Bought Online*
Dangerous Company
If There Be Thorns
Stalked By My Neighbor
UnGodly Acts

Best Visual Effects
Becoming Santa
If There Be Thorns
Last Chance For Christmas
*Turkey Hollow*
When the Sky Falls
Wish Upon A Christmas

Tomorrow, I’ll post my picks for the worst 16 films of 2015!


Previous Entries In The Best of 2015:

  1. Valerie Troutman’s 25 Best, Worst, and Gems I Saw in 2015
  2. Necromoonyeti’s Top 15 Metal Albums of 2015
  3. 2015 In Review: The Best of SyFy

What Lisa Watched Last Night #124: Kidnapped: The Hannah Anderson Story (dir by Peter Sullivan)

Last night, I watched the latest Lifetime original movie, Kidnapped: The Hannah Anderson Story!

hannah-3_r620x349Why Was I Watching It?

The most obvious answer is because it was on Lifetime.  As y’all know, I love Lifetime movies, especially when they’re based on a “true” crime story.

As well, I am among those who, since 2013, have been fascinated and frustrated with the twists and turns of the Hannah Anderson kidnapping case.  Hannah was a 16 year-old cheerleader who was kidnapped by a family friend, James DiMaggio.  DiMaggio also murdered Hannah’s mother and younger brother.  When Hannah was finally found and rescued by the FBI, many questioned whether Hannah had been DiMaggio’s victim or his accomplice.

I can still remember when questions were first raised over Hannah’s role in DiMaggio’s crimes.  It seemed like everyone had an opinion.  There were some days when I felt like Hannah had to be innocent and then there were other days when I thought the exact opposite. Nearly two years later and I still go back-and-forth.  That’s the main reason I wanted to see Kidnapped.  I wanted to see whether this would be the film that would finally convince me one way or the other.

What Was It About?

The film begins with the FBI rescuing 16 year-old kidnapping victim Hannah Anderson (Jessica Amlee) and killing her kidnapper, Jim DiMaggio (Scott Patterson).  A traumatized Hannah returns home but soon discovers that some, in the media, are claiming that she collaborated with Jim to murder her mother and younger brother.  Hannah goes on a talk show to tell her side of the story.

What Worked?

Scott Patterson and Jessica Amlee gave good performances as Jim and Hannah.  Amlee was sympathetic throughout.  Patterson was properly creepy.

What Did Not Work?

The main reason that this case captured everyone’s imagination was because of the ambiguity of it all.  Nobody was quite sure how they felt about Hannah Anderson and, especially in the early days of the investigation, Hannah’s behavior gave a lot of people reason to feel uneasy about her story.  And while that’s probably not fair (who knows how any of us would act in a similar situation), it’s still the reason why people continue to debate the specifics of the Hannah Anderson kidnapping to this day.

Unfortunately, none of that ambiguity was present in the film.  The only voice heard is Hannah’s and those who had doubts about Hannah’s story are dismissed as being trolls and bullies.  In the process, a multi-layered mystery is reduced to just being the latest anti-bullying PSA.  Kidnapped: The Hannah Anderson Story had all the elements necessary to be a truly intriguing and potentially unsettling film but, in the end, it’s just a standard Lifetime movie.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

Considering the subject matter, I’d just as soon say that there were no “Oh my God!  Just like me!” moments.  However, that’s not quite true.  There were times that I cringed at the flashbacks to Hannah and Jim’s relationship before the kidnapping, because, when I was that age, I did have some similar relationships that, in retrospect, were more than a little bit creepy.  In particular, the scene where 40ish Jim says that he wishes he could “date” the 16 year-old Hannah brought back some less than fond memories.

Lessons Learned

Never underestimate the power of narrative ambiguity.