2018 In Review: The Best of Lifetime

Today, I continue my look back at the previous year with my picks for the best of Lifetime in 2018!  Below, you’ll find my nominations for the best Lifetime films and performances of 2018!  Winners are starred and listed in bold!

(As a guide, I used the credits for the imdb.  If anyone has been miscredited or left out, please feel free to let me know and I’ll fix the error both here and, if I can, on the imdb as well.)

(For my previous best of Lifetime picks, click on the links: 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017)

Best Picture

The Art of Murder, produced by Neil Elman, Bryce Fishman, James Lourie, Hannah Pillemer, Edgar Rosa, Fernando Szew

The Bad Seed, produced by Justis Greene, Harvey Kahn, Elizabeth Guber Stephen, Mark Wolper.

Believe Me: The Abduction of Lisa McVey. Produced by Mary Petryshyn, Charles Tremayne, Jeff Vanderwal

Cocaine Godmother, produced by Jamie Goehring, S. Lily Hui, Jonathan Koch, Stephen Michaels, Andrew Molina, Alisa Tager, Shawn Williamson.

Conrad & Michelle: If Words Could Kill, produced by David Manzaners and Judith Verno

*The Girl in the Bathtub, produced by Kevin Leeson, Emanuel Pereira, Diane Sokolow, Rachel Verno*

Girl in the Bunker, produced by Kim Bondi, Stephen Kemp, Thomas Vencelides

I Killed My BFF: The Preacher’s Daughter.  Produced by Len Murach and Rick Van Meter.

No One Would Tell. Produced by Shawn Angeliski, Paddy Bickerton, Martin Fisher, Lisa Richardson, Danielle Von Zerneck

Terror in the Woods. Produced by David Eubanks, Les Franck, Adam Freeman, Leslie Greif, James Heerdegen, Ashley Hudson, Christina Ricci, Eric Tomonsanus, DJ Viola

Best Director

Jim Donovan for Believe Me: The Abduction of Lisa McVey

Gail Harvey for No One Would Tell

Seth Jarrett for I Killed My BFF: The Preacher’s Daughter

Rob Lowe for The Bad Seed

*Karen Moncrieff for The Girl in the Bathtub*

Guillermo Navarro in Cocaine Godmother

Best Actor

Burgess Abernethy in Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance

Kevin Fonteyne in Lover in the Attic

Rob Lowe in The Bad Seed

Austin P. McKenzie in Conrad & Michelle: If Words Could Kill

*Eric Roberts in Stalked By My Doctor: Patient’s Revenge*

Henry Thomas in The Girl in the Bunker

Best Actress

Haylie Duff in Deadly Delusion

McKenna Grace in The Bad Seed

Caitlin Stasey in The Girl In The Bathtub

Bella Thorne in Conrad & Michelle: If Words Could Kill

Megan West in I Killed My BFF: The Preacher’s Daughter

*Catherine Zeta-Jones in Cocaine Godmother*

Best Supporting Actor

Juan Pablo Espinosa in Cocaine Godmother

David Fierro in Lover in the Attic

Joel Gretsch in I Killed My BFF: The Preacher’s Daughter

Patrick Muldoon in A Tale of Two Coreys

*Jason Patric in The Girl in the Bathtub*

Rossif Sutherland in Believe Me: The Abduction of Lisa McVey

Best Supporting Actress

Krista Allen in Party Mom

Cara Buono in The Bad Seed

Angela Kinsey in Terror in the Woods

*Lydia Look in Mistress Hunter*

Jenny Pellicer in Cocaine Godmother

Katherine Reis in I Killed My BFF: The Preacher’s Daughter

Best Screenplay

The Bad Seed.  Barbara Marshall.

Believe Me: The Abudction of Lisa McVey. Christina Welsh.

Cocaine Godmother.  Molly McAlpine, David McKenna.

The Girl in the Bathtub. Karen Moncrieff.

*No One Would Tell. Caitlin D. Fryers*

Terror in the Woods. Amber Benson.

Best Cinematography

The Bad Seed. Peter Menzies, Jr.

Believe Me: The Abduction of Lisa McVey. Sasha Moric.

Cocaine Godmother. Guillermo Navarro.

Girl in the Bunker. Fraser Brown.

*I Killed My BFF: The Preacher’s Daughter.  Brian J. Reynolds*

Terror in the Woods. David McGrory.

Best Costuming

*The Art of Murder. Steviee Hughes.*

Cocaine Godmother. Jori Woodman.

Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance. Claudia Da Ponte, Diah Wymont.

I Killed My BFF: The Peacher’s Daughter.  David Anthony Crowley.

Psycho Prom Queen.  Anie Fisette.

A Tale of Two Coreys.  Jennifer Garnet Filo.

Best Editing

The Bad Seed, Eric L. Beason.

Believe Me: The Abduction of Lisa McVey. Lisa Grootenboer.

Cocaine Godmother. Luis Carballar.

*Conrad & Michelle: If Words Could Kill.  Henk van Eeghen*

The Girl in the Bathtub.

Girl in the Bunker.  Stephen Kemp.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Cocaine Godmother.  Laura Copó, Victoria Ferguson, Brittany Isaacs, Andrea Manchur, Joanna Mireau, Adam James Phillips, Trefor Proud, Juanita Santamaria, Ronnie Sidhu, Vicki Syskakis

Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance.  Lorna Bravo, Helena Cepeda, Jenni Brown Greenberg, Shelly Jensen, Melissa Rankl, Cydney Sjostrom

I Killed My BFF: The Preacher’s Daughter. Missy Scarbrough and Christina Kim.

*Lover in the Attic. Crystal Broedel, Brittanie Cruz, Robin Styles, Diana Valerie, Nataleigh Verrengia*

A Tale of Two Coreys. Katherine Chandler, Lynnae Duley, Monique Hyman, Katie Kilkenny, Kaity Licina, Megan Nicoll, Rebecca Violet Schroeder, Adina Sullivan

Zombie at 17.  Jessica Awad, Cinthia Burke, Christine Capustinsky, Shannon Doyle.

Best Score

Cocaine Godmother. Eduardo Aram.

The Girl in the Bathtub.  Adam Gorgoni.

Lover in the Attic. Ozzy Doniz.

No One Would Tell. Mark Lazeski.

A Tale of Two Coreys. Jim Dooley.

*Terror in the Woods. Ozzy Doniz.*

Best Production Design

*The Art of Murder. Yana Veselova.*

Cocaine Godmother.  Eric Fraser.

The Girl in the Bathtub. Laura Lola Maier.

Girl in the Bunker. Andrew Berry.

Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance. Mayne Berke, Ashley Swanson, Vincent Wright

Lover in the Attic. Lindsay Glick.

Best Sound

Cocaine Godmother

*Deadly Delusion*

House of Darkness: New Blood

Killer Under The Bed

Lover in the Attic.

Terror in the Woods

Best Visual Effects

The Bad Seed.

Cocaine Godmother

Deadly Delusion

House of Darkness: New Blood

*Killer Under The Bed*

Zombie at 17

And those are my picks for the best of Lifetime in 2018!  (Lifetime had a pretty good year.)  Now, I’m off to make my selections for the best of SyFy 2018!  I’ll be back …. well, maybe not soon.  It took me about three hours to do my Lifetime post.  So, I’ll be back eventually.

Lisa Marie’s 2018 In Review:

  1. The 10 Worst Films of 2018


Cleaning Out The DVR: Seduced By My Neighbor (dir by Sam Irvin)

(I recorded Seduced By Neighbor off of Lifetime on November 11th, 2018.)

Awwww, what a happy couple!

That picture above is of Mike (Trevor St. John) and Sarah (Andrea Bogart) relaxing in Sarah’s hot tub.  Sarah’s a single mother who recently lost her husband in a traffic auto accident.  Mike is the self-appointed head of the neighborhood watch and he also recently lost his spouse in a tragic accident.  As soon as Sarah and her daughter, Allie (Sierra McCormick), moved into their new house, Mike introduced himself and made it a point to always drive by the house in his little golf cart and make sure that everything was safe.  How couldn’t Sarah fall in love with such a great, considerate guy?

Or, at least, that’s the way that Mike likes to imagine it.  See, that picture above is just Mike’s fantasy.  That’s the future that he imagines awaits him and Sarah.  What Mike doesn’t take into account is that, while Sarah appreciates his dedication to keeping the neighborhood safe, she’s not interested in being seduced by her neighbor.  Instead, she’s far more interested in Chris (Rocky Myers), the superhot fireman who comes by the house after one of Allie’s friends sets the kitchen on fire.

Realizing that he’s running the risk of losing his fantasy, Mike decides to take action.  He challenges Chris to a game of ping pong, one that quickly spirals out of control.  Mike may win the game but he’s such an obnoxious player that it certainly doesn’t make him look any more attractive in the eyes of …. well, just about anyone.

Well, if ping pong didn’t work, how about murder?

Yes, it turns out that Mike is a psycho.  That really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has ever watched a Lifetime film.  In the wold of Lifetime, your neighbor is always likely to turn out to be an obsessive psychopath.  The more friendly he is, the more likely it is that he’s filled your house with hidden cameras and that he’s spending all of his time watching you on his laptop.  We all know how these things work.

So, Seduced By My Neighbor may sound like a typical Lifetime film but, in general, I like Lifetime films so that wasn’t a problem for me.  Plus, Trevor St. John does a good job playing the psycho, making him friendly and creepy at the same time.  From the minute that Mike shows up, it’s obvious that there’s something a little bit off about him but, at the same time, you can understand how someone still struggling to recover from losing her husband could be taken in by someone who says that he just wants to make sure that everyone in the neighborhood is safe and happy.

And, finally, there’s that ping pong game.  Yes, I’m coming back to the ping pong game because it was definitely the highlight of the film.  Strutting around and yelling every time he scores a point, Mike becomes every dudebro that you’ve ever seen playing pool in a frat house.  Wisely, Chris just kind of smiles and lets Mike have his moment.  That scene was just so over the top and fun that it pretty much epitomized everything that you could want from a Lifetime film.

I won’t spoil it but Seduced By My Neighbor had a good ending, one that revolved around an earlier plot point that, until the final few minutes of the film, I thought the movie had merely abandoned.  It was a properly chilling moment, one that definitely felt appropriate for our paranoid age.

Cleaning Out The DVR: Nightmare Best Friend (dir by John Murlowski)

(I recorded Nightmare Best Friend off of Lifetime on December 29th.)

Everyone’s had that one best friend.

She was the one who gave you the courage to flirt with the hot ones and roll your eyes at the strange ones.  She was the one who taught you how to shoplift without getting caught.  She was there when you had your first drink and the first time you got high.  She was the first one you went to for advice.  She was the one that called when you needed to cry.  She was your sister in almost every way and you swore that the two of you would be best friends forever.

Then you graduated high school and you two drifted apart.  Sure, you’re Facebook friends and you follow each other on twitter and occasionally, you might exchange greetings and an inside joke but it’s not the same.  Usually, it’s a case that one of you has grown up while the other hasn’t.  One of you is busy adulting while the other is still living for the moment.  Though neither one of you admit it, your friendship has now become consumed with a mix of jealousy and barely concealed malice.  You want her life.  She wants your life.  It’s perhaps best that you live in separate states now.

And then one day, your former best friend shows up on your doorstep and all Hell breaks loose….

That’s the situation in which Katy (Rosslyn Luke) finds herself in Nightmare Best Friend.  Katy has a nice house, a nice life, and a nice family.  She’s living the ideal suburban lifestyle.  And then, one day, her old friend Gina (Jackie Moore) shows up.

At first, Katy is excited to see Gina.  They go back to their old high school and run through the hallways, screaming.  They talk about how wild they used to be.  Gina even tries to convince Katy to take part in a little shoplifting.  It’s all wonderful, until Gina’s boyfriend, Ray (Brandon Howell) shows up.  Katy takes an instant dislike to Ray.  (It probably has something to do with the knife that he’s always waving around.)  For his part, Ray doesn’t seem to care much for Katy either.  However, he needs Katy.  It turns out that Ray is a criminal and to pull off his latest scam, he’s going to require Katy to help him whether Katy wants to or not.

Nightmare Best Friend features two excellent lead performances from Rosslyn Luke and Jackie Moore and a convincingly menacing one from Brandon Howell.  Howell played Ray with just the right combination of bad boy charm and psychotic posturing.  You could understand why Gina fell for him, while at the same time also understanding why Gina would be too scared to defy him.  Even more importantly, the friendship between Gina and Katy felt real.  You could imagine that two of them actually being friends in high school but you could just as easily understand why they had eventually drifted apart.  Elevated by a trio of strong performances, Nightmare Best Friend is an enjoyable Lifetime melodrama.

What Lisa Watched Last Night #197: My Daughter’s Ransom (dir by Doug Campbell)

On Thursday, I watched the first Lifetime film of 2019, My Daughter’s Ransom!

(a.k.a. My Daughter’s Ransom)

Why Was I Watching It?

New year, new lifetime movies!  Every year brings changes but one thing that will never change will be my love for these films and the enjoyment I get from reviewing them.

What Was It About?

Rachel (Scottie Thompson) has a good life.  Her husband, Tony (Matthew Pohlkamp), is a successful businessman who is on the verge of finalizing a big deal.  Her daughter, Lindsey (McKinley Blehm), is intelligent enough to know all about the theories of Charles Darwin.

Unfortunately, Rachel also has an ex-boyfriend named Carter (Lucas Kerr).  Carter’s just been released from prison and, as quickly becomes apparent, his incarceration did not lead to rehabilitation.  After spending months stalking Rachel and her family, Carter kidnaps Lindsey at the zoo.  If Rachel doesn’t do everything that Carter orders her to do, he’ll kill her daughter.

As Rachel tries to figure out a way to save her daughter, she also has to keep following Carter’s orders, which are not only increasingly outlandish but also increasingly dangerous for both Rachel and everyone that she loves….

What Worked?

As anyone who has spent any time watching the channel can tell you, the theme of abduction is a popular one when it comes to Lifetime movies.  That’s because these films deal with the fears that every parent has, not only that your child will be abducted but that you’ll be powerless to rescue them.  My Daughter’s Ransom did a good job of making that fear feel real, especially in the early moments when Rachel was desperately running around the zoo, looking for her daughter.  (The camera holds Rachel in a tight close-up while she searches for her daughter, emphasizing Rachel’s desperation to find her.)

For a film like this to work, you need a good villain and Lucas Kerr did a great job making Carter into the type of creepy, hissable bad guy who you just couldn’t wait to see get his comeuppance.  In the role of Rachel, Scottie Thompson also did great work and it was impossible not to sympathize with her as she tried to get someone to notice that she was in trouble without Carter figuring out what she was doing.

In fact, the entire cast did a great job.  My two favorite supporting characters were Gina (Davida Williams), the wife of Tony’s business partner, and Skates (Erika Fong), Tony’s secretary.  Neither one of them was willing to put up with any nonsense.  Personally, I think we need a sequel where Gina and Skates team up and solve crimes.

What Did Not Work?

It all worked!  My Daughter’s Ransom got the year off to a good start.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

Much like Rachel, I once had a weakness for bad boys.  Actually, now that I think about it, I still do.  That said, the character I most admired was Skates because it didn’t matter how much Carter ordered Rachel to yell at her and threaten to fire her, Skates wasn’t going to let anyone stop her from doing her job.

Lessons Learned

Bad boys never change.

Cleaning Out The DVR: Killer Body (dir by David I. Strasser)

(I recorded Killer Body off of Lifetime on December 30th.)

Oh my God, this was a great movie!

Okay, so check this out.  Once upon a time, there was a medical student named Elizabeth (Lindsay Maxwell) who felt like she was being shunned and ignored by her classmates.  She had a crush on a doctor named Chris (Peter Benson) but Chris was in love with Katie Jones (Sunny Mabrey),  Eventually, Elizabeth ended up having a total melt down and was forced to drop out of medical school.  Elizabeth become obsessed with plastic surgery, hoping to make herself look perfect (which, in this case, meant looking more and more like Katie).  Now going by the name Liz Oakley, she goes from doctor to doctor, getting work done and then suing them for malpractice.  And if she can’t get your medical license taken away, she’ll just spray you with poison perfume.  Seriously, this film features 4 separate attacks by toxic perfume.

One day, Liz shows up at Katie’s office and, until Liz introduced herself, Katie doesn’t even recognize her.  Liz wants some minor work done and she claims that she’s been referred by one of Katie’s colleagues.  Of course, Liz soon proves herself to be just as unstable as you might expect someone who regularly murders people to be.  Soon, all Katie’s like, “I don’t want you as my patient anymore,” and Liz is like, “Fine, I’ll just destroy your life.”

Soon, Liz is showing up on a college campus and making a seriously awkward attempt to befriend Liz’s daughter.  Katie and Chris (whose brilliant medical career has been brought to an end by a stroke) take out a restraining order but there’s nothing in that order that can stop Liz from going to another, less ethical plastic surgeon and having more work done in her quest to be perfect and to look more like Katie.  Of course, when the surgery results in Liz having a barely noticeable scar on her chin, it’s not a good thing…

Obviously, the success of a film like this pretty much hinges on the actress who is cast as the stalker/psycho character and fortunately, Liz is played by Lindsay Maxwell.  Maxwell turns Liz into a force of  uncontrollable, narcissistic nature and one of the more entertaining aspects of the film is watching as Liz goes from smiling to screaming in just a matter of seconds.  On the one hand, Liz is a complete psycho but, on the other hand, who hasn’t wanted to be perfect and who hasn’t, at least once, thought about they would do to achieve that perfection?  Maxwell wisely adds just a bit of vulnerability to the character, making Liz a psycho to whom you can relate.  Sunny Mabrey and Peter Benson also contribute good performance but ultimately, the film is dominated by Lindsay Maxwell and her bottle of killer perfume.

Killer Body was a killer melodrama, exactly the type of movie that we watch Lifetime to see.  Between the murders and the intrigue and the attempts to fool Chris into committing adultery, this was a wonderfully entertaining look at just how far people will go to achieve perfection.

Lifetime Christmas Movie Review: The Christmas Pact (dir by Marita Grabiak)

I’ll admit it.  I get sentimental around Christmas time.

Actually, to be honest, I’m sentimental all the time but I’m even more so once December rolls around.  Suddenly, the simplest little things can bring tears to my mismatched eyes.  I find myself telling complete strangers about how much I relate to Natalie Wood in Miracle on 34th Street and Violet Bickerstaff in It’s a Wonderful Life.  December is the time of the year when I suddenly find myself walking up to my neighbors and complimenting them on how they decorated their house.  I actually find myself spending more money on other people than on myself.

And I guess I’m not alone in that.  I mean, that really is one of the big things about the holidays.  Regardless of how cynical or snarky the world may be, it’s always safe to be sentimental in December.  That’s something that’s certainly understood by the programmers at Lifetime and the Hallmark Channel.  This month, both of those networks have broadcast some of the most sentimental films ever made.

Take The Christmas Pact, for instance.  This film, which aired on Lifetime, was one of the most unabashedly sentimental films that I’ve ever seen.  That’s not a complaint, of course.  Or at least, that’s not a complaint in December.  If the film had been released in October and called The Halloween Pact or maybe The Labor Day Pact, I might feel differently.  But this is The Christmas Pact!

In this one, Kyla Pratt played Sadie and Jarod Joseph played Ben.  They’ve grown up next to each other.  They’re best friends.  One year, they plant a tree and, every year after that, they meet at the tree on Christmas and they not only add a ormenant but they also discuss their Christmas wishes.  It’s an incredibly sweet idea and, from the start, it’s pretty obvious that they’re meant to be together.

Unfortunately, the path of true love never runs clear.  In this case, it’s partially because everyone swears that you can’t fall in love with your best friend.  (I actually used to believe that but then I did fall in love with my best friend.  Yay love!)  It’s also because Sadie has big plans and opportunities, the majority of which involve leaving town for some place better.  Can true love survive in a complicated world?

Of course it can!  It’s Christmas!

Anyway, The Christmas Pact has a nice idea behind it, even if it is sometimes easy to get annoyed with just how unnecessarily difficult Ben and (especially) Sadie make things.  In the end, though, Kyla Pratt and Jarod Joseph had enough chemistry to keep the story moving.  As I said earlier, it’s December.  Things that wouldn’t work in any other month do work in December.

That’s the magic of Christmas.

Lifetime Christmas Movie Review: Christmas Perfection (dir by David Jackson)

For me, Christmas Perfection was about as perfect as a Christmas film can get.

It’s all about Darcy (Caitlin Thompson), who grew up dreaming of the type of perfect Christmas that she never actually got to experience.  Her parents are divorced and can hardly handle being in the same room together.  Her best friend has the type of dark sense of humor that doesn’t always go along with Yuletide joy.  Her best friend since childhood, Brandon (James Henri-Thomas), is obviously in love with her but Darcy continually insists that he’s just a friend.  She dreams of a perfect boyfriend, one who makes every Christmas special.

Every December, Darcy sets up her Christmas village.  It’s a recreation of the perfect Irish village that she always used to hear about when she was younger and it’s full of figures that are based on the people from Darcy’s life.  Darcy has created the perfect world in which she wishes she could live.

And then one day, through a little Christmas magic, Darcy wakes up in her perfect village!

It’s a village where every day is Christmas.  Every day, Darcy wakes up and puts on a perfect Christmas sweater.  Her parents, who love each other and never fight in this perfect fantasy world, start every day with a perfectly prepared breakfast.  In her perfect Christmas village, everyone gathers in the pub and dances and Darcy ends up each day by making a snowman with her perfect boyfriend, Tom (Robbie Silverman).

Everything’s perfect, right?

But then, something unexpected happens.  Suddenly, Brandon shows up!  It turns out that, through the same magic that transported Darcy, Brandon is now a part of the Christmas village.  Brandon takes one look around and tells Darcy that this is insane.  She’s created a world that’s so perfect that it’s also a prison.  By creating a rigidly perfect Christmas, Darcy has lost sight of what the holiday is all about!

Darcy dismisses Brandon’s concerns.  But, as day after day passes, she starts to realize that a world without spontaneity isn’t a world worth living in.  Tom may be the idealized guy but that also means that, at the end of every day, he’s going to make the exact snowman in the exact same way and he’s not going to listen to Darcy’s suggestions for how they could make the snowman different.  I mean, everyone knows what a snowman is supposed to look like, right?

Now, I know this might sound like it’s just a Christmas-themed version of Groundhog Day and certainly, that’s a legitimate comparison.  That said, I still liked the film.  It even brought tears to my mismatched, multi-colored eyes.  I looked at Darcy and I watched her obsessive attempts to make the holidays perfect and, as a child of divorce, I knew exactly what she was going through.  Year after year, you wonder why you couldn’t keep your parents together and you fool yourself into thinking that, if you can just get them together for one perfect day, you can magically erase all of the pain and sadness of the year before.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that and sometimes, like Darcy, we spend so much time pursuing an idealized dream that we forget that there’s still joy and happiness to be found in the messiness of reality as well.  It may not always be easy to find but it’s there.  You just have to be willing to look for it.

The film may be called Christmas Perfection but it’s message is that Christmas and families and friends don’t have to be perfect to be special.  And that’s a good message for us all.