2017 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 2017!  Below, you’ll find my nominations for the best Lifetime films and performances of 2017!  Winners are starred and listed in bold!

(As a guide, I used the credits for the imdb.  If anyone has been miscredited or let 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.)

Best Picture

Drink Slay Love, produced by Tina Pehme, Kim Roberts, Sheri Singer, Bella Thorne

From Straight A’s to XXX, produced by Austin Andrews, John Bolton, Anne-Marie Hess, Tina Pehme, Kim Roberts, Sheri Singer

Four Christmases and a Wedding

New York Prison Break: The Seduction of Joyce Mitchell, produced by Deen Dioria, David Manzanares, Ron Schmidt, Judith Verno, Frank von Zerneck.

The Rachels, produced by Paige Lauren Billot, Margaret H. Huddleston, Maggie McFarren, Hannah Pillemer, Rebecca G. Stone.

Running Away, produced by Dureyshevar, Jeff Faehnle, Jack Nasser, Jacob Nasser, Joseph Nasser, Bri Noble.

Sea Change. Produced by Sharon Bordas, Alec Chorches, Adam Fratto, Steven Gilder, David MacLeod, A.J. Mendez, Shawn Piller, Lloyd Segan, Stephanie Slack, Fernando Szew

Secrets in Suburbia, produced by Kristopher McNeeley, Jacobo Rispa, Damian Romay, Stephanie Slack, Fernando Szew.

The Watcher in the Woods, produced by Simon Barnes, Alexandra Bentley, Andrew Gernhard, Jennifer Handorf, Paula Hart.

* Web Cam Girls, produced by Tom Berry, Pierre David, Hank Grover, Sheri Reeves, Ken Sanders, Noel Zanitsch* 

Best Director

* Doug Campbell for Web Cam Girls

Michael Civille for The Rachels

Vanessa Parise for From Straight A’s to XXX

Damian Romay for Secrets in Suburbia

Brian Skiba for Running Away

Stephen Tolkin for New York Prison Break: The Seduction of Joyce Mitchell

Best Actor

James Franco in High School Lover

Zack Gold in Psycho Brother-in-Law

Stephen Graybill in Web Cam Girls

Timothy Granderos in The Twin

Ted McGinley in Fatherly Obsession

* Ryan Patrick Shanahan in Sinister Minister

Best Actress

Barbie Castro in Boyfriend Killer

Holly Deveaux in Running Away

Sedonna Legge in Web Cam Girls

* Penelope Ann Miller in New York Prison Break: The Seduction of Joyce Mitchell

Heather Morris in Psycho Wedding Crasher

Haley Pullos in From Straight A’s to XXX

Best Supporting Actor

Francois Arnaud in High School Lover

Joe Hackett in Web Cam Girls

William McNamara in Running Away

Patrick Muldoon in Boyfriend Killer

Judd Nelson in From Straight A’s to XXX

* Daniel Roebuck in New York Prison Break: The Seduction of Joyce Mitchell

Best Supporting Actress

Madison Iseman in The Rachels

Anjelica Huston in The Watcher in the Woods

* Tonya Kay in Web Cam Girls

Paula Trickey in Running Away

Ashley Wood in Wicked Mom’s Club

Lorynn York in Web Cam Girs

Best Screenplay

From Straight A’s to XXX. Anne-Marie Hess.

New York Prison Break: The Seduction of Joyce Mitchell. Stephen Tolkin.

The Rachels. Ellen Huggins.

* Running Away. Sheri McGuinn.

Secrets in Suburbia. Damian Romay.

Web Cam Girls. Stephen Romano.

Best Cinematography

Drink Slay Love. Vic Sarin.

Four Christmases and a Wedding. Mike Kam.

Off the Rails. Denis Maloney.

Running Away. Patrice Lucien Cochet.

* Sea Change. Jackson Parrell.

Ten: Murder Island. Richard Clabaugh.

Best Costuming

* Drink Slay Love. Liene Dobraja.

From Straight A’s to XXX. Liene Dobraja.

The Lost Wife of Robert Durst. Tina Fiorda.

New York Prison Break: The Seduction of Joyce Mitchell. Maria Bentfield.

The Rachels. Courtney Stern.

Stage Fright. Monique Hyman.

Best Editing

* From Straight A’s to XXX. Rob Grant.

Four Christmases and a Wedding. Paul Ziller.

New York Prison Break: The Seduction of Joyce Mitchell. Mark Stevens.

The Rachels. Brett Solem.

Sea Change. Matthew Anas.

Web Cam Girls. Jordan Jensen.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Drink Slay Love. Jessica Green, Catherine Long, Alysha McLoughlin, Sahar Sharelo.

The Lost Wife of Robert Durst. Lorna Bravo, Kelly Grange, Shelly Jensen, Mary Renvall, Melissa Sahlstrom.

* New York Prison Break: The Seduction of Joyce Mitchell. Claudia Breckenridge, Daniel Casillas, Nicole Gabaldon, Pepper J. Gallegos, Madeline McCue, L. Taylor Roberts

The Rachels. Taylor Bennett, Austin Cuccia.

Secrets in Suburbia. Andrea Ahl, Trevor Thompson

The Watcher in the Woods. Chloe Edwards.

Best Score

Drink Slay Love. Justin R. Durban

Fatherly Obsession. Aiko Fukushima.

Sea Change. Shawn Pierce.

* Story of a Girl. Travis Bacon.

Ten: Murder Island. Ceiri Torjussen.

The Watcher in the Woods. Felix Bird.

Best Production Design

New York Prison Break: The Seduction of Joyce Mitchell. Will Albarz, Anthony Medina.

Running Away.   Vincent Albo, Rose Beltran

Secrets in Suburbia. Brendan Turrill.

Ten: Murder Island. Eric Whitney, Caley Bisson.

Tiny House of Terror

* Web Cam Girls. Catch Henson, James W. Thompson Jr., Katherine Bulovic, Valerie Munguia

Best Sound

Britney Ever After

Drink Slay Love

From Straight A’s to XXX

Sea Change.

Under the Bed

* The Watcher in the Woods

Best Visual Effects

* Drink Slay Love

Fatherly Obsession

Sea Change

Stalker’s Prey

Ten: Murder Island

The Watcher in the Woods

And there you have it!  Those are my picks for the best of Lifetime in 2017!  Thank you for your indulgence!  On Friday, I’ll be concluding my look back at 2017 with my picks for the 26 best films of the year!

Previous entries in the TSL’s Look Back at 2017:

  1. 2017 in Review: Top Ten Single Issues by Ryan C
  2. 2017 in Review: Top Ten Series by Ryan C
  3. 2017 In Review: Top Ten Collected Edition (Contemporary) by Ryan C
  4. 2017 In Review: Top Ten Collected Editions (Vintage) by Ryan C
  5. 2017 in Review: Top Ten Graphic Novels By Ryan C
  6. 25 Best, Worst, and Gems I saw in 2017 by Valerie Troutman
  7. My Top 15 Albums of 2017 by Necromoonyeti
  8. 2017 In Review: Lisa Marie’s Picks For the 16 Worst Films of 2017
  9. 2017 In Review: Lisa Marie’s Final Post About Twin Peaks: The Return (for now)
  10. 2017 in Review: Lisa Marie’s 14 Favorite Songs of 2017
  11. 2017 in Review: The Best of SyFy by Lisa Marie Bowman
  12. 2017 in Review: 10 Good Things that Lisa Marie Saw On Television in 2017
  13. 2017 in Review: Lisa Marie’s 12 Favorite Novels of 2017
  14. 2017 in Review: Lia Marie’s 10 Favorite Non-Fiction Books of 2017

Lifetime Film Review: The Lost Wife of Robert Durst (dir by Yves Simoneau)

Tonight’s Lifetime premiere was The Lost Wife of Robert Durst, the latest of many films to deal with the 1982 disappearance of Kathie Durst and the subsequent activities of her husband, millionaire weirdo Robert Durst.

The disappearance of Kathie Durst is an intriguing cold case.  Robert Durst was a member of one of the wealthiest and most powerful families in New York.  Many have speculated that may be why Durst was never charged with anything, despite the fact that everyone was convinced that he was responsible for her disappearance.  (Others have pointed out that most of the evidence against Durst was circumstantial and that Kathie’s body has never been found.)  Durst, himself, appears to have spent the last few decades as something of a millionaire hobo.  His best friend, Susan Berman, was murdered in 2000.  (Berman provided Durst with an alibi for the night of Kathie’s disappearance.)  Durst himself eventually turned up in Galveston, where he attempted to disguise himself as a woman and was eventually arrested for murdering his neighbor, Morris Black.  Durst was acquitted in that case.  All Good Things, a feature film starring Ryan Gosling and Kirsten Dunst, led to resurgence of interest in the case of Kathie’s disappearance.  It also led to a HBO documentary series, called The Jinx.  In an act that was either extremely cocky or extremely self-destructive, Durst agreed to be interviewed for the documentary, implicated himself in all three of the murders that he was suspected of committing, and was subsequently charged with murdering Susan Berman.

It’s one of those stories that, when you hear the details, you can hardly believe is true.  It has everything: love, greed, sex, jealousy, politics, the mafia, and several unsolved murders.  It’s not surprising that there’s been several movies and TV shows based on the Durst case.  The problem that every new film faces is what can it add to the story that we haven’t already seen.  The Lost Wife of Robert Durst is relatively well-made but there’s really nothing here that you couldn’t find in All Good Things or The Jinx.  This is like the Wikipedia version of Durst case.  It gives you all the details without going into too much depth about any of it.

Of course, one of the main questions about this case is whether Robert Durst is mentally ill or if he’s just extremely clever.  Those that claim that Durst is crazy tend to point out that he saw his mother commit suicide when he was a young boy, that he has a habit of muttering to himself, and that he lives like a hermit despite all of his money.  Those who claim that Durst is actually very clever and in total control of all of his actions point out that all of Durst’s alleged crimes required extensive planning and that, in The Jinx, he was caught saying, “What the Hell did I do?  Killed them all, of course.”  That would seem to indicate that Durst is fully aware of whatever he may have done.  The question of Durst’s sanity is not a minor one.  In some states, it would be the difference between life in prison and execution.

The Lost Wife of Robert Durst attempts to have it both ways.  As played by Daniel Gillies, Durst is obviously unstable yet clearly calculating at the same time.  In fact, I would argue that, from a purely dramatic point of view, Gillies plays Durst as being a little too obviously unstable.  You find yourself wondering why Kathie (played by Katharine McPhee) would have ever agreed to go out with him in the first place, much less marry him.  As played by McPhee, Kathie is almost as hard to read as Durst.  Even in the scenes depicting the early days of Durst marriage, the lack of chemistry between Gillies and McPhee is a problem.  I spent most of the film wishing that it would dig a little bit deeper into the case.  Then again, considering that Durst has yet to be convicted on any charges, I suppose there’s only so much that the movie could suggest.  (All Good Things changed everyone’s names, which gave it at least a little bit of freedom to speculate.)

That said, the Robert Durst story is such a strange one that, flaws and all, The Lost Wife of Robert Durst is watchable.  It’s a good enough introduction to the case, if you’re looking for one.  Ultimately, though, All Good Things remains the Durst film to watch.