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

Adventures in Cleaning Out The DVR: The Unauthorized Beverly Hills 92010 Story (dir by Vanessa Parise) and The Unauthorized Melrose Place Story (dir by Mark Griffiths)

Well, it’s finally done!  A week ago, I started the process of cleaning out my DVR.  I’ve lost track of how many movies that I have watched and reviewed.  And now, finally, I can say that I have finally reached a stopping point.  When I started this process, I only had 5 hours of space left on my DVR.  I now have 48 hours of space.

Keep Calm Because Lisa Rocks

I’m reviewing my final two “DVR” films in one post because they really do go together.  But before I get to the review, here’s a little background.  Lifetime now has it’s very own version of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  True, it hasn’t proven as popular as the MCU nor have any of the films been as critically acclaimed as Guardians of the Galaxy or the first Avengers.  But, all the same, these four Lifetime films share a common continuity.  Call it the Lifetime Cinematic Universe.  LCU for short.

I’m talking, of course, about the Unauthorized films.  In these films, Lifetime takes us behind the scenes of an iconic old television show.  The first of these films was the absolutely terrible The Unauthorized Saved By The Bell Story.  Then, earlier this year, we got the not-terrible-but-extremely-forgettable Unauthorized Full House Story.  Finally, on October 3rd and the 9th, Lifetime broadcast the latest two entries in the LCU — The Unauthorized Beverly Hills 90210 Story and The Unauthorized Melrose Place Story.

I was on vacation when both of those films were originally broadcast but, fortunately, my sister had the foresight to set the DVR to record both of them!  YAY!

(Seriously, my sister’s the best.)

Unauthorized Beverly Hills

Of the two films, The Unauthorized Beverly Hills 90210 film was definitely the best.  In fact, it’s definitely the best of the LCU films to be released so far.  The film starts with a teenage Tori Spelling (played by Abby Ross, who is a lot prettier than the real Tori Spelling will ever be) convincing her father, producer Aaron Spelling (Dan Castellenata), to take a chance on a TV show about high school students.  Spelling recruits Darren Starr (Adam Korson) to run the show and together they cast a group of hopeful performers and fight with the nervous TV execs who worry about the slightest bit of controversy.

They also have to deal with lead actress Shannen Doherty (Samantha Munro), who proves herself to be as difficult as she is talented.  Whereas the Saved By The Bell and Full House films suffered because of a lack of behind-the-scenes drama, The Unauthorized Beverly Hills 90210 film is all about conflict.  From the minute that we first see Shannen, she’s making sure that everyone knows that she’s the star.  And yet, despite that, Shannen Doherty remains a compelling and sympathetic character.  Samantha Munro (who played Anya on my beloved Degrassi) gives a wonderfully complex performance.  When she eventually ends up trying to beat up Jennie Garth (Abbie Cobb, who also appeared on the 90210 reboot), it’s more than just a cat fight.  It’s Shannen declaring that she’s a star and she’s not going to let anyone push her to the side.  And, even if Jennie hasn’t really done anything to deserve being called out, the film ultimately makes the case that Shannen, alone out of the cast, was the one who understood how Hollywood actually worked.  Shannen’s a fighter because she knows the only other option is to be a victim.

Director Vanessa Parise does a good job keeping the action moving and giving us a glimpse of what it’s suddenly like to be world-famous.  Some of the film’s best sequences are just the camera tracking through the studio, giving us a look of each star in his or her dressing room and providing a glimpse into the different personalities who make up the show’s ensemble.  As opposed to the previous Unauthorized films, you finish the Beverly Hills 90210 Story feeling that it was a story worth telling.

One final note — Alyssa Lynch, who played Tiffani-Amber Thiessen in The Unauthorized Saved By The Bell, shows up playing the same role in Unauthorized 90210.  It’s a nice nod to continuity.

The Unauthorized Melrose

The Unauthorized Melrose Place Story picks up where Beverly Hills 90210 ends.  Darren Starr (Korson again) decides that he wants to do a show about people in their 20s.  Aaron Spelling (Castellenata, again) agrees to produce.  Once again, we get a lot of scenes of nervous network executives trying to tell Starr and Spelling what they can and can not do on television.

There’s a great scene in Unauthorized Melorse Place in which Heather Locklear  (Ciara Hanna) strolls out on the soundstage, smirks, and says, “Did anyone order a bitch?”  It’s a great line (and one that I’ve been using ever since I first saw the commercials for Unauthorized Melrose) but, unfortunately, Locklear’s just talking about her character.  Whereas Unauthorized 90210 was all about conflict, Unauthorized Melrose seems to be about how well people get along behind the scenes.

True, there’s a few scenes where the actresses compete for the spotlight and there are hints of jealousy among the cast.  Actor Doug Savant (Joseph John Coleman) gets upset because the network won’t let his gay character have a substantial storyline.  Otherwise, there doesn’t appear to have been much drama behind the scenes at Melrose Place.  That’s a good thing for the people who worked on the show but it doesn’t exactly make for a very compelling unauthorized story.

Along with the characters of Darren Starr and the Spelling family, both the Unauthorized Beverly Hills Story and the Unauthorized Melrose Place Story have one other thing in common, a shared joke.  Both films feature actors talking about losing a role to Brad Pitt and someone else replying with, “Who?”  It’s kind of an obvious joke but, again, I always appreciate continuity.

Keep Calm and Love Lisa

And that’s it!  With these two reviews, I have now not only cleaned out my DVR but I have reviewed every single original film that has appeared, in the year so far, on both the Lifetime network and SyFy!  Thank you for your indulgence and I now return you to regularly scheduled programming…