Lifetime movies get a bad reputation. Often dismissed as overdramatic, unrealistic entertainment (read: female), a lot of movies on the network tend to go by unnoticed. But sometimes there are gems that break through. And these best Lifetime movies of all time prove that the channel has been churning out quality original films for years, whether or not it's been getting the credit for it. Though a few of the films on this list earned Emmy nominations, the majority came and went without much critical or industry acclaim. Regardless of awards, it's clear that these 15 great Lifetime movies stand out among the rest as ones that will make you cry, laugh, love, and might even just teach you a thing or to.
Lifetime movies tend to fit into one of three categories: ripped from the headlines, based on a book, and cautionary tale. They also tend to have female protagonists, something the rest of the movie and television world has yet to fully embrace. As such, Lifetime movies have given female audiences some of the most authentic female stories in Hollywood. That said, not all of the movies listed below were produced by Lifetime. In fact, many were made as independent films and acquired by Lifetime later. However, they all premiered straight to TV on Lifetime, making them Lifetime movies through and through. So, now that we all know where we stand, here are the 15 best Lifetime movies of all time that you really need to watch — right now.
1. 'Speak' (2004)
Speak, based on the YA book by Laurie Halse Anderson, is an absolute must see. The film stars a very young Kristen Stewart a high school freshman who has lost herself and her friends after suffering a trauma at a high school party. Stewart is fantastic in the role, and the movie is as heartbreaking as it is beautiful.
2. 'Georgia O'Keeffe' (2009)
Joan Allen and Jeremy Irons starred in the 2009 biopic Georgia O'Keeffe, celebrating the famous painter (played by Allen) and her husband (Irons). The film was nominated for three Golden Globes and was directed by Bob Balaban. It might not be your typical Lifetime fair, but it's too good to be overlooked.
3. 'Fifteen And Pregnant' (1998)
A Lifetime classic, Fifteen and Pregnant stars Kristen Dunst as Tina Spangler, a girl who finds herself, well, 15 and pregnant. But don't be fooled into thinking this is just another sappy movie about the perils of premarital sex. The film paints a more compassionate picture of Tina, largely thanks to Dunst's performance, and it doesn't stress an abstinence only message.
4. 'Five' (2011)
Five short films directed by five different female filmmakers — including jennifer Aniston, Wonder Woman's Patty Jenkins, Alicia Keys, Demi Moore, and Penelope Spheeris — focusing on five different stories about characters fighting breast cancer made for a stunning television movie event with Five.
5. 'Marry Me' (2010)
Lucy Liu stars in Marry Me, a charming two part movie event about a woman looking for love and marriage. Liu is a star in the main role, and the whole thing is as delightful a romantic comedy you'll see in any movie theater.
6. 'Call Me Crazy: A Five Film' (2013)
Following in the footsteps of Lifetime's hit movie Five, Call Me Crazy: A Five Film, similarly took five different stories directed by five different women (including Laura Dern and Bryce Dallas Howard) to create a cohesive film about mental illness.
7. 'Lizzie Borden Took An Ax' (2014)
Getting more into the fun Lifetime movies, Lizzie Borden Took An Ax is campy, delicious, murderous fun. Christina Ricci goes full crazy as Lizzie Borden, a young woman who was accused of killing her father and stepmother with an ax.
8. 'The Memory Keeper's Daughter' (2008)
The Memory Keeper's Daughter stirred up quite a bit of emotion when it premiered in 2008. The movie is about a father who lies to his wife when she gives birth to twins, telling her that her daughter is dead instead of admitting that she was born with Down syndrome.
9. 'Drew Peterson: Untouchable' (2012)
Rob Lowe took on the role of real life convicted murderer Drew Peterson in Lifetime's Drew Peterson: Untouchable. The film was inspired by true events, focusing on the investigation into Peterson that became national news when his fourth wife, Anne Cales Peterson, disappeared in 2007. The media scrutiny and police investigation eventually led to Peterson being convicted of murdering his third wife, Kathleen Savio.
10. 'The Pregnancy Pact' (2010)
In 2008, a viral news story alleged that 18 high school girls in Massachusetts made a "pregnancy pact." It was such a popular story, Lifetime made a movie about it. But, now that 10 years have gone by, the pregnancy pact, it turns out, never actually existed. According to Brianne Mackey, who was one of those 18 pregnant teens in 2008, she didn't even know the other girls who were pregnant in her high school. "As far as I know, none of the girls who got pregnant were even friends," she said in a 2017 interview with Inside Edition. The Pregnancy Pact might not actually be based on a true story, but it's still pretty eery.
11. 'Flowers In The Attic' (2014)
Lifetime's adaptation of the scandalous and haunting novel by Virginia C. Andrews was the unmissable TV movie of the year when it premiered on Lifetime in 2014. With knockout performances from Ellen Burstyn, Heather Graham, and Kiernan Shipka, the movie is definitely one Lifetime will be remembered for.
12. 'Whitney' (2015)
Three years after Whitney Houston's untimely death, Lifetime aired Whitney. The film, directed by Houston's Waiting To Exhale co-star Angela Bassett, starred America's Next Top Model alum Yaya DaCosta in the title role, and focused on Houston's relationship with Bobby Brown (played by Arlen Escarpeta). Houston's sister, Pat Houston, did not support the film. She wrote a letter criticizing the film, as reported by Rolling Stone, and claimed that it was made "without the family's blessing and despite her [Houston's] mother's request to not do this movie."
13. 'Harry & Meghan: Becoming Royal' (2019)
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, have inspired many made-for-TV films, including Lifetime's own Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance (2018), the spiritual prequel to Becoming Royal. In this pseudo-sequel, Lifetime recast Harry and Meghan and upped the drama, as the film covers the lead-up to the Royal Wedding, including the ongoing tabloid drama between Meghan and her father, Thomas Markle.
14. 'The College Admissions Scandal' (2019)
No other network does ripped from the headlines quite like Lifetime. Case in point: The College Admissions Scandal, a movie that premiered on the network on Oct. 12, just six months after the scandal itself broke in March. Though not based on any specific celebrities named in the actual college scheme, the film follows two rich mothers, an interior designer and a woman who works in finance, who break the law to get their children into prestigious colleges.
15. 'Mother, May I Sleep With Danger' (2016)
Lifetime's 2016 remake of their 1996 classic starring James Franco and Tori Spelling (who also starred in the original film) is truly something that needs to be seen to be believed. The original film starred Spelling as Laurel, a young college student who falls in love with a bad boy with a violent streak. In the 2016 remake, this bad boy isn't just bad — he's a vampire.
Now that you know the best Lifetime movies of all time, there's really only one thing to do next: marathon. But be warned, tissues are required.
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