Lifetime gets an unfair reputation for being full of trashy, terrible movies. That simply isn’t true. Yes, the network does have its fair share of low-budge thrillers with predictable twists and endings, but that doesn’t mean every Lifetime original movie is terrible. Like any other network, there are some hits and some misses.
In fact, Lifetime has received its fair share of Primetime Emmy Award nominations and Golden Globe nominations over the decades. It has also attracted many big-name stars like Brad Pitt, Juliette Lewis, Queen Latifah, Ellen Burstyn, and more. We’re taking a look back at ten Lifetime movies that are genuinely good and well worth watching.
10 The Pregnancy Pact (2010)
Ranked as the fourth-highest viewed Lifetime original movie of all time, The Pregnancy Pact made quite a splash on the network in 2010. The film is based on the real story of a 2008 group of teenagers in Gloucester, Massachusetts who wanted to raise their children simultaneously.
The Pregnant Pact starred Thora Birch (Hocus Pocus), Madisen Beaty (The Fosters), and Camryn Manheim (The Practice). The film follows the plot anticipated by the title. A group of teenagers makes a pact to get pregnant at the same time so their children can grow up alongside each other. The reason The Pregnancy Pact is considered a great movie is that it isn’t preachy but a genuine dramatic story, without too many after school special elements.
9 Lizzie Borden Took An Ax (2014)
Everyone knows the story of Lizzie Borden, who was acquitted of the brutal ax murders of her father and stepmother. Christina Ricci plays the title role of Lizzie Borden in this biopic. The film was praised for being an entertaining, campy movie that didn’t take itself too seriously.
It became popular enough to garner a spin-off television series known as The Lizzie Borden Chronicles. Ricci reprised her role as Lizzie Borden. The film also starred Clea DuVall (She’s All That) and Billy Campbell (Dynasty).
8 Too Young to Die? (1990)
This 1990 film starred Brad Pitt and Juliette Lewis. It is based on a true story. The movie followed Lewis’s character, Amanda, as she falls in love with a hustler named Billy (Pitt). Billy seduces Amanda into the world of crime.
As Amanda becomes increasingly ensnared by Billy’s world, she is eventually forced to make a decision that will ultimately cost her life. Too Young to Die? is loosely based on the murder of Ronald Wojcik. Attina Marie Cannaday and David Gray killed him. Cannaday and Gray were both sentenced to death, although the courts eventually reversed their sentences.
7 Marry Me (2010)
Most people recognize Lifetime movies due to their focus on the salacious and scandalous. But sometimes their original movies were wholesome romantic comedies. In 2010, Lucy Liu starred in a two-part movie event called Marry Me, about a social worker seeking the right man to marry. It sounds like your typical romantic-comedy premise, and indeed, that’s what the movie is.
What makes it unique is Liu’s affable performance and the film’s charm. It could have been successful in a theatrical run. Liu plays Rae Ann Carter and just when she thinks she’s finally found the perfect guy, two new men come along and throw her world into a tizzy. Bobby Cannavale (Boardwalk Empire), Enrique Murciano (Without a Trace), and Steven Pasquale (Rescue Me) also star.
6 Fifteen and Pregnant (1998)
Did you know Kirsten Dunst once starred in a Lifetime movie? She played a fifteen-year-old teenager who gets pregnant in the movie Fifteen and Pregnant. It aired in 1998. Dunst plays Tina Spangler, who gets pregnant but isn’t aware of it initially because she gets her period as expected.
When her mother finds out what happened, she is shocked and appalled due to her conservative beliefs, but eventually agrees to help her daughter. Most of the film’s conflict comes from how Tina adapts to being pregnant at such a young age. Many praised the movie for its believability and Dunst’s performance.
5 Speak (2004)
Kristen Stewart is everywhere these days. She may be best-known for her starring role in the Twilight franchise, but Stewart does have some excellent dramatic acting chops. She first demonstrated this in the 2004 coming-of-age Lifetime movie, Speak. The film initially premiered at the Sundance Film Festival that year but was broadcast for general audiences on Lifetime.
It was based on the 1999 novel by Laurie Halse. The movie follows Melinda Sordino (Stewart) who is raped at a high school party. She struggles to process the trauma of the incident and, as a result, virtually stops speaking. Speak is about how she finds her voice once again.
4 Flowers in the Attic (2014)
Flowers in the Attic premiered on Lifetime in 2014. The movie is an adaptation of the V.C. Andrews 1979 novel. It has an all-star cast with Ellen Burstyn playing the evil Olivia Foxworth.
Joining Burstyn is Heather Graham (Twin Peaks), Kiernan Shipka (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina), Mason Dye (Teen Wolf), and Dylan Bruce (Orphan Black). Burstyn was nominated for a Critics’ Choice Television Award, Primetime Emmy Award, and Screen Actors Guild Award. Because of the success of this film, four follow-up movies based on Andrews’ other novels were made. The last film, Seeds of Yesterday, aired in 2015.
3 Gracie’s Choice (2004)
Before Kristen Bell played Veronica Mars or Eleanor Shellstrop, she was 17-year-old Gracie Thompson in the Lifetime movie Gracie’s Choice. Gracie is forced to take care of herself and her siblings due to her mother’s debilitating drug habit. Gracie’s Choice is based on a true story.
Gracie is forced to become the caretaker and breadwinner for her family. Her only goal is to give her brothers and sisters the childhood that was taken from her. Anne Heche played the role of Gracie’s mother and was nominated for a 2004 Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie.
2 Return to Zero (2014)
Another Lifetime movie based on a true story, Return to Zero follows the tragic story of a couple expecting their first child only to have it die in the womb. Sean Hanish, who wrote the film, states he based Return to Zero on the real experience he and his wife went through. The film starred Minnie Driver (Speechless), Paul Adelstein (Private Practice), Alfred Molina (Luther), and Connie Nielson (Gladiator).
It was extremely well-received upon its premiere. Driver was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award and a Critics’ Choice Television Award for her performance as Maggie Royal.
1 Georgia O’Keefe (2009)
Georgia O’Keeffe is a biopic about the American painter and her husband, Alfred Stieglitz. The film starred powerhouse actors Joan Allen and Jeremy Irons as O’Keeffe and Stieglitz respectively. Lifetime had a hit on their hands with this film. It received nine nominations at the 2010 Primetime Emmy Awards.
Both Allen and Irons were nominated for their roles in the movie. Georgia O’Keeffe also received three Golden Globe Award nominations in addition to Screen Actors Guild Award nominations. The movie was filmed near Santa Fe, New Mexico and the production team was able to work with the real Georgia O’Keeffe Museum to add a level of accuracy and realism to the movie.
NEXT: Martin Scorsese’s 8 Best Biopics, Ranked