Television cinema has come a long way in the last three decades. Gone are the days when made-for-tv movies lamented in the shadows of Hollywood blockbusters. On the cutting edge of this new wave is Lifetime, the channel that’s always been known for producing drama films that examine the relevant issues of the day. These are 10 Lifetime movies you won’t want to miss.
1. Return to Zero
Lifetime has produced several movies about difficult pregnancies but Return to Zero is the most powerful of the bunch. The screenplay is based on the life of the film’s writer. Coupled with great performances from Minnie Driver and Paul Adelstein, the movie brings an authentic tale of heartbreak to the small screen.
2. Lizzie Borden Took an Ax
Streaming Lifetime content wasn’t always easy, but many of their films and series are now available on various services. Lizzie Borden Took an Ax is one of the best Lifetime movies on Netflix. Another Lifetime true story, this is a film about a mystery ax murder in 1892 Massachusetts. All evidence suggests Lizzie Borden, daughter of the victim, is responsible for the crime. The film goes on to deal with the true events of the 1892 case—and the aftermath of the jury’s decision.
3. Liz and Dick
Lifetime has produced a lot of unique movies, but Liz and Dick is perhaps the most unique of all. Lindsay Lohan made this film an instant hit, but the film’s zany plot is what separates it from the pack. Depicting a 1960s love story that spans across much of Europe, Liz and Dick is the quintessential example of what Lifetime entertainment looks like at its most creative. Even if the movie ends on a sour note, it’s one of the most entertaining in Lifetime’s catalog.
4. Another Woman’s Husband
Lifetime specializes in two genres: biographical dramas and psychological thrillers. This is one of their most famous examples of the latter. Based on the book of the same name, Another Woman’s Husband is about two women who are unknowingly on opposite ends of an affair. Tensions rise as the truth becomes clear, but viewers know the truth from the very outset. This film builds suspense in a unique way, and it features one of Lifetime’s most memorable climaxes.
Another common theme in Lifetime movies is the hardship of high school life. This is a powerful film for all members of the family because of the many truths it brings to light. Lifetime has always been one of the first channels to confront difficult topics but Speak brings it to a different level. Featuring a pre-Twilight Kristen Stewart, Speak is about a teenager’s gruesome recollection of sexual abuse. She is paralyzed into silence and must find the courage to speak.
6. Killing Daddy
Killing Daddy is one of the darkest movies in the Lifetime catalog, but it also features one of the tightest screenplays. This is a story of terrible truths being unleashed upon members of a disgruntled family. Plot twists abound as a suspicious daughter visits her childhood home with her rival sister standing in the way.
7. The Client List
Featuring Jennifer Love Hewitt, The Client List is one of Lifetime’s most successful movies. Almost immediately after release, the film was adapted into a Lifetime series that ran for two seasons. A struggling mother finds a job in a Texas spa, but she quickly realizes there are some unspoken requirements in the job description. Her job becomes a romance-infused second life as she struggles to keep things under control on the home front.
Like several other Lifetime movies, Obsessed points to the darker side of Romance. A woman spreads rumors about her relationship with a well-known doctor, but the rumors are completely denied by him. The result is a psychological thriller in which new pieces of evidence are introduced and destroyed at a blistering pace. No one knows who to believe.
9. Death of a Cheerleader (also known as A Friend to Die For)
Death of a Cheerleader is among the most successful Lifetime movies—and the most viewed made-for-tv movies of the 1990s. At this point, the film is special because of how closely it pays tribute to the lost era of the 90s. Many believe this is the film that started the modern made-for-tv mystery. An early killing sets the pace for a sequence of unlikely alibis.
10. Perfect High
Perfect High was a stepping stone for current Hollywood sensation Bella Thorne. The movie is Lifetime’s most sincere foray into the dangerous world of drug abuse. Although Perfect High sufficiently raises awareness for drug abuse, it does so by illuminating the way drugs interfere with friendships. The movie depicts an all-out spiral into dependence, and it’s a great role for Bella Thorne to show off her acting chops.
Since the 1990s, Lifetime movies have been raising the bar for television cinema. From biographical dramas to psychological thrillers, these 10 movies are the best of the bunch.