50 best Lifetime movies

Written by:
February 11, 2021
Cue the Dog Productions

50 best Lifetime movies

While Lifetime movies might seem like a tradition as old as cable itself, the first one debuted in 1990, six years after the network was established. Called “Memories of Murder,” it centered on a woman with amnesia, who suddenly gets her memory back and becomes convinced there’s another woman out to get her. Consider it a relatively tame preview of what was to come, as it was followed by tawdry fare such as “Abducted: A Father’s Love," “Co-Ed Call Girl," and numerous other titles. Needless to say, the recipe worked, and the network even set up its own respective channel just for movies.

Nowadays, Lifetime movies are commonly divided between a few respective categories: soapy biopics like “Harry and Meghan: A Royal Romance," child abduction stories, thrillers involving family secrets (such as the infamous “Mother, May I Sleep with Danger”), teen dramas, and romantic comedies.

Aimed primarily at the female demographic, these films come in well below most cinematic standards, but still represent a qualitative leap over the network’s earliest output. In fact, Lifetime is no stranger to the occasional Emmy nomination or positive review. The network has also become a veritable hub for female talent, both in front of and behind the camera. Many now-famous A-list and B-list actors got work in Lifetime movies early in their careers or when they were struggling to break through. Some notable names on this list include Mahershala Ali, Alia Shawkat, Regina King, and Kristen Stewart. And occasionally, Lifetime provides roles for truly great actresses who have trouble finding work in a sexist industry that tends to discard women as they age (see Angela Bassett in "Betty and Coretta" and Cicely Tyson in "The Trip to Bountiful").

Admirable qualities aside, Lifetime movies namely persist as the stuff of pure TV melodrama. These are films people love to hate or hate to love, with precious few exceptions. Most subjects are ripped straight from the headlines and treated with a heavy hand. Every now and then, however, an authentic story slips through the cracks. Examples include “Miracle Run” and “A Girl Like Me: The Gwen Araujo Story,” both of which offer deft takes on important issues.

To celebrate these iconic cable fixtures in their cheesiness and glory alike, Stacker used IMDb user ratings data to rank the top 50 Lifetime movies, with ties broken by votes. To qualify, the movie had to be produced or distributed by Lifetime and have at least 250 user votes. Counting down from #50, here are the best Lifetime movies.

You may also like: 50 of the best films according to women critics

1 / 50
C.M. Two Production

#50. Hit and Run (1999)

- Director: Dan Lerner
- IMDb user rating: 6.0
- Runtime: 88 min

Margaret Colin returned to her soap opera roots with “Hit and Run,” starring as Joanna, a woman who accidentally hits a girl with her car. She does the right thing—at first. Fleeing the scene to get help for the girl, when she returns she stays mum about her identity. But the guilt might be too much for Joanna.

2 / 50
Legacy Filmworks

#49. My Name Is Sarah (2007)

- Director: Paul A. Kaufman
- IMDb user rating: 6.0
- Runtime: 98 minutes

Her name is Sarah (Jennifer Beals) and she’s not a recovering alcoholic, though her fellow AA members are none the wiser. To give up the ruse is to compromise her budding romance with an actual alcoholic named Charlie. Empathic characterization keeps the viewers on Sarah’s side throughout this romantic dramedy.

3 / 50
Diana Kerew Productions

#48. When Innocence Is Lost (1997)

- Director: Bethany Rooney
- IMDb user rating: 6.1
- Runtime: 91 minutes

Before her breakout performance in the TV series “Felicity,” Keri Russell starred in this family drama. Like a soapy take on “Kramer vs. Kramer,” it finds a young single mother (Russell) fighting for custody over her newborn baby. Expect a pivotal twist as the courtroom battle unfolds.

4 / 50
Automatic Pictures

#47. Unstable (2009)

- Director: Don McBrearty
- IMDb user rating: 6.1
- Runtime: 85 minutes

At the heart of this psychological thriller is a wealthy woman named Megan Walker (Shiri Appleby). Still grappling with past trauma, Megan enters into a new and seemingly perfect marriage. When strange events unfold, she must determine whether her husband has ulterior motives or if it’s all in her head.

5 / 50
Jaffe/Braunstein Films

#46. Not Like Everyone Else (2006)

- Director: Tom McLoughlin
- IMDb user rating: 6.1
- Runtime: 120 minutes

This Lifetime drama tells the story of Brandi Blackbear (Alia Shawkat), a Native American teenager accused of witchcraft. Suspended from school for casting a spell, Blackbear sues for Civil Rights violations. As bizarre as it may sound, this one’s based on actual events.

You may also like: Can you answer these real 'Jeopardy!' questions about movies?

6 / 50
Shadowland

#45. Missing at 17 (2013)

- Director: Doug Campbell
- IMDb user rating: 6.1
- Runtime: 90 minutes

After running away to find her biological mother, a teen gets seduced by a criminal. When she never returns home, her adoptive mother sets out to find her. So goes this dramatic thriller, in which both mothers join forces to save the young girl.

7 / 50
Johnson Production Group

#44. Double Daddy (2015)

- Director: Lee Friedlander
- IMDb user rating: 6.1
- Runtime: 85 minutes

Despite its laugh-out-loud title, this teen movie unfolds in the vein of a soapy drama. The double daddy in question is high school playboy Connor, who impregnates two different girls around the same time. It was later followed by a stand-alone sequel called...wait for it...“Double Mommy.”

8 / 50
Bauman Entertainment

#43. Bond of Silence (2010)

- Director: Peter Werner
- IMDb user rating: 6.1
- Runtime: 98 minutes

Ripped straight from the headlines, this small-town drama kicks off with an accidental murder and the air of silence that follows. When a suspect finally emerges, the victim’s widow resorts to empathy in lieu of spite. The subsequent bond between these two characters entails themes of compassion and forgiveness.

9 / 50
Indy Entertainment

#42. Starving in Suburbia (2014)

- Director: Tara Miele
- IMDb user rating: 6.1
- Runtime: 84 minutes

As the title would suggest, this Lifetime drama examines the ongoing threat of anorexia among teenage girls. It centers on 17-year-old Hannah, who takes her eating disorder to dangerous extremes. Viewers appear to be divided as to whether the movie delivers an authentic experience or actually romanticizes the very thing it’s trying to demystify.

10 / 50
Capital Productions

#41. Fugitive at 17 (2012)

- Director: Jim Donovan
- IMDb user rating: 6.1
- Runtime: 84 minutes

Lifetime’s bottomless fixation with 17-year-old girls finds its muse in computer hacker Holly Hamilton (Marie Avgeropoulos). Framed for the murder of her best friend, Holly goes on the run to catch the real killer. When the movie aired, Avgeropoulos was nine years older than her on-screen character.

You may also like: How are women portrayed in top-grossing movies?

11 / 50
Cue the Dog Productions

#40. Flowers in the Attic (2014)

- Director: Deborah Chow
- IMDb user rating: 6.1
- Runtime: 89 minutes

Follow the four Dollanganger children as they move into Grandma’s house after their father’s death. Unfortunately, Grandma (Ellen Burstyn) is a heartless psycho who locks them in the attic. Like the best-selling novel from which it was adapted, this movie kicked off a number of sequels.

12 / 50
Hamdon Entertainment

#39. Half a Dozen Babies (1999)

- Director: Douglas Barr
- IMDb user rating: 6.2
- Runtime: 89 minutes

While struggling to conceive, a married couple partakes in one final round of fertility treatment. That gives way to Indiana’s first-ever sixtuplets and a host of new problems for both partners. It’s all based on the true story of Keith and Becki Dilley.

13 / 50
LINK Entertainment

#38. Toni Braxton: Unbreak My Heart (2016)

- Director: Vondie Curtis-Hall
- IMDb user rating: 6.2
- Runtime: 90 minutes

A chart-topping song by rhythm and blues artist Toni Braxton became the title of her subsequent memoir and this movie adaptation. Following her meteoric rise to success, the singer battles with Lupus, a public divorce, and her son’s autism. What emerges is a portrait of perseverance and self-healing for the sake of family.

14 / 50
Front Street Pictures

#37. Bringing Ashley Home (2011)

- Director: Nick Copus
- IMDb user rating: 6.2
- Runtime: 87 minutes

A trouble-laden teen (Jennifer Morrison) goes missing and her older sister (A.J. Cook) is determined to find her. The story unfolds over the course of years and depicts both sisters on their respective journeys. Patricia Richardson (of “Home Improvement”) co-stars.

15 / 50
City Entertainment

#36. Jodi Arias: Dirty Little Secret (2013)

- Director: Jace Alexander
- IMDb user rating: 6.2
- Runtime: 89 minutes

Lifetime snagged the rights to a headline-grabbing murder case and brought forth this tawdry romantic thriller. It tells the true story of aspiring photographer Jodi Arias, who stands accused of brutally killing her former lover. While completely dramatized, the movie does incorporate elements from the actual trial.

You may also like: Best and worst Jennifer Lopez movies

16 / 50
Lifetime Television

#35. Montana Sky (2007)

- Director: Mike Robe
- IMDb user rating: 6.2
- Runtime: 96 minutes

A wealthy stock trader bequeaths his Montana farm to his three daughters, who are half-sisters and complete strangers to one another. There’s just one catch: the daughters must live on the property together for a year before they can officially own it. This Lifetime drama is one in a long line of Nora Roberts adaptations.

17 / 50
Sanitsky Company

#34. Betty and Coretta (2013)

- Director: Yves Simoneau
- IMDb user rating: 6.3
- Runtime: 88 minutes

From the director of “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” comes this biographical drama with ever-prescient themes. After the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King and Macolm X, widows Coretta Scott King (Angela Bassett) and Dr. Betty Shabazz (Mary J. Blige) continue the fight for racial justice. Both stars were nominated for Women's Image Network Awards, with Bassett taking home the prize.

18 / 50
Hybrid

#33. Dear Secret Santa (2013)

- Director: Peter Sullivan
- IMDb user rating: 6.3
- Runtime: 88 minutes

A busy Beverly Hills banker (Tatyana Ali) comes home for the holidays in this romantic Christmas comedy. The plot takes a twist when she starts receiving mysterious letters from a secret admirer, who may very well be dead. Has her wish to find true love actually been fulfilled?

19 / 50
FishCorb Films

#32. Lies in Plain Sight (2010)

- Director: Patricia Cardoso
- IMDb user rating: 6.3
- Runtime: 89 minutes

After the sudden suicide of her close cousin, a blind woman (Martha Higareda) goes looking for answers. During the investigation, she uncovers a dark past of long-buried secrets. This is a remake of the 2006 Israeli film “Out of Sight.”

20 / 50
Check Entertainment

#31. Expecting Amish (2014)

- Director: Richard Gabai
- IMDb user rating: 6.3
- Runtime: 88 minutes

An 18-year-old Amish girl (AJ Michalka) is on the brink of an arranged marriage when she discovers the world outside her community. Now, she must choose between two different men, and the different lifestyles they represent. Contrary to the film’s depiction, the Amish don’t actually practice arranged marriages.

You may also like: Top 100 thrillers of all time, according to critics

21 / 50
Nomadic Pictures

#30. Lies My Mother Told Me (2005)

- Director: Christian Duguay
- IMDb user rating: 6.3
- Runtime: 87 minutes

Con artist Lauren Sims (Joely Richardson) violates her probation and skips town with her daughter Haylei (Hayden Panettiere). They end up in Las Vegas, where Lauren marries a wealthy attorney. The grim story that follows is loosely based on actual events.

22 / 50
Incendo Productions

#29. Kept Woman (2015)

- Director: Michel Poulette
- IMDb user rating: 6.3
- Runtime: 83 minutes

This dramatic thriller peels back the layers of suburbia to find something bleak and dangerous lying underneath. Upon moving into her new home, a woman (Courtney Ford) quickly becomes suspicious of her kindly neighbor. Despite her instincts, she’s soon lured into a twisted trap.

23 / 50
Lifetime Television

#28. The Trials of Cate McCall (2013)

- Director: Karen Moncrieff
- IMDb user rating: 6.3
- Runtime: 89 minutes

After failing to find an audience elsewhere, this film was picked up by Lifetime and aired in 2014. Kate Beckinsale plays disgraced lawyer Cate McCall, who takes on a pro bono appeal to regain both her credentials and the custody of her daughter. An apparent case of wrongful conviction delivers unexpected twists as the drama unfolds. Nick Nolte and James Cromwell also star.

24 / 50
VZS Productions

#27. For One Night (2006)

- Director: Ernest R. Dickerson
- IMDb user rating: 6.4
- Runtime: 89 minutes

A Georgia town experiences a long overdue reckoning in this Lifetime drama, loosely inspired by actual events. Fed up with her high school’s segregated prom policy, teen Brianna McCallister (played by Raven-Symone) advocates for change. Embarrassingly enough, the story takes place in 2002.

25 / 50
Reel World Management

#26. Taken Back: Finding Haley (2012)

- Director: Mark Jean
- IMDb user rating: 6.4
- Runtime: 85 minutes

No stranger to the premise, Lifetime released yet another missing child movie in 2012. This time around, a mother named Karen (Moira Kelly) goes to drastic extremes in her decade-long pursuit of the truth. She finally tracks down her daughter in a schoolyard...or is it merely someone who looks like her daughter?

You may also like: 100 best Westerns of all time

26 / 50
Muse Entertainment Enterprises

#25. Reviving Ophelia (2010)

- Director: Bobby Roth
- IMDb user rating: 6.5
- Runtime: 92 minutes

Based on Mary Pipher’s non-fiction book of the same name, this drama chronicles the trials and tribulations of two sisters and their teenage daughters. Wrapped up in the narrative is a taut examination of modern adolescence. Like the book before it, the movie argues that many teens still come of age in “a girl-poisoning culture.”

27 / 50
The Asylum

#24. Love at the Christmas Table (2012)

- Director: Rachel Lee Goldenberg
- IMDb user rating: 6.5
- Runtime: 89 minutes

What better time than Christmas for two close friends to fall in love? Those friends are Sam and Kat and their bond goes back decades, to when they used to sit at the kids’ table. To quote the movie’s tagline, “it was love with every bite.”

28 / 50
The Kaufman Company

#23. Twist of Faith (2013)

- Director: Paul A. Kaufman
- IMDb user rating: 6.6
- Runtime: 85 minutes

After witnessing the murder of his family, an Orthodox Jew wanders from big city New York to small-town Alabama. He’s taken in by the local gospel community and their talented lead singer (Toni Braxton). Awash with faith-based themes, the movie is a testament to the healing power of love.

29 / 50
Sony Pictures Television

#22. The Wronged Man (2010)

- Director: Tom McLoughlin
- IMDb user rating: 6.6
- Runtime: 85 minutes

Based on a magazine article of the same name, this legal drama depicts the 22-year battle to clear an innocent man of false rape charges. The man’s name is Calvin Willis and he’s played by then-rising star Mahershala Ali. For both Willis and his pro bono paralegal (Julia Ormond), it’s a life-changing journey from which an unbreakable friendship is forged.

30 / 50
Lifetime Movie Network

#21. The Pregnancy Project (2012)

- Director: Norman Buckley
- IMDb user rating: 6.6
- Runtime: 89 minutes

Witness the true story of Gaby Rodriguez (played by Alexa PenaVega), who grabbed headlines in 2011 for her high school senior project. Determined to expose the stigmas surrounding teen pregnancy, Rodriguez pretended to be pregnant herself. Her experiment is the subject of both this Lifetime drama and an award-winning memoir.

You may also like: Best and worst Leonardo DiCaprio movies

31 / 50
L.I.F.T. Production

#20. Girl, Positive (2007)

- Director: Peter Werner
- IMDb user rating: 6.6
- Runtime: 88 minutes

High school teen Rachel Sandler (Andrea Bowen) appears to have a perfect life and a promising future. But everything changes when she discovers that a former fling—who has since died in a car accident—was HIV positive. “90210” alum Jennie Garth co-stars as a substitute teacher who’s been secretly grappling with the very same disease.

32 / 50
Jaffe/Braunstein Films

#19. Odd Girl Out (2005)

- Director: Tom McLoughlin
- IMDb user rating: 6.6
- Runtime: 84 minutes

Hot on the heels of 2004’s “Mean Girls” came this similar-sounding TV movie, in which a teen girl flirts with the object of someone else’s affection. Now in the crosshairs, she suffers relentless bullying as a result. The book it adapted likewise brought the overlooked issue of female teen bullying to much wider attention.

33 / 50
Front Street Pictures

#18. Little Girl Lost: The Delimar Vera Story (2008)

- Director: Paul A. Kaufman
- IMDb user rating: 6.7
- Runtime: 89 minutes

This fact-based melodrama has all the ingredients for a formulaic Lifetime movie, including a missing child and desperate mother. What’s surprising is the earnest and authentic delivery, according to one Hollywood Reporter review. It’s based on the shocking true story of Delimar Vera, a baby who was presumed dead in a fire but actually kidnapped.

34 / 50
Front Street Pictures

#17. Abducted: The Carlina White Story (2012)

- Director: Vondie Curtis-Hall
- IMDb user rating: 6.7
- Runtime: 86 minutes

Culling from another true abduction story, this drama puts a slight twist on the standard template. Instead of focusing on the mother, it centers on the kidnapped baby turned young adult. It’s only at the age of 23 that Carlina White realizes the people who raised her aren’t her biological parents.

35 / 50
Frank & Bob Films II

#18. No One Would Tell (1996)

- Director: Noel Nosseck
- IMDb user rating: 6.7
- Runtime: 96 minutes

Sitcom stars Fred Savage and Candace Cameron Bure headline this made-for-TV drama, which chronicles an abusive high school relationship. What starts as an unlikely romance takes on deadly dimensions when the boyfriend (Savage) reveals his darker side. Lifetime updated the movie with a 2018 remake starring Shannen Doherty and Mira Sorvino.

You may also like: Best Meryl Streep movies

36 / 50
Lifetime Television

#15. Mom at Sixteen (2005)

- Director: Peter Werner
- IMDb user rating: 6.7
- Runtime: 90 minutes

Lifetime once again explores teenage pregnancy in this 2005 film about 16-year-old Jacey Jeffries (Danielle Panabaker). After giving birth, Jacey attends a new high school and tries to blend in with the local populace. To hide her secret, she pretends that her daughter is actually her younger sister.

37 / 50
Lifetime Television

#14. The Memory Keeper's Daughter (2008)

- Director: Mick Jackson
- IMDb user rating: 6.7
- Runtime: 90 minutes

One of Lifetime’s most ambitious efforts adapts a best-selling novel and stars Dermot Mulroney as Dr. David Henry. Upon discovering that one of his twin babies has Down syndrome, David gives her away to a nurse (Emily Watson) in 1964. The following story takes place over decades, as he tries to reconcile with both his abandoned daughter and his selfish deed.

38 / 50
Woodridge Productions

#13. Cleveland Abduction (2015)

- Director: Alex Kalymnios
- IMDb user rating: 6.7
- Runtime: 88 minutes

This merciless outing tells the true story of Michelle Knight, who was held captive by rapist Ariel Castro for over 11 years. Taryn Manning plays the struggling survivor and Raymond Cruz her sadistic abductor. Variety critic Brian Lowry called it “ugly, brutal and hard to watch.”

39 / 50
Nomadic Pictures

#12. Fighting the Odds: The Marilyn Gambrell Story (2005)

- Director: Andy Wolk
- IMDb user rating: 6.9
- Runtime: 120 minutes

Actor Jami Gertz plays former parole officer Marilyn Gambrell in this biographical drama. Inspired by firsthand experience, Gambrell launches a non-profit to help the children of incarcerated parents. In real life, both the program and Gambrell were featured on an episode of the ABC reality series “Secret Millionaire.”

40 / 50
Ostar Productions

#11. The Trip to Bountiful (2014)

- Director: Michael Wilson
- IMDb user rating: 6.9
- Runtime: 102 minutes

Cicely Tyson stars in "The Trip to Bountiful" as the elderly and overprotected Carrie Watts, who makes an impromptu journey to her former hometown. Both this movie and a previous Oscar-winning film are based on Horton Foote’s 1953 play of the same name.

You may also like: Ranking The Best Years in Movie History

41 / 50
Alberta Film Entertainment

#10. Dawn Anna (2005)

- Director: Arliss Howard
- IMDb user rating: 6.9
- Runtime: 88 minutes

Debra Winger plays real-life mother Dawn Anna Townsend in this harrowing drama. While recovering from a deadly brain disease, Dawn loses one of her daughters to the Columbine High School massacre. Bring tissues.

42 / 50
Storyline Entertainment

#9. Living Proof (2008)

- Director: Dan Ireland
- IMDb user rating: 6.9
- Runtime: 125 minutes

Clocking in at over two hours, this biographical drama follows Dr. Dennis Slamon (Harry Connick Jr.) on his quest to cure breast cancer. The real-life Dr. Slamon hoped that the viewers took away the importance of philanthropic donations and trial volunteers. Regina King, Amanda Bynes, Tammy Blanchard, and Angie Harmon co-star.

43 / 50
Braun Entertainment Group

#8. The Gabby Douglas Story (2014)

- Director: Gregg Champion
- IMDb user rating: 7.0
- Runtime: 86 minutes

Meet Gabby Douglas (respectively played by Imani Hakim and Sydney Mikayla), the first woman of color to win gold in the women’s all-round Olympic Gymnastics. This acclaimed biopic highlights the sacrifices she made when going from gifted prodigy to global champion. It was nominated for four NAACP Image Awards.

44 / 50
Larry Thompson Organization

#7. Amish Grace (2010)

- Director: Gregg Champion
- IMDb user rating: 7.1
- Runtime: 89 minutes

The school shooting epidemic found its way into a small Amish community in 2006, resulting in the death of five young girls. Rather than demonstrate hatred, the community showed compassion and forgiveness instead. This is their story.

45 / 50
Barnet Bain Films

#6. Homeless to Harvard: The Liz Murray Story (2003)

- Director: Peter Levin
- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Runtime: 104 minutes

Based on the real-life exploits of its title character, this inspiring biopic follows Liz Murray (Thora Birch) as she flees from an abusive home and lives on the streets. After losing her mother to AIDS, Murray turns her life around for good. Not only does she complete high school, but she ends up getting into one of the country’s most prestigious universities.

You may also like: Oscar Best Picture Winners from Worst to First

46 / 50
Speak Film Inc.

#5. Speak (2004)

- Director: Jessica Sharzer
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Runtime: 89 minutes

A pre-“Twilight” Kristen Stewart stars alongside Elizabeth Perkins in this award-winning drama. Based on a best-selling YA novel, it follows a mute teenager (Stewart) as she comes of age in the wake of a traumatic event. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival before arriving on the Lifetime Network.

47 / 50
Craig Anderson Productions

#4. For the Love of a Child (2006)

- Director: Douglas Barr
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Runtime: 80 minutes

This historical drama tracks the creation of Childhelp USA, a real-life charity that helps victims of child abuse. Through a series of flashbacks, it tells the story of two world-travelling entertainers turned non-profit pioneers. Also depicted is the journey of Jacob Fletcher, who comes to the organization seeking help as a young boy.

48 / 50
Granada Entertainment

#3. Miracle Run (2004)

- Director: Gregg Champion
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Runtime: 120 minutes

This Emmy-nominated drama finds a single mother (Mary-Louise Parker) struggling to raise two autistic twins. Her personal ordeal provides a broader examination of the stigmas surrounding autism. Zac Efron stars as twin Stephen Morgan, representing one of his earliest screen roles.

49 / 50
Braun Entertainment Group

#2. A Girl Like Me: The Gwen Araujo Story (2006)

- Director: Agnieszka Holland
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Runtime: 88 minutes

This prescient and tragic drama tells the true story of Gwen Araujo, portrayed here by JD Pardo. A transgender teen, Araujo was brutally murdered by four drunken men in 2002. It won for Outstanding Movie for Television at the 2007 GLAAD Media Awards.

50 / 50
Mike Robe Productions

#1. Gracie's Choice (2004)

- Director: Peter Werner
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Runtime: 90 minutes

When their mother is sent to jail, 17-year-old Gracie (Kristen Bell) does whatever it takes to keep her remaining family intact. Her turbulent story is partly based on a Reader’s Digest article about a real-life person. Anne Heche earned a Primetime Emmy nomination for her performance as the drug-addicted mother.

You may also like: Oscar Best Actress Winner from the Year You Were Born

Trending Now