There are a lot of Christmas movies out there, which is why it’s important to make the right choice this holiday season. After all, no one has the time to waste over two+ hours on a bad movie.
At the top of your list should be Hotel for the Holidays, a rom-com that offers a refreshing take on a festive genre that oftentimes lacks creativity simply because the forces behind the scenes know it will make money regardless as everyone longs for a slice of familiarity and comfort around the holidays.
There’s plenty of Christmas magic (it must’ve slipped through the cracks) in Hotel for the Holidays, and it sneaks up on you—and Madelaine Petsch’s character, Georgia—in the best possible way. It’s Amazon Freevee’s first original holiday flick, and hopefully, not the last.
The plot is rather simple on the surface, but it isn’t predictable as with other holiday rom-coms.
Here’s the gist: Georgia is a young and ambitious hotel manager at the historic Hotel Fontaine (it gives The Plaza Hotel vibes from Home Alone 2), which attracts an eclectic bunch of guests, including some heartbroken singles, an infamous popstar, a European ex-prince looking for a taste of the real world, and more. They all arrive in New York City for the holidays looking for an escape from the norm, and Georgia is determined to give it to them. However, she also has her own plans and goals that get her into a bit of a love triangle with the hotel’s chef, Luke (Mesa Massoud from the live-action Aladdin), and the ex-prince, Raymond (Max Lloyd Jones from Book of Boba Fett). It also stars Kayleigh Shikanai (American Gods) as Pandora, Jami Belushi (According to Jim) as Kiki, Neil Crone (It) as Milton, and Jayne Eastwood (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) as Florence.
Pretty early into the film, it’s obvious how Georgia’s romantic life will resolve itself, which allows the film to dig into other captivating subplots that are positively unexpected. Unlike other holiday films, Georgia values herself beyond a romantic partner, which, right off the bat, is a breath of fresh air.
The supporting cast plays an integral part in the film, right down to the chef’s best friend/fellow chef and the janitorial staff. They may not be the sole focus of the series, but the team behind the rom-com found a way to involve them in a way that’s natural and easy to keep up with. Pretty soon, you find yourself rooting for the happiness of everyone at Hotel Fontaine—the staff and the guests.
The acting is also great. It’s just the right amount of feel-good so it never feels forced, nor do the character’s choices seem questionable. It’s all believable within the world they’ve created, aside from the scene where they are dining on a rooftop in the dead of a New York City winter without jackets or even sweaters. How are they not cold? As for the few over-the-top performances and characters, well, they also work—the prince’s bodyguard (AJ Zoldy) is a delight.
If I’m being perfectly honest, the magical thing about the film is that it’s a love letter to the community of people you surround yourself with: your found family.
The film doesn’t just settle for telling a story about two people who finally admit that they love each other because that’s tired and expected. Instead, it recognizes that romance comes in all shapes and sizes—in romantic partners, in co-workers, in friends, and even in new acquaintances that pass through your life for a brief moment (or stay awhile).
The storylines come together seamlessly, and the themes of belonging and acceptance—in addition to staying true to yourself, finding the inspiration to pursue your goals and ambitions, and acknowledging that it’s ok to move and find happiness on your own terms, even if it doesn’t always please everyone—help the film stand out among the other cliche seasonal offerings.
Most importantly, Petsch shines… and it’s so deserved. The film allows her to show off her range of acting chops that, sadly, get stifled on Riverdale. The CW series may have been her mainstream big break, but it stopped working in her favor a long time ago, so it’s exciting to see her take on new projects and characters.
Of all the Christmas films that I’ve seen in 2022 thus far, Hotel for the Holidays is one of the best.
Check it out for yourself when it premieres on Dec. 2 on Amazon’s Freevee.
11 Most Anticipated TV Shows of 2023
2022 was a good year for TV, but there’s always the hope that a new year will bring even better programming.
As a handful of shows gear up for their swan song, they’re making room for a new crop of shows—and seasons—to take the spotlight and shine.
Here are the 2023 shows we’re most excited about that we think should be on your radar:
Not Dead Yet – ABC
Gina Rodriguez returns to TV to once again dominate primetime television. After making a splash as a pregnant virgin in Jane the Virgin, Rodriguez will tackle the role of Nell Stevens, a broke and newly single woman hoping to restart the career she left behind a decade ago. Unfortunately, the landscape has changed, so she accepts the only job she can find: writing obituaries. What she doesn’t expect is that her life advice is going to start coming from an unlikely source. Let’s just say, she takes the phrase “I see dead people” to new heights.
The series will premiere on February 8, 2023, on ABC.
The Idol – HBO
Hailing from Sam Levinson (the man behind Euphoria), the trippy series about a modern-day cult leader, played by Abel Tesfaye (best known as The Weeknd), who lures in a rising pop idol played by Lily-Rose Depp. There’s deception, mystery, and plenty of intrigue, along with plenty of moments to obsess over in the trailer, rounded out by a pretty stellar cast that includes Dan Levy, Troye Sivan, Rachel Sennot, and Blackpink’s Jennie.
No official premiere date has been announced just yet.
You – Netflix
Hello, you. I’ve missed you. The Penn Badgley thriller returns to Netflix for its fourth season, but with Badgley’s Joe Goldberg assuming a new identity in Paris to track down the one that got away—and obsess over a new crop of vulnerable women—it almost feels like a brand new series altogether. And if the previous season was any indication, things are going to get quite crazy once school is in session.
It will hit Netflix on February 9, 2023.
The Mandalorian – Disney+
The Mandalorian was the talk of the town when it premiered in 2019, mostly because of Baby Yoda, but the buzz about the upcoming season of the Star Wars live-action series starring Pedro Pascal as a lone gunfighter continues gaining momentum. There are plenty more adventures to be had following the fall of the Galactic Empire, and fans are ready to strap on in and take off.
Season 3 will premiere on Disney+ on March 1, 2023.
Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story- Netflix
Everyone has their favorite Bridgerton sibling, but there’s a good chunk of people who swear that Queen Charlotte is the best character. And now, we’re going to get her origin story. The prequel spinoff aims to fill the void as we wait for the new season of Bridgerton by giving us a series dedicated solely to Queen Charlotte’s backstory, tapping into who she was as a young girl and why she lives for gossip and drama.
The series will arrive on Netflix on May 4, 2023.
Secret Invasion – Disney+
The series, based on the 2008 comic by Brian Michael Bendis, is a gift to Avengers fans as its a sequel to Captain Marvel, Spider-Man: Far From Home, and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. It follows Nick Fury (played by Samuel L. Jackson), who returns to Earth after having been missing for years to take on the shape-shifting Skrulls faction. It also stars Cobie Smulders, Olivia Colman, Don Cheadle, and more.
No premiere date has been announced yet, but it’s set for a spring 2023 arrival.
Lupin – Netflix
Wolf Pack – Paramount+
Not only is Wolf Pack an upcoming supernatural series, but it also brings Sarah Michelle Geller back into the supernatural genre, and that alone is enough to make us want to tune in. In fact, SMG wasn’t going to sign on for the project initially but changed her mind once she read the script! Based on the book series by Edo Van Belkom, the series follows two teens whose lives are forever changed when a California wildfire awakens a terrifying supernatural creature.
The series hits the streamer on January 26, 2023.
That ’90s Show – Netflix
You know their parents, now, get to know the offspring. The series, set in the ’90s as the title alludes, is a spinoff of the beloved That ’70s Show. It follows the teen daughter of Eric Forman and Donna Pinciott, Leia, who returns to Wisconsin to spend the summer with her grandparents, Red and Kitty. Along the way, she makes a group of lifelong friends, and together, they discover the magical properties of the Forman basement. The core cast from the original series has all signed on for guest appearances, so you know it will be a good ‘ole time.
The first season will premiere on Netflix on January 15, 2023.
Daisy Jones and the Six – Amazon Prime
While we’re talking about the ’70s, the series will let you love out your rock star dreams. Based on Taylor Jenkins Reid’s 2019 novel (and produced by Reid along with Reese Witherspoon), the series follows the fictional band, along with the highs and lows, and checks in decades later after they’d decided to call it quits. And it’s got a star-studded cast with Riley Keough, Sam Claflin, Suki and Waterhouse!
The limited series will be available on Amazon Prime on March 3.
Yellowjackets – Showtime
If you stomached all the gore from the first season of Yellowjackets, there’s more coming your way with the second, highly-anticipated season. The series, about a high school girl’s soccer team getting stranded in the wilderness, picks up where the first season left off, toggling between two time periods: the aftermath of the 1996 plane crash and catching up with the survivors 25 years later.
The series will premiere on Showtime on March 24, 2023.
Something From Tiffany’s Review – A Love Story With Heart
‘Tis the season for Christmas movies, but Something From Tiffany’s has the makings of a classic romantic film that just so happens to take place around the holidays.
In fact, it shouldn’t even fall under the category of Christmas movies as the protagonist, Rachel (Zoey Deutch, is Jewish, and thus, the film falls under the Chrismukkah genre.
And that’s just one of the things that makes it stand out from the holiday herd.
*** SPOILERS AHEAD — Stop reading now if you haven’t watched the movie ***
It’s rare to find a film with so much heart amongst the manufactured and overly cheesy offerings that come out of this season but leave it to Reese Witherspoon to make it happen.
Witherspoon takes her wealth of knowledge about what it takes to create a successful romantic movie behind the scenes, letting a new generation shine on the screen and dazzle audiences… and they don’t let her—or us—down.
The plot of the film is fairly simple and straightforward—a switcheroo at Tiffany’s throws two relationships into turmoil—but what makes it stand out is the believable acting and chemistry between the leads, Deutch’s Rachel and Kendrick Sampson’s Ethan.
From their first meet-cute at the hospital, it’s clear that there’s an unspoken chemistry between Rachel and Ethan. You can feel that connection getting stronger with every line and every personal anecdote they share with each other, like Ethan opening up about his late wife or his idea for a novel, which he didn’t even disclose to his girlfriend Vanessa (Shay Mitchell).
But though they definitely acknowledge the attraction—how could they not?—they remain in denial, convincing themselves that they’re in the right relationships when everyone around them, particularly Rachel’s BFF and business partner Terri (Jojo T. Gibbs), knows that couldn’t be further from the truth. Terri serves as the film’s comical relief, though she doesn’t have to try hard at it, she just is with her witty one-liners and glaring distaste for Gary (Ray Nicholson), which is deserved.
Daisy, Ethan’s daughter, on the other hand, is the whip-smart preteen who knows that Vanessa is not the right woman for the job, but she’s going to let her dad figure that out on her own.
The whole gift from Tiffany’s mixup is a good excuse for Ethan not to look at the facts right away, as he’s so motivated to get the ring back. And he’s thrown a loop when he tries to Gary, the man hit by the car when they accidentally switched bags, and realizes that he used the ring to propose.
In Gary’s defense, he didn’t have any memory of what happened from his time shopping at Tiffany’s, so when Rachel opened the box, he assumed it was the purchase he made. However, that defense is short-lived as he definitely knew something was up when he found the receipt and saw that he bought a pair of earrings instead. And when Ethan finally came to confront him, Gary proved that he’s a self-centered jerk by pretending that he didn’t know what he was talking about and refusing to cop to his part in the messy situation.
The plot unfolds in a rather unpredictable way, which only adds to the enjoyment of viewers. Rachel doesn’t find out about the mixup through Gary or Ethan, who chose not to say anything because he didn’t want to hurt her. Instead, she learns the truth from the sales lady at Tiffany’s who remembered the ring and told her she sold it to the man and his daughter, Daisy. From there, Rachel realizes that Gary’s whole proposal felt like it was too good to be true because it was.
Nothing feels forced or contrived like in some formulaic holiday films—from the organic way Ethan and Rachel establish a relationship to Rachel’s decision to break up with Gary for reasons not associated with Ethan.
Ethan and Rachel are drawn to each other through sheer circumstance, and the more they spent around each other, their connection makes more and more sense. Their lives fit into each other as they have similar likes, interests, and outlooks, but it becomes clearer that his road is divulging from Vanessa’s, who has never been overly supportive of his career and didn’t want to move back to NYC. A common characteristic of the “other woman” in rom-coms is that she’s a bad person, but that’s not the case here. Vanessa is brilliant and accomplished, but at the end of the day, she’s just not Ethan’s person… and that’s okay.
The location could’ve easily shifted to a small town, but that’s also what distinguishes it from all the subpar and cheesy films churned out yearly—it embraces New York City. The leading lady isn’t some heartless, overworked and underappreciated career woman who needs to escape to find herself. A warmth radiates from Rachel, a self-assured boss babe who runs a bustling bakery/restaurant. Though she’s had her share of failures, she’s used them as motivation. So what if she eats too many pastries? And so what if I spend half the film wondering how she stays so lean after eating several cornettos a day? The point is, it’s possible for NYC not to be painted as the villain, but rather, the perfect backdrop for a holiday film with its bright twinkling lights, crisp snowflakes, and pristine decor that sets a magical mood.
It wasn’t the city inspiring Ethan to write, it was Rachel, and for someone who just got engaged, she couldn’t stop thinking about another man. And if someone you just met takes up permanent residence in your brain, it’s safe to say you should probably heed the warning.
As mentioned, I liked that Rachel’s feelings for Ethan didn’t lead to her split with Gary. There’s no doubt that they likely played a part, but Rachel could no longer avoid the unavoidable; she was at her wits end and made the move that was a long time coming, which gave her a clean slate to finally take the risk and follow her heart.
Ethan got a little push from his daughter, who informed him that he needed to get the girl through a big romantic gesture. It wasn’t a boombox, but a flower delivery asking Rachel to meet him at “their spot”—because yes, they already have one of those so early on which is how you know it’s right—if she feels the same way about him.
The film didn’t challenge the rom-com status quo because the formula already works (otherwise, we wouldn’t have all these films shoved down our throats each year), but it did gave it a bit of a facelift to keep it fresh and fun, which was enough to give the film some staying power.
And they addressed my one gripe with holiday flicks that end so abruptly once the lovers get together, leaving the audience hanging after they’ve just invested nearly two hours into this journey.
We deserve to know what happens after that first kiss, and when Something From Tiffany’s jumps one year forward, it’s clear the difference a year can make. Instead of a broken engagement, Ethan is getting down on one knee to pop the question with the something from Tiffany’s—the ring that was meant to be Rachel’s all along.
And all it took was one innocent mix-up.
How to Watch All the New Year’s Eve 2023 Specials
It’s almost time to ring in 2023, and if your idea of a perfect New Year’s Eve includes sitting at home and watching all the action from the comfort of your couch, we got you!
There are a handful of specials to count down till midnight and welcome the new year!
Check them out below:
Dick Clark’s Primetime New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest
Join Ryan Seacrest for a classic. His co-hosts have already been announced—Billy Porter in New Orleans, Ciara at Disneyland, D-Nice in Los Angeles, Jessie James Decker will crown the Powerball First Millionaire of 2023, and Liza Koshy will also be on hand in Times Square. Tune in on ABC starting at 8/7 PM.
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New Year’s Eve Live: Nashville’s Big Bash
Live music, fireworks, Nashville Music Note Drop, and more live from Nashville! Brooks & Dunn, Kelsea Ballerini, Little Big Town and Zac Brown Band will be among the country music stars helping to ring in the new year, while Jimmie Allen and Elle King host alongside Rachel Smith.
It will air Saturday, December 31 from 8-10 p.m. ET/PT and 10:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m. ET/PT on CBS and available to stream live and on-demand on Paramount+.
A Toast to 2022!
The NBC special takes a look back at the moments that we’ll never forget from 2022 in this two-hour special.
Miley’s New Year’s Eve Party
Miley Cyrus is getting an assist from country music icon and her godmother Dolly Parton this NYE! She replaces Pete Davidson, who co-hosted last year. The extravaganza will feature a star-studded lineup of performances and special guests, which will be announced very soon.
It will air live on NBC from Miami on Saturday, Dec. 31 from 10:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. ET.
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