The 2014 Noggy Awards

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A belated Merry Christmas or Happy Barbara Mandrell’s birthday to you, depending on which one you celebrate. Sorry I didn’t wish it sooner but I have been feverishly analyzing and re-analyzing the data from this year’s slate of made-for-TV Christmas movies to present you with the 2nd Annual Noggy Awards Show. So hey, welcome to the 2nd Annual Noggy Awards! What are the 2nd Annual Noggy Awards? Well they’re a lot like the 1st Annual Noggy Awards, which was kind of like the Oscars but without all the lies. Instead, I hand out virtual awards to the best, worst, and best-worst Christmas movies of the season.

So let’s get right down to business. I’ll even kick things off with Best Picture, just to show you what a serious businessman I am, even if that comes entirely at the expense of love and all other qualities we value in life. And if you still don’t believe my businessyness, I will try to find a way to work “Dow Jones” into my explanation of the winner.

BEST PICTURE

– Merry ExMas – WINNER!

– Northpole

– A Perfect Christmas List

– Christmas Kiss II

There’s really not that much mystery here. Even less than who the boss was on the show of the same name, where the employment was pretty spelled out from the get-go. If you’ve been reading these reviews or my mind or just guessed and got it right, you know how much Merry ExMas floated my boat this year. And why not? This movie had it all – older lady incontinence, invisible bee attacks, someone falling off a dog sled, Dow Jones – and that was all pretty much in one scene although I guess I made up the part about Dow Jones. But maybe I didn’t. Because to be honest, I don’t actually know what Dow Jones is. Or are. Is it singular or plural? I just looked it (them?) up online and now I’m even more confused. Read the entire Wikipedia page and seriously couldn’t understand a thing. I guess I’m not really a businessman. Although according to these movies, that makes me a better person. These other nominees were good people too. Several of them could have won in other years. The logo for Northpole claimed it was established in 1820 and I’m certain it would have taken the Noggy then. I’m not as certain as to why they included that little tidbit of information though. Established in 1820. Was the real North Pole actually discovered then? No. But such an oddity is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s great. Kind of like when we saw Star Wars for the first time and right away, the big, scrolling text says it’s “Episode IV”. How could it be Episode IV? It was the first movie. But see, that’s it exactly. Makes you think. Makes you wonder what it means. So Northpole is in some very good company although I should point out that the Star Wars Holiday Special, which came out the same year (1977, not 1820), was one of the worst things ever created, movie or otherwise. And speaking of worst…

 

WORST PICTURE

– Debbie MacComber’s Mr. Miracle – “WINNER!”

– A Cookie Cutter Christmas

– Angels and Ornaments

– The Miami Connection

Okay, it’s true that the Miami Connection wasn’t a made-for-TV movie this year nor even a Christmas movie but it didn’t have a connection to Miami either so why should little details like that hold it back from being considered for this category? Although here’s something that should prevent The Miami Connection from consideration – it was awesome. Bad, yes, in so many ways but all of them enjoyable and the kinds of things that would make me want to watch it again and again. For this category however, I am talking about the bad kind of bad that isn’t good or even Bad in a Michael Jackson sense. Like I didn’t enjoy it on any level and I definitely won’t tune in when it’s on next year. So considering this criteria, the award really should go to Mr. Miracle here. Specifically him but probably the whole movie too. It just wasn’t good or more importantly, fun. Back-to-back duds, Angels & Ornaments and A Cookie Cutter Christmas made me at least want to watch them until the end. Barely. With Mr. Miracle though, from the very first moment I met the titular Mr. Miracle, all I wanted to do was get Out of Africa.

 

Craziest Moment

– Invisible bee attack in Merry ExMas – WINNER!

– Sled dog journey in Merry ExMas

– Weird, homoerotic moment in Merry ExMas where Lochlyn Munro seemingly ad-libs a line saying he felt “movement” after Dean Cain gets tough with him

– Jodi Lyn O’Keefe’s “son” starts rattling off titles for country songs while she uses a rowing machine in Merry ExMas.

– Song and dance number in A Perfect Christmas List

– The scene in the offices of Ion Television where they reviewed this year’s slate of TV Christmas movies

In thinking back to my initial viewing of Merry ExMas, I was definitely in a greater state of disbelief during the sled dog journey, saying both internally and aloud that this can’t be happening. Much of it was due to just how jarring the whole thing was. The setting, tone, pace, look, energy level, and everything just felt like such a hard left turn but, BUT, I also knew that the characters were trying to get to a place in the mountains, the mountains were not accessible due to blizzard, and they claimed that sled dogs were a way to get there so on some level, this scene technically made sense. The transition was crazy, for sure, but dots were connected. When I think about the previous scene though, the one where invisible bees attacked, I cannot say the same thing. There was just no real or even imaginary reason for those damn invisible bees to start chasing people off and for that, it must win the Noggy for Craziest Moment. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that before. Or since! Although I guess that part is less remarkable.

 

Best Actress

– Candace Cameron in Christmas Under Wraps – WINNER!

– Kimberly Sustad in Nine Lives of Christmas

– Tiffany I-Forgot-Whether-Its-Amber-Or-Thiessen in Northpole

– Haylie Duff in Naughty & Nice

– Lacey Chabert in The Tree That Saved Christmas

Back to Star Wars again, do you remember that scene at the beginning of Return of the Jedi when we first see Luke Skywalker in the form of a hologram, telling Jaba to release Han and Leia? Or die? But this isn’t the same Luke from Star Wars or Empire Strikes Back. Suddenly, he’s like, a total badass. Not just because he was all in black but because of the newfound swagger. He had become a Jedi. That’s kind of how I felt watching Candace Cameron Bure in Christmas Under Wraps. She had been okay before in that Moonlight and Mistletoe movie and pretty good in last year’s Let It Snow but now, in 2014, she has become a Jedi too. Looks better and her performance had an air of truly polished confidence. The other gals in this category were sweet, likable, believable, and even mastered the art of not annoying me but while they were in Cloud City admirably trying to save their crew, CCB remained in Dagoba, learning how to pull X-Wing Fighters out of the swamp using only Christmas spirit.

 

Best Actor

– Eric Mabius is Signed, Sealed, and Delivered For Christmas – WINNER!

– Dean Cain in Merry ExMas

– Brandon Routh in Nine Lives of Christmas

– Not Rob Morrow

– Barry Watson in Santa Con

Honestly, I wanted to give this Noggy to “Not Rob Morrow”, just because no male actor’s performance this year was as good as his was bad. That’s not necessarily a knock on some of these other leading men, it’s more of a statement on just how bad Mr. Non-Miracle was. I’m sorry to keep piling on here and I realize he’s not necessarily 100% to blame for the interpretation of that character. Maybe he was just following orders. Maybe it’s exactly how Mr. Miracle was written. Maybe the director told him he had to act that way or he was going to jail. Maybe the police were even involved. And who was going to police the police? Certainly not the Coast Guard, I’ll tell you that, but I will also tell you that if I really have to give the award to somebody, as opposed to NOT somebody, I am going to go with one Eric “Call Me” Mabius from Signed, Sealed and Delivered For Christmas. Yes, I realize how completely messed up that is because I didn’t review the movie in this blog or even casually mention to anyone that I watched it but since I don’t see any Coast Guard boats showing up at my house to arrest me right now, I am just going to go with it. Because even though I just met him and this is crazy, Call Me actually pulls off an extremely rare feat for one of these made-for-TV Christmas movies. He carries the film as the male lead. Usually, and I’ve said this before, the role can be somewhat irrelevant (sure Dean Cain, I realize you pitched Merry ExMas but I’m speaking purely from an acting perspective here). If the guy is good, then great, but if not, the movie can still work, because more often than not, the story centers around the lead actress. I guess you could say that Signed, Sealed, Delivered is more of an ensemble piece but he is our rock and the character was a little more original and interesting than we’re used to seeing. So here’s my Noggy. And call him Mabius.

 

Best Supporting Actor

– Lochlyn Munro in Merry ExMas – WINNER!

– Alan Thicke in Cookie Cutter Christmas

– Dad in Back to Christmas (his name isn’t really important)

Of course we all know just how frequently these movies feature a jerk boyfriend or girlfriend character. This is the person our hero or heroine is somehow dating at the beginning of the film but since they are such a jerk, we are totally cool with our hero/heroine breaking it off with them eventually to get with the other protagonist. And they usually provide other obstacles to keep our main lovers from hooking up. These are forgettable, one-dimensional, heartless a-holes consumed only by money and business success and if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ’em all. Not so fast, says Lochlyn Munro this year in Merry ExMas, with a trailblazing performance that really broke the mold! He was wealthy, yes, and cared a lot about his money and just generally winning but what set him apart was this accent/persona that was some kind of insane combination of a Liam Neesen, Richard Nixon, and some Canadian stereotype from a Kids in the Hall skit. There was also a weird level of sincerity to him that I, at the same time, actually believed despite what a cartoonish figure he was. At some point too, I think the actor started ad-libbing and the production people were awesome enough to just roll with it. I’ve already mentioned the scene where he talked about feeling “movement” after a dust-up with Dean Cain and there was another good one where he asked the young daughter character if she liked horror movies, mentioning that Freddie vs. Jason was an excellent film. A film Lochlyn Munro was actually in and I just can’t imagine any of that was in the script but it definitely qualifies as going above and beyond the call of duty and for that, he was a Loch to win this award. Wait a minute, I spelled “lock” wrong there. And I capitalized it. No wait, that actually functions as wordplay because his first name is Lochlyn. Phew, lucky coincidence.

 

Best Supporting Actress

– Bailee Madison in Northpole – WINNER!

– Jane Seymour in A Royal Christmas

– Jodi Lyn O’Keefe in Merry ExMas

Oddly enough, while the Best Supporting Actress category is somewhat of a joke to the real Oscars, I’ve got no snark for you here. I thought Bailee Madison did a straight up good job. The heart of her movie. She was sweet and innocent and whimsically eccentric enough to make me believe she was a real, live elf from the North Pole or perhaps even Northpole. So much so that I didn’t mind that Tiffany I-Just-Remembered-That-It’s-Only-Thiessen didn’t mind that she was a seemingly teenage girl spending a lot of time alone with her under teenage son. I do want to point out though, that Jane Seymour was her sparkling, classy self and Jodi Lyn O’Keefe choose to leave her weird family in Merry ExMas, on Xmas, to go driving around in a limo and take dog sled rides up a mountain for absolutely no reason at all. Just because she played a lawyer doesn’t mean she had to be present for her client’s signing of a contract. Plus she pretended to be the guy’s sister and from his home country, wherever the hell that was. But while that might have made the contract more legal and the movie more awesome, both she and Janey ran into a buzz saw this year and I’m not talking about invisible bees but the buzz saw named Bailee Madison.

 

Best Supporting Black Friend

– Lady in Christmas at Cartwright’s who just listened to all of Alicia Witt’s many problems and babysat her daughter – WINNER!

– Guy in Merry ExMas who often had his shirt off and was shown working out for no reason.

– Urkel from The Santa Con.

Not only is it always nice to have a friend, any friend, but a black friend instantly proves the main, white character isn’t a racist, which is something I like to need established right away. It’s a common feature in plenty of movies but I think these made-for-TV Christmas ones take it to a higher level. Maybe potential racism is just a bigger fear since many of the actors aren’t necessarily household names. Like if Julia Roberts is the main character, I already know she’s probably not a racist but if it’s someone lesser known, like Alicia Witt for instance, I may not be so sure. Speaking of which, her black friend was this year’s winner. As much as I want to talk more about Urkel or shirtless dudes working out for now reason, I absolutely have to give it to her in Christmas at Cartwright’s. Just like I say above, all she did was listen kindly to Alicia Witt’s many problems with gentle understanding and was always taking care of the daughter. I think she might have even let them both live at her house or something. And not once did I ever hear her burden AW with any of her own issues. She was just there for pure support. Hey Urkel – did you do that?

 

Best Crazy Decoration

– Wreath hanging from nothing in Back to Christmas – WINNER!

– Snow blankets in Best Christmas Party Ever

– Garland framing multiple entryways in a single shot in the Christmas Parade, and some of them not even real entryways.

I realize it’s pretty hard to tell what exactly you’re looking at in this picture but that’s kind of the point.

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For the record, it is a wreath just hanging from a tree in some park in the movie Back To Christmas. How often does that happen? I love parks, Christmas, and full disclosure, have no less than 8 Christmas wreaths of my very own but it would never occur to me that one could hang a wreath from a tree. I could even almost see nailing it to one in my front yard or something but just tying a string to it and letting it drape down in some public space seems crazy. But it’s the really good kind of crazy and thus, worthy of winning the 2014 (really good kind of) Craziest Decoration Noggy Award. While snow blankets and overly excessive garlands are great, the tree wreath took real creativity and earns bonus points because the camera even panned up to show it, right before cutting to commercial. Just wanted to make sure we noticed. Message received!

 

Couple With the Least Chance of Survival

– Scott Grimes and Melissa Sagemiller in The Santa Con – “WINNER!”

– Kimberly Sustad and Brandon Routh in the Nine Lives of Christmas

– AnnaLynne MaCord and old dude in The Christmas Parade

What I often do is lay mental odds on just how long I expect the characters who hook up in these movies to actually remain together. Sometimes the foundation of their relationship is specious at best and by the time Martin Luther King Jr. Day rolls around and the happy couple actually get to know each other, I am guessing many of them will be well on their way to Splitsville. Somewhat ironically though, the Noggy for this category goes to a couple who didn’t just hook up this Christmas but had actually been together for a long time. College sweethearts who got married and had a kid before separating around the holidays. So why am I giving them the Noggy for Least Chance of Survival? Well let’s just say that if you didn’t read my review of the Santa Con and can’t see me making the “glug-glug-glug” motion as type this, the Scott Grimes character has a little problem with the sauce. An alcoholic exhibiting classic, extreme alcoholic behavior and still miles from recovery, brought back together with his wife by way of trickery. I mean this thing is being held together by duck tape here and that’s being generous. It’s only a matter of time before dude starts drinking again and things fall apart because while Christmas magic will run out over the course of a year, booze pretty much never does.

 

Lifetime Achievement Award (The Hot Chocolate Eggnog)

– The Clarinet – WINNER!

First of all, have you ever had a hot chocolate eggnog? You just make hot chocolate with eggnog instead of milk. Believe it or not, it’s pretty good. Don’t know why it’s not a thing. So I am going to name my Noggy Lifetime Achievement Award after it and the very first such metaphorical trophy is going to one of the unsung heroes of Christmas movies – the clarinet. By far the most important musical instrument when it comes to these films’ scores. Almost like another character really. Anytime the movie wants to get a little cheeky, a little mischievous, pretty much give us the musical incarnation of an “Uh oh!”, they just drop a little clarinet in there. Plucking pizzicato strings definitely contribute their part as well but the clarinet is the real hero. Without it, I may not know that the nosy next door neighbor is annoying or the boss doesn’t like Christmas and will undoubtedly force everyone to work over the holidays or that the kids are really just lovable rapscallions. Good luck trying to tell me that with a saxophone. Pretty much the fastest way to make your family-friendly made-for-TV Christmas movie seem like an 80s/90s softcore porno flick. Well maybe not THE fastest way but still pretty fast. So thank you, clarinet, for all your whimsical tootling and keeping our movies clean.

 

Movies Played Too Much This Season

– Both Guttenberg joints – Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus and Meet the Santas – WINNERS!

– Christmas With Holly

– Farewell, Mr. Kringle

– Both Mrs. Miracle movies

– A Holiday Engagement

My God, Hallmark! How many times did you play the duo of Steve Guttenberg/Crystal Bernard joints – Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus and Meet the Santas? I get it, the Stonecutters are a tall and powerful order but I felt like you played one or both of these suckers just about every day. And they’re now over 10 years old! You weren’t much better, Lifetime. Where was 12 Trees of Christmas? Or last year’s Noggy winner for Best Picture, Kristen’s Christmas Past? I only saw it playing one time, I think. In fact, Lifetime seemed to generally play less Christmas films than they used to.And on top of that, I feel like all of these channels kind of let us down a little after Christmas. I realize that “after Christmas” is after Christmas so they might no longer feel obligated to pump out wall-to-wall yuletide entertainment but Lifetime and Ion pretty much shut down completely, Up tailed off shortly thereafter and Hallmark’s lineup has been fairly uninspired to me thus far. In my perfect world, the week between Christmas and New Year’s is still considered holiday time and since most of these networks don’t have anything better to do, might as well keep the motor running for a little longer, right? Once again, I feel like they all did a little more last year but maybe that was just multiple fever dreams. At the very least, Hallmark, who was still committed to playing these movies for the week, needed to try a little harder.

 

Best Commercial That We Saw A Lot Of

– Prescription drug called, of all things, Latuda – WINNER!

– Folgers coffee subtly product-placed in several of these movies

– Walmart-related jibber-jabber between Melissa Joan Hart and Anthony Anderson

– Those ladies dancing and singing about Big Lots

Let’s not forget the people who pay our bills – the corporate sponsors. And if you watch a lot of these movies, you see a lot of the same commercials over and over again. Last year, the runaway winner was Stuffies. There were plenty of Stuffy spots this season too but I also noticed more and more prescription drug ads. I love those things. I even like to play a game where I try to guess what the drug is actually for. It’s harder than you might think. Because mostly, we just see footage of people going to the beach, attending fun parties, sharing a tender moment with a loved one and the medication could treat just about any problem. Obesity, depression, Pac Man fever, elbow stink, you name it. But there was one this year called “Latuda.” I believe it’s for bipolar disorder but I really don’t care. It wins on name alone. Latuda. Who the hell thought that was a good name for anything, other than maybe some character from In Living Color? I’ve mentioned before how much I appreciate the way the Folgers’ label gets crowbarred right into peoples’ kitchens and of course I don’t know how I’m going to live without witty banter between Melissa Joan Hart and Anthony Anderson schilling for Walmart but every time I thought about giving the award to one of them, I just envisioned Latuda waving her finger in my face defiantly. And I don’t want to mess with Latuda.

 

Question/Reference I Most Ran Into the Ground

– Who was the boss on Who’s the Boss? – WINNER!

– Who let the dogs out?

– Why don’t angels seem to help people out with more important problems?

– Why was there never a sequel to the extremely successful Top Gun movie?

– How did TVs go from ridiculously thick and heavy to ridiculously thin and light in about 2 seconds? – SHOULD HAVE BEEN THE WINNER!

Obviously, Who’s the Boss was the boss here but it really should have been that last question. Remember how big and heavy TVs used to be? And as big as they were, they still felt way too heavy for their own mass. Every time I’d move and pick up my living room box, I’d wonder what the hell was in that thing. Not only was it crazy heavy but even felt weighted awkwardly, somehow making it seemingly harder to carry with a friend than by myself. Then bam! Suddenly, TVs became razor thin and light as a feather. It’s not even like there was an in-between point or we saw them start to get thinner and lighter or anything. It was like somebody just flipped a magic switch one day. I should have brought this issue up in reviews more. And the Top Gun thing too but whenever I ask people that in real life (which I do a fair amount and this question has been vexing me for a long time now), all I usually get are jokes. But I’m dead serious here! There really should have been a sequel. Even if they couldn’t get any of the original people back. Maybe I’ll bring both of these questions up next year, as it might actually lead me to getting the answers I so desperately need. It certainly worked with the Who’s the Boss (Angela).

And speaking of next year, this leads us to the end of the 2014 Christmas movie season and subsequent Noggy Awards. Hope you enjoyed watching these things as much, or even as little, as I did. Can’t wait to find out what 2015 has in store for us. I noticed that Hallmark and Lifetime are planning to play plenty of non-Christmas original movies all year round but I’m not sure if I have the non-Christmas spirit to watch. Plus I’ve got the whole Dow Jones thing to figure out and that might keep me pretty busy until November. In the meantime though, thanks for reading and Happy New Year!

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