The Ultimate Guide to Christmas Specials

Christmas TV specials, limited series and movies are bigger than ever these days from now until the New Year, you’ll be able to find some festive yule-tide programming every night of the week. From the traditional viewing of It’s a Wonderful Life, the different versions of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, to baking shows and live music specials, we’ve got them all listed on the new Christmas TV Specials page. (Since not all of the networks list their specials early, this list will be updated throughout the coming weeks, so check back often for new additions!)

Well meaning "Winston" is a disappointment

The team behind Pure Flix’s Saving Winston deserves some credit for trying to create a heartfelt movie with subtlety and grace. Unfortunately, the end result is a film that lacks a surprisingly amount of dialogue and depth. The best thing about this movie is the beautiful artwork on the DVD cover. The movie itself just falls flat.

Saving Winston is about a drug addict/thief teen Ashley (Victoria Emmons) who after a botched robbery, is arrested and sent to rehab. Part of Ashley’s rehabilitation is to break contact with the bad crowd she used to hang out with including her boyfriend, Travis (Austin Kearney). Instead of going home and for reasons not clearly explained, Ashley is sent to live with her aunt Diane (Meghan McCabe-Habrat) who owns a sanctuary for abused horses. Mad at her parents for sending her away, Ashley is less-than thrilled to be spending time with her Christian aunt. Diane is a loving aunt who tries her best to get Ashley to talk about her feelings and invites Ashley to church, but Ashley wants no part of it. However, about halfway through the film, Ashley discovers Winston, an abandoned horse and talks her aunt into taking in yet another horse. Like Ashley, Winston is feisty and hard to train. The two make a great pair. But what’s this? Travis has found Ashley. Will she stay on the straight and narrow road or will she travel down that familiar path with Travis the loser once again?

Instead of playing like a feature film release, Winston feels like an afterschool special. The movie lacks depth in just about every way. The characters don’t say, move or emote much. Ashley and Travis come across as moody teenagers but we never know why. We don’t learn why Aunt Diane is single or why she takes in abandoned horses. We are never learn why Ashley doesn’t get along with her parents (or that she even has a father until the end of the movie!). All the characters apparently don’t know what to do with their hands or show much expression on their faces. The conversations in Winston are extremely short. Half of the film is just photography and music hoping to build some emotion to the picture.
It’s clear that the makers of Winston were trying for something greater than they ended up with and it is a shame. Running at about 86 minutes, it feels much longer. The story  drags and so much more could have been told. For instance, near the end of the movie we learn that not only is Ashley good at taking care of horses, but she can draw really well. But this is the first scene in the whole movie where any mention of Ashley being an artist is ever mentioned. There is a little girl taking riding lessons from Diane, but we never learn much about her either. For many of the actors, this is their first film and unfortunately, it shows. The movie does feature some beautiful original piano music by David Nevue, but it isn't enough to "save" the movie. Unless you really love horses, this film doesn’t have much to offer.

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