Dan Power, CBS
Jodelle Ferland and Sissy Spacek

CBS DELIVERS an early Christmas present on Sunday — the TV movie "Pictures of Hollis Woods."

No, it isn't exactly a Christmas movie, although Christmas does play a small part in it. But "Pictures" (Sunday, 8 p.m., Ch. 2) is exactly what we've come to expect from a "Hallmark Hall of Fame" presentation — a high-quality production that's all about the writing and the acting and the characters.

Characters that are flawed but seem real. Characters that seem real because they're flawed.

Hollis Woods (Jodelle Ferland) is a 12-year-old girl who was abandoned at birth. She's bounced around from foster home to foster home without ever finding a permanent family. She's just been through a difficult experience when her caring social worker, Edna (Oscar-nominee Alfre Woodard), tries one last placement with retired art teacher Josie (Oscar-winner Sissy Spacek).

After a rough start, Hollis — a promising artist herself — bonds with Josie. This could be the home she's been looking for.

Except that Josie isn't well. She's increasingly confused and forgetful, which Hollis goes out of her way to hide from people in general and Edna in particular. And when Edna finds out, Hollis takes extreme measures to keep from being sent to a new home.

Through flashbacks, we see Hollis and another of her foster families. The resentful girl had eventually let her walls down and grew close to the Regans — John (James Tupper of "Men In Trees"), Izzy (Julie Ann Emery) and their teenage son, Steven (Ridge Canipe). The Regans fell in love with Hollis and she with them. But just when a happy ending is in the offing, an accident sent Hollis back into the foster-care system, where she wound up with Josie.

"I was always told I brought trouble to the people around me. The way that summer ended had finally made me believe it," Hollis says. "I don't want to love anybody anymore. And I don't want anybody to love me."

It's not a tear-jerker, but that doesn't mean this TV movie won't bring a tear to your eye.

Oscar-winning director Tony Bill does a marvelous job with a fantastic cast, which includes Tony-winner Judith Ivey. Based on the book by Patricia Reilly Giff, with a script by Emmy-winner Ann Peacock ("A Lesson Before Dying"), "Pictures of Hollis Woods" is a beautiful TV movie for the entire family.

If you can't watch it on Sunday, record it and watch it later.

You'll be glad you did.

E-mail: pierce@desnews.com