Everybody loves a snow day. Stress-free, with nothing to do but watch the snow fall down outside your window. Just kidding — there are lots of other things to watch and stream, like the following selection of seven movies in which winter weather plays its very own role. Spanning genres, including a few family-friendly options, you’ll be set to make the most of any winter day inside with this list.
The first of what is now the beloved six-film franchise, not including shorts and television specials, “Ice Age” is a family favorite — no matter how old you are or why you get a snow day. Featuring the voices of Ray Romano, Denis Leary, Jack Black, and other Hollywood favorites, the original story follows Sid the sloth (John Leguizamo) as he tries to reunite with his family and make his way south to escape the cold.
“In the time-honored tradition of kids’ films,” Newsweek says the movie “mixes broad displays of physical cruelty with a sweet message, which in this case is about the need of each member of a herd to look after the other.”
Another popular winter choice for audiences of any generation is 1993’s “Cool Runnings,” starring the late, great John Candy as a disgraced champion athlete now working as a bookie in Jamaica. When four local men decide to form a bobsled team, they recruit him to train and coach them to Olympic glory at the 1988 Calgary Winter Games.
Based on a true story, Variety says this “offbeat, fact-based saga is enlivened by the perfect balance of humor, emotion and insight” and the Los Angeles Times calls it a “sweet-natured, high-spirited comedy; that rare movie that plays effectively to all ages.”
Set in freezing Chicago, this classic 90s romantic comedy stars Sandra Bullock as a public transportation token collector who ends up saving a man she has a crush on (Peter Gallagher) when he slips into the train tracks on Christmas Day. When he falls into a coma and she accompanies him to the hospital, a series of misunderstandings lead his family and doctors to believe that she is his fiancé — which becomes more and more problematic as she falls for his younger brother, played by Bill Pullman.
Romcom gold, in other words, especially thanks to Sandy, who “knows [that] one of the secrets of doing romantic comedy,” according to the New Yorker
With a 94% Certified Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, this South Korean American science fiction film is critically acclaimed, as well as a fan favorite. Starring Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, Octavia Spencer, and a host of other familiar faces, the story takes place aboard a train carrying the last people on earth — those who have survived an unprecedented ice age caused by the catastrophic effects of global warming. An entertaining adventure film at its core, The Atlantic says “‘Snowpiercer’ is that rare experience you don’t get to have much…anymore: a loud, clanging, original action flick that’s grabbing you by the lapels and yelling in your ears.”
Another 94% Certified Fresh rating goes to “Fargo,” a chilling black comedy-crime film set in the titular small town of North Dakota. Directed and produced by Joel and Ethan Coen, the cult classic won Best Original Screenplay for the brothers at the Oscars, as well as the Best Actress Award —which went to Frances McDormand for her role as pregnant Minnesota police chief investigating a double homicide. With the incredible William H. Macy and Steve Buscemi in unforgettable supporting roles, this is the perfect watch for any eerie winter’s evening.
“The Coen Brothers are among the most able practitioners in America and this film is one of their best attempts to turn a familiar genre — the True Crime drama — into something miles away from the ordinary,” according to The Guardian.
“Winter’s Bone” is one more entry that’s 94% Certified Fresh, and the movie that made Jennifer Lawrence a star. In a story that’ll make your blood run cold, Lawrence plays a poverty-stricken teenage girl living in the rural Ozarks region of Missouri. When the law comes looking for her meth-dealing father, she sets out to find him in order to protect her family and their home — but she never could have guessed at the depths of his wrongdoing and whereabouts. John Hawkes co-stars in a film that “establishes a formidable tension between mystery and matter-of-factness,” according to The Independent.
Directed by Sean Penn and based on Jon Krakauer’s nonfiction book of the same name, “Into the Wild” tells the story of Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch), who hiked across North America and into the Alaskan wilderness in the early 90s. In an attempt to live a better, truer life that’s connected to nature and living off the land, he pursues his grand adventure but, in the end, finds that humanity is no match for the elements. NPR says McCandless’ “increasing frailty and the cinematography’s increasing grandeur mesh in a way that’s at once iconic and wrenching.” Watch out for Vince Vaughn, Kristen Stewart and Catherine Keener in supporting roles, as well as Marcia Gay Harden and William Hurt as McCandless’ parents.
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