You guys – I’m not really sure we look for the right thing in winter movies.
Sure, I get the appeal of holiday-themed films, and I have a list of favorites myself. I pretty much always watch Love Actually at least once a winter, and a few new Christmas comedies never hurt anybody. But whoever decided that winter movies have to be light and fluffy missed the point of curling up on the couch with a snuggly blanket and a mug of hot cocoa. For that kind of mood, I like to find a really great movie that I can totally lose myself in for a couple hours.
Plus, as a self-proclaimed Oscars nerd, I like a little bit of quality during the winter season! This is the time of year when a lot of serious award show contenders are making their way to the cinema, and because a lot of those movies can be sort of heavy, I like to curl up with a few and give them my due. Hot cocoa, check. Soft, fuzzy nerd-blanket, check. The year is ending, Oscars are in the air, and winter is a wonderful time to look back on some past big award contenders as well.
Basically, winter is a great time to find those “old” (not really) but good, long, critically-acclaimed films to indulge in. Here are some of the ones that I think you should pull out and curl up with this Winter! Oh, and PS: I am all about viewing parties (sleepovers yay!) with themed food!
If you happened to see The Big Sick this summer (and you should have), you might have noticed a pretty interesting joke about Forrest Gump. If not, forgive me a slight spoiler: Ray Romano, who plays a main character’s father, is cynically rambling about the state of everything, and says something along the lines of, “you go online now, they hate Forrest Gump; best freakin’ movie ever.” He has a good point. Forrest Gump is the type of classic that people seem to try and discredit more and more every year. It probably doesn’t help that Tom Hanks has been a far less serious actor of late (though his recent turn to short stories seems to have gone well).
But it’s Forrest Gump! It’s a semi-modern epic, a snapshot of a whole lifetime of American history, a human drama that can make you laugh and cry within minutes, and possibly Tom Hanks’s best performance ever. Although most of the movie takes place a little bit before I was born, I feel so much nostalgia watching it. Plus, when Forrest reunites with Jenny, it makes me cry every time. ;__;
This one was the first Best Picture winner of the millennium (which feels significant somehow – come on, a new millenium!). And while Forrest Gump sometimes feels discounted or disrespected, Gladiator just feels oddly forgotten sometimes. Sure, there are funny stories around the internet about a ludicrous canceled sequel. But otherwise, the best modern Gladiator reference is probably a themed slot reel hosted at an online gaming site. It promises you the chance for fighting for freedom in Gladiator via slot machine, which I suppose holds a certain appeal. But the movie itself? It’s still amazing. Russell Crowe has never been better, and it’s still about the only “sword-and-sandals” epic that feels particularly serious. It’s just a grand form of entertainment, almost like a slightly modernized bit of some old, lost, classic Hollywood, and that makes it an excellent watch on a long winter’s night.
How could I forget this? Does three movies count as one? Well, either way, you can bet that I’m recommending you pop in the entire trilogy. You know what? Go even further, and make it all three director’s cuts! You won’t be disappointed. This wonderful fantasy trilogy was released over the course of three years and basically dominated Hollywood for a third of a decade. Culminating in a 2003 Best Picture win, this run of releases captured the hearts and imaginations of film lovers around the world. I want to live in Hobbiton. Who doesn’t?! The sheer escapism and absolutely stunning special effects make it perfect for those long winter nights. If you’re comfortable for a long watch and you have a few tasty treats and beverages on hand, there aren’t many things better than diving into this series all over again. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve popped it in to keep me company when it’s cold out.
Come on. How could I not mention Avatar? I. LOVE. THIS. MOVIE. OMG I LOVE THIS MOVIE.
Avatar takes a lot of heat, despite being a James Cameron film and a 2009 Best Picture nominee. I sort of get some of the criticism. The narrative is a lot like Pocahontas, and it’ll never be the same as it was when you saw it on a big screen (I saw it in 3D and IMAX, OMG LOVE). But look at the graphics! Look at the world that James Cameron created?! Furthermore, the fact that they’re making four sequels at an over $1 billion budget says a lot, doesn’t it? Fine, hate it if you want, but if you can let go of these popular concerns, it’s an incredibly stunning and moving film. And remember, winter nights are long! Avatar is three hours long, but never really gets boring, and as with the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, it offers some great escapism on a cold winter night.
Jennifer Lawrence! Be still my heart!
Finally there’s this 2012 gem — It hit the theaters five years ago, but feels as if it only came out recently. It’s the only movie on this list that has much of a holiday vibe – nothing specific, really, but you can feel the fall transition to winter oozing off the screen, and that counts for something. For my money, it’s one of the best love storyies and most sophisticated romantic comedies to come out in the last 10 years. This is probably one of my new favorite annual holiday season watches, and it should be yours, too.
I’ll be checking in with you guys soon, but in the meantime you should comment with what movies you love to watch during the winter– especially ones that are a bit untraditional!
<3 you all!
*All photos are licensed for this post — so don’t worry about that! 😉