If you’re anything like me, you absolutely detest the cold. Don’t get me wrong, there is something particularly comforting about being hidden under layers of clothing (no need to suck in that gut!), piled under mountains of blankets, with a warm (spiked?) beverage in hand. But outside of those few fleeting moments of fuzzy warmth that one might find at the end of a long winter’s day, as far as I’m concerned, winter can suck it.
Having said that, there is something really cool (pun intended) about watching a movie that can make you actually feel cold. A movie that can – with its sweeping panorama of a snowy mountain or carefully orchestrated snowball fight – make your fingers go numb and your toes tingle. This ability to evoke a kind of visceral, automatic, emotional response is why we keep going to the movies in the first place. To leave us on the edge of our seat, unable to ascertain as to what – or what sensations – will happen next.
With that in mind, these are my go-to movies that have me searching for another blanket, digging out my granny shawl, and stuffing my feet into a, yet another, pair of wooly socks.
These are those that give the true definition of ‘Netflix and chill’.
Twizzlers Top 10:
1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
My favorite movie ever. As far as I’m concerned, this movie belongs on every Top 10 List: Top 10 most original stories, Top 10 most innovative cinematography, Top 10 most gorgeous cast…the list goes on and on, but – for the sake of sticking to the script – I’ll just stick to the cold. This movie is chock full of beautiful scenes that evoke the sweet delirium of a winter’s chill: Joel, played by Jim Carrey, and Clementine, played by Kate Winslet, whisper sweet nothings atop the frozen Charles River. In fact, they do this several times: once before Clementine erases Joel from her memory, again after they unknowingly reunite after erasing each other from their memories, and once, only in memory form, inside Joel’s head. I know it sounds confusing, but the movie is brilliant and you, if you haven’t already, should give it a go. Aside from the frozen Charles, snowy scenes spent on the coast of Montauk, images of drizzly window panes, and the ever presence of Joel’s immutable fuzzy cap, all make this movie give its audience the urgency to bundle up tighter, or – at least – to find another to whom you can tightly bundle with.
2. The Shining
No other movie evokes cold like The Shining. A story of a family, isolated and alone, living and caring for the fictional Overlook Hotel during the winter season. No other movie, or story, illustrates more perfectly the feelings of cabin fever; feelings of suffocating and delusional madness. And, while it is true that Stephen King, the novel’s author, was wildly disappointed in Stanley Kubrick’s vision of the plight of the Torrence family, I cannot, nor should anyone else, deny the brilliance of this film. In fact, there is a huge cult following – and a truly bizarre and interesting documentary – dedicated to mining the movie’s underlying messages and themes. I don’t know what is theorized is actually true, but, what I do know, is that this movie will have you feeling a kind of creepy cold to which you’re unsure you’ll ever escape.
As we had previously mentioned in an earlier review, this movie is not without its flaws. But, with that said, what this film does get right is the cold. While it is true I have had this pretty consistent fantasy of one day getting snowed-in whilst staying in a gorgeous mountain lodge – with all the Cheez-Its and wine a girl could want – this movie had me, instead, running for (away?) from the hills. The wintry landscape serves as the unspoken ninth character in this film; a kind of tormentor and tempter unleashing its fury on characters both honest and cruel. But, aside from the grisly, Tarantino-esque action, this film is chock full of gorgeous cinematography and those subtle moments of snowflakes caught in mustaches, the weight of the winter wind outside the door, or the characters’ (temporary) relief of finally getting some warm soup in their bellies just might have you appreciating all the more that of winter’s wonders.
One of my favorite movies ever, this movie, like the blurred vision one comes to expect from a snow blizzard, blends, beautifully and strangely, quaint small-town living and seedy underground crime. A truly memorable film, its location – and the title’s namesake – serves as the perfect background for this truly disturbing movie. Not only is it – or it was, perhaps, at least, before this movie’s (and the subsequent brilliant FX show) release – take place in an arguably forgettable location, it’s association with barren, frozen landscapes serves as the perfect backdrop for the strange happenings unfolding onscreen. Plus, the white snow serves perfectly as the blank canvas to the movie’s climatic scene that involves, let’s say, a pissed off gangster, his newly deceased (and former) partner in crime, and a wood-chipper. Enough said.
5. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2009)
As if I needed an excuse to talk about all the reasons I love this movie (and Daniel Craig), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a great example of a movie that makes you desperately seek out warm refuge. Based on the brilliant novel by Stieg Larsson, David Fincher beautifully (and in true David Fincher style) brings to screen the complex, dark, twisted tale of Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist and their attempt to discover the truth behind a decades old murder. Some of my favorite scenes in both the book and the movie take place on the fictional Hedeby Island, modeled after, presumably, coastal Sweden. The tiny lodge to which Lisbeth and Mikael take shelter is both confining and protective admist the horrors that await them outside. And, while I can go on and on how great the book was and how satisfying the movie was in its adaptation, I’d recommend that you read/watch it yourself (if only to see and truly appreciate the unique gorgeousness of having both Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig together on screen).
6. Snow Day
This is one of those movies that holds a prime place in the deepest realms of my nostalgic heart. While it is true that this isn’t a good movie, it is one that captures perfectly the innocent joys of waking up to discover it is, in fact, a snow day. Even now, as a teacher, there is something truly blissful to be awaken with the awareness that you can, without guilt, hit that snooze button. And, while this doesn’t have Chevy at his best, and while Chris Elliot has an unexplained vengeance against middle-schoolers and a weird obsession with a bird, and while the ‘love’ story of the movie lacks any real emotional depth, and while…well, let’s just say, like a snow day, your enjoyment of this movie will, too, also be fleeting. But, in the mean time, just appreciate it if, for anything, to remind you of the simple joys of having a snowball fight or not having to have your homework done for the day.
Here’s is yet, another, Stephen King masterpiece. That man knows setting. Even now, the mere mention of this movie has me instantly transported back to my parents’ cold basement, wrapped in a blanket, feeling both frozen and frozen with fear. I remember when this made for television series came out. I was 11 and far too obsessed with Stephen King than your average female adolescent. It was featured on ABC in its prime time-slot and I did not miss a single episode. And, still, almost 20 years later, that feeling of a kind of cold, isolating, desperate fear lingers somewhere in the back of my mind. Although I would argue that this is a great movie to watch when you’re snowed-in, unable to escape your house, left to the mercy of the impending storm outside, I would remind you that I’m the girl who has been obsessed with Stephen King and all things macabre before I hit double digits, so, take it with what you will.
Ah! Does it really get any better this movie?! A dark, funny, fantasy-comedy starring Bill Murray, co-starring Andie McDowel (and – strangely enough – Chris Elliot; this guy loves his winter backdrops!), directed by Harold Ramis, and featuring the cherished holiday in which people annually sit around to ‘worship a rat‘. I mean, comedy gold. And, yet, no other movie touches on – so beautifully and whimsically – the subjects of existentialism, self-improvement, enlightenment, religiosity, spiritual transcendence, and selflessness, nor approach so hilariously on the topic of purgatory and suicide. But, aside from all that heavy stuff, this movie has some of the funniest and most quotable lines ever. And, because of the titular holiday spent on repeat, you essentially are never able to escape the cold, literally and metaphorically. The drafty hotel with inconsistent water tempter to which Phil Conners (Bill Murray) must suffer with day in and day out; the hidden frozen puddle in the cracked street he, unfortunately, keeps stepping in; an awareness of the never-ending bleakness and darkness of a ‘Chekov’s winter’ all remind you – and eventually, so too, Phil – that, even in the ugliest of seasons, there is still so much beauty.
It’s amazing to me that this movie, now fifteen years old, warned us – even then and in epic fashion – the dangers of global warming and, yet, somehow, Dennis Quaid and old Bilbo Baggins weren’t enough for us to get our shit together. Still, this movie, in true Roland Emmerich style, depicts the looming dangers of our continual dismissal of the ever-real presence of serious global climate change including flash-freezing, hail storms, rising sea-levels, tornado outbreaks, and massive-flooding that will all have you running for your electric blanket stashed away somewhere in your doomsday-prepper bag. Interestingly enough, the truth villain in that movie is the President, a kind of egotistical buffoon who, out of his own ignorance and refusal to listen to all the smart people heeding their warnings around him, leads to the death and destruction of millions of people. How prescient. Still, while I recognize that such dire warnings are probably better from the mouth of Al Gore and his brilliant documentary, An Inconvenient Truth (though I’m still not convinced he wasn’t behind this movie too), all that it has is Al Gore and what it doesn’t have is young Jake Gyllenhaal (he looks like a baby!). So, I guess, I’ll stick with this one.
10. Harry Potter series (Literally any of them)
I remember (as a child through young adulthood) first reading those defining wintry scenes from Harry Potter: Harry’s first real Christmas presents in Sorcerer’s Stone; our first introduction to Hogsmeade (and butterbeer!) in The Prisoner of Azkaban; the Yule Ball in The Goblet of Fire; Harry’s first kiss (under the mistletoe no less!) in The Order of the Phoenix; Kreacher’s unique Christmas gifts (though, still not the worst he ever received) in The Half-Blood Prince; and, finally (and heartbreakingly) the Christmas Eve spent in Godric’s Hollow in The Deathly Hallows. Having been a terribly imaginative child, the thought of spending Christmas in a snowy magical castle was as close to perfection imaginable. Even now, feelings of Christmas and cold almost immediately conjure up memories of the Gryffindor Common Room, the infamous Weasley sweaters, first discovering the Maurader’s Map, the taste of butterbeer, and precious, precious Dobby. I think, out of every movie I’ve listed so far, I’d happily endure the cold to be among these dear friends and cherished memories.