Top 5 Winter Weather Watchables
Now that we’re buried in this chilly polar vortex, and most of the country is locked in a prism of ice, it seems like the best time to bolt the doors, put another log on the fire and hunker down with a good glass of wine, and a fine film that warms the heart while the hounds of winter howl at the door.
This fine little indie got short shrift when it was released after a much heralded run through the festival circuit. Granted, this story of a depressed NYC slacker who goes home to Upper Michigan to try and talk her alcoholic genius writer of a father into publishing his love letters for her own financial gain, has moments of “too much” preciousness. It doesn’t help that Zooey Deschanel is said malcontent (before she was the New Girl and we OD’d on her) doing her best “quirky-edgey’ thing, but it’s Ed Harris as her father who brings the heft, and Will Ferrell in a surprisingly bittersweet role as a “squatter” in her father’s house that steals the show. And of course, the chilly, eternal winter environment means that the warmth from within does battle with the frosty elements without.
4 Dead of Winter (1987)
Another forgotten little gem; this late 80s thriller stars underappreciated Mary Steenburgen as an actress who auditions and gets a part in a mysterious “project,” where she must travel to a remote, snowbound house in the midst of a blizzard. What she doesn’t know is that two “strange” men need her because she’s an exact double of a kidnap victim they’ve killed. Even when you can see the twists and turns a mile away, this is still a fun one to hide under the quilt and throw Cheezits at the screen.
3 Nobody’ Fool (1995)
Paul Newman, perfect as always, plays Sully, an alcoholic 60 year old in a snow-laden small town who has shirked responsibility all his life, until forced to deal with his son and his grandson, who he barely knows and doesn’t know at all, respectively. Robert Benton’s spot-on direction takes its time, and while it appears on the outset that not much happens, just the opposite is true. This is a rich character piece, with an amazing ensemble of actors including Jessica Tandy, Melanie Griffith, Bruce Willis and the enigmatic Philip Seymour Hoffman just on the cusp of fame, playing a small-minded, small town policeman. Sometimes it makes sense to just stay in bed while the snow falls.
2 30 Days of Night (2007)
Nothing like a good horror film in the dead of winter, and this claustrophobic tale of a small Alaskan town, cut off in winter’s darkness as a horde of vampires descend upon its borders, is just what the doctor ordered. It’s bloody, stupid and fun, and will make you recheck the doors and wrap yourself in a second layer of quilting.
1 A Simple Plan (1998)
Sam Raimi’s underappreciated noir about a trio of dolts trying to figure out how to deal with a downed plane in the winter woods full of drug money is a sharp critique of America’s need to “get rich quick,” but the real revelation is Bridget Fonda as the pregnant and plotting femme fatale. The other great surprise is the usually hilarious Gary Cole (Office Space, Brady Bunch Movie) as a sinister and frightening harbinger of death who may or may not be an FBI agent. This one will keep you chilly long after the Spring thaw.