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The holidays might be over, but winter has only just begun. With its cold temperatures and snowy landscapes, winter can be an idyllic setting for a rom-com or children’s movie. Winter can also be the scene for a deadly thriller or harrowing mystery. Winter’s versatility makes it the perfect movie setting.
Famous movies set during winter that come to mind are The Holiday, The Shining, and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Beyond the classics, several underrated films deserve to be in your viewing rotation. Below, you’ll find five underrated movies that are perfect for winter. Our selections include a Nickelodeon comedy, a provocative thriller, and an inspirational saga set during the Winter Olympics.
Snow Day (2000)
In a child’s life, very few moments match the feelings of jubilation experienced on a snow day. It’s a time to have snowball fights, explore with your friends, and go sledding. More importantly, it’s a day off from school. Snow Day captures the emotions of a record snow day through the eyes of kids and teenagers in Syracuse, New York.
Natalie Brandston (Zena Grey) and her elementary school friends set out to give the town a second snow day. However, this requires the children to take on the menacing Snowplowman (Chris Elliott), who will stop at nothing to plow the roads. Meanwhile, Natalie’s older brother, Hal (Mark Webber), uses his snow day to win over his crush, Claire Bonner (Entourage’s Emmanuelle Chriqui), the most popular girl in school. Though these tasks are seemingly impossible, anything can happen on a snow day.
Winter’s Bone (2010)
Winter’s Bone may be about a family, but it is the furthest thing from a family-friendly movie. In the Missouri Ozarks, 17-year-old Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence) becomes the head of her family, caring for her younger siblings due to an absent father and mentally ill mother. Ree lives in poverty and risks losing the house if her drug-manufacturing father, Jessup Dolly, fails to appear for his court date.
When Ree starts to search for her father, she receives pushback from the local community because they do not want the young girl to stir up any drama in the drug trade. This leads Ree to her uncle Teardrop (John Hawkes), who may know the whereabouts of Jessup, but remains silent to protect his niece from the local crime boss. Winter’s Bone is the film that began Lawrence’s ascent to stardom and resulted in her first Oscar nomination for Best Actress.
Stream Winter’s Bone on Max.
Cool Runnings (1993)
Directed by Jon Turteltaub, Cool Runnings is inspired by the Jamaican national bobsled team’s performance at the 1988 Winter Olympics. Derice Bannock (Leon) is a Jamaican sprinter training to qualify for the 100-meter dash at the Summer Olympics. However, a clumsy sprinter accidentally trips during the trials, knocking over Derice and ending his Olympic hopes.
Refusing to give up on his Olympic dream, Derice persuades Irving Blitzer (John Candy), a disgraced American champion who works as a bookie on the island, to form a bobsled team in hopes of making the Winter Olympics. The team consists of Derice, pushcart driver Sanka Coffie (Doug E. Doug), and sprinters Junior Bevil (Rawle D. Lewis) and Yul Brenner (Malik Yoba). The Jamaican team defies the odds and qualifies for the Olympics, but getting to Calgary is only the beginning. Earning the respect of the bobsled community will be much more of a challenge.
Stream Cool Runnings on Disney+.
Merriam-Webster defines serendipity as “the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for.” For Sara Thomas (Kate Beckinsale), fate determines her decisions. If the universe wants it to happen, it will happen. Sara explains her theory to Jonathan Trager (Cell’s John Cusack), a man she meets while shopping for gloves at Bloomingdale’s in New York City.
Although Sara and Jonathan are in serious relationships, there is an instant connection and mutual attraction toward each other. Sara tests her theory by separating from Jonathan to see if destiny will bring them back together. Years later, Jonathan is preparing to wed another woman. However, he still thinks about Sara and sets out to find her. Unbeknownst to Jon, an engaged Sara feels the same way and travels to New York City to locate Jon. Is fate now on their side?
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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)
Those looking for a date movie should scroll past The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. However, those looking for a thriller from a master have come to the right place. Directed by David Fincher, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a mystery thriller starring Daniel Craig as Swedish journalist Mikael Blomkvist. After a libel suit tanks his reputation, Mikael is given a chance at redemption when he’s hired by Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) to solve the presumed murder of Henrik’s grandniece, Harriet, who disappeared 40 years ago.
Vanger believes the identity of the killer is someone in his family. Recruited to help with the case is Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), a mysterious investigator and gifted hacker who slowly develops a fondness for Mikael. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo will go down as Fincher’s most underrated film and its reputation will only improve with time.
Stream The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo on Paramount+.