Not enough snow in real life? Want some more? Here are my choices…
The Beast from the East has gripped the British Isles, plunging us into a snowstorm. But what, I hear no one ask, are the best snowy films? Read on to find out…
NB I’ve tried to include films where snow plays some role in the film. So Die Hard 2: Die Harder would make it while Die Hard doesn’t, even though there is snow on the Nakatomi Plaza. I also mostly ignored Christmas films, because… well 56 Christmas Films in 56 Days was enough for a lifetime.
20. Rocky IV (Sylvester Stallone, 1985)
Rocky Balboa goes to Moscow to fight Ivan Drago, and during the greatest training montage ever, runs up a massive mountain range to escape his Soviet handlers. If you look very closely, there’s some very subtle Cold War subtext hidden in there.
Plus – an amazing soundtrack to get the blood flowing. Survivor’s “Burning Heart”, John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band’s “Hearts on Fire” and of course, the great James Brown performing “Living In America”.
19. Murder On The Orient Express (Kenneth Brannagh, 2017)
The only film on this snowy list that starts in the Middle East. An all-star cast are trapped on a train when an avalanche blocks the track, when a dead body is found murdered, legendary detective Hercule Poirot and has to deduce who has done the deed.
18. Phantoms (Joe Chappelle, 1998)
Affleck you the bomb in Phantoms, yo!
(It’s set in a ski resort called Snowfield, that’s why it makes the list!)
17. Dead Snow (Tommy Wirkola, 2009)
Nazis zombies from World War II – preserved by the cold – attack a group of students in the Norweigen mountains. Good, splatter fun.
16. The Simpsons Movie (David Silverman, 2007)
The early seasons of The Simpsons are some of the greatest TV ever produced, before an unfortunate slump following changes in the writing team. However, the original writers took as long as they needed to come up with a script, and delivered The Simpsons Movie fans had long been waiting for. It makes this list because of the excellent scenes in Alaska while the Simpson family is in exile. If only they had stuck with Hank Scorpio as the bad guy…
15. Alive (Frank Marshall, 1993)
A Uruguayan rugby team are stranded in the mountains after a plane crash, and have to make terrible choice on how far they will go to survive.
14. Touching The Void (Kevin MacDonald, 2003)
I didn’t plan on this being in the middle of a mountain survival trilogy in this list, but this is part documentary, part re-enactment of two climbers and their desperate attempts to make it through a storm on a Peruvian mountain. One has to cut the rope separating them and leave his friend behind. A truly extraordinary story of survival.
13. The Revenant (Alejandro G. Irranitu, 2015)
The one that finally won the big one for Leo. A beautiful film that is a true exercise in tension, as High Glass battles to survive in the harshest possible conditions. Amazing stuff.
12. Snowpiercer (Bong Joon-ho, 2013)
A distribution issue in America meant that this film was sadly under-seen on release. Set in a apocalyptic world where a climate control experiment has brought about an new ice age. The only remaining humans live on a huge train, and Chris Evans plays the leader of a rebellion as those in the “lower classes” are forced to live in worse conditions. A interesting piece of dystopian sci-fi.
11. The Hateful Eight (Quentin Tarantino, 2015)
Set just after the American Civil War, this film nearly didn’t get made when an early draft of the script was stolen. Eight strangers arrive at a lot cabin seeking shelter from a severe snow storm and slowly we find out more about the characters purely through the dialogue. Probably the most Tarantino of all of Tarantino’s film.
10. Force Majeure (Ruben Ostlund, 2014)
When a husband runs away during an avalanche rather than trying to save his family, he unsurprisingly upsets his wife. What follows is a black comedy/relationship film that isn’t Fraid to get incredibly uncomfortable as it examines masculinity and ageing – or maybe that’s just the baggage I bring to the film! Still, a good film if, as a playwright friend told me “you like your uncomfortable Nordic dramas”.
9. Frozen (Adam Green, 2010)
Three people get stuck on a ski lift. That’s it. Tense, gripping stuff from start to finish.
8. 30 Days Of Night (David Slade, 2007)
I could easily fill an entire list just with snow-bound horror films, but this is one I enjoy a lot. A small Alaksan town has a night that last for a full month, and the sheriff (Josh Hartnett) is basically closing up the town for 30 days. However, this cover of darkness bring a brood of Vampires looking for food, and Hartnett must protect his town. Director David Spare also made the excellent Hard Candy
7. Batman Returns (Tim Burton, 1992)
A really entertaining, over the top comic book film. A snow covered Gotham is taken over by the Penguin (Danny DeVito) and Max Schreck (Christopher Walken), while Bruce Wayne (Michael Keaton) is renamed by Selina Kyle (Michelle Pfeiffer), who has her own secret.
6. Misery (Rob Reiner, 1990)
James Caan is a writer who has to be looked after by a fan (Kathy Bates) when his car crashes in wintery conditions. Not one for people who like ankle bones.
5. Planes, Trains and Automobiles (John Hughes, 1987)
Steve Martin and John Candy put on a comedy masterclass as two mismatched businessmen forced by circumstance (and snowy weather) to travel together to get home in time for Thanksgiving.
4. The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980)
As someone snowed in, writing an article, I don’t want to rank this any higher. A masterpiece, Jack Nicholson is a writer who takes his family to a hotel over the winter where he will be the caretaker while it is closed for the winter. But, slowly, all work and no play makes
Homer something something Jack a dull boy, and he begins to terrorise his family.
A film that balances its supernatural and reality based elements (Is the hotel really haunted? Is Jack’s violence more to do with his internal life than any external factors?), however you read it, a truly stunning film.
3. The Thing (John Carpenter, 1982)
A film derided upon its release but now viewed as a classic of tension filled horror. A group of researchers in the Antartic are attacked by an alien being that can take on the form of any creature. A great horror film on a visual level that also ratchets up the paranoia because literally no one can trust anyone.
2. Fargo (Joel and Ethan Coen, 1996)
Obviously this was going to be on this list. And with Frances McDormand surely about to win the Best Actress Oscar for Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri, what better time to research her first win? She plays Marge Gunderson, the police chief of small Minnestonan town Brainerd, who is drawn into a murder investigation. A great black comedy.
1. It’s A Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1941)
I mean, if you didn’t see this coming, I don’t know what to say. Simply one of the greatest films ever made.
And that’s it. Enjoy the snow and be safe!
Until next time, stay gold, Ponyboy, stay gold. See you soonish.
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