The 10 best movies set in the snow, by letterbox

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With winter now in full force, for most it is impossible to go through the entire season without seeing at least some snow. For some it may be a playground for a day full of fun, for others it will be the center of bad traffic conditions. Anyway, cold is inevitable, and since the dawn of cinema, movies have used snowy weather in important ways.

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Whether a film aims to achieve that warm, fuzzy feeling of being indoors on a snowy day, such as It’s a Wonderful Lifeor wanting to emphasize the icy conditions as a backdrop to something more sinister, such as The ClarityLetterboxd has rounded up the best movies set in the snow to match the cold air outside.


‘Sorry’ (1990)

Misery - Anna reading from a book while Paul is lying on the bed
Photo via Columbia Pictures

After a serious accident on a snowy road in Colorado in the 1990s Stephen King film adaptation miseryauthor Paul Sheldon is at the mercy of the helping hand of Annie Wilkies, who ultimately proves to be a fickle and volatile follower of his work.

In a show that did King He was so good at it that he wrote roles with Kathy Bates especially in mind, that the portrayal of Annie Wilkies is both harrowing and electrifying. The claustrophobic feelings Sheldon faces trapped in bed are heightened by the inevitable blizzard brewing outside.

‘The Gold Rush’ (1925)

Charlie Chaplin in 'The Gold Rush'

Although it was technically called The Lone Prospector in his 1925 silent comedy The Gold Rushsociety Charles Chaplin again showing his iconic image of The Tramp in a film where this time he goes to Alaska looking for gold. The snowy setting provides a backdrop for memorable characters and a long-lasting chance at love.

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For a silent film released nearly 100 years ago, The Gold Rush lives up to its title and can certainly feel like a rush. The joy and creativity behind all of Chaplin’s jokes and pieces of physical comedy are in stark contrast to the strong emotional beats.

‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ (1946)

James Stewart and Donna Reed in 'It's A Wonderful Life'
Photo via Paramount

For those who don’t know, It’s a Wonderful Life begins with the altruistic George Bailey on a troubled Christmas Eve when his small business loses everything. As the film progresses, gloomy matters are finally managed by the love of a new life and an iconic sequence of Christmas cheer that makes this a favorite of many in the snow.

There may not be a more classic Christmas movie than It’s a Wonderful Life. The James Stewart the lead picture is mostly remembered as a timeless and heartfelt display of Christmas cheer, but much of today’s assessment describes a much darker emotional tone than it was remembered for. This proves the depth and staying power far beyond the usual “Christmas movie” moniker that the film is often given.

‘The Will’ (2015)

Leonardo DiCaprio as Hugh Glass in the film

Featuring one of the most exciting debuts of the decade, The Father follows Leonardo DiCaprio as Hugh Glass’s finisher in a quest for revenge against a man he left for dead after a brutal bear carry.

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The snowy setting is used here with beautiful grace, highlighting the stark, crisp and vibrant images of the early 1800s countryside. It’s no secret that DiCaprio went this far in his career without winning an Academy Award, and while he certainly deserved it before portraying Hugh Glass, The Father he showed his performance abilities in a way that eventually allowed him to take home the gold.

‘Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back’ (1980)

Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader battle Cloud City in 'Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back'

Arguably the largest portion in the Star wars franchise and one of the most influential sci-fi flicks of all time, The Empire Strikes Back is usually not remembered as being set in the snow, but the opening sequence on the ice planet Hoth leaves some frigid memories as Luke Skywalker had to take refuge inside a tauntaun to to survive in the icy conditions.

While the twist from Darth Vader’s “No, I am your father” line to Luke during their climactic battle seems universal at this point, the time would be was published in 1980. The fifth program is chronological Star wars he took risks that paid off, increasing the hero’s path from A New Hope into something truly memorable.

‘Snowpiercer’ (2013)

The cast of 'Snowpiercer'

In dystopian 2031, A snowman celebrating the Earth seventeen years after it was a desolate wasteland from a disastrous attempt to stop climate change and cause a new ice age on the planet. As a class system develops aboard the train where humanity remains, a desperate group of passengers fight for better conditions.

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Director Bong Joon-ho he is no stranger to satirizing class difference, with his most acclaimed film A parasite became the first non-English language film to win Best Picture at the Oscars, but it is perhaps his only English-language effort that is more evident in its messages. The seemingly outlandish concept from which the film operates becomes a battlefield for poignant social commentary.

‘The Hateful Eight’ (2015)

Kurt Russell and Samuel L. Jackson in the film
Photo via The Weinstein Company

Trapped inside by a severe blizzard, eight strangers with ulterior motives and a false motive enter The Hateful Eight feeling of danger inside and outside. Showing up Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Samuel L. Jackson and a mixed cast of other characters, the plot quickly unravels under the threat of an assassination attempt.

Presenting a dour philosophy that everyone is out for themselves, this may not be a universal favorite The Quentin Tarantino book work However, it is his thematic commitment that is different The Hateful Eight from the rest of his film. The director’s eighth film will leave viewers with plenty of twists and turns to surprise him no matter what, undoubtedly making this a suspenseful mystery.

‘The Shining’ (1980)

The Shining hall with a couple

With one of the most memorable Jack Nicholson performances in one of the tightest Stanley Kubrick movies, The Clarity has become ubiquitous in horror movie discourse. When Jack Torrance (Nicholson) accepts a temporary job at the Overlook Hotel for the winter, his lonely wife Wendy and son Danny face difficult situations in the face of Jack’s madness and the hotel itself .

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Kubrick fans will certainly have a hard time choosing a clear “best” film from his oeuvre, but The Clarity consistently ranks high on many lists for its intense scares, shocking imagery, dense design, and attention to detail. The blizzard brewing around the Overlook Hotel simulates the harsh conditions, and the finale out in a hedge maze proves to be one of the thinnest Kubrick has.

‘Fargo’ (1996)

A policeman closes one eye and aims his pistol
Photo via Gramercy Pictures

Fargo is a goofy but grounded crime thriller/comedy that follows a crazy car salesman from Minnesota who hires two criminals to kidnap his wife in a scheme to get out of debt. When the plan turns sour, the local police chief will stop at nothing to bring justice to her small snowy town.

The Coen Brothers are masters of ever-growing situations from the most unlikely places, and Fargo this is perhaps the richest example of this. Many of the laughs from this seemingly serious situation come from different walks of life in Minnesota, and career-defining performances from Frances McDormand, William H. Macy and Steve Buscemi increase Fargo to something really special.

‘The Thing’ (1982)

MacReady (Kurt Russell) holding a lantern in 'The Thing' (1982)

Although some may prefer theirs Kurt Russell lead John Carpenter films to be on the fun side, Snake Pliskenn and Jack Burton respectively from Escape from New York and Big Trouble in Little China he could never deal with the unspeakable horror that RJ MacReady does. The Thing follows MacReady and a team of research scientists in remote Antarctica as they confront an incomprehensible creature that can take on the form of its victims.

With revolutionary practical effects in a film that truly illuminates the isolation of winter conditions, it’s no wonder why Letterboxd has named this the snowiest film ever made. The painful situation leaves the characters at The Thing with nowhere else to go, caught up in the face of unimaginable horrors with no sign of escape.

Next: 7 Snowy Westerns to watch this Winter

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