Mother Nature has been celebrating the new year by blanketing the Midwest with several feet of snow and sub-zero temperatures. Where I live in Illinois, the highs for this week barely breach the double digits, and that's a scorcher compared to the double-digit negatives when night falls or the freezing winds blow. Frankly, it should be illegal to get this cold.
If you're riding out these bitterly cold days by wiling away the hours inside in front of the TV under a cozy blanket, you're in good company. Why not make the most of your time snowed inside with a movie marathon on the best streaming services? We've rounded up some of the best movies to watch while the weather outside is frightful, from chilling wintry thrillers and mysteries to comedies that'll help you beat those winter blues. There’s something to warm up everyone on our list of the best movies to watch when you’re snowed in this winter.
"Fargo" the TV series just concluded its fifth season, so why not go back to the movie that started it all? This Coen brothers' black comedy follows Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand), a rational and affable police chief tasked with unraveling the baffling mystery behind a series of murders in wintry Fargo, Minnesota. Hell, just looking out at the mountains of snow outside my office window, I feel like I'm practically there.
This being a Coen brothers film, it’s filled with quirky characters — not to mention the delightful midwestern accents of McDormand and William H. Macy’s Jerry Lundegaard, a schmuck whose harebrained scheme to kidnap his wife and extort his father-in-law for money kicks off the whole string of unfortunate events. Steve Buscemi also amuses as one of the murderous accomplices, though he meets a pretty grisly end (if ykyk). McDormand won an Academy Award for Best Actress, and the Coen brothers picked up an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.
'The Grand Budapest Hotel'
Keeping the humor train rolling for a moment, next up is Wes Anderson's "The Grand Budapest Hotel," considered by many to be Wes in his absolute pomp. While the film jumps between time periods, the main narrative centers on the misadventures of Monsieur Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes), a renowned concierge at the glamorous mountainside resort The Grand Budapest Hotel, and his protégé Zero Moustafa (Tony Revolori).
Set in the fictional Eastern European country of Zubrowka in the 1930s, the film follows Gustava as he goes about his duties giving guests whatever they need (especially the wealthy blonde women). When one of his paramours is found dead and leaves Gustava a valuable painting in her will, he becomes embroiled in a murder mystery.
Watch on Disney Plus
Look, no matter how chilly it may be outside, it doesn't get much colder than a "global freezing extinction event." That's the hook of "Snowpiercer," a post-apocalyptic thriller set aboard a train that circles the globe at top speed to keep the last remnants of humanity from literally freezing to death. The train is a fully self-contained ecosystem and functioning society on its own, with the poorest passengers in the rear cars and the wealthiest at the front.
Based on the French graphic novel "Le Transperceneige," it's a mesmerizing, genre-bending epic that also marks the English-language debut of South Korean director Bong Joon-ho, best known for his 2019 Best Picture Oscar winner "Parasite." "Snowpiercer" is a blunt but effective allegory about classism, and Bong creates an immersive world within the confines of its claustrophobic setting. When a revolt begins with an uprising in the tail section, Chris Evans plays the rebel leader with Tilda Swinton as the woman who keeps the precarious order that is about to be overthrown.
While I may be in the minority here, I've always liked 2011's "The Thing" more than the 1982 John Carpenter classic. The new version serves as a cross between a prequel and a remake that, like the original, fosters a continuous sense of tension and paranoia broken up by the occasional adrenaline-filled body horror.
When a spacecraft and alien bodies are discovered buried in ice in Antarctica, a team of scientists converge on an isolated outpost to research the otherworldly visitors. While the group initially believes the organism died in the crash eons ago, the alien life-form breaks free of its icy prison and attacks. Though they manage to kill the creature, an autopsy reveals that its cells began to copy those of its human victims. Paranoia spreads like wildfire among the crew as they fight to survive against a creature that assumes the shapes of its victims.
Watch on Netflix.
Following on the heels of Christopher Nolan's breakout thriller "Memento" comes "Insomnia," another mind-bending mystery this time following an L.A. detective who is called out to a remote Alaskan fishing village to investigate the murder of a young girl.
Based on a Norwegian thriller of the same name, part of this movie's genius is its unconventional use of the winter setting. Instead of being blanketed by snow and darkness, "Insomnia" is drenched in sunlight and fog, as the town where it takes place is so far north that it goes months at a time without seeing the sun set. Al Pacino stars as Will Dormer, a grizzled LAPD detective fighting off the worst case of insomnia ever, while Robin Williams delivers an unnerving performance as the murderer Pacino's gunning for.
Watch on Paramount Plus.
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Alyse Stanley is a news editor at Tom’s Guide overseeing weekend coverage and writing about the latest in tech, gaming and entertainment.
Prior to joining Tom’s Guide, Alyse worked as an editor for the Washington Post’s sunsetted video game section, Launcher. She previously led Gizmodo’s weekend news desk, where she covered breaking tech news — everything from the latest spec rumors and gadget launches to social media policy and cybersecurity threats. She has also written game reviews and features as a freelance reporter for outlets like Polygon, Unwinnable, and Rock, Paper, Shotgun. She’s a big fan of horror movies, cartoons, and miniature painting.