Face it, winter is here, Ned Stark tried to warn us but we inevitably find ourselves in the same place every year. You trudge to work in the blistering cold, covered from head to toe in everything you own as you try to stay remotely comfortable during your commute, watch the sun set before you’ve even had time to make dinner, and by the time you do make it home all you want to do by that point is watch TV until you pass out. Well, it just so happens that I have the perfect remedy for these winter blues: Movies!
#1 The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Now In Theaters)
An obvious choice, I know, but puns aside this is a film that can’t be ignored. Though I admit I had only read and seen the first in this series, finding that I was only mildly intrigued by what this dystopian setting and story had to offer, this film had me on the edge of my seat. Back once more are Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen and Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark and they continue to smash it out of the park with solid performances. It also seems that the director, Francis Lawrence, saw both the shortcomings and strengths of the prior film, as he enhanced the sequel tenfold. The action is packed concisely so it doesn’t drag at any point, the tones of revolution become more obvious and apparent, and you really begin to feel the same kind of anger or rage that the citizens of Panem are going through. This one will definitely get your blood flowing in both mind and body.
#2 Inside Llewyn Davis (Currently in Select Theaters, Everywhere 12/20)
A film that is currently released in select theaters across the nation is justifiably getting a lot of buzz around the industry and is quickly becoming yet another Coen Brother’s classic. This is one that will definitely hit with the more eclectic of music lovers as it focuses upon the life of a New York City folk musician Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac), a bearded guitarist with a penchant for a loose lifestyle that allows him to continue his love of song through the Greenwich Village folk scene. The whimsical and extremely powerful folk songs sprinkled throughout the film help to really drive home that what you love above all else is worth putting yourself out there for, no matter how bleak. “Fare thee well” indeed if this isn’t able to stir up at least some emotions and love in your heart.
#3 The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (In Theaters 12/25)
This one has me excited for a number of reasons, the most notable of which would be that this has the feel of combination from two of my favorites: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and also The Science of Sleep. The imagination factor for this look to be off the chart as you follow a man, Walter Mitty (played and directed by Ben Stiller) who feels all too pedestrian in his life and frequents small flights of fantasies in day-dreams, or “zoning out”. His attraction to character Cheryl Melhoff (played by the ever amazing Kristen Wiig) is made obvious right out, and includes her in a number of these fantasies. What’s also most intriguing about this film are the sorts of adventures that we as the audience are taken on both in Walter’s mind and in his soul, as it seems a fair amount of this will be him figuring out how to lead a more interesting and fun life.
#4 Robot & Frank (Netflix)
If you’re ever in need of a movie that warms the heart, this is one for you. This had me smiling, laughing, tearing up, laughing again, curling up with my blanket (since it’s easily accessible on Netflix) throughout the movie. In the not so distant future you follow an aging ex-jewel thief Frank (played by Frank Langella) as he comes to terms with slight bouts of Alzheimer’s, which inevitably leads to his son gifting, or rather thrusting a robot butler (voice of Peter Sarsgaard of Garden State fame) upon his father. As a stubborn old man who has taken care of himself for nearly all of his life, Frank and the robot butt heads for a while as he tries to figure out what the hell he’s going to do with a robot butler. You’ll have to trust me on this one because this is one that will have you smiling from beginning to end.
#5 Ruby Sparks (Netflix DVD)
Did you ever see what I consider to be Will Ferrel’s best starring role, Stranger Than Fiction? If you have and are as passionate about how amazing that was, this will be right up your alley. A struggling ex-wunderkind novelist with a chip on his shoulder, Calvin Weir-Fields (played by the seriously talented Paul Dano) finds himself with the inevitable writer’s block. So he does what any lonely writer does and writes the perfect woman into his next piece only to find that this perfect woman, Ruby Sparks, (played and written by Zoe Kazan) he wrote about has come to life. A whirlwind of love happens between Calvin and Ruby, but can it truly be love if he can control not only what happens to her, but control her entire being itself? This is one that I think will easily appeal to anyone who has a love of good writing and a plot that finally addresses the overuse of the “manic pixie dream girl” trope in romantic comedies. Sit down, curl up under the blanket and be prepared for smiles, laughs, and some emotional turmoil.
Now, obviously there are many other options that could keep you warm this winter, and I was honestly looking to plug a good brainless action movie in there but couldn’t seem to find one worth mentioning. Again, these are all only choices of my own opinion that I think would be a good watch as we (or maybe just me) go into hibernation mode in our apartment with some whiskey, movies, and a favorite blanket. I would love to hear your thoughts on some other flicks you think would be a good fit for this theme as well, so leave comments below, share with friends, or even get me on Twitter!