29 Of The Greatest Winter Movies

Michael Craig, November 9, 2015 at 4:08 pm

Winter is one of the most popular times of year for films to be set in, which for the actors must be terrible, but for us, the humble viewer, add drama, danger, beauty, uncertainty and so much more…

We have scoured the internet to find out what 29 of the greatest films set in winter are, here’s what we came up with…

Fargo [1996]
Fargo is famed for its winter landscapes and the cinematography that depicts the desolate and bleak winter that surrounds Fargo, North Dakota. The film stars William H Macy, Frances McDormand, and Steve Buscemi. When a salesman becomes desperate for money,he hires two thugs to kidnap his wife and hold her for ransom for her fathers fortune. Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, this black comedy crime thriller is a must see.
Home Alone [1990]
Home Alone is a classic Christmas film set in the thick of winter in Winnetka, Illinois. The film stars Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Dan Stern, John Heard and Catherine O’Hara. When the youngest child of the family is accidentally left behind as the family jet off to Paris for Christmas, what could possibly go wrong…apart from two burglars turning up of course! This films became the highest grossing live action film of all time in the US and is one that the whole family can enjoy.
Elf [2003]
Elf is a Christmas comedy film that will have the entire family laughing. Set in the most filmed in city in the world, New York in the middle of a snowy winter. This film stars Will Ferrell, James Caan, Zooey Deschanel and Mary Steenburgen. When a human elf comes to New York to find his biological father, he soon learns that New York, and being human, are not so straight forward as he thought but is determined to spread Christmas cheer.
Happy Feet [2006]
Happy Feet is an animated musical family film starring Robin Williams, Elijah Wood, Brittany Murphy, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman and Hugo Weaving. Set in Antarctica, a young penguin can’t sing but can tap-dance, causing a lifetime of ridicule. In his quest to be accepted and find a mate, his dance moves soon do the trick and with perfect timing.
Grumpy Old Men [1993]
Grumpy Old Men is set in the notoriously tough winter of Minnesota. The film follows the lives of two neighbours who have a life-long feud which only gets worse when a new neighbour arrives. Starring Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Ann-Margaret, Burgess Meredith, Daryl Hannah and Kevin Pollak, this romantic comedy is sure to warm your heart this winter.
Groundhog Day [1993]
Groundhog Day is a fantasy comedy film set during winter in Pennsylvania, around Groundhog Day (traditional holiday). When an arrogant TV weatherman is sent to report on groundhog day, he finds himself in a time loop – reliving the same day over and over again. Starring Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell and Chris Elliot, this winter comedy is sure to have you laughing out loud.
Frozen [2013]
Frozen, is the highest grossing animated film of all time. Set in a fantasy world, the film centres around two sisters, one of which has magical powers and can create ice and snow, which she uses to accidentally turn the fantasy world into an everlasting winter scene. This modern musical animation is a family favourite and perfect for winter watching.
The Shining [1980]
Set in Colorado, this psychological thriller is a classic of the film world, starring Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd and Scatman Crothers. The film shows the bleak world of the main character who stays in a hotel in the middle of nowhere. The winter scenes in this film are used to showcase the isolation of the character physically and mentally and has produced one of the film worlds most famous scenes…”here’s Jonny!”
Defiance [2008]
Defiance is a true story of grit and determination, set in the winter of Belarus, during World War 2. Three brothers escape certain death at the hands of the Nazis. Setting up their own camp they fight as much as they can to save as many as they can. The winter scenes depict the harsh realities of the time and the struggle to survive.
Planes, Trains & Automobiles [1987]
Planes, Trains and Automobiles is a comedy set in winter spanning New York to Chicago. The film centres around two characters, one of which is trying to get home by any means necessary in time for Thanksgiving, the other is trying to help, sort of! This journey from hell is only made worse by the winter conditions.
The Grey [2011]
This thriller is set in Alaska, one of the harshest climates on earth. It tells the story of an oil-man (played by Liam Neeson) who is stranded amongst wolf territory after a plane crash. The drama, danger and life threatening animals are only made worse by the harsh terrain and climate.
Cool Runnings [1993]
Cool Runnings is an American sports comedy following the tales of a Jamaican bobsled team. Watching the Jamaican team adjust to the harsh winter of Alberta, Canada is comedy gold as they go on to compete in the Winter Olympics. This one is a comedy that will lighten up the darkest winter night.
A Christmas Carol [2009]
Based on the classic Charles Dickens story, this Disney animated adaptation stars Jim Carey and follows the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge who is visited by three ghosts. Set in December in Victorian England this film shows the beauty and harshness of winter to coincide with the realities of the characters life.
Dumb and Dumber [1994]
This comedy (almost cult) classic follows the journey of two good-hearted, but dim-witted, characters who drive across country from Rhode Island to Aspen, Colorado, to return a briefcase of money. Unknown to them they are also being followed by criminals who are after the money. Part of the film is set in the ski season in Aspen, using the winter landscape for numerous comedy moments.
The Polar Express [2004]
The Polar Express is the worlds most expensive animated movie to have been made so far. The production used breakthrough technologies of animating live action making it the worlds first all-digital capture film. Staring Tom Hanks, this is a Christmas and Winter favourite for all ages.
The Chronicles of Narnia – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe [2005]
The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is based on the book of the same name and tells the tale of four young children who are forced to leave their home during World War 1. They end up living with a woman and a professor. Whilst playing a game of hide and seek they stumble upon a wardrobe that leads to a new world. The new world is partly set during winter and adds to the drama and challenges that the children face. A family classic that is perfect winter watching.
Love Actually [2003]
Set in London, England during December, Love Actually shows the interlinked stories of couples, families and work colleagues in the run up to Christmas. Showing that love prevails, this classic stars a whole host of actors including Hugh Grant, Bill Nighy, Liam Neeson and Keira Knightley.
The Day after Tomorrow [2004]
Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, this sci-fi fantasy disaster movie shows winter weather at its extreme. This film is the highest grossing film to be made in Canada and depicts the effects of extreme climate change and the result of a new ice-age. For any fans of extreme winter weather, this one is for you, as it showcases New York completely frozen at temperatures of -72c!
Dr Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas [2000]
This classic tale from Dr Seuss was recreated in 2000 and made into an animated feature film starring Jim Carey. Set in the fantasy land of whoville, this film follows a mythical creature who hates Christmas and everything associated with it, that is until he meets a little girl who has lost her hope in the holidays. Another fantastic family classic that will warm your heart this winter.
Serendipity [2001]
Serendipity is a romantic comedy that never fails in winter. Starring John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale, this film will warm even the coldest winter room as two people meet and instantly fall in love. However they are both with other people so they decide to test fate and see if what they feel is meant to be.
The Holiday [2006]
This now, classic winter film, follows the stories of four people, two of which house swap for the festive season. Partly set in LA and partly set in England during winter, this romantic comedy had to have a place on the list thanks to its idyllic shots of winter landscapes and warming winter romance.
Inception [2010]
Inception, a sci-fi action thriller, starring a multitude of stars including Leonardo Dicaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy and Michael Caine, and directed by Chris Nolan. Centred around the concept of manipulating a target’s subconscious to pull off a mission by implanting thoughts and impressions in the target’s dreams, a major part of the film takes part in winter and is vital to the scenario portrayed. This film was a huge box office success, making $825.5million!
Django Unchained [2012]
Django Unchained is an american western film directed by Quentin Tarantino, set in early winter. Based around the story of slavery in America, when a bounty hunter offers to free a slave in return for his help catching outlaws. This film was a huge box office success and was Tarantino’s most financially successful film to date.
Ice Age [2002]
Ice Age is an animated comedy film that follows the adventures of four pre-historic animals and their quest to survive the Ice Age. Set in the largest winter known, this film had to be included in this list especially having grossed $383million to date.
Die Hard [1988]
Die Hard is a classic action film starring Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Alexander Godunov and Bonnie Bedelia. Following an off-duty New York Cop as he single handedly takes down a highly organised criminal group who pose as terrorists to complete their mission. Set in LA during winter, it may not match our winters but its a must see!
Captain America: The Winter Soldier [2014]
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the sequel to Captain America: The First Avenger. Starring Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson among many others, this film stars a villain with the code name ‘the Winter Soldier’ and portrays the classic battle of good versus evil. Grossing over $714million to date, this is a must see during any time of year.
The Mighty Ducks [1992]
The Mighty Ducks is a feel-good sports film that follows a down and out attorney who is sentenced to community service, in the form of coaching the local peewee hockey team and leading them to better times. A whole-hearted family film, set in Minneapolis during the winter months, this is sure to get you cheering along.
Alive [1993]
Alive is a true story of survival. Set in the Andes Mountains, this film embodies the brutality of winter conditions when a Uruguayan plane crashes. The film shows the story of the Uruguayan rugby team who fight for their lives as they’re stranded in the mountains. A nail biting, thrilling story that is a must see.
James Bond: The World is Not Enough [1999]
James Bond films often include winter scenes making a number of them contenders, but the ski scene in The World is Not Enough, could be one of the most popular. Starring Pierce Brosnan and grossing over $360million makes this one, one of the best winter films out there!


These films all have a common theme, winter, whether its showcasing winter at its harshest, or sharing Christmas stories, either way these make the perfect viewing during the colder months whilst adding so much to the plots, cinematography and characters.

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