8 winter films to stream while waiting for temperatures to rise

Moira Macdonald
The Seattle Times (TNS)

Autumn movies burst with color; winter movies quietly glow in icy shades of white.

Should you be looking for something to watch while waiting for the temperatures to rise, here are a handful of entertaining movies set during the coldest of seasons. (I'm leaving out the most obvious choices but, of course, "Groundhog Day," "Fargo," "The Shining" and many more snow-drenched classics are always worth a rewatch.)

"Force Majeure" (2014): In this Swedish film (never mind the iffy American remake, "Downhill"), a couple has a moment of truth after a sudden avalanche at a ski resort — her instinct was to protect their children, his was to grab his phone and run. That's in the opening of the movie; the rest of it elegantly examines the chill between them, in a setting where snow sparkles like diamond sand. (Streaming on Hulu, Kanopy, Amazon Prime Video, Vudu)

"Last Holiday" (2006): Queen Latifah plays a department-store employee who takes herself on a lavish winter vacation (in snow-covered Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic) after learning she only has a few weeks to live. Not the most original of premises, but Latifah's open, honest performance transcends the screenplay, creating a character you immediately take to your heart. (Showtime, Amazon Prime Video, Vudu)

Clockwise from top left, Saoirse Ronan, Laura Dern, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh and Eliza Scanlen star in Greta Gerwig's "Little Women."

"Little Women" (2019): Greta Gerwig's enchanting adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's classic novel about her family isn't entirely set in winter, but enough of it is — the Christmas scenes, Amy falling through the ice, the crackle of a warm fireplace — that I think of it as part of the season. It's a film that will warm the coldest of hearts. (Starz, Amazon Prime Video, Vudu)

"March of the Penguins" (2005): A surprise arthouse hit on its release, this nature documentary narrated by Morgan Freeman is a charming plunge into the lives of the penguins of Antarctica, who return to their breeding ground every year in an ever-repeating cycle. (Amazon Prime Video, Vudu)

Idris Elba and Kate Winslet star in "The Mountain Between Us."

"The Mountain Between Us" (2017): This movie, in which two near-strangers played by Idris Elba and Kate Winslet get stranded on a mountaintop together, is no masterpiece — actually it couldn't be sillier — but viewed as a romantic fantasy, it's great fun. Admit it: Wouldn't you like the chance to be stranded on a mountaintop with Elba, whose character here is sort of an outdoorsman/superhero who maintains impeccable grooming even after weeks without indoor plumbing? Oh, and there's a dog, too. (Amazon Prime Video, Vudu)

Bill Paxton, left, and Billy Bob Thornton in "A Simple Plan."

"A Simple Plan" (1998): I wrote about this Sam Raimi film last year in my Movies with Moira series, but I'm tossing it in here as I'm always surprised how many people haven't heard of it. On a snowy afternoon in a small town, three men find a crashed helicopter, a dead pilot and a bag containing millions of dollars in cash. What they do next, and how it changes them, makes for absolutely riveting viewing, with stellar performances by Bill Paxton and Billy Bob Thornton. You'll shiver, for a lot of reasons. (Amazon Prime Video, Vudu)

"Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter ... And Spring" (2004): From the late South Korean filmmaker Kim Ki-duk, this beautifully meditative film takes place on a tiny monastery raft floating on a tree-rimmed lake, as two monks watch the seasons go by. The scenery's exquisite throughout the years, but winter — with the lake's mirror clouded over and its waterfalls hardened into silence — is the most dramatic. (Amazon Prime Video, Vudu)

Jeremy Renner stars in "Wind River."

"Wind River" (2017): Taylor Sheridan's taut, thoughtful film is about a murdered young woman and an obsessed investigator (Jeremy Renner) — familiar territory, but "Wind River" is unusual in that it's less interested in the specifics of the crime than in the icicle of grief at its core. Snow falls in waves in the film's Wyoming hills, and Sheridan lets the drama unfold slowly, allowing the fine cast's words to hang in the cold air. (Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Vudu)