Baby it’s cold outside, and those ice skating rinks are never as fun as our Instagram feeds make them look. This weekend we’ll be staying in, snuggling up and warming our hearts with these deliciously feel-good films, instead.
Best films for winter: Matilda
The Germans call it Gemütlichkeit – in other words, that fuzzy feeling you get when you’re ultra comfortable and everything seems to be just right with the world. That’s exactly how we feel when we watch the 1996 adaptation of Matilda, right at the moment when Thurston Harris’ Little Bitty Pretty One comes bouncing through the speakers and Matilda starts sending objects flying around her kitchen.
Roald Dahl’s story about a little girl who uses her superpowers to entrap mean grownups is like Calpol: meant for children, but coveted by grown-ups. And it’s nice to know that Matilda is as smart now as she was aged eight: the actress who played her, Mara Wilson, is one of the most eloquent, insightful women on Twitter.
Best films for winter: La La Land
It’s no surprise that La La Land makes us feel so warm inside. Damien Chazelle’s 2016 box office hit is a deeply nostalgic celebration of the golden age of Hollywood movie making, and its soft yellow and purple palette conveys the mood of a balmy summer night in LA perfectly. The love story between Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone) is sweet, but it’s the uplifting music and dance numbers that keep us coming back to the city of stars.
Best films for winter: Notting Hill
Which Hugh Grant is the best Hugh Grant? We’ve got a secret soft spot for the dastardly Daniel in Bridget Jones’ Diary, and we were oddly impressed by his recent turn as a villainous thesp in Paddington 2. But there’s something wonderfully reassuring about that floppy-haired, early-career Hugh, and Notting Hill is the best of the sugar-coated bunch. With a screenplay written by Richard Curtis, this 1999 British classic is as much a paean to London as it is a star-crossed romance between William (Grant) and famous actress Anna (Julia Roberts).
Sit back and be transported to a rose-tinted London where there were charming celebrities on every corner and an independent travel bookshop could afford to pay rent in Notting Hill. Sob.
Best films for winter: The Full Monty
It’s not big, it’s not clever, and it’s definitely not sexy, but The Full Monty is certainly the loveliest film ever to be made about men taking off their clothes for money. Set in Sheffield at a time of recession and widespread unemployment, the 1997 film tells the story of a group of former steel factory colleagues who decide to solve their financial woes by ripping off The Chippendales. The themes of friendship and self-love that emerge are genuinely moving, and the soundtrack is a cheesy delight. If you’re inspired to try a dance-along, make sure you close the curtains (and turn up the heating) first…
Best films for winter: Priscilla Queen of the Dessert
Three friends – two drag queens and one trans woman – set out to cross the Australian dessert in a battered old bus, with the rousing chords of The Pet Shop Boys’ Go West blasting from the speakers. Has there ever been a more sensational, glamorous story of triumphing over adversity than Priscilla? Writer-director Stephan Elliott’s film about “a cock in a frock on a rock”, as Bernadette puts it at one point, was championed in the 90s for breaking down stereotypes with its positive portrayal of the LGBTQ community. Two decades on, it’s kept a place in our hearts as so much more than an advocacy film – this is a powerful story of friendship and adventure that leaves us feeling warmer than the Australian outback.
Best films for winter: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
It’s raining outside and you’ve made the conscious decision to spend the day painting your nails and ricocheting between fridge and bed. But just think what you could be doing instead – if you lived in sunny Chicago, for example. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is a slice of delicious escapism that follows the misadventures of a supremely cocky high school student who decides to really make the most of bunking off, so you don’t have to. Bonus points for the fact that gorgeous cars, high art and slapstick anarchy are all thrown together with some tongue-in-cheek slices of genuine wisdom. As Bueller reminds us: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
Best films for winter: Clueless
It seems incredible that film producers had the cheek to make a single other chick flick after Clueless. This 1995 high school classic perfected the form: beautiful people, check, strong female friendships, check, a computer programme that tells you which outfits in your enormous rotating wardrobe clash (seriously guys it’s been 20 years, how have we still not invented this?), check. But the reason we keep coming back to Clueless is that the writing is just so clever and tightly packed. New jokes surface every time we watch it, totally destroying the idea that this is somehow a shallow genre. One warning (spoiler alert!) for anyone returning to this film after a decade-long hiatus: the whole crushing-on-your-stepbrother thing does get a lot weirder over time.
Best films for winter: Airplane
If Airplane feels familiar, it’s only because the film has birthed a thousand parodies. The 1980 comedy is set on board a plane co-piloted by a blow-up doll, but really there’s no point even starting to get a handle on the plot. This film reads like it’s been written by a load of over-caffeinated college kids who made a pact to not sleep until they’d packed every possible form of humour – from spoof, to sight gags to…scatological – into the script. Incredibly, most of the jokes land (so does the plane, eventually): in 2012, a Lovefilm survey revealed it to be the funniest film ever made with an average of three laughs a minute.
This piece was originally published in November 2017
Main image: iStock