Podcast 17: Winter Movie Night w/ my sister Sarah

Hello hello, and welcome to Episode 17 of Life On the Brink!

Firstly, I want to thank each of you, because this podcast has now reached 500 downloads, wow! I’ve honestly been so overjoyed by the response by each of you lovely listeners to this little project of mine. It’s truly a joy to make, and I have lots of fun plans in the works for 2021!

So secondly, congratulations on almost making it through January, I know winter can be somewhat of a trudge. Hopefully you’re staying nice and cozy, and this week we have a special treat. I am joined once again by our first-ever returning guest, my sister Sarah, to talk winter movies.

Only person I know to incorporate bonnets into their winter wardrobe.

You may recall our shenanigans last fall as we discussed our favorite cinematic works to watch during the autumnal season. We love saving certain movies to enjoy seasonally, and that is perhaps even more true when it comes to winter. This is the time to bundle up on the couch with a hearty meal or big bowl of popcorn and enjoy being inside where it’s warm. This is also the time of year when we’re more likely to indulge in a more cerebral, serious movie, but not without countering it with cozy happy films (at least in my house).

As always, the interview is a riot and includes a lot of our personal musings and jokes, but I’ll give you the gist of the conversation. Here’s our top winter movies!

What makes a movie a “winter movie?”

Sarah’s criteria:

-Can be set during winter (not mandatory)

-Usually longer movies

-Something cozy to keep you going (even more cozy than autumn movies) OR

-Possibly more serious/cerebral

My criteria:

-Set during winter

-Usually longer movies

-Cozy to the max AND/OR

-Embracing the harshness of winter


All-Around Top Pick: Little Women. Sarah and I both came out of the gate with this classic. And, obviously, we are referring to the 1994 classic starring Winona Ryder. I've hinted at this in the past, but in this episode we really get into the nitty gritty of why we prefer this older adaptation to the newer 2019 edition (but you can pretty much sum it up with Susan Sarandon). Even if you love the new version better, the older one is definitely more winter-centric, and it's infinitely cozy.

1. The Godfather Trilogy. I have this thing for mob movies. Not just organized crime, but the specific, family-oriented, super-Italian mafia movies, The Godfather being the mac daddy of them all. Part I is my favorite, but the whole trilogy is just incredible. I plan on making lots of Italian food and watching every minute of these films with Josh this winter.

Bonus: make sure you have oranges.

2. The Chronicles of Narnia-The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. Sarah started off with perhaps the most perfect display of winter beauty ever made into film. Everything about that first scene when Lucy walks into Narnia is so perfect, and don't even get me started about Mr. Tumnus' house. The story and cast are wonderful, plus this is a lovely winter-to-spring transformation so it gets you hype for all the flowers on the horizon.

3. The Holiday. Even though this film has Christmas in it, it's really not a holiday film. I put it on my list as a winter pick because not only does it have some gorgeous snowy shots of England (and The Cottage of our dreams), but the story is so heartfelt that it warms you up from the inside out.

The cottage really is the film for me.

4. Hugo. This is another fabulous book-to-film adaptation on Sarah's list that truly does capture both the magic of the novel and of 1931 Paris. You've got train scenes, bookstore scenes, clocks galore, gentle snowfalls, stunning cinematography and score, everything you need for a chilly but comforting winter aesthetic.

(4.5 Murder On the Orient Express. As we were talking about Hugo we realized that we both forgot about this one when we were making our lists, probably because we've only seen it once. The ending is more somber, but the cast, the train, and the snowy landscapes are exquisite. We're definitely watching this one again as we eagerly await Death On the Nile.)

Best ever.

5. That Thing You Do! This is one of my favorite films of all time, and if I only watch it once a year (sometimes it's more), I watch it in the winter. Written/directed/starring Tom Hanks, it's set in 1964 and follows a rock band through their rise to fame, it's just delicious and full of nuances and little laughs that never get old. The winter part is mostly at the beginning as the group forms in Pennsylvania, but also features beautiful scenes in 60's Los Angeles. Please find the extended cut, it's just such a wonderful movie.

6. Whiplash. Even though this is also one of my lifelong favorites, it was Sarah who put it on her winter list. The weather is kind of irrelevant with this movie, it's more the severity of the overall vibe. This is definitely more of the cerebral/serious kind of winter film, and can be stressful for some viewers. We, personally, love it, and if you're a cinephile of any kind you NEED to watch this movie, if only for J.K. Simmons' and Miles Teller's performances. Plus the soundtrack is just hip.

7. No Reservations. Don't be fooled by the poster, it's not strictly a rom com. I mean, it has romance and comedy, yes, but it's also quite serious and dramatic. I put it on this list because it's set in the winter, but has all the comforting ingredients (that's a pun, they're chefs) for a wonderful winter film. I think if there's ever a movie to make someone fall in love with food or opera or winter, it's probably this one.

8. I, Tonya. One of our favorite biopics, and one of Sarah's winter picks. All the ice skating brings the chilly element (on top of Allison Janey's performance), and the story is just so well told. I've never seen a movie like it, and even though, again, the ending is a little more somber, the soundtrack and editing somehow makes the film so likeable and refreshing.

9. An Education. This movie does everything right. The cast is stunning (I watch anything with Carey Mulligan, but it's mostly because of this film), the characters are complex, and music is vintage and comforting, PLUS you get lots of 1960's English dreamscapes. There's rainy walks, school uniforms, scenes at Oxford, even the gorgeous escape to Paris. And the ending is SO worth it, it's such a satisfying film.

10. Inception. As you can see, Sarah really went with the serious, hard-thinky movies. As someone who has seen and discussed quite a bit of Christopher Nolan's work, this still remains my favorite of his. I actually think it's a perfect film, a true epic. If you're in the mood to let your brain work but actually still understand what's going on (ahem *TENET*) you definitely need to see this one. Plus Leo is flawless in anything and the score is one of the best I've ever heard.

Acceptable winter beverage accompaniment.

So there you go! Hopefully you have enough fantastic films in your queue to last you til the budding of springtime. Do you have any winter films you'd add to the list? Please, feel free to comment down below to let me know! We're always looking for more ways to (try to) enjoy this season. Films are such a cozy way to enjoy these long nights.

Sarah’s Little Joy: This video of the Voices of Liberty in their new show at Epcot. They're a flawless vocal group that perform some of the most complex, beautiful, 8-part-harmony arrangements, and this show literally made us cry. I actually auditioned for this group two years ago (read about that saga over here), that's how much we love them. Since they can't be in their normal, close-quarters, indoor performing space, they're on a new stage with mics and choreo. Really fun and still incredibly accurate, incredible singing.

What We’re Listening To: I took some of the best tracks from these films (though there’s no Inception, I’m trying to create a vibe here), and curated it into a winter playlist. The mood slowly changes through the playlist, so listen in order to get the full experience. If you’re feeling the winter blues coming on, just start at the beginning and listen all the way through. It’s just under an hour and I promise it will change your whole mood by the end.

Thank you so much for listening to this week's episode, and thank you again for helping Life On the Brink reach 500 downloads! It's the little wins that have made this challenging year so comforting. There are a lot of fun developments coming in 2021, so be on the lookout!

Until next time, friends, take care and have a lovely week.