6. Groundhog Day
Phil, Phil Conners?!? The late, great Harold Ramis directs his former Ghostbusters co-star Bill Murray in this tale of the endless day from hell for everyone’s favorite TV weatherman. After the Phil’s reluctant journey to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania for the annual rodent-viewing shadow ceremony, he discovers every day when he wakes from his bed-and-breakfast slumber the day that just ended has begun again.
TV producer Rita (Andie MacDowell) serves as the forbidden love interest Phil must woo and get to love him all in a single day as he tries to find the correct formula do make the day end. One of the many quotable lines from the film, “I thought you said it would hit Altoona”, refers to a blizzard Phil predicted would move off to the East instead of stranding him in the quaint little town.
Phil goes through bouts of being in denial, suicidal, thinking he is God to finally accepting his fate and navigating his way through the town’s pitfalls and residents to realize his role in creating his own outcome. Only when he sees snow on the ground at the end of the film does he realize his final efforts were a success.
7. The Thing
After working with Kurt Russell in 1981 with Escape From New York, director John Carpenter decided to reteam with him to tell this story of a strange creature coming to Earth from outer space.
Set in Antarctica, the story begins with a helicopter chasing a large dog across the frozen wasteland to the American station on the ice. After being befriended by the residents of the camp, it is slowly revealed in the dog is more than meets the eye. The Americans decide to investigate the other camp where the helicopter came from only to discover a large craft buried beneath the ice as well as a rectangular-shaped spot in the ice for its pilot.
The practical effects used in the film are top-notch, even by today’s standards. The greatest elements of The Thing are the claustrophobia within the camp once panic sets in, and not knowing which remaining residents of the camp are still human and which ones have been transformed.
Humans transformed into “Things” could be standing right beside you at any moment and you wouldn’t know it. Slowly they are revealed only leaving a few left for the final battle at the end. Winter is the ultimate victor in the film.
After being a long-time Steven Spielberg producer and directing his first feature film, Arachnophobia, Frank Marshall tells the triumphant true story of the “Miracle of the Andes” Uruguayan rugby team based on the book by Piers Paul Read. While flying across the Andes to a rugby match in nearby Chile, the plane carrying 45 players and family members crashes high in the mountains.
The high altitude produces frigid temperatures and harrowing weather conditions. Determined to wait for rescue, the survivors huddle within the fuselage for warmth. Even an avalanche which kills several survivors does not deter everyone. Once they realize the search has been called off, the brutal reality of their next steps becomes clear. They must eat the dead to survive.
Once the storm season subsides, several of the remaining passengers decide their only recourse is to climb down from the mountain to their freedom. Alive is an amazing story of the triumph of the human spirit and shows anything is possible with enough determination and belief in positive outcomes.
9. Die Hard II
Director Renny Harlin (also known for snowy Cliffhanger with Sylvester Stallone) brings NYPD police officer John McClane back to the big screen in this sequel to one of the greatest action movies of all time.
This time around Colonel Stuart (the wickedly awesome William Sadler) gains control of Dulles International Airport in Washington DC. He decides he wants his friend General Esperanza (Franco Nero) released from prison so he hijacks the airport to this end. It just so happens our favorite detective happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time to get in on the action.
The fun with this film is the use of the airport in its many parts as a sharp contrast to the first film which was mostly indoors inside a skyscraper. Several fire fights with the terrorists provide more than entertaining action scenes to make this a worthy follow up. Winter plays heavily in this one compared to the first with McClane and the gang following the bad guys to an abandoned church during a snow storm and even a climactic snow mobile battle.
10. The Gold Rush
Director and star Charles Chaplin brings his “The Little Tramp” character (in this film named “The Lone Prospector”) to silent glory in one of the greatest silent movies of the ages. The basic idea is the prospector wants to hit it big in Alaska (so does everyone else by the shots of long lines of prospective prospectors at the beginning of the film) so he makes the trek hoping to find gold.
The many timeless scenes in this film include in and out of the house during a fierce blizzard at the beginning of the film, and roosters and bears, oh my! Probably the most famous is the “roll dance” which may be the most recognized film scene ever. The climactic house on the edge of a cliff sequence will leave you excited, amazed and laughing out loud.
Author Bio: Andy Kubica is a life-long cinephile. Having spend time as a video store manager, movie theater manager and the first DVD buyer for a former rental chain he now spends every waking moment reducing his film “bucket list”.