The 25 coolest winter movies to see this season

Make those outdoor trips count by consulting our list of the worthiest winter movies—upcoming titles from Hollywood, foreign festivals and all points in between.



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Winter movies

Winter movies

  SLIDE SHOW: View the winter movies preview as one slide show >>

We’re hot and heavy into Oscar-bait season right now, but what does December and beyond promise? First off, we can expect some of the most gargantuan titles from Hollywood’s 2012 slate, led by Peter Jackson’s massively anticipated The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. After being pushed back until after the presidential election, the killing-Osama-bin-Laden movie, Zero Dark Thirty, is finally coming to theaters. (Sadly, there’s no cameo by our reelected leader.) And Tom Cruise gets serious in the pummeling crime thriller Jack Reacher. Moving into the new year (generally a slow time), there’s some terrific art-house counterprogramming: Dror Moreh’s provocative The Gatekeepers, about Israel’s antiterrorism unit. All in all, we’ll have plenty to heat up those dreary months. Hot popcorn will help.

Winter movies: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Perhaps not so unexpected: The team behind the epic Lord of the Rings movies—including director Peter Jackson and Gandalf-portrayer Ian McKellen—returns for another multipart epic, this time of J.R.R. Tolkien’s charming prefatory tale. (Dec 14)

Winter movies: Stand Up Guys

Stand Up Guys

Three aging con artists reunite for one last score: seen that before. But with Alan Arkin, Christopher Walken and Al Pacino playing the scammers, we’re sold. (Dec 14)

Winter movies: Amour


Love burns in a quiet, wholly unexpected way in Michael Haneke’s golden-years drama, about a lifelong couple grappling with incipient mental deterioration. French legends Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant supply career-capping turns. (Dec 19)

Winter movies: Guilt Trip

Guilt Trip

Barbra Streisand goes road-tripping with son Seth Rogen in the funny lady’s first starring vehicle since The Mirror Has Two Faces. Great to have you back in the driver’s seat, Babs. (Dec 19)

Winter movies: Zero Dark Thirty

Zero Dark Thirty

The decade-long hunt for Osama bin Laden becomes a procedural of uncommon verve in the hands of The Hurt Locker’s Kathryn Bigelow. Far from a triumphant football spike, the movie aches with obsession and loss, anchored by the driven Jessica Chastain. (Dec 19)

Winter movies: Jack Reacher

Jack Reacher

Lee Child’s airport-novel hero comes to the big screen, and damned if he doesn’t resemble Jerry Maguire. Tom Cruise plays the titular ex–military investigator who’s looking into mysterious sniper shootings. (They had us at Werner Herzog plays the villain.) (Dec 21)

Winter movies: Not Fade Away

Not Fade Away

The British Invasion sweeps over suburban mid-’60s New Jersey, and Sopranos creator David Chase confidently steps into semiautobiographical-comedy territory. The movie’s about not just a wanna-be rock band, but a family split by opposing dreams. (Dec 21)

Winter movies: This Is 40

This Is 40

Having revolutionized the American schlub comedy with Knocked Up and other hits, Judd Apatow is back in the director’s chair, exploring a couple’s sexual anxieties via Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann and Apatow’s own precocious kids. (Dec 21)

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