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  • Noor Kabbani

The Broad’s Seasonal Recommendations: What to Watch this Winter

Illustrations by Megan Le Brocq

The Broad’s Creative Editor, Noor Kabbani, has compiled a list of ten films and TV shows to keep you captivated throughout the final wintery month. Whether you're craving a cozy night in with heartwarming stories or seeking the thrill of a winter mystery, this list has something for everyone to enjoy during these cold evenings in!

TV: Mindhunter

The cool, dark tones of wintery months create the perfect setting to watch this American psychological crime thriller. This TV show is based on the book "Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit" by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker, which I would really recommend if the show and topic interests you. In the series we follow FBI agents Holden Ford, Bill Tench, and psychologist Wendy Carr, who all work in Quantico’s Behavioural Science Unit. The three of them begin a project centred around interviewing convicted serial killers, such as Edmund Kemper and Montie Rissel, in order to use findings about the killers’ psychological tendencies and apply this knowledge to ongoing cases.  This TV show demonstrates the beginnings of criminal psychology and how the term ‘serial killer’ was formed. This show ticks so many boxes; the writing and performances are spectacular, this historical accuracy makes it educational, there are romantic plot lines, and for obvious reasons it is a great show to watch from the comfort of your own home. This is one of my all-time favourite shows and I can’t recommend it enough.

Film: The Pale Blue Eye

Continuing the theme of psychological crime thrillers, this movie follows the story of retired detective Augustus Landor’s investigation into the murder of an army Cadet at a Military Academy. The film’s harsh cinematography, snowy setting, and chilling plot are sure to make you feel a literal and symbolical discomfort. The film’s many twists are sure to keep you engaged and entertained though, so if you enjoy the intellectual rush of a murder mystery, this is the perfect one for you to solve with a hot chocolate, as opposed to Landor’s ice-cold bourbon. Furthermore, the exploration of morally dubious characters, and the peculiar feature of a young Edgar Allan Poe provide the perfect gothic atmosphere for a winter watch.

Film: Little Women (2019)

We’re taking a more homely turn with this next recommendation: Greta Gerwig’s, Little Women. Gerwig’s ability to create a film where the spectator feels like a part of Marmie’s family can be accredited to her meticulous attention to detail; warm yet deep-toned costumes and general clutter in the mis-en-scène really make you feel like more than just a spectator in this household. This is sustained throughout the film, meaning that regardless of the chaotic plot line and emotional rollercoaster, the film leaves you with a general feeling of warmth and prevailing hope for the characters. I particularly liked the film’s feminist messages, which of course should also be accredited to Louisa May Alcott; presenting late 19th Century female choices as acts of freedom not to be judged, is an important message for any century. Little Women is a perfect winter watch because of the cosy feel, familial messages and overarching themes of independence, creativity, and love that complement the new year's atmosphere.

Film: Past Lives

Past Lives is a beautiful film that tells the story of two childhood friends who reconnect at different points in their life over the span of two decades. I watched this film with my family over the Christmas holiday, and we were split over its moral ambiguity; it also seems as if the internet is split over this as well, which I found fascinating and can certainly understand why. The film explores, to name a few, how the development of relationships changes over time, the sanctity of cultural connections, and also the role of marriage as a potential facilitator, or blockade, or of people’s individual journeys. This recommendation is purely circumstantial due to myself having recently watched it, but the film’s moody colour palette, mostly a result of its downtown New York City backdrop, and overall nostalgic aura makes it a great film to watch at this time of year. Furthermore, the film has deservedly been nominated for two Academy Awards, so if you’re wanting to watch a film that’s currently generating a lot of industry buzz, this one is perfect.

Film: Chalet Girl

This just wouldn’t be a winter TV and Film recommendations list if I didn’t include a rom-com. Chalet Girl is about Kim Matthews, who spontaneously goes to work as a chalet girl in the Alps, forging new friendships, new romances, and a newfound interest in snow sports. This is a very light-hearted film, which is a great one to choose if you don’t want to watch something intense. It also has the stereotypical feel-good, rom-com trajectory, so if you’re wanting a film that is not going to bring too many surprises and twists, this is a good one to watch. The Alpine setting also makes is a great winter watch; I very much enjoy living vicariously through Kim as she experiences the slops and the chalet girl lifestyle.

Film: Les Quatre Cents Coups (The 400 Blows)

As François Truffaut’s directorial debut, this 1959 coming-of-age film is considered one the best of all time. Truffaut follows the story of a troubled youth, Antoine Doinel, as he rebels against his parents and his schoolteachers. While being semi-autobiographical, the story comments on the treatment of young criminal offenders in French institutions. Alongside this cultural criticism, Truffaut also engaged in other French New Wave characteristics, such as filming on location, and The 400 Blows has become one of the defining films of this cinematic movement. It is not necessarily a winter film, but there is something about watching black and white films during colder months that engages me a bit more; perhaps because the colour palette of our nature enables me to enmesh the world of the film with my reality. For this reason, I would recommend watching this film before spring, to see if it has a similar effect. Since this is also a film that demands introspect and self-reflection, it fits in with people’s New Year’s initiatives.

TV: Peaky Blinders

Going back to the drama and crime genres, Peaky Blinders is a period show based on a family-run gang in Birmingham in the aftermath of World War One. This gang is fictional, however it is broadly based on a gang of the same name that were around in the city during the last few decades of the 19th Century. Without giving away too many spoilers, the TV show’s plot follows the Shelby family’s criminal stronghold in Birmingham, led by the ambitious, and at times merciless, Tommy Shelby. Throughout the show, the family get tied up in rival gangs, the IRA, police investigations, and the New York Italian Mafia to name a few (this is across all the show’s seasons, not just one!). Alongside these interesting, chilling plot lines, the show is a perfect winter watch because of the gloomy cinematography and eerie soundtrack.

Film: Pride and Prejudice (2005)

Based on the classic 1813 Jane Austen novel, this film follows the story of Elizabeth Bennet, who alongside the story’s other characters, navigates overcoming the titular transgressions whilst dealing with romantic interests. Whilst the film’s production design does incorporate autumnal colours, the brisk weather and sharp characters are emphasised in winter months. The film’s themes include family, romance, and self- discovery, making it another relatively light-hearted film, so perfect if you’re wanting that cosy feel on a cold day. This is obviously a well-loved film already, so might have to be a rewatch, but who doesn’t love rewatching old favourites to get that feeling of nostalgia during winter?

Film: Cool Runnings

Cool Runnings is another childhood favourite of mine. It’s an American comedy sports film that loosely tells the story of the Jamaican national bobsleigh team during the 1988 Winter Olympics. The story is very inspirational because the team, and their coach, face multiple setbacks during the competition, but still manage to make the best out of the situations they face. The actors play the characters with charisma and humour, which makes the film perfect if you’re looking for something with some comic relief.

Film: The King

This film follows the story of King Henry during the early days of his kingship. Based on the triad of Shakespeare’s Henry Plays, the screenplay focuses on the effects of the new king’s loss of his father, navigating the war his father left behind, and also becoming a king at such a young age. The film’s slow-burn tension and exploration of the internalised psychological effects of royal ascension make this a really unique period and action film. David Michôd’s use of bleak and harsh cinematography makes this film another great one to watch in these winter months. This film’s cherry on top is Robert Pattinson’s satirical portrayal of Louis, the Dauphin; his iconic performance provides the only comic relief and also commands significant presence despite only appearing halfway through the film.

Make sure you check out The Broad’s other seasonal picks on the creative section of our website!

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