At this point in 2020, all we want to do is go into hibernation for the winter and hope things will magically work themselves out. The number of articles on comfort movies, comfort books, and comfort foods has almost surpassed the number of articles on how to prepare for a global apocalypse, and I’m here to add to the pile. It’s November, which means we’ve now entered that funny little time where it’s too cold and overcast to be the picturesque fall, yet it’s too early for excessive Christmas festivities. So, you might be asking, “What movies should I be watching if it’s too early for my Love Actually obsession?”
First, it’s never too early for Love Actually. Second, fear not, as I’ve noted a couple of feel-good films that will take your mind off the current worldwide dumpster fire, and put you in (hopefully) better spirits. Here are five cosy films to add to your November watchlist as you mentally prepare for the holiday season.
Dead Poets Society
Dead Poets Society is one of the best movies to exist and that’s simply a fact. It has a deeper message but it’s fun, it’s bold, and it’s a great movie when you just want to be reminded of the power of friendship and being free to do what you love. Professor Keating tries to teach his English students about what life is really about and how to best live it, and the boys learn how to break free and focus on what really matters in their confined prep school environment. The classic prep-school setting, the romance of poetry and the English language, mysterious secret societies, the iconic coming of age troupe, Dead Poets Society has it all. The movie is beautiful; the setting, the acting, the larger message of the film as a whole, and Robin Williams is just the greatest.
You’ve Got Mail
You don’t like romcoms? Too bad, because You’ve Got Mail is a classic that you will make your friends rewatch with you every year. You will laugh, cry, and maybe start to believe in love. A chain bookstore owner meets a tiny town bookshop owner online and they fall in love, but neither of them realizes they’re rivals in the real world and corporate and local clash. You really can’t ask more of a comfort movie, the romance and comedy made possible by a little good old fashioned dramatic irony. Meg Ryan is a gem. Tom Hanks is a star. Their chemistry is amazing, the setting (New York) is perfect, and it’s probably one of your mom’s favorite movies. This movie is genuinely warm soup for the soul, and is the perfect mix of fall, winter, and holiday atmospheres.
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Maybe it’s the colour grading, maybe it’s the fox you know and love from Roald Dahl’s classic children’s book, or maybe it’s simply the fact that anything Wes Anderson creates is magical. It’s up to Mr. Fox’s cleverness and wit as he goes on a quest to outsmart and outplay the farmers he steals from. The aesthetics of it all (a staple of any Anderson film) are so pleasing, and sometimes reverting to the simplistic themes of family and entertaining adventures present in kid’s films is just what you need. You certainly don’t have to be a kid to enjoy this film, and maybe it’ll inspire you to pick up an old favorite, or check out more of Wes Anderson’s incredible talent.
I personally believe this was a total Academy Award snub, but regardless of its wins or losses, Little Women is a stunning film. The March sisters navigate life, loss, and love as they start to realize they have to venture out from their wonderful family life and into womanhood. There’s just something about the entirety of the movie, especially the porch dancing scene, that will fill your heart with immense joy and make you want to move away to a house in Massachusetts. And how could you pass up one of the best casts of all time, with Emma Watson, Laura Dern, Florence Pugh, Saoirse Ronan, and, yes, Timothee Chalamet, directed by the one and only Greta Gerwig.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Go ahead, it’s finally time to dust off the box set and get to work on watching the whole series. Prisoner of Azkaban gives off the best cosy (and spooky) vibes. Must be the Weasley sweaters. Harry, Ron, and Hermione begin their third year at Hogwarts, and have to try and stop what they think are Sirius Black’s plans to kill Harry, when they learn that there’s something much more sinister going on and the bad guys are not who they think they are. Prisoner of Azkaban is also early enough into the series that they’re still kids, and the tone of the films are just beginning to get darker and moodier. There’s nothing quite like watching the iconic trio and their banter begin yet another year in the wizarding world.
Whether it’s a break from studying, a break from the news, or just a break from the crushing psychological weight of being alive on a floating rock, take it! These movies are guaranteed to make you laugh, at the very least coax a smile, and they don’t require you to analyze every second, just to enjoy them. Snuggle in by yourself, convince a friend, or even get a group (socially distanced of course), and lose yourself in someone else’s little world for a couple of hours. With any luck, you’ll be rested and ready to take on the people who began their holiday season on November 1st.