The 10 Best Movies Set in the Snow and Ice, Ranked

It’s one thing to be stranded in the desert or lost in a jungle. But snowy icescapes can be even harsher, more challenging, and unforgiving.

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Snow-dusted mountain ranges and wintry cottages, nestled between the fir trees… Winter can be so idyllic!

Then again, winter can also be harsh and unforgiving as it threatens us with deadly frostbite, black ice, and polar bears.

Here are several great movies set in the snow and ice, surrounded by chilly landscapes where the pretty snow could be a friend one moment but turn into a menacing foe.

10. The Snowman (2017)

The Snowman is a snowy murder mystery that leans more on the side of thriller than drama, unlike some of the other movies on our list.

Tomas Alfredson directs Michael Fassbender as Inspector Harry Hole in Oslo, Norway. A chain-smoking and reclusive alcoholic with questionable methods, Harry becomes obsessed with tracking down a serial killer who leaves snowmen at his crime scenes.

The film is based on Jo Nesbø’s 2007 novel in his Harry Hole detective series. Though a little incoherent at times, there’s a compelling story to be found beneath The Snowman‘s coldly stylish surface.

9. Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)

C. S. Lewis’ classic children’s book series was magically translated to film by Andrew Adamson in the first (and best) installment of the franchise. You probably know the story—whether by page or on screen—of a little girl who steps through a wardrobe into the fantasy land of Narnia.

Here, the girl meets an evil witch and a brave lion… as well as James McAvoy shirtless in the snow, sporting goat legs and a scarf.

Thanks to the White Witch (played by Tilda Swinton), Narnia is cursed with a never-ending winter, and all without Christmas. It’s an escapist adventure fit for the whole family!

8. Wind River (2017)

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A character-driven neo-Western minus the desert cacti, Wind River takes place on the snowy Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming.

Director Taylor Sheridan wrote the script in order to raise awareness for the vast numbers of indigenous women who are killed in America every year, with a plot that centers on an FBI murder investigation.

A chilling tale—both literally and thematically—Wind River boasts stellar performances from Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen, who both tap into a more humanistic side to the murder mystery genre.

7. Everest (2015)

From the poster alone, you can already guess what kind of harsh survival flick you’re about to dive into. Based on true events, Everest retells the story of the 1996 Mount Everest disaster, where eight climbers were caught in a blizzard and tragically died.

Baltasar Kormákur directs this unforgiving biographical drama, honing in on two expedition groups who are fighting for their lives.

One is led by Rob Hall (played by Jason Clarke) and the second by Scott Fischer (played by Jake Gyllenhaal), and both must learn to cooperate if they’re to beat overexertion, high altitudes, and broken equipment.

6. Against the Ice (2022)

Recently released on Netflix is Peter Flinth’s historical drama Against the Ice, which was sourced from Captain Ejnar Mikkelsen’s 1912 memoirs Two Against the Ice.

Way back in 1909, the Danish explorer set off to uncover the lost records of the tragic Denmark expedition. After one failed attempt, only a young and inexperienced engineer is willing to join him on his bitter mission.

A polar bear, lost supplies, and two dead dogs later, the duo are left to spiral into isolated madness in an abandoned shed. With everything turning against them, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Joe Cole give a stunning performance as two men at the mercy of a miracle.

5. The Hateful Eight (2015)

The Hateful Eight is a bloody revisionist Western movie that has all the makings of your classic Quentin Tarantino flick: an ensemble cast (including Samuel L. Jackson), riveting dialogue, and a bloodbath finale.

Set in 1877, a misfit group of bounty hunters, prisoners, and cowboys wait out a blizzard while tensions rise and guns fire. This long film slots neatly as the eighth movie of Tarantino’s bloody and violent filmography.

Despite its controversial handling of sex and race, The Hateful Eight was praised for its carefully constructed scenes and brilliant performances, all taking place in one Haberdashery lodge.

4. Misery (1990)

Though Misery isn’t the most enticing title, it sure is accurate: Paul Sheldon (played by James Caan) really does have a miserable life—after stumbling into the falsely caring arms of nurse Annie Wilkes.

Perfectly portrayed by Kathy Bates, Annie claims to be Paul’s number one fan. Annie loves his romance novels featuring a woman named Misery Chastain, but Paul the author is looking to write more serious books—much to Annie’s hatred.

Unfortunately for Paul, a blizzard breaks both his legs, trapping him in Annie’s warped prison. Rob Reiner’s adaptation of the 1987 book is hailed as the best Stephen King adaptation out there!

3. The Gold Rush (1925)

Calling all old movie and Charlie Chaplin fans! We’re stretching back a little further for this one. The Gold Rush (originally released in 1925 and re-released in 1942 with an added voice-over) takes place during the Klondike Gold Rush (obviously) of the 19th century.

Inspired by the Donner Party—a group of pioneers who got stuck in the Sierra Nevada and resorted to eating each other—Chaplin turns tragedy into comedy per his usual style.

Iconic gags, cartoonish characters, and the sweet old Tramp caricature made The Gold Rush an instant silent movie success. We recommend the version with Chaplin’s narration!

2. Fargo (1996)

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Fargo is one of—if not the—most famous movies by the Coen brothers. Their trademark offbeat humor, eccentric characters, and collaboration with Frances McDormand and Steve Buscemi emerge as early examples of their iconic style.

Set in snowy North Dakota during the 1980s, Fargo follows a pregnant police chief investing a homicide that came about from a failed attempt at kidnapping for ransom.

A bumbling (in a good way), original, and wonderfully entertaining black comedy, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen set a bar high. A subsequent four-season long TV show adaptation was conceived in 2014.

1. The Revenant (2015)

Like many of the films on this list, The Revenant is a true story about one man’s fight against the elements.

Finally bagging himself an Oscar for his performance, Leonardo DiCaprio drags himself across the Dakotas in 1823, battling not only the freezing temperatures but also grizzly bears and Arikara warriors.

Director Alejandro González Iñárritu injects his epic survival drama with sweeping wide-shot views of the snow-covered mountains, balancing out the savage violence with tender and abstract emotion—like that of a man wandering through a dream.

30 Days of Modern Geeky Movies

Are you bored and in need of movies to watch? Here at whatNerd, we’ve seen a lot of geeky movies—sci-fi movies, fantasy movies, thriller movies, you name it!

And while a lot of them were pretty forgettable, a few of them stand out as classic geeky movies that everyone should definitely watch. Check out our 30 favorite modern geeky movies.

All of these movies are from 2000 or later, and there are NO superhero movies on our list! Download the printable PDF below and see how many you can watch in the next 30 days:

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