When the Christmas turkey is plucked dry, the New Year’s fireworks are fizzled out, and the holiday hangovers have faded away, we’re all reminded that we once again have another fifty weeks to slog through before the annual traditions come roaring again.
We’ve grown sick of Christmas movies by this point—which are little more than fresh reminders of recent fun—and now we enter that time of year where everything is cold, wet, and bleak before spring.
Which movies can help us get through this dull time of year? Between last year’s regrets and this year’s resolutions, which films will spur us forward yet again? Here are our picks for the best post-winter holiday movies to watch when the celebrations are over.
8. Cool Runnings (1993)
When post-holiday blues set in, there isn’t a better film that’ll warm you up with happiness—right before before freezing you again.
Cool Runnings is the story of the Jamaican Bobsledding team, who—against all odds—competed at the 1995 Winter Olympics. The film is a loose adaptation of the real story, but it has one of John Candy’s last great performances to anchor it.
The film epitomizes the concept of a fun picture, as it gives the true story the Rocky treatment, where the team has highs and lows during their journey, one that ultimately brings great joy to the audience.
7. Edward Scissorhands (1990)
Despite being partly set during Christmas, Edward Scissorhands isn’t your typical Christmas movie, as the festive season fades into the background of Tim Burton’s bohemian picture.
With Johnny Depp starring as the eponymous character, the movie follows Edward (a Frankenstein-like creation) as he ventures beyond the walls of his lonely gothic mansion. He lives with the Boggs family, through whom Edward learns many things about being human.
The story is gentle and brutal at the same time, a paradoxical shift that gives the audience a sense of perspective as the festive season ends.
6. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
When any new year begins and the trawl to work starts all over again, one has two options: try and cheer yourself up by any means possible, or lean into the desolate sadness that comes when partying is over. For the latter, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is the perfect movie.
The plot follows Joel Barish as he ditches work one day to head to the beach during winter. While there, he meets Clementine—who also had a similar notion that day—and they begin talking about themselves, eventually establishing a romantic connection.
From there, the film is a wondrous tale about the deletion of memories and the pain of things that could yet come between them.
Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet play their roles as perfectly as Charlie Kaufman wrote them, with the film now considered one of the century’s best—brilliant for any cerebral sad sack at this time of year.
5. Groundhog Day (1993)
The ultimate post-New Year film, Groundhog Day addresses the dissatisfaction of life amidst the icy cold of an endless hanging winter.
Centering on Bill Murray’s vain and selfish weatherman, Phil Connors, the movie sees him trapped in an endless loop during Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, doomed to repeat it over and over for decades.
On the one hand, the film appears to be a depressing tale of endless suffering. On the other, the hilarity of Phil’s various escapades during his eternity trapped in his personal hell is what makes the film sparkle.
Though the reason why Phil gets trapped in his time loop is never completely revealed, the lessons about life he learns during his ordeal seem to be at the root of his punishment.
4. When Harry Met Sally (1989)
When Harry Met Sally might end on New Year’s Eve, but the film takes place across a decade and a half as the eponymous characters meet and become friends despite their more annoying ticks.
If this time of year gets under your skin, When Harry Met Sally is proof that unexpected things happen when you least expect them to. Harry and Sally’s journey from hating one another to becoming friends and then falling in love is reassurance for everyone watching.
Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan’s brilliant chemistry represents a perfect synergy with Nora Ephron’s script and Rob Reiner’s direction, which has made the film a classic feel-good story over 30 years later.
3. The Hateful Eight (2015)
If you’re angry that New Year’s Day came and went, rest in knowing that Quentin Tarantino captured that feeling perfectly within a snowed-under log cabin filled with a bunch of people who all have secrets.
The fun of The Hateful Eight is not knowing who’ll make it out of the cabin alive and who’s about to drop next. The story is a vengeful tale between a group of people, all of whom have gripes against the others, yet nobody is willing to reveal their hand too early.
As post-holiday pictures go, The Hateful Eight can make you feel cold and eager with tension to see what comes of the people stuck inside the cabin—which, sometimes, is what one needs to get over the New Year.
2. Little Women (2019)
Louisa May Alcott’s 1869 tale of the March sisters has been adapted to cinema on at least four occasions. However, Greta Gerwig’s most recent adaptation has been cited as the best of them.
Starring Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Eliza Scanlen, and Florence Pugh as the March sisters (with Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper, Bob Odenkirk, and Laura Dern in supporting roles), Little Women takes the source material and brings it to life on the big screen.
After the festivities have passed, a film like Little Women can help settle the blues with its tale across both highs and lows. It allows you to see what’s important in life, along with some wonderfully crafted performances and direction from its unrelenting frames.
1. The Thing (1982)
If you’re bogged down with a January mindset and you don’t see an escape anytime soon, then The Thing is the best remedy. John Carpenter’s film is isolated within the cold and unbearable Antarctic as American researchers find an alien ship buried under the ice.
However, “the creature” has already infiltrated their camp by disguising itself as the very people that work there. It’s up to the group to kill it before it can kill them.
Few films are as thrilling as The Thing, which adds to the fun of the viewing experience. Kurt Russell’s performance as R.J. MacReady is intense as he ruthlessly hunts down the creature to destroy it.
When you want to be entertained and held in your seat by a film mere days after the New Year, The Thing is what you need—and you’ll be thinking about the ending long after the credits roll.