What to do with your snow day? Go see one of these movies.

December 10, 2013

Let's be honest: You're probably not stranded at home. Yet your employer let you off the hook and, lucky you, you have a free day to fill. You could sit on the couch, drink hot chocolate and watch The Price Is Right. But since wandering around in the snow is fun (provided you have the right footwear) and watching a movie during the middle of a weekday feels a little exciting, like playing hooky, you might want to use your hours to catch up on an exceptionally stellar couple months of new releases.

Here are a few recommendations, depending on what you're looking for.


Want to catch up on potential Oscar contenders? "12 Years a Slave," starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender, is still in theaters. (Photo by Francois Duhamel – © 2013 - Fox Searchlight Pictures)

If you want to entertain the kids:

Go see "Frozen." Just about every local school is closed today, which means you may have children that need something to do once they realize that rolling around in the snow is actually really cold and sometimes uncomfortable. The bonus for Disney's latest musical adventure is that it's fun for adults, too. Plus the movie features a hopping, singing snowman, which is way better than anything you can make in your front yard, regardless of how much snow piles up.

Other options: Another family-friendly musical, "Black Nativity," might appeal to older kids. (Our own Family Filmgoer recommends it for kids 10 and up.) And for the teen set, there's always "Hunger Games: Catching Fire" (for the second or third time).

If you want to see potential Oscar contenders:

It's going to be hard for the Academy to narrow down the list of Oscar contenders this year, but it's impossible to imagine "12 Years a Slave" won't make the cut. The movie was the big winner for the Washington Area Film Critics Association's recent awards, taking home best picture, actor and supporting actress, among others.

Other options: There's been plenty of buzz surrounding Bruce Dern's excellent performance in "Nebraska," not to mention Jared Leto's turn as a transgender woman in "Dallas Buyers Club."

If you want action:

This could just as easily land in the previous category, but "Gravity" might be the heart-stopper of the season with its story of astronauts marooned in space. It's also one of the few films that really is worth seeing in 3D.

Other options: "All Is Lost," which is basically "Gravity" at sea, features Robert Redford alone on a boat trying to survive while saying nearly nothing -- but still keeping the audience entranced. No easy feat. Another ocean adventure, "Captain Phillips" is the true story of a ship captain negotiating with Somali pirates.

If you want something heartwarming:

Break out the tissues for this one. Judi Dench plays the title character in "Philomena," about a woman searching for her son, who was taken from her decades earlier.

Other options: It may be getting more attention for its sex scenes and the complicated on-set relationship between the director and its stars, but at its heart, "Blue Is the Warmest Color" is a love story, and definitely worth a watch.

Need more ideas? Check out Ann Hornaday's 21 favorite movies from 2013. Some are still in theaters and others are available streaming -- just in case changing out of pajamas isn't on your day's to-do list.

Washington-area native Stephanie Merry covers movies, theater and art for Weekend and the Going Out Guide. She’s also the section’s de facto expert on yoga, gluten-free dining and bicycle commuting.
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