No matter how many breaks from the cold weather we get in winter, it’s still hard to muster the energy to meet a friend for drinks when the sun sets at 5pm (even if the bar has a fireplace). So just give in. Gather your provisions and get ready to curl up on the couch with a movie, a steaming hot bowl of something, and your warmest pair of socks. These three wintery films and recipes go hand in hand.
Film: Anna Karenina, directed by Joe Wright, starring Keira Knightley, Jude Law and Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Where to find it: Netflix, Amazon ($3)
Recipe: Thai Chicken Chowder from Girl Meets Paleo
I happened upon this pairing completely by accident and for whatever reason, it was the most soul-satisfying combination! I had just started Whole30 for the month of January and decided to try my hand at a soup. It was the first truly cold day of winter, and I was craving something unimaginably hearty with bold flavor. Boy, did this chowder do it. The combination of chicken and sweet potatoes seemed to fill the bottomless pit that is my appetite, and the flourishes of coconut, lime and cilantro gave the meal the zing I was after.
When I plopped down to eat and saw that Anna Karenina was on Netflix, it was a done deal. I spent the rest of the evening totally and completely lost in snowy train rides through Moscow, achingly exquisite gowns waltzing across candle-lit hallways, and enthralled by Count Vronsky’s immaculate mustache. Not to brag, but the only other time I’ve seen Anna Karenina was during its official premiere in Los Angeles, where Russell Brand was in attendance (with his seer) and we locked eyes twice. Anyway, about three years have passed since then, and I had completely forgotten what a stunning feat of a movie it is. Nearly the entire thing was filmed in a dilapidated theatre in London, and the plot plays out so immaculately on a stage that it feels as though you’ve got front row seats to a play filled with beautiful, beautiful people. Not to mention that Dario Marianelli’s score will break your heart three times over; it’s quite an experience to lose yourself in on a snowy Sunday evening. And, if you just can’t get enough, Netflix is also streaming the 1948 version starting Vivien Leigh.
Film: Obvious Child, directed by Gillian Robespierre, starring Jenny Slate, Jake Lacy and Gaby Hoffman
Where to find it: Amazon Prime
Recipe: Spaghetti Carbonara from Food52
I saw Obvious Child when it was released in the summer of 2014, and although it was sweltering outside the Nitehawk, I couldn’t get over how easily this darling film threw me back into the depths of winter. All its little flourishes, pounding radiators, a snow-capped McGolrick Park, all of the characters constantly wrapped in knit hats and puffy jackets, made me shiver in memory of winter. Apart from its scenery though, Obvious Child is ideal for this season because the film is a perfect combination of wit, heart and top-notch performances.
There’s one particular scene where Jenny Slate’s character, Donna, is having dinner with her father and they’re both slurping on steaming plates of spaghetti. It left me with a craving for pasta, which a lovingly prepared spaghetti carbonara surely fulfills. How can it not? It’s a warm, creamy dish that’s pretty simple to make and requires ingredients you most likely already have. Top generously with pepper and parsley, pair with a glass or two of Merlot (in a mason jar as in the film, of course), and go at it. Yes, this dish will likely leave you comatose, but it’s nothing a re-energizing bite of dark chocolate can’t fix…right?
Film: Inside Llewyn Davis, directed by Joel and Ethan Cohen, starring Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan and John Goodman
Where to find it: Amazon ($10)
Recipe: Beef and dark beer chili from Bon Appetit
It’s always nice to see Oscar Isaac, especially in the folksy, wistful film that put him on the map. Everything about Inside Llewyn Davis screams winter–its melancholy subject matter, the muted greys and greens of a slushy Greenwich Village, the blues accompaniment and pre-Dylan period details, a place where the Washington Square Arch has never looked more desolate, the park benches empty even of pigeons.
Whether he’s chasing cats through the streets or trying to hitch a ride, Llewyn constantly looks chilled and uncomfortable. You just wish someone would hand him some hot chocolate spiked with liquor (note to self: stock up on hot chocolate ingredients), a hat, and, obviously, a record deal. While that isn’t an option, a bowl of Bon Appetit’s beef and dark beer chili is something you can indulge in while you watch his plight. The chili options out there are endless, but this particular recipe has the sort of flavor that’ll warm you to your toes, an on-the-mark mix of toasted spices (cumin, jalapeno chiles, adobo sauce) with the melt-y warmth of beans, cheddar, and a strong stout that mixes like a dream with a lean cut of beef. Pair it with even more stout, served separately.
I also considered watching Winter’s Bone, Snowpiercer, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Little Women, The Shining and Fargo if you need even more wintry film inspiration.