Culture

13 cosy movies to watch this chilly season

Films that feel like a sip of hot cider on a bright fall day.

Films that feel like a sip of hot cider on a bright fall day

LaKeith Stanfield (left) and Issa Rae (right) sitting in a restaurant booth in the film The Photograph. They're leaning into one another, foreheads touching.
(Source: Perfect World Pictures)

It's time. The weather has turned from blistering hot to crisp and cool. Shorts are packed away and coats are obligatory. And the couch! The couch, piled with blankets and sitting so close to endless streaming options, is calling. 

Around this time every year, like so many, I find myself snuggling up to a screen and searching for cosy movies. Admittedly, in the context of films, "cosy" can mean a lot of different things. For some people, rewatching Star Wars or Die Hard delivers a soothing sense of comfort. Others restart their annual Harry Potter marathon as the perfect background flicks. Really, a cosy film is one that feels like an easy watch and gives you a feeling of contentment — or real autumnal vibes. It's the type of movie that satisfies like a steaming cup of cider on a bright fall day. 

If that's just what you're craving these days, here are some great cosy movies to check out: 

You've Got Mail (1998) — Netflix 

Meg Ryan (left) and Tom Hanks (right) in a still from the movie You’ve Got Mail. They're standing at a table of food at a dinner party, putting food on their plates.
(Source: Warner Bros.)

Meg Ryan falling in love is as much a fall staple as scarves and boots. Here, she plays the plucky owner of an indie bookstore who connects — pun intended — with an anonymous man (Tom Hanks) over email … not realizing that, offline, he works for the big bookstore chain pushing her out of business. 

When Harry Met Sally… (1989) and Sleepless in Seattle (1993) offer a similar comforting rom-com aspects — a romantic rendezvous, charmingly funny men and settings as idyllic as that tiny bookstore — but there's something about You've Got Mail and a story that hinges on the advent of the internet that adds an element of heartwarming nostalgia. Revisiting this familiar favourite is also the perfect way to get ready for the fall release of What Happens Later, Ryan's highly anticipated return to rom-coms. 

Love & Basketball (2000) — Crave 

Omar Epps (left) and Sanaa Lathan (right) in a still from Love & Basketball. They're playing basketball outside.
(Source: 40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks)

This film has a cult following for a reason. "I loved When Harry Met Sally, and I wanted to make a Black When Harry Met Sally," writer-director Gina Prince-Bythewood told Variety. Just like the film's inspiration, in Love & Basketball, audiences watch leads Monica Wright (Kyla Pratt and later Sanaa Lathan) and Quincy McCall (Glenndon Chatman and later Omar Epps) develop a relationship that spans several years — and what starts out as friendship soon evolves into something greater. 

"I wanted to see myself reflected. And then I started wanting to tell the story of this girl that I felt hadn't been seen as well, an athlete," said Prince-Bythewood. The result has become a classic rom-com all its own and offers a portrayal of women in sport that was way ahead of its time

The Princess Bride (1987) Disney+ 

Robin Wright (right) and Cary Elwes (left) in The Princess Bride. They're laying on the grass looking at one another.
(Source: Act III Communications)

You want a fall classic? In the famed words of Westley (Cary Elwes), "As you wish." Follow the classic tale of a milkmaid, aptly named Buttercup (Robin Wright), and a farm boy (Elwes) who become ill-fated lovers and end up going on a series of adventures in pursuit of their happily ever after. This not-so-typical fairy tale is like being tucked in and treated to a familiar bedtime story, one that's narrated by none other than Columbo, a.k.a. Peter Falk. 

The Photograph (2020) — Available to rent 

LaKeith Stanfield (left) and Issa Rae (right) sitting in a restaurant booth in the film The Photograph. They're leaning into one another, foreheads touching.
(Source: Perfect World Pictures)

This soft, beautiful film from Canadian filmmaker Stella Meghie is a portrait of relationships: mother and daughter, girlfriend and boyfriend, a journalist and a curator both searching for missing parts of a bigger story. Between the artful cinematography, the eye candy (hello Issa Rae and LaKeith Stanfield), and the balance of love and loss, The Photograph feels like lighting a candle and crawling under a weighted blanket. 

Stay the Night (2022) — Crave

Joe Scarpellino (left) and Andrea Bang (right) in Stay the Night. They're bundled up for cold weather, walking in a city at night.
(Source: Low End)

This quiet Canadian romance by Renuka Jeyapalan may not be as familiar as the others on this list, but it has many of the same hallmarks: gentle pacing and chilly weather warmed up by simmering chemistry between the leads. 

Deanna Wong, the executive director of Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival, where the film played this year, told CBC Life: "Set on a blustery cold night, Stay the Night makes all the familiar sights of Toronto all the more heartwarming, and if that doesn't do it, [Kim Convenience's] Andrea Bang as the prickly protagonist will tug at your heartstrings." Agreed.

Pride & Prejudice (2005) — Available for rent 

Keira Knightley (left) and Matthew Macfadyen (right) in Pride & Prejudice. They're standing face to face and she's kissing his hands. A field is in the background.
(Source: Universal Pictures)

Jane Austen's classic enemies-to-lovers tale simply never gets old, and neither does this 2005 adaptation starring Keira Knightley, Donald Sutherland, Rosamund Pike, Carey Mulligan, Jena Malone and a pre-Succession Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy. The score sparkles, the cinematography is stunning and even though you likely know how this story ends, each and every rewatch is wonderful. 

The Half of It (2020) — Netflix 

Leah Lewis (left) and Collin Chou (right) in The Half of It. They're sitting in chairs in their living room watching TV.
(Source: Likely Story)

Love is complicated in Squahamish, Washington — a quaint town with thick, changing forests; chilly weather; and burning crushes. High school football player Paul Munsky (Daniel Diemer) has a crush on Aster Flores (Alexxis Lemire). In an effort to catch Aster's attention, Paul hires his classmate Ellie Chu (Leah Lewis) to write her a love letter. If you think you know where this is going, think again. In a genre that can often feel narrow in its depiction of love and relationships, The Half of It is a refreshing and heartwarming watch. 

The Lunchbox (2013) — Prime, MUBI

Irrfan Khan in the film The Lunchbox. He's wearing a blue shirt, sitting by himself at a table in a lunchroom, reading a note on a piece of paper, with a silver lunchbox in front of him.
(Source: Sony Pictures Classics)

Set against the backdrop of Mumbai's famously intricate and efficient network of dabbawalas, this is a love story with a bit of a different flavour. Starring Nimrat Kaur and the late Irrfan Khan, this gentle, moving film follows two individuals brought together by a mistakenly delivered tiffin — or what some might call fate. (Note: with plenty of scenes featuring intricate meals cooked with love, this film may leave you longing and hungry.) 

Meditation Park (2017) — CBC Gem 

From left, Sharmaine Yeoh, Pei-Pei Cheng, Alannah Ong and Lillian Lim in the film Meditation Park. They're dressed for cold weather, walking on a city sidewalk.
(Source: Meditation Park Film Ltd.)

Canadian filmmaker Mina Shum somehow balances love, grief and the unique challenge of figuring out your identity as a senior in her 2017 indie film Meditation Park. Cheng Pei Pei steals every scene as Maria Wang, the soft spoken wife and grandmother whose life turns upside down when she learns that her husband (Tzi Ma) is cheating on her. Wrap yourself up in this rainy Vancouver setting, the messiness of family dynamics and the story of a woman finding a new purpose in life. 

Practical Magic (1998) — Crave 

Sandra Bullock (left) leaning against a kitchen stove and Nicole Kidman (right) sitting on a kitchen counter in the film Practical Magic.
(Source: Warner Bros.)

While this is easily the most Halloween-y film on the list, it's as cosy as it is spooky. For generations, the members of a small Massachusetts town have suspected the women of the Owens family of being witches. The Owens women live in a large Victorian house, and any man who dares to love them meets an untimely death. As much as this is a quirky rom-com, the love between Sally Owens (Sandra Bullock), Gillian Owens (Nicole Kidman), and their aunts Frances (Stockard Channing) and Jet (Dianne Wiest) is what really makes this film wonderful. Well, that and Midnight Margaritas

Knives Out (2019) — Available for rent  

Cloesup on Chris Evans in the film Knives Out. He's wearing an off-white knitted sweater and sitting at a table with beer bottles on it in a pub.
(Source: Lions Gate Films)

For those looking for a fun film that feels like fall but isn't a rom-com, this campy mystery is it. This whodunit is less Gone Girl or chilling Agatha Christie tale and more Clue brought to life by incredibly hot people. 

Wealthy mystery novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) has been killed, and the prime suspects are a colourful cast of characters including Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Toni Collette, Don Johnson and Chris Evans. And it's up to private detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) to figure out who among them is a murderer. (A special shout-out to Chris Evans's thick, braided, off-white sweater that, as CBC Life producer Jamey Ordolis noted, is basically a starring character all unto itself.) 

Under the Tuscan Sun (2003) — Disney+ 

Closeup on Diane Lane in the movie Under the Tuscan Sun. She's wearing an orange shirt, sitting outside at a table with wine glasses on it and smiling into the distance.
(Source: Touchstone Pictures)

The name will make you think of summer, but it's when the weather cools that Under the Tuscan Sun really shines. Author Frances Mayes (Diane Lane) is having a mid-life crisis. After learning that her husband is cheating on her, she escapes to the Italian countryside and, on a whim, buys a villa in Tuscany. As she restores her crumbling new home, she also slowly rebuilds her life, brick by brick, surrounded by a picturesque town of terracotta buildings, bustling markets and olive trees. With the days getting shorter and colder, watching Under the Tuscan Sun feels like soaking in a sunbeam. 

Stepmom (1998) — Available for rent 

Closeup of Susan Sarandon (left) looking into the distance and Julia Roberts (right) smiling and looking at Sarandon in the film Stepmom.
(Source: TriStar Pictures)

Warning: as much as this fits the fall aesthetic and includes many a cosy knit, this movie will make you weep. Divorced parents Jackie (Susan Sarandon) and Luke Harrison (Ed Harris) are navigating their new life with the inclusion of Luke's new girlfriend, Isabel Kelly (Julia Roberts), and things are off to a rocky start. As this modern family figures out their evolving dynamics, they also learn to appreciate each other and the precious time they have together. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ishani Nath is a freelance entertainment and lifestyle journalist. She has appeared as a pop culture expert on CBC, CTV and Global News Radio and has bylines in Chatelaine, Maclean's, The Juggernaut, Flare and more. Follow her @ishaninath.

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