Winter is coming, and that means only one thing. No, not going outside and playing in the snow and driving like a crazy person in the Rally Sweden. That would be silly. We're talking about staying in and watching movies. Great movies and documentaries to comfort you in the long, cold nights. Here are the ones you need this Christmas.
Every year Top Gear comes out with a DVD special that never actually makes it to television. That means they rarely pop up on sites like Netflix, if ever. If you want a legal way to watch last year's special in perfect clarity, then you can't go wrong with The Perfect Road Trip. It's got everything from a Pagani Huayra to a Ford Model T, and it's great. So great, in fact, that they made a second one this year, but it's not out in the US yet. Snag it before someone you catch the sequel.
One of the best ways to unwind – if you don't own a Lamborghini – is to actually take a deep look into the Lamborghini factory. Lucky for us, National Geographic actually put that look into the factory up on Youtube, which you can watch above. But if you want to peer deeply into other intricate car factories, like Maserati, BMW, and the place where they build the Viper, you'll need this five-disc collection. It's hours of machine- and hand-built mania.
Rush had its American public debut at the 2013 Jalopnik Film Festival and I can promise you that it is, hands down, without a shadow of a doubt, the best film about Formula One in the 1970s of the past ten years. It's got incredible scenes filmed with actual F1 cars of the era (including one that was crashed), and it's a great resource for people just getting into the sport to learn some basic history. Oh, and it's also directed by Ron Howard, of Apollo 13 and A Beautiful Mind fame, and stars Daniel Brühl (Inglourious Basterds), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones), and Olivia Wilde (your dreams last night). What's not to love?
Alright, so there's a little not to love about Rush if you're already a hardcore motorsports fan. For that, you're going to want to watch Weekend of a Champion, director and possible sex offender Roman Polanski's phenomenal and intimate look into the 1971 Monaco Grand Prix with F1 legend Jackie Stewart. F1 in the 1970s was in a weird place, as positively monumental amounts of cash were being thrown at it, but drivers were still dying and people didn't get so upset about saying the wrong thing around a sponsor. Weekend of a Champion was re-released last year, and for those who want purity in their motorsports movies, this is it.
Want a more comprehensive look at F1, without the entire focus on the 1970s? Here's your flick. It even features narration by Michael Fassbender, and interviews with evil muppet Bernie Ecclestone.
Motorsports is sadly not always about great champions and turgid rivalries. Sometimes there are much darker forces at work behind the scenes of racing. Tim Richmond was a successful racing driver, taking home the 1980 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year award, and 13 race wins in eight NASCAR seasons. And yet it was all was marred by hard partying, drug use, and his eventual death due to complications from AIDS. His lifestyle never lent him any friends in NASCAR, despite his prodigious results. To The Limit is part of ESPN's acclaimed 30 for 30 series, and it's one of, if not the best NASCAR film out there.
Don't like just cars? Like fighter jets too? Hell, who doesn't like fighter jets, at least on a pure speed and beauty basis? Catch this great documentary about Operation Red Flag, one of the largest regularly-held training exercises in the world. Originally created for IMAX (where I saw it at the National Air & Space Museum, definitely visit if you're ever in Washington, DC!), you get an intense look at what it's like to be a fighter pilot, and how they're trained for actual war scenarios.
There is definitively no other car show like Victory by Design. Sadly, it's no longer on the air, but re-runs on Speedvision years back were incredible. It's like being in the world's most interesting museum, with looks not only at race cars from early periods like the 1920s, but absolute monsters like this Silk Cut Jaguar from the 1980s. The complete series also takes a look at classic marques like Maserati and Alfa Romeo. DVD is the only place you can still catch the entire thing, so get it before I do.
Racing scions with legendary names are all the rage these days, so why don't you catch up on the ultimate family pair? I'm speaking, of course, of Mario and Michael Andretti. Super Speedway took four years to film in its entirely, and with good reason.
I know we started this list with a Top Gear DVD, but why not finish it with one of the best ones, too. Top Gear is best not when they're praising a car, but when they're absolutely dumping all over one. This is over an hour's worth of said dump, and it's hilarious. From terrible Indian cars to terrible American cars to terrible Japanese cars, this hilarious look into the world of supreme mediocrity is probably the most entertaining choice on this whole list. If you want to wile away an evening taking in nothing but truly terrible automotive excrement, and who wouldn't, then here's your film.
Got any other film gift ideas? Drop them in the comments below!