10 best movie ice sculptures (real and fake), part one

best movie ice carvings montage

While I’ve talked about ice sculptures in movies several times before (here, here, and here), I’ve never tried to rank what I’ve seen. But now I’ve compiled a list of the 10 best movie ice sculptures. Three of the movies I’ve never mentioned on ice carving secrets. You may not agree with the order, and or you may think there are sculptures/movies missing. If you think so, please comment below, or at the end of part 2 of this list. I certainly don't know it all and I may have forgotten an important one (or two).

When I ranked the ice sculptures in these movies, it was pretty clear that some were head and shoulders above the others. For others, it was hard to decide where they should be ranked. So I tried to build this list based on a number of factors. I considered how long the ice is on-screen, whether or not the ice sculptures are integrated into the plot of the movie (Is it a vital part of the movie?), the quality of the sculpture, and finally, the quality of the movie around it. Really, it comes down to how effective and memorable the ice sculptures are in the movie. And if it’s a good movie, so much the better. So here we go.

I’m throwing in an honorable mention, so this list actually has 11 entries. You might cry foul on the honorable mention in particular, but I don’t care. If you don’t like it, write your own blog on ice sculptures and make the list as you see fit. Either that, or air your grievances in the comments; that’s what they’re for. If you present a good enough case, maybe I’ll change my mind.

honorable mention: Titanic

In the biggest movie of all time about one of the biggest maritime disasters of all time, an iceberg is the big villain. You could say that the iceberg is a natural ice sculpture. I’m not saying that it is, just that you could argue that it is. This floating “ice sculpture” unzipped the side of the hull of the Titanic, flooding several of the ship’s compartments and sending it to the bottom in two pieces. Over 1500 people died in the real incident and probably none of them bore any resemblance to Leonardo DiCaprio. The idea of an iceberg as a natural abstract ice sculpture is questionable, so that’s why it’s not a full-fledged member of this list. If that iceberg had looked even just a little like a giant ice swan, though, Titanic would probably have been #1 on this list.

Titanic’s domestic gross: $658.67 million
released 1997
positive Rotten Tomatoes ranking: 88%
who did the sculpture?: Mother Nature for the real life original, probably cgi in the movie

#10: Zookeeper

The Kevin James vehicle known as Zookeeper features very basic ice sculptures, two swans, in a wedding scene. This is not a great movie; for me, it was so memorable that I actually started by looking for the ice sculpture scene in Mall Cop. Also, swans at a wedding do not make for a very unusual ice sculpture display. However, the sculptures are well done, are seen several times, and there is a pretty awesome destruction scene (see the video).

Zookeeper domestic gross: $80.36 million
released 2011
positive Rotten Tomatoes ranking: 14%
who did the ice sculptures?: so far unknown, but much of the production was in Boston
why this ice made the list: creative and impressive ice sculpture destruction

#9: Over Her Dead Body

Over Her Dead Body is a bad movie. (See the domestic gross and the Rotten Tomato rating.) And the ice sculpture is fake. However, the ice sculpture scene might be the best scene in the entire movie, but you have to forgive the sculptor’s poor sculpture transport method. (Good thing it's fake; the sun would have made quick work of it if it wasn’t!) Maybe they should bring her back to life and kill her again with another ice sculpture somehow later in the movie. Couldn’t hurt; might help. By the way, when you watch the video below, your best bet is to go for the full screen because otherwise, the video is pretty small.

Over Her Dead Body domestic gross: $7.56 million
released 2008
positive Rotten Tomatoes ranking: 15%
who did the ice sculpture?: n/a, fake sculpture
why this sculpture made the list: Whodunit? The ice sculpture did it!

#8: We're the Millers

In We're the Millers, Ed Helms' drug kingpin character Brad Gurdlinger is apparently carving a man riding an orca ice sculpture. (Side note: various websites indicate that it could be a man doing something else entirely with an orca; the definitive answer might be found in the bonus sections of the DVD.) Oddly enough, sculpting this piece doesn't result in any ice or water on the floor. And, since the sculpture isn’t generating any scrap, I guess it's okay that Brad is carving barefoot. But I'm still not sure if it's a good idea to carve with a big scarf on, especially when you're using a die grinder. I’d like to nominate Brad as the poster child for everything not to do wear while carving ice. He does have some sweet tools though and the sculpture looks like a tough one.

We’re the Millers’ domestic gross: $150.39 million
released 2013
positive Rotten Tomatoes ranking: 47%
who did the ice sculpture?: so far unknown, but…
why this sculpture made the list: giant multi-block sculpture, hilariously unsafe carving technique, awesome and realistic tools

What we know about the ice so far:

Taken from some promotional material on the movie:

Every time Brad appears in the film, the filmmakers wanted him to be doing something unexpected, so in addition to the live orca and the Whaletone piano, one scene in the script called for Brad to be creating a whale-themed ice sculpture. Hartley located one of the best ice sculptors in the U.S., flew him in, and had the crew build a freezer on the stage to hold a 20-foot block of ice. The sculptor then carved up two blocks of ice and, on the day of the shoot, tutored Helms in how to work the ice with a chainsaw, just enough to give the impression that he was carving it himself.

source: http://wwws.warnerbros.co.uk/werethemillers/assets/pdf/WERETHEMILLERSPKandBiosFINAL.pdf

In the behind the scenes video below from 1:47 to 2:41, you can see the ice sculpture and even Ed Helms learning a little ice sculpting.

Ed Helms carves ice

There’s lots of awesome along with amazingly bad in the ice carving scenes. But it’s pretty clear that the amazingly bad is tongue-in-cheek. For example, barefoot AND wearing a scarf?!!! Check the pic below for a breakdown of all the good and the bad.

Ed Helms carving ice in We're the Millers movie

#7: Hot Tub Time Machine

Hot Tub Time Machine has a funny scene where Crispin Glover playing a bellboy/performance-ice-sculptor is carving a large bear ice sculpture and doing tricks with his gas chainsaw. You can see for yourself how it turns out, but it's part of an ongoing gag about how his character loses an arm in the movie. This movie didn't do all that well, but it wasn't the fault of the ice carving, which was pretty good.

Hot Tub Time Machine’s domestic gross: $50.29 million
released 2010
positive Rotten Tomatoes ranking: 63%
who did the ice sculptures?: so far unknown
why this ice made the list: Ice carving safety demo: Crispin Glover “carving” a sculpture and almost losing an arm.

Beware some bad language and gore! (but still funny)

#6: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

The fantastic Harry Potter series had an equally fantastic budget, so they went all out for the Yule Ball scene, which incorporates elaborate ice sculptures. Unfortunately, these magnificent creations are probably fake…or maybe they’re magic. Anyway, they're a bit too perfect; even the fractures in the ice are perfect. I don’t have any inside info on this “ice,” so if you know differently, please speak up!

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire domestic gross: $290.01 million
released 2005
positive Rotten Tomatoes ranking: 88%
who did the ice sculpture?: n/a, probably fake
why this ice made the list: lots of great looking ice sculptures (but probably fake…or magic?); they’re a major feature of a big scene in a big movie

Yule Ball ice sculptures

On to part 2 of the list! Know who carved one of the real sculptures? Comment!

additional notes

This entry contains quotes, videos, and photos from the works in question. I do not hold any copyright claim to these materials and they're used under the fair use doctrine of the U.S. Code, title 17, section 107, where use of limited portions of copyrighted works is allowed for the purposes of criticism and comment, as well as other purposes. In no way do the creators or copyright holders of these works endorse or associate themselves with this work.

related links

More about movies and ice sculptures.

alligator head ice carving-movie ice link    ice sculpture of Olaf the snowman from Frozen    gator head ice sculpture-ice onscreen link
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