When you are bed-ridden or couch-ridden with a cold that is just bad enough to make you feel miserable without being bad enough to render you unconscious, the best thing you can do is snuggle up with a movie. The movie should be one that makes you feel happy and comfortable. No dizzying adrenaline rushes and no scary scenes that will make your heart beat too fast & make it hard for you to doze off later, and nothing that makes you cry too much, because you don't need your head to feel any worse than it already does. Here are some of my favourites (WARNING - spoilers abound!) :-
When Harry Met Sally
There is no part of this film that isn't perfect. One of those rare rom-coms that actually fulfils the com part as well as the rom, it has one of the two greatest scenes in fiction featuring Pictionary (the other is in the episode of The Simpsons where the Van Houtens break up). Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal both play wonderfully real characters who are so busy pretending that they are over their past failed relationships that they don't realise they have fallen in love. There's also a fantastic beta couple in Jess and Marie, played by the late Bruno Kirby and Carrie Fisher. And there's Casablanca. Perfection.
Sense & Sensibility
This is a beautiful film with a great cast - Kate Winslet, Emma Thompson, Greg Wise, Hugh Grant and the divine Alan Rickman. It captures Austen's dry ironical wit perfectly and has not one but TWO happy endings for our heroines. It gets bonus points for a dramatic sequence when Marianne nearly dies of a cold, so you can immediately feel thankful that you live in an age of aspirin and paracetamol and stop feeling so damn sorry for yourself.
The Princess Bride
Funny enough to keep you smiling without making you double over with a painful hacking cough and romantic enough to make you feel warm inside without making you swoon, The Princess Bride is a delight and the second Rob Reiner movie on my list.
Harry and Sally's favourite movie, Casablanca is constantly named as one of the greatest films ever made, but unlike some great movies, it's actually enjoyable! It is full of quotable lines, brilliant characters and memorable scenes and in Claude Rains' Captain Renault and Humphrey Bogart's Rick Blaine it has one of the all-time greatest bromances in film history. Rick's final sacrifice is more noble than simply laying down his life to save someone - he has to live on without the love of his life, with only the knowledge that she truly does love him back to sustain him. Truly heroic.
It's A Wonderful Life
It's not just for Christmas. There is a danger that this film will make you blub like a child who has just discovered (spoiler!) Santa isn't real, but it's offset by the fact that this film is the very definition of heartwarming. James Stewart discovering that the love of his family and friends make life truly worth living is simply lovely but for me, watching George becoming a man, a husband and a father is equally rewarding.
You've Got Mail
Although I didn't really like this film that much on first viewing, it's grown on me. It's pure comfort viewing. The loneliness and wistfulness of Kathleen Kelly, as played by Meg Ryan, makes a real impression on me - while she is surrounded by loving friends and a boyfriend who seems perfect on paper, she longs for a connection that is more than that. And she finds it online, with a man she doesn't realise is the man whose megastore book emporium is about to put her cute little children's bookstore out of business. I love the references to books (my old favourite Noel Streatfeild and, obviously, Pride & Prejudice) and the Godfather movie references and some of the writing is beautiful: "I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils" is a standout for me. You also get to see just how pretty Meg Ryan is with a headcold and feel a little aggrieved that the future love of your life doesn't bring you daisies and make you tea when you're in bed sick.
Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
Classic rainy Sunday afternoon movies generally make for perfect viewing when you're sick and this is a great example. There can't be anyone on the planet with access to a tv who hasn't seen it yet. It's a wonderful combination of old-fashioned adventure and romance with a strong heroine and one of the most swoonworthy heroes of the silver-screen in Harrison Ford, so make sure you're well propped up with pillows in case you should come over a little faint, given your already weakened condition.
The Quiet Man
A classic western which just happens to take place in the west of Ireland, rather than somewhere in the Old West, this is pure old-fashioned entertainment. Most of the actors in The Quiet Man manage to give the impression of being both the embodiment of Irish clichés and a mockery of those same stereotypes. John Wayne is the strong, silent hero, struggling with a guilty secret and Maureen O'Hara is the feisty, passionate heroine who doesn't understand the man she's fallen for. But in the end, with help from pretty much the entire village, a lot of booze and a donnybrook to end all donnybrooks, everybody lives happily ever after. The other heart-lifting aspect of the film is just how incredibly beautiful the countryside around Cong is - obviously technicolour adds a certain glow but I can promise you that it is still as lovely today!
This is a film to watch if you have one of those colds that make you feel a bit floopy and out of it - or maybe you've just taken medicine that makes you feel that way. Either way, Labyrinth should make you feel normal. It's an absolute mindbender in some parts. It's also a great adventure, with shades of Alice in Wonderland or Milo and the Phantom Tollbooth. Jareth the Goblin King manages to be simultaneously creepy and romantic and sexy - this is explicable almost entirely by the fact that he is played by David Bowie.
This might be a little too exciting and funny to put on the list, so save it for when you're on the mend. The second in the Wright-Pegg-Frost Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy, it's an action-comedy which achieves the distinction of being equally good at both parts of that equation. Simon Pegg plays a city super-cop sent to a small Midsomer-like town, where he and useless local constable Nick Frost uncover a massive conspiracy. It's full of great actors in terrific character parts (Timothy! Dalton!), has loads of disturbingly graphic violence and some truly hilarious scenes. It will definitely cheer you up.
Henry and Sunny
Finally, if you have one of those awful colds where you can't stay awake for more than 15 minutes at a time, here's my solution: adorable short film Henry and Sunny which you can watch online. Set in a world not unlike our own, where the recession is (naturally) being blamed on those damn clowns, it is the story of Henry, a lonely clown who falls for a soap-opera star. It was nominated for a few awards at the Feelgood Film Festival and will make you smile and feel warm inside before you slide back into unconsciousness.