We are entering the throes of peak flu season, and any one of us could be next. With something definitely going around, you don't want to be the fool who wakes up unprepared. Stock up on your Tylenol, tissues, herbal teas, and soup ahead of time, just to be safe — and get that sick day movie queue in order. Here's a little help with what to watch if you find yourself under the weather.
You have a cold (the pre-cold medicine option).
Put on: Kedi
First of all, thank you for staying home! The bad news is, you're going to need to ride this one out. Thank goodness, then, that nothing could possibly be more snuggly on a sick day than Kedi, a big-hearted documentary about the cats of Istanbul and the people they bring together. If you're still feeling well enough to read a few subtitles, this is only 79 minutes long and worth putting off a dose of NyQuil in order to sniffle your way through. Think of it as the feline version of Netflix's hit show Dogs (another great sick-day watch). Stream it via Amazon for $3.99 or with Kanopy for free.
You have a cold (the post-cold medicine option).
Put on: Microcosmos
There's nothing like a little cold medicine to take you out of reality and into that sick-day haze. At such a time, you'll want to pop on a soothing nature documentary. If you've already exhausted Planet Earth and Blue Planet, though, you're going to find yourself searching for a new feature. (A warning: Dynasties, my new nature doc obsession, is definitely too much of a roller coaster for a sick day). Might I recommend instead a delightful children's film called Microcosmos, which uses powerful camera lenses to "shrink" audiences down to the size of a bug. You'll explore a world of gigantic beetles, cannon-ball-like raindrops, and towering leaves of grass. The best part? The haunting score by Bruno Coulais. You'll be so rapt, you'll almost miss your second dose. Stream it via YouTube for $2.99.
You have a tension headache.
Put on: Pacific Rim — with the sound off.
Take it from someone who's watched the entirety of Pacific Rim on mute — you don't really need the sound. Guillermo del Toro's Kaiju-bashing robot movie is so rote that you can follow the gist of the plot without any dialogue or music, making it the perfect film to put on if you're nursing a monster of a headache. Even better, this film is genuinely lovely and engaging to watch, and it's dark enough that if you're experiencing slight sensitivities to light, you should still make it through okay. Stream it via YouTube for $3.99.
You have a migraine.
Put on: Ex Libris
Famed documentarian Frederick Wiseman turns his camera on the New York Public Library system in this more than three-hour long film. Dipping in and out of lectures, soft musical performances, meetings, and classes, Ex Libris explores the many ways the library stays relevant in the modern world. There is no strict storyline or narrative voice-over in this film, so you can fade in and out as much as you need to without losing anything. Plus, given the very nature of the subject, everyone speaks in blessedly hushed, unexcited voices. You might not even need to look at the TV if the light and movement bother you. Need something even more mild? As a plan B, turn on Pluto's free Slow TV channel, which offers calming, unoffensive programs like unedited train cab rides and palm trees swaying on beaches. Stream it via Prime for free or with Kanopy for free.
You have the stomach flu.
Put on: The Land Before Time collection
The last thing you want to do when you have the flu is be introduced to something new or even remotely difficult to follow. This might be the opportune time to be informed that almost the entirety of the Land Before Time series is available to stream with an HBO subscription. The dinosaur adventure stories about Littlefoot, Cera, Spike, Ducky, and Petrie might be embarrassing to revisit during the healthy hours of your life, but no one gets to judge you when you have the literal influenza. Stream the first 10 on HBO Go.
You can't stop coughing.
Put on: Matilda
A lingering cough is one of the worst winter ailments, if only because the random fits interrupt whatever you're watching so you have to keep pausing and rewinding to see what you missed. In times like these, you have to resort to something familiar, which is why the Roald Dahl adaptation Matilda comes immediately to mind. Whether you know the 1988 book or the 1996 movie, or if you only read the Wikipedia summary before turning it on, you basically have the idea — a young psychic bookworm is kept out of school by her mean parents, only to be subjected to the evil Agatha Trunchbull when she is finally sent to Crunchem Hall. Feel a cough coming on? Just turn up Rusted Root, and you'll be on your way. Stream it with your Starz subscription for free or on Amazon for $2.99
You have strep throat.
Put on: Some Like It Hot
This classic 1959 comedy stars Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, and Marilyn Monroe, and is exactly the sort of film you'll want to put on during your strep throat rom-com marathon after you've exhausted everything worthwhile on Netflix (everyone knows that rom-coms are the only cure for strep). The movie follows two musicians who are forced to disguise themselves as women after witnessing the mob kill an informant. While in hiding, the men find themselves as part of Sugar Kane's (Monroe) all-women band. Both men try to seduce Sugar, while also having to stay in hiding as women. The whole thing is a mess of good fun, and will keep your mind off your sore throat whether it's your first time seeing it, or your hundredth. Stream it via Prime for free.
You have a low fever.
Put on: Time Bandits
Watching Terry Gilliam films while perfectly healthy might make you feel a bit like you have a fever, and that experience is only enhanced by a literal virus. Don't worry too much about what's going on in the movie — it wouldn't make any more sense if your temperature was 98.6 degrees — and let yourself be washed away by the bizarre story of 11-year-old Kevin's journey through all of human history with treasure-hunting time-traveling dwarfs (look out for Sean Connery, Shelley Duvall, and John Cleese on the way). Stream it via YouTube for $2.99.
You have a high fever.
Put on: The Adventures of Milo & Otis
There is only one thing to do when you are this sick: Revert entirely to an infant state and wallow in your misery. And there is nothing more comforting than swaddling yourself up in the world of a delightful children's movie when doing so. One of the greatest films ever made, Milo & Otis is the story of an extremely cute kitten and pug puppy who go on adventures through the wilds of Japan before they return to their farmhouse home. There's drama and danger along the way, but I can assure you that Milo and Otis make it out okay and you can completely relax watching it. You can also doze in and out of this one without fear of missing anything all too important — and in your waking watching moments, you'll be guaranteed lots of darling baby animals. Trust me, you'll be feeling better in no time. Stream it via Amazon for $3.99.