With more aggressive measures being put into place to battle a new outbreak of coronavirus cases in Singapore, including mandatory work-from-home and suspension of dining-in services, we could all use a source of reassurance. Luckily, there are few cures for the “semi-lockdown” blues more effective than a 100-minute dose of pure joy on celluloid. From the inspiring can-do spirit of movies like Pride and Eddie the Eagle to the gorgeous visuals and storytelling of Spirited Away and Bangalore Days, curling up on the couch and tucking into a heartwarming movie might be just what the doctor ordered this month.
Whether you’re watching these flicks for the first time or the umpteenth, they will always spread across you like a soft weighted blanket. Their jokes are sharp but goodnatured; their characters ultimately good; their endings reassuringly happy. This means Wes Anderson and Nancy Meyers movies—those are generally considered the Platonic ideal of a comfort movie. For our list, we wanted to recommend a mix of the films that are invariably included on lists like these, and those that might be slightly more unfamiliar to you. Never be afraid to try something new, though—it might just be your new favourite thing to return to, time and time again.
1 / 12
The Princess Bride
It’s a tale as old as time: boy meets girl. Girl loses boy. Girl becomes engaged to an evil prince, and boy (formerly thought dead) becomes pirate. Heroics, immortal one-liners, and genuine enchantment ensues. A fairy tale consistently ranked one of the funniest films ever made, The Princess Bride has shaped countless childhoods and has a sky-high “rewatchability” factor. Princess Buttercup (Robin Wright) and the dashing Westley (Cary Elwes) must overcome staggering odds—six-fingered swordsmen, crafty Sicilians, and rodents of unusual size to find their happily ever after. Have fun storming the castle.
2 / 12
The Devil Wears Prada
You know why this one’s on the list. If you haven’t already met Andy Sachs and Miranda Priestley, now’s the perfect time to do so. When Andy (Anne Hathaway) gets a job as a high-powered fashion editor’s second assistant, she’s quickly given a reality check by the demands of the job—and her boss, the demanding, tyrannical Miranda (Meryl Streep, of course). Andy has to decide: how far will she go to succeed? And if “success” means becoming more and more like Miranda, what then? There are precious few moments in cinema more satisfying than Miranda’s monologue on the importance of cerulean, or Andy striding into the office wearing those Gucci boots. That’s all.
Watch The Devil Wears Prada on Disney+ now.
3 / 12
Rani, a rather meek 24-year-old girl, decides to go on her honeymoon alone when her fiancé calls of the wedding. Hotfooting it around Europe solo, she finds joy, makes friends, and gains new-found independence. Watch Rani dance, compete in a cook-off with her gol gappas, and traipse around Amsterdam with a trio of men from Japan, France, and Russia. A fun and feelgood free-for-all with an award-winning lead performance from Kangana Ranaut (who improvised much of her dialogue during filming) Queen was a surprise hit that went on to be considered a groundbreaking feminist addition to Indian cinema. A lighthearted Alice-in-Wonderland-style tale about a girl growing up, it’s not one to miss.
Watch Queen on Netflix now.
4 / 12
South inner-city Dublin, 1985. Conor Lawlor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) has just started at a new school and he doesn’t fit in. Outside the gates, though, he meets a beautiful aspiring model, Raphina (Lucy Boynton). She’s totally unimpressed with him. To win her over, he starts a band—despite knowing nothing about music. Full of young actors who were virtual unknowns, Sing Street is carried along by an infectious strain of jubilation that delights in finding light in even the darkest of places. It helps that the original songs created by the band are a heady mix of bops, bangers, and jams. The movie also includes seminal ’80s music from the likes of The Cure, a-ha, Duran Duran, and The Clash, as well as an original track composed and performed by Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine. Our advice? It’s as Levine sings in the last scene: “Go now.”
Watch Sing Street on Amazon Prime now.
5 / 12
Hunt for the Wilderpeople
When Hunt for the Wilderpeople premiered in Singapore in November, 2018, every screening at The Projector was completely sold out. (In some cases, it was oversold, and the poor staff had to drag extra couches into the Green Room.) Directed by Taika Waititi (he of Thor: Ragnarok and Jojo Rabbit fame), Hunt for the Wilderpeople follows Ricky (Julian Dennison), a defiant young city kid who finds himself on the run from the law with his cantankerous foster uncle (Sam Neill) in the wild New Zealand bush. Something like a crossover between Disney’s Up and Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom, the Waititi film made a star of the hysterical Dennison, and reminded us all why we need to continue singing the praises of total national treasure Neill.
Watch Hunt for the Wilderpeople on Netflix now.
6 / 12
Crazy Rich Asians
It hardly needs an introduction. You know it; you love it; it makes your insides feel all warm and gooey when Rachel and Nick lock eyes at the wedding. From pitch-perfect casting, with Awkwafina as Goh Peik Lin and the flabbergastingly good Michelle Yeoh as Eleanor Sung-Young, to potentially the greatest game of mahjong ever captured on film, Crazy Rich Asians is an extravagant, silly shot of adrenaline straight to the heartstrings. Despite recycled tropes and an uncritical look at extreme wealth that ultimately glamourises rather than critiques it, Crazy Rich Asians also proved an incredibly important step forward in mainstream Asian representation in Western media.
Watch Crazy Rich Asians on Netflix now.
7 / 12
The Young Girls of Rochefort
A movie with Gene Kelly about singing and dancing in the street? And it’s not Singing in the Rain? In The Young Girls of Rochefort (or, Les demoiselles de Rochefort), Delphine and Solange are two sisters looking for love. A delightfully colour-coordinated rom-com musical that just so happens to have an equally delightful subplot about an axe murderer, The Young Girls of Rochefort is a wild dream realised onscreen. Chance encounters, missed connections, and hitched rides are familiar themes rendered new with its pure joyous love for poetry and dancing. It’s utterly over the top, with Michel Legrand’s bombastic jazz seemingly infused right into the cinematography—a celebration captured on camera.
8 / 12
Welcome to Dongmakgol
Set during the Korean War, Welcome to Dongmakgol is based on the long-running stage play penned by lionised South Korean filmmaker and personality Jang Jin. Soldiers from both the North and the South, as well as a crash-landed American pilot, find themselves in a secluded mountain village. Its denizens are naively idealistic, and totally unaware of the outside world, including the war or Korea’s split. From there, it rapidly turns into an anti-war comedy, packed to bursting with stars like Shin Ha-kyun (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance) and Gang Gye-jeong (Oldboy). But it’s also a genuinely sweet movie about discovering the humanity in other people. Ideology becomes obsolete, and guns are lowered. Watch for the Miyazaki influence in this one.
Watch Welcome to Dongmakgol on Apple TV now.
9 / 12
Don’t judge a book by its hair colour. Wearing tacky colours with a perennially self-aware smirk, Reese Witherspoon—sorry, Elle Woods—has it all. She’s the president of her sorority, a Hawaiian Tropic girl, Miss June in her campus calendar, and, above it all, dating the cutest fraternity boy on campus. But when Warner Huntington III dumps her for not being “serious enough,” she sets out to prove him wrong. Cue following him to Harvard (“What, like it’s hard?”) and discovering the brilliant lawyer within herself. It sticks the landing on everything from female friendships to the cardinal rules of perm maintenance. Despite some stereotypes that have aged poorly and an undeserved reputation as a movie you can put on in the background, Legally Blonde remains a cinematic masterpiece for the ages.
Watch Legally Blonde on Amazon Prime now.
10 / 12
Last month, this movie toppled Citizen Kane as the greatest movie of all time. No, really. After a newly-discovered critical pan was unearthed in a Rotten Tomatoes archival dig, Orson Welles’ classic slipped out of the top spot, ceding its place to Paul King’s Paddington 2. It has a disarmingly simple premise: Paddington, now happily settled with the Browns, picks up a series of odd jobs to buy the perfect present for his Aunt Lucy, before it gets stolen. This quickly gives way to a star-studded cast (Ben Whishaw! Hugh Grant! Brendan Gleeson! Imelda Staunton! Sally Hawkins!) and an imaginative, open-hearted response to the dark political climate of 2017. It’s not just for kids, either; adults will find themselves daubing their eyes as the screen fades to black. (You’ll want to stick around afterwards, though, for a truly show-stopping final number from Grant.)
Watch Paddington 2 on Apple TV now.
11 / 12
Bend It Like Beckham
Sometimes, to follow your dreams, you’ve got to bend the rule. Bend It Like Beckham features the criminally underrated Parminder Nagra as Jess Bhamra, the daughter of a strict Indian family who just wants to play football. When Jess is playing for fun one day, out of the sight of her conservative parents, she’s spotted by star player Jules Paxton (a fledgling Kiera Knightley), who convinces Jess to play for her semi-pro team. Jess juggles the team’s matches, hiding the sport from her family, and her burgeoning feelings for her coach, and the result is a truly touching exploration of what it means to be true to your own heart. A surprise critical and commercial smash, it was also the first Western film to ever be shown in North Korea. If that isn’t enough to convince you, many English female footballers have said that this flick directly inspired them to pursue their own dreams.
Watch Bend It Like Beckham on Disney+ now.
12 / 12
Set It Up
Sometimes finding love takes some “assistants.” Harper (Zoey Deutch) is the overworked and underpaid assistant to superstar sports reporter Kirsten Stevens (Lucy Liu). She’s about to hit her breaking point when she meets the equally exploited and stressed Charlie Young (Glenn Powell), assistant to the high-strung venture capitalist Rick Otis (Taye Diggs). Together, they hatch a plot to meet-cute their bosses into dating one another, freeing up their own schedules to actually live their lives. A sweet movie with some incredible supporting players (Pete Davidson and Tituss Burgess!), Set It Up is a surprisingly refreshing rom-com, with a distinctive look and feel that sets it apart from the yearly avalanche of chick flicks that deluges audiences. Sharp dialogue and a few surprises up its sleeve keeps this one at the top of movie night lists everywhere; make it your next watch.
Watch Set It Up on Netflix now.