The boredom Holy Grail right now is finding a reliable way to navigate the convoluted online world of streaming movies and TV shows. The entertainment’s there, we know it’s there, but it’s not always easy to find exactly what you’re looking for (or to find something you didn’t know you were looking for that perfectly fits the mood). It’s not difficult to understand the problem. There are a handful of companies out there with a handful of contracts that expire at a handful of times, and keeping track of all that is exhausting.
We all know about Instant Watcher – which does a better job of listing do our part with custom monthly lists to keep you occupied, but both are admittedly lo-fi answers to an ever-shifting problem.
Fortunately, I’ve found two relatively new sites that offer convenient, user-friendly, up-to-date ways to discover streaming movies online. As a bonus, they complement each other because one focuses on the biggest hits and the other focuses on critical favorites.
The first is A Good Movie To Watch, which is curated by a staff that’s obviously keyed into where the best of indie cinema lands online. The hook here is that they only cover the movies they want to, but their taste isn’t obscure or outrageous. It’s hip and smart without being snobbish. Current staff picks include Short Term 12, Senna, Four Lions, The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Inside Job, so you’re in relatively safe yet prestigious hands.
You can hunt by specific titles and genres, or you can go random. You can also tell it what you’re in the mood for, and the site will create a list of potentials.
Clicking the site’s Random button three times gave me: Warm Bodies, Winter’s Bone and Waking Life.
Clicking the “action-packed” Mood button gave me: Warrior, Snowpiercer and Zodiac.
Switching over to a “beautiful” Mood gave me: Linklater’s Before Trilogy, Enough Said and Her.
All the movie pages feature links for trailers, IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes and Wikipedia, and the site will let you know if the movie is available on Amazon or Netflix. The downside is that the site is focused on the curation, sometimes regardless of whether the movie is on Netflix or not, so you could end up finding something that sounds excellent only to discover that it’s not online, but AGMTW also has a section dedicated to what’s on Netflix Instant that focuses on movies like Mud, Ip Man, Tucker and Dale vs Evil. You get the picture.
It’s not as high gloss as some other fully responsive sites are, but it definitely gets the job done. It’s also still a scrappy insurgency, and hopefully they’ll add links to iTunes and other streaming portals soon, but since they’re particular about what movies they feature, they have their bases decently covered for now.
On the more populist side of things, Flixfindr is an incredible maze of movies indexed not only by Netflix and iTunes, but also Hulu Plus, HBO Go, Showtime Anytime, Crackle, Amazon and Xfinity. The goal of the site seems to be helping everyone who is paying for streaming access to get the most out of those subscriptions. You tell it what you have access to, and it will populate a line-up of movies (as you can see in the article’s header image).
You can also toggle between genres, date ranges (1920-present), MPAA ratings and Tomatometer scores. There’s also a search bar that auto-populates as you type and works cleanly.
As opposed to A Good Movie To Watch’s mantra of quality, Flixfindr has everything. Plug in the right vectors, and you can find Super Babies: Baby Geniuses 2 next to Ballistic: Ecks vs Sever. It’s an algorithm that will gleefully comb the streaming world no matter what horrible search criteria you feed it. On the other hand, you can also find Rear Window, My Left Foot and 12 Angry Men if you crank up the Tomatometer reading.
All in all, it felt like I could find indie, prestige and festival favorites easier on A Good Movie to Watch and feel-good, popular, block-busting films on Flixfindr. It’s a solid combination, and with Projection List already bookmarked, we’re all essentially unstoppable when it comes to boredom now.