Ever found yourself endlessly scrolling through long lists of films on your favourite streaming service, wondering what on Earth to watch? I even remember a few times when I took so long to find something that I ended up calling it a night and going to bed.
Life’s too short to watch bad movies
I don’t know about anyone else, but personally I choose the films with great care. Having studied Film as part of my University degree, I reached a point where cheesy action flicks, mediocre dramas and tasteless comedies feel like a complete waste of time, not to mention the high degree of annoyance caused by terrible plots or bad acting. Additionally, I know for a fact that among the huge amount of films that have been produced so far, there are still tons of really good ones that I have yet to see. Thus, I very much prefer watching something good (regardless of genre and regardless of its popularity with the masses) over something bad (regardless of its box office earnings).
Why filters on streaming services are not enough
Sure, you could say: “But why does that have anything to do with streaming websites?”. Well, it’s precisely the fact that they don’t make my selection process any easier. Since I’m mostly familiar with Netflix over everything else, I’m going to discuss its case. If you want to do a search on Netflix, you can filter by genre, by subgenre and… oh, that’s it. Once you select that, you can sort the results by a number of things, none of them very useful in my opinion. To take a few examples, we have: maturity rating, A-Z, Z-A, year released, suggestions for you and highest rated. I know that Netflix’s data analysis is extremely in-depth and they’re doing a lot to make people happy and keep them watching, but that just doesn’t seem enough. Personally, I rely more on Rotten Tomatoes percentages or even IMDB star ratings that on Netflix’s own ratings or their recommendations for that matter. I would really appreciate it if that was somehow integrated, but no can do. Fortunately, there are a couple of solutions for that.
The best tool for choosing what to watch – Leanflix
By far, the best service I’ve seen so far is Leanflix and here’s why. First of all, it’s all free! Second of all, its USP is the film inventory it corroborates from five major streaming services (Netflix, HBO GO, iTunes, Amazon and Amazon Prime) while integrating ratings from Rotten Tomatoes (both critics and audience), IMDB, Metacritic, as well as its own Leanflix score.
Once you get on the site, you can get to the search straight away. All streaming services are selected at first, so you need to deselect the ones you’re not interested in and you can alter the filters on the left in order to better refine your results. You have quite a few useful options there, like year of release, RT critics, RT audience, IMDB or genre. In addition, similar to Netflix’s Sort By, you can sort your results A-Z, Z-A, date added, box office total or Leanflix score. Last but not least, they also allow you to mark the films you’ve already watched and add films to your own watch list. Now, before you get too excited and head over to find your next movie night contender, do bear in mind that the website is still in beta. However, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. They have a chat going on and you can report bugs and suggest features with a great chance of getting them implemented. The guys behind it are on there and usually reply to people, so your words will be heard. From what I’ve read so far, they are working on adding a sort option by other ratings too (RT for example), they will add TV series in the near future, as well as films from even more streaming services or VOD (like Google Play Movies), they might even import IMDB watch lists and they are also developing an app to make our lives even easier. So wait no more and head to Leanflix, find something to watch and help those guys improve their awesome website and soon-to-be app.
You might be a Netflix power user with no interest whatsoever in any other services. In that case, I guess the best way to see IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes scores is to add them directly to the titles on the Netflix website itself. There is an add-on called Netflix Enhancer which does exactly that. However, there seem to be two versions of this tool, the aforementioned one, which is free, as well as a paid option that can be yours for €1.49/year. As far as I can see, the difference between the two is first of all that the free version is no longer updated and also the amount of customization that the paid version offers (there are a few more features for optimizing the UX, like removing seen films from searches or greying them out). Nevertheless, the free Enhancer seems to work just fine for now.
Use Rotten Tomatoes to choose your film
If you’re one to care about Rotten Tomatoes ratings alone, you could just head down to the very website itself. In the same manner as Leanflix, they provide you with a number of streaming services to choose from (Flixster, iTunes, Vudu, Amazon, Amazon Prime, Netflix, and HBO GO), you can toggle the Tomatometer (critics’ scores only), select your genre and then sort by either release date or Tomatometer. The search method using Rotten Tomatoes is not bad, but you can only rely on critics’ reviews to guide you, unlike Leanflix.
Good luck finding the best thing to watch right now and do enjoy!