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How to Choose Which Movie to Watch


Most people settle on a formula for picking which movies to watch. Before the Internet, this may have involved wandering around the video rental store until a movie poster or cover grabs your attention. Whether you missed the movie when it was at the cineplex, read a movie review, saw some publicity, recognised some name stars, got a recommendation from a friend, overheard a conversation or took a moment to read the blurb at the back of the VHS or DVD cover... there were ways and means.

Nowadays, at a time when there have never been more options to choose from with streaming services and digital access via almost any screen, we appear to be more stumped than ever when it comes to picking something suitable for movie night. The Internet has opened the floodgates when it comes to information and accessibility but having an abundance of choice can be overwhelming. Sometimes the unlimited titles and sea of opinions can complicate matters, making it difficult to know who or what to trust when it comes to film selection.

How to Choose Which Movie to Watch

Being a film critic, Spling watches and reviews a minimum of three movies per week in order to keep his Talking Movies broadcast and the SPL!NG website fresh. It's impossible to keep up with everything that's new, especially now that most streaming services are essentially becoming their own production houses, contributing to the swirling mix of releases throughout the film year. While straight-to-video and TV movies meant something definite at one stage, the mass distribution power of these film releases makes it seem like an understatement to group them in this category. The disruptor has changed the game with these "inhouse" films cracking Oscar nominations and rewriting the rules. Entertainment is booming with a high demand from audiences wanting quality movies but browsing through a selection of readily available options just isn't enough of a remedy to knowing what's worth your time.

Everyone's got a method or a way of deciding what to watch next. The on-demand and streaming revolution has spoiled us for choice, giving audiences a smorgasbord of variety at a fixed fee, making it inconsequential whether you watch 1 or 100 minutes. Renting a few titles from the video store forced more commitment, getting a few promising titles to serve as a plan B to poor choices. The new mentality is that you can just keep cycling through options until one sticks. The suck-and-see approach of watching the first 5 minutes of a movie means that the impetus has to be about the hook, coercing more immediate gratification from the get-go.

Film Apps

JustWatch

To meet these needs, platforms like JustWatch have risen up to meet the need. If you have a smart TV or media box, you can try JustWatch, which connects all your streaming platforms under one roof and makes it easier to navigate to find stuff to watch. The platforms comprehensive approach subverts curated home pages and algorithms to offer a more open-handed list of movies from every one of your subscriptions - so that you don't have to go fishing.

Streaming Platforms

Some streaming platforms like Netflix purposefully show you smaller selections and offer recommendations, key adjectives and percentages to suggest how likely the movie will hit the spot. While these hints may be useful, try to use the search facility with more targeted keywords to find gold. You can try searching using a favourite actor or director's name to find similar titles or you can try to access more suitable or "hidden" movie titles by narrowing your search. Try localising the search to your country or searching for subgenres.

Film Ratings

IMDb

For many film lovers, there's IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes. The Independent Movie Database (IMDb) encompasses a massive database of film listings, which include the most pertinent information from average film ratings to cast and crew and parental advisory. While this platform is open to everyone, the ratings do reflect biases and leanings. However, as slanted as its ratings may be, IMDb serves as a reasonable yardstick when it comes to figuring out the overall merit of a specific film. You can also rely on IMDb's Top Picks, which follow halfway down each film's listing. This category shows you films that are deemed to be similar and can help you find a movie based on a title you've already enjoyed.

Rotten Tomatoes

Similarly, Rotten Tomatoes is a handy guide to checking if the movie you're about to watch has fared with film critics. The audience rating serves as a handy comparison. Just remember the Tomatometer percentage relates to the number of critics who rated the film fresh as opposed to being an actual score out of 100. Getting a more critical perspective and estimation does help give you an idea of where the movie lands. Even contrasting this with the audience rating will inform you as to just how the movie ranks in terms of appreciation from a critical and commercial point-of-view.

Recommendations

Movie Critics

There's a clear disparity between audience scores and film critics, which has probably only been exacerbated in recent years due to the ease of getting aggregates through widespread film voting platforms. This is a natural inclination with professional film critics offering a more analytical take based on their experiential knowledge and learning.

Now that the Internet has made it possible for "everyone to be a movie critic", there have never been more opinions available to filmgoers. So, the trick is to find a movie pundit who you trust. This isn't a foolproof formula but if you find resonance with a film reviewer's estimations, there's a strong chance you'll be able to watch more great movies by taking their advice or figuring out how your ratings contrast. For instance, if you find value in their opinion, you may discover that their 2-star rating is a 3-star rating for you or their 6/10 is a 7/10.

Word-of-mouth

Now that social media has connected us to every contact in sphere of influence, you have a great deal of power when it comes to quick surveys. If you're wondering what's worth watching... why not through out a question to your friends or following for their suggestions. While it may derive some off-key choices, getting a word-of-mouth recommendation can save you a great deal of time trawling through the drek. If you have a friend who has a similar taste in series and movies, you should compare notes.

Browse Your Hood

Thrift Stores

If you miss having a place to walkthrough and look at covers to make your selection for movie night, why not visit a local charity or thrift store. Now that digital has become so mainstream, many people have moved on from their DVD collections, which means there's a great deal of movies floating about at bargain basement prices. So try your local thrift store for cheap movies that you can buy and return for them to sell again for charity.

Library

We often think of books when we drive past our local library. However, you may be surprised to learn that some actually have a film section you can browse too. If you haven't read a book in years, this could be the very tonic to get you to renew that library card. They may not have the title you were looking for because it's already been loaned out but the plus side is that you'll be able to keep that movie for a few days if not a week before having to return it and it's typically free.

Facebook Marketplace

If you're looking for a random bundle of movies to watch, why not try Facebook Marketplace. Old school optical media may seem like it's a goner but there's still a thriving market of movie enthusiasts who still swear by this as their viewing standard. You may discover some titles you have no other way of accessing and paying next to nothing for big job lots could keep you entertained for months if not years. What's more you'll be able to keep some for Round 2, resell on marketplace or donate the lot to a local charity of your choice. Everyone wins.