This post is due to a situation I experienced the other day. A friend was asking on Facebook for a recommendation for a “good movie on Netflix streaming”, and immediately I began thinking of a handful of websites that they should be using. Soon, I realized they probably didn’t know about them. Within a minute or two, I replied with a personal recommendation for Winter’s Bone. Not only did it have a 94% score on Rotten Tomatoes, but it was about to expire so I said they should take advantage of it while they could. How was I able know this helpful information so quickly?
The answer is Instant Watcher, a site that makes perusing Netflix’s streaming library an experience that can actually result in positive emotions. It’s arguably the most popular site of it’s kind, but it’s just one of many out there that anyone who watches movies via streaming — or integrates the social web into their movie watching experience — should be aware of. I have listed some additional ones below along with some brief notes on how they can be helpful to you.
Summary: Provides movie fans with tons of recommendations and information about their favorite films, genres, actors and filmmakers.
Notes: Features movies on Netflix, Best Buy CinemaNow, Blockbuster, and iTunes; curated lists and recommendations as well as those based on personal ratings or selections; individual movie pages have a wealth of info; also a “movie news” and information site.
Can I Stream.It
Summary: Allows you to search across the most popular streaming, rental, and purchase services to find where a movie is available.
Notes: Works for movies or TV; can set reminders when content is not available to be notified when it is; provider categories are Instant Streaming, Streaming Rental, Digital Purchase, DVD / Bluray, and XFINITY subs; iTunes, Android, and mobile site available.
Summary: We hated Shrek 2 and were shocked that nobody agreed with us. Criticker aims to match you with the people who share your taste in film most exactly.
Notes: Open platform; active community with forums; $5 a month removes ads and gets additional perks; generates a “Taste Compatibility Index” for each user so you can compare and follow those with a similar index; can import IMDb ratings; Android app available.
Summary: Puts all of your favorite entertainment apps in one place so you can stop searching for your favorite movies and shows, and start watching them.
Notes: Currently only an iTunes app, webUI coming soon (can request invite for webUI beta); features access to HBO, Netflix, Hulu Plus, iTunes, Amazon Prime, PBS, and more; sends you notifications when new content you’re interested in is available; easy to maintain watchlist; iTunes app available.
Summary: Rate movies / Make lists / Find recommended movies / Find out who are your movie soulmates worldwide.
Notes: One of the oldest sites for this purpose; layout & design leave much to be desired; individual pages for films have a wealth of info; large Spanish userbase; mobile site and Android app available.
Summary: A social movie recommendation engine. The inspiration came from something the movie lovers love to do: marathons.
Notes: Choose at least 3 films with a common theme and more will be recommended to you; create movie marathon lists or a regular watchlist; collaborate with friends or other “runners” and follow their lists and recommendations; ranks both users and movies.
Summary: Helps you rediscover your favorite films by ranking them – leading you to better recommendations for the best movies you haven’t seen.
Notes: Pairs two movies against each other and lets you choose your favorite; keyboard shortcuts allow for quickly rating through the face-offs; really emphasizes the community aspect with discussions and sharing; tons of charts and lists; mobile site available.
Summary: The easy way to find amazing entertainment. Entertainment recommendations based on your individual taste.
Notes: Can sign up with Facebook, Twitter, or plain email; intelligently learns your taste and from others with similar tastes to continually improve suggestions; not limited to just movies; easy to maintain watchlist for you or a group; can save filters or searches; very easy ratings interface; iTunes app available.
Summary: A deeply personalized, social and connected experience around television, movies and sports.
Notes: Create a personalized feed based on friends and favorite movies, TV shows, and sports; recommendations based on your preferences; can “check-in” to a show or movie and share what you’re watching in real-time, like a Foursquare for your watching activity; mobile site, iTunes and Android app available.
Summary: Rate, review, and share the films you love and the films you love to hate and we’ll make sure you’ve always got something to keep you glued to the screen.
Notes: Can create an account using Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, or just plain email; interactive graph of rated films is fun and simple to use; shows ratings of both “critical quality” and “rewatchability” so you can find the best B-movies and the great films that are only good for that one special viewing; mobile site available.
Summary: iCheckMovies helps you keep a personal list of movies you have seen and liked.
Notes: Probably the most straight-forward option for simply cataloging your ratings/views; paid account options allow you to export your list, improved search capabilities, and no ads; can import ratings from your IMDb profile; compares what you’ve watched against popular lists like AFI Top 100 or IMDb Top 250; mobile app in development.
Inveni aka LUMA
Summary: A better way to decide what to watch – coming soon. We “Cracked the Code” on the evolution of the Movie/TV Guide!
Notes: Currently in beta with an iPad app, can sign up to become a tester; currently focuses on movies and TV shows but plans to expand to books and music; received nearly $500K in investment funding over a year ago as the website “Inveni” and has since changed their name and focused on their iPad app with plans to “relaunch” later.
Summary: A Taste Engine. We look at film through the lens of what makes you love or hate anything you watch.
Notes: Recommendations based on your unique taste profile; powered by “Movie Genome, a big, ongoing project” to “describe video more complexly”; search by plot, mood, style, and other non-standard methods; can import your Netflix ratings; works with TV shows and Shorts; tells you why it recommends what it does; mobile app in development.
Summary: A social network for sharing your taste in film.
Notes: Currently an invite-only beta; differentiates a “like” from an actual rating, as well as films you’ve seen from films you own; user lists can be published and shared; can follow other users; can add movies directly to your Netflix queue; easy to maintain watchlist; mobile site available.
Summary: Get personalized recommendations from 200,000 streaming titles, discover with friends and follow your favorite shows.
Notes: Currently in open beta; works for movies and TV shows; can link Netflix account and add movies to queue directly; can filter by services or Streaming titles only; shows RottenTomatoes and IMDb ratings as well as Facebook mentions; can setup alerts for when a movie or TV show (or episode) becomes available or is about to expire from your queue; iTunes app available.
Summary: You have a unique taste in movies. Metataste figures out your taste on over 1000 elements. Discover the movie ‘you’ should be watching.
Notes: Can create an account using Facebook, Twitter, Google, or just plain email; claims to have a new approach to discovering your unique taste; movies are “tagged with not only Genres, but also sub-genres, emotional feel of the movie and plot highlights”; can follow other users; Chrome app available.
Summary: Free, personalized, non-commercial, ad-free, great movie recommendations.
Notes: Provided by GroupLens Research at the University of Minnesota; extremely simple design & layout; can save searches; can team up with “Buddies” and create group recommendations; mobile site in Alpha stage.
Summary: We’ll help you find movies you’ll enjoy.
Notes: Uses keywords and sub-genres to specifically hone your taste recommendations; actually generates a list of movies you’re “least likely” to enjoy as well; can rate actors or directors; can add movies directly to Netflix queue; links to watch movies instantly on various streaming services; shows “crowd ratings”; iPad app available.
Summary: An online movie community where fans catalog, discuss and review the movies they love (and hate).
Notes: Keep track of films you’ve seen and what you rate them, and get recommendations from there; allows you to recommend a movie publicly; social activity stream aka “Chatter” allows you to easily view and interact with community; attractive GUI and navigation.
Suggest Me Movie
Summary: Pick your mood, get film recommendations, watch random trailers; then watch full movies online in HD.
Notes: Randomly suggests a movie and shows you the trailer, ratings, and other info; can add criteria to narrow the suggestion down; very simple layout, interface, and overall premise; shows IMDb ratings as well as user ratings.
Summary: A discovery engine that provides on spot, relevant, music, movies, TV shows, books, authors and games recommendations, based on one’s existing preferences.
Notes: Not limited to just Movies or TV; can follow other users and like their activities; can save and easily repeat searches; good API for custom applications; show what is “trending now”; no account creation or signup necessary; iTunes / Android apps available.
They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They
Summary: An excellent starting tool for aspiring movie buffs to begin (and also plan) their ‘serious’ film-viewing experiences.
Notes: Essentially a thorough and well-curated database of movie watchlists; title refers to film directors, of whom are the focus of this site’s content; full filmographies and best-of lists presented; the 1000 greatest films and top 250 directors are particular highlights.
Summary: Helps keep a record of what TV shows and movies you are watching. and recommends additional shows and movies you’ll enjoy based on your favorites.
Notes: Automatically keeps a record of what you’re watching via media center plugins and doesn’t rely on manual check-ins; works with TV shows including individual episodes; can show you who is watching what and when, as well as what is currently “trending”; paid VIP account option; extensive API for custom applications and community-developed mobile apps available.
Watch It Stream
Summary: The best way to find streaming Movies and TV Shows online.
Notes: Searches Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, and iTunes; can limit to Streaming titles only; works with movies or TV shows; curated lists available to peruse; no account creation or signup necessary; Chrome app and mobile site available.
What Movie Should I Watch
Summary: Look through the site, find a category that interest you, click it. Finally scroll through the list and watch the trailer. Boom, done.
Notes: Essentially a huge collection of “Top 10″ lists; large variety of lists to browse through; you can submit your own list to be considered and added to the site; no account creation or signup necessary.
What Movie Should I Watch Tonight
Summary: A cinematic way of finding new movies. It’s a curated source of inspiration for deciding what movie to watch tonight.
Notes: No account creation or signup necessary; continuous stream of recommendations in the form of movie trailers with sidebar for additional info; can navigate in full screen mode; not a site for tracking down the movie on a service of choice, but to inspire you with what to watch; simple and clean interface; mobile site available.
What Should I Watch Now
Summary: Get movie recommendations based on movies you already like!
Notes: Extremely simple interface; no account creation or signup necessary; simply type in the title of a movie you already like and other movies will be recommended to you; powered by RottenTomatoes and IMDb; mobile site available.
What To Rent
Summary: The world’s most advanced movie recommendation site. We recommend the best movies for you to watch based on your personality and mood.
Notes: Fill out a personality-type quiz and they match you up with movies in their database to hopefully make more accurate recommendations; they claim to have an 80% satisfaction rate for over 475,000 recommendations; account creation and interface is simple and straightforward; iTunes and Android app available.
Summary: The idea is that we have a list of as many movies as we possibly can find, and from there you can find something particular that you like.
Notes: Sources include Netflix, Metacritic, Amazon Prime, iTunes, and Redbox; search filters include Availability, Ratings, Date, Genre, Appropriate Audience, and Cast; essentially a large search engine; individual movie pages contain additional info and links to source sites.
A Better Queue
Summary: Filter and browse Netflix instant movies with Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer.
Notes: Simple premise and layout; filter by rating percentage or “Tomatometer”, number of reviews, year of release, and genre; click poster to go to Netflix page or rating percentage to go to RottenTomatoes page; linking your Netflix account is not required.
Summary: Lists all the movies in theaters so you can save them to your Netflix queue.
Notes: Lists movies that come out in theaters that week and are listed on Netflix; can hide the ones you don’t want to see again to avoid confusion; add movies you want to the “Saved” section of your DVD queue; can Remove All that you add through the site with one click if needed.
Summary: Helps you maximize your Netflix membership, and get a better understanding of your Netflix usage with statistics and cool visualizations.
Notes: Breaks down your usage in easy-to-understand terms; has multiple helpful lists like “New Arrivals on Streaming” and “Most Watched”; can add titles directly to either queue; shows both Netflix and RT rating next to movie listing; premium account is just $10\year to remove ads, give you unlimited changes or syncs, and allow reminder email notifications.
Summary: Away to quickly search the Netflix database to find more information about movies and TV shows.
Notes: Incredibly simple premise and layout; essentially a no-nonsense method to manually search Netflix’s database of movies and TV shows; no browsing features; results returned show poster, release year, runtime, Netflix rating, synopsis, genre, and whether available on DVD or Instant or both.
Summary: It lets you browse the top ~3,000 movies that Netflix has available to stream online.
Notes: A visual browser of Netflix streaming films; can add filter criteria such as rating, genre, cast, director, etc. which can also be used to sort; powered by Windows Azure; zoom and scroll around movie posters to find something that interests you.
Reddit – NetflixBestOf
Summary: The main purpose of this subreddit is for recommendations for instant watch. However, useful and thoughtful posts regarding Netflix in general are tolerated.
Notes: You don’t have to be a Redditor to take advantage of this community; over 70,000 subscribers as of this post; user-based recommendations and discussions; can lead to the discovery of a hidden gem or a new helpful app or site.
Summary: Gives Netflix subscribers info on movies and TV shows coming to Netflix’s Watch Instantly streaming video service.
Notes: List of what is soon to be available on Instant; shows you release year and Netflix rating; can browse by genre or by rating of 3.5 or higher; also shows you highest and lowest rated Instant titles that are available now.
Summary: Get alerts when movies and shows you like become available on Netflix instant streaming.
Notes: Search for a movie and sign up to be notified when it becomes available on Instant; must create an account to manage and organize your wishlist; works with TV shows as well.
Do you know any tricks or tips for getting the best experience from these sites? Know any that I left out? Please let us know in the comments below.