Netflix has created lots of new options for movie watchers over the last few years, but we have a growing dilemma: not all of the content is equal. I know better than to watch half of the recommendations Netflix offers. For the most part, the recommendations that are “personalized” seem to be about as accurate as letting your friends from middle school pick tonight’s entertainment.
It used to be when I was ready to watch something, and didn’t know what I was in the mood to watch, I killed lots of time looking through Netflix to discover which were available for streaming and which were DVD only. I would check and re-check the new content category just to see if I’d missed something, as though Netflix released new updates as often as I unlock my iPhone to check notifications. The silliness is Netflix most certainly does not.
I wizened up and got more methodical. Along the way, I’ve found some interesting things you can do with Netflix that most people aren’t aware of.
I have never been fond of Netflix’s red star ratings. They aren’t nearly as useful as Rotten Tomatoes’ meter, or IMDb’s 10 star rating scale. And hey, this is 2014. It’s about time we have the option to view a movie trailer from most anywhere on Netflix, yeah?
That’s what the Enhancer is useful for. Get this extension for Google Chrome (the desktop version). With it enabled, go back to Netflix and hover over movie titles to get more helpful information: the IMDB and Tomatometer, along with the movie’s watchable trailers, will show up.
Netflix has a unique selection of available instant play content to various countries around the world. Some of the content available in other countries at the present might interest you. With Media Hint, you can access all the available movies available everywhere.
You pay a little fee, and of course, there are other ways to get this feature that forego the fee. But the other methods are in a gray area and I wouldn’t recommend you attempt them. Media Hint is the one way I would consider this option, because the others will break your Netflix user agreement.
This site offers the most reliable up-to-date news for Netflix. They have the latest on new movies, documentaries, and shows added to the service. (Of course, you might as well use Netflix’s site in leiu of one like Hacking Netflix, if you’re already comfortable navigating Netflix without giving into distracting categories and the like.)
A Better Queue
This site offers you the chance to browse Netflix streamable films based on their Rotten Tomatoes’ score, rather than Netflix’s other criteria. If your computer is handy, then this site will help you make better choices when you are looking for something new to watch. You can be very specific about your tastes. For example, if you choose the following criteria, A Better Queue will show you Sci-fi films from the last decade that scored 80% or higher.
I picked this one up from Lifehacker. While you’re on your computer watching a movie, if you care to look under the hood and tinker with settings otherwise unknown, hold down ⇧+⌥ on your Mac (Shift+Option, or Shift+Alt for Windows). This presents you with a pulldown menu where you can fix buffering issues, along with other preferences.
If you really don’t want to think about what to watch tonight, and would rather an algorithm pick one for you, then 'Flix Roulette is just the ticket. Give it some criteria: like the genre you wanna shoot for, or a director’s name. Then, press the “Spin” button and you will be presented with something to watch of the Netflix Roulette’s choosing.
Ultimately, I advise you not to judge a film by its cover, director, stars, or trailer. You need to know from someone’s personal account of the film whether it’s worth two hours of your time. If you are interested in movies, as a casual-but-kind-of-picky member of the audience, I hope these Netflix tips help.
I still think the best movies I’ve seen were recommended to me by trusted friends and movie review sources. Rotten Tomatoes’ meter isn’t perfect, but I find it helpful. IMDb’s is a little less so, but it’s still better than picking a movie without some kind of input. Heck, every now and then, someone on Facebook is right about a movie.
So, listen to The MovieByte Podcast for news and reviews. The podcast is great if you don’t have time to read reviews and watch trailers, but have the time to listen while you workout or drive. There are 100+ back episodes: each with a movie review. Usually, the first thirty minutes of Moviebyte is movie news, then I discuss the movie in review with TJ Draper and guests for the last hour or so of podcast.