From Netflix to Hulu to Disney+, the best streaming sites for movies

There’s more to life than Netflix, people. (Though Netflix is on here, too). Hands down the best place to catch Disney movies, Disney+ is also your place to go for Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic content. Hulu is known for TV, but actually has a ton of great movies, too. You’ll just have to use search instead of its cluttered interface. Amazon Prime lets you access almost every movie out there, and many are free with a membership.

It’s Friday night and you’re too tired to go out (same). You know how this conversation goes. Should we watch a movie? What’s on Netflix?

But halt, dear reader, because there is so much more you could be doing to maximize your home movie viewing, and we here at Mashable can no longer bear it. 

So, movie fans, if you’re serious about this whole staying-in thing and catching up on the latest releases, let us offer you a few non-Netflix and chill options for streaming movies online. Although yes, Netflix is in there too.

BEST FOR A WIDE SELECTION

The GoodHas every movie, pretty much • If you have Prime, you’ll get lots of movies freeThe BadBusy and distracting interfaceThe Bottom LineIf you have Prime, don’t forget that a lot of movies come with it, too. Also, Amazon Prime has basically everything.Amazon PrimeAmazon Prime lets you access almost every movie out there, and many are free with a membership.

  • Price: $99/year or $12.99 monthly

Child’s Play (6/12), Crawl (6/18), Dirty Dancing (6/1), How To Train Your Dragon (6/1), Knives Out (6/12), Spy Kids (6/30), Where The Wild Things Are (6/30), The L Word: Generation Q: Season 1 (6/1). See all here.
A lot of people have Amazon Prime for the free delivery and other benefits, but many likely just forget they can use their subscription for movies and TV shows.
The selection is extensive, including critical darlings like the Oscar-winning Moonlight and Amazon Studios’ own Manchester by the Sea, as well as a massive library of foreign films. And they’re downloadable.
Cons: No streaming site seems to have fully figured out a viable browsing function. The minute you click “see more” you end up on Amazon proper and primed for the type of analysis paralysis that can strike while online shopping. Also, free and paid titles are mixed together so you may end up wanting to watch something you weren’t ready to pay for. That said, it’s often only $4, so you can do it.

BEST NETFLIX ALTERNATIVE FOR MORE MOVIES

The GoodLots of good moviesThe BadBad browsing platform – you have to searchThe Bottom LineWhile better known for its TV options, Hulu also has a lot of great movies, but you’ll have to know what to search for.HuluHulu is known for TV, but actually has a ton of great movies, too. You’ll just have to use search instead of its cluttered interface.

  • Price: $5.99/month

10 Year Plan (6/1), A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (6/2), Casino (6/1), Charlie Wilson’s War (6/1), Charlie’s Angels (6/25), Dirty Dancing (6/1), I Am Legend (6/1), La Bamba (6/19), Meet the Parents (6/1), Natural Born Killers (6/19), October Sky (6/1), Tears of the Sun (6/19), Thelma & Louise (6/1), Into the Dark: Good Boy (6/12). See all here.
For years, Hulu has amassed a formidable library of movies. If you’ve ever felt the Netflix movie selection doesn’t have what you’re looking for, it’s more than likely you’ll find it on Hulu.
Cons: Another miserable browsing platform – Hulu’s looks almost primitive. Like most sites, it works best if you search for exactly what you want.

BEST FOR EASY STREAMING

The GoodIt’s Netflix, so you know how to use itThe BadThey’ve been prioritizing original content, and might not have the movie you wantThe Bottom LineNetflix isn’t as much about movies as it used to be, but you can still find some in addition to their originals.NetflixNetflix owns the market for a reason, but lately has been prioritizing original content over other movies.

  • Price: $7.99 – $13.99/month

All Dogs Go to Heaven (6/1), Baby Mama (6/16), Bad News Bears (6/1), Cape Fear (6/1), Clueless (6/1), Da 5 Bloods (6/12), E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (6/1), Frost/Nixon (6/16), Inside Man (6/1), Lady Bird (6/3), Observe and Report (6/1), Starship Troopers (6/1), The Disaster Artist (6/1), The Help (6/1), The Silence of the Lambs (6/1), Twister (6/1), V for Vendetta (6/1), Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (6/1), West Side Story (6/1), You Don’t Mess with the Zohan (6/1), Zodiac (6/1), 13 Reasons Why: Season 4 (6/5), Fuller House: The Farewell Season (6/2), Hannibal: Season 1-3 (6/5), Queer Eye: Season 5 (6/5), The Politician: Season 2 (6/19).
By now, it seems like most people have some kind of access to Netflix, if not their own account. We basically think of Netflix as free even though we pay for it every month and would rather watch or download a random movie here than pay for a known one elsewhere.
Cons: The movie selection has plenty to offer, but a lot of filler to comb through and limited selection depending on what you’re looking for. Over the past couple years, Netflix has made clear that it’s prioritizing original programming – and crushing it.

BEST FOR DISNEY FANS

The GoodThe definitive home for all things Disney • Original content • Older movies and TV showsThe BadSome older shows play in a cropped widescreen format • Categorization and search could be betterThe Bottom LineIf you like Disney shows and movies, Disney+ is a great product for the price.Disney+Hands down the best place to catch Disney movies, Disney+ is also your place to go for Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic content.

  • Price: $6.99/month
  • Price: $69.99/year

Artemis Fowl (6/12), Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (6/26), Tarzan (6/26), 101 Dalmatians: Season 1 (6/19), Big Sur: Wild California (6/19), Into the Unknown: Making Frozen 2 (6/26). See all here.
Disney+ is the ultimate spot for streaming Disney movies. The service has tons of Disney movies from the vault, including older films like Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Pixar classics like Monsters, Inc., and Disney Channel Original Movies like Smart House. You can even download movies and shows and watch from four different devices at once. Keep an eye out for original content and live action remakes too, like the new Lady and the Tramp.
Cons: While Disney+ has content categorized by brand, it’s difficult to search by category. For example, there’s no way to differentiate Disney Channel content and only view movies and shows from the Disney Channel.

BEST FOR POPULAR MOVIES

The GoodQuality movie selection • Ability to scroll alphabetically and by genreThe BadSmaller selection than, say, AmazonThe Bottom LineIf you prefer high-quality films and docs, HBO is the place to be.HBO Go/HBO NowHBO offers high-quality films and the best documentary selection, and the ability to browse alphabetically and by genre.

  • Price: $15/month

BlacKkKlansman (5/1), Cast Away (5/1), Contagion (5/1), Crazy Rich Asians (5/1), Downton Abbey (5/9), Friday Night Lights (5/1), In Bruges (5/1), Jaws (5/1), Joker (5/16), La La Land (5/1), Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (5/1), Nocturnal Animals (5/1), Precious (5/1), Ready or Not (5/23), School of Rock (5/1), Signs (5/1), I Know This Much Is True (5/10). See all here.
Though more limited in numbers, HBO Go/HBO Now has a high concentration of well-known and popular movies. It’s the only streaming platform ever to host the Harry Potter movies (including Fantastic Beasts) and one of your best bets for streaming nominated movies during awards season.
Cons: The smaller selection is what it is, but you can also scroll through it all alphabetically if you need to, which can’t be said for Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix.

BEST FOR TOTALLY FREE MOVIES

The GoodFree • Sometimes has big movies because of the Sony connectionThe BadMostly random filmsThe Bottom LineCrackle’s selection can be random, but maybe you’ll find a hidden gem, and besides, it’s free.CrackleSure, lots of the movies available are totally random, but you can’t argue with free, can you?

  • Price: Free

See DetailsIf you want your free streaming to actually be free, don’t sleep on Crackle. It was the only place to stream The Social Network for free during Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook testimony.
Cons: The movies are mostly unknown, but they do have a partnership with Sony (which is how The Social Network ended up there in the first place).

BEST FOR DOWNLOADING FILMS

The GoodEvery new movie can be rented or bought there, pretty much. The BadStreams on Apple TV, but requires download on devicesThe Bottom LineiTunes is the place to go if you’ve decided you want to pay for a movie.iTunesIf a movie is available to rent or buy, iTunes probably has it, but you’ll have to download it if you don’t have Apple TV.

  • Price: Per-movie basis

Once you decide to pay for a movie, whether it’s renting or buying, iTunes is more than likely to have it. You just have to, you know, make that leap. And they’re not always that cheap.
Cons: This stream well enough if you have an AppleTV, but have to be downloaded on computers and mobile devices. Gimme my instant gratification!

BEST FOR INTERNATIONAL STREAMING

The GoodBig selection of foreign films • Some films are even freeThe BadWorks better on devices than with a smart TVThe Bottom LineIf you’re more of an international viewer, YouTube could be the best pick.YouTubeYouTube works better on devices than on smart TVs, but you can often find hidden free gems, especially in the foreign film genre.

  • Price: Free, with some movies priced on a per-movie basis

YouTube is like iTunes but with the benefit of immediate streaming, and a robust selection of foreign films (sometimes even for free).
Cons: It’s friendlier on desktop or mobile than with a smart TV.

BEST FOR HIDDEN GEMS

The GoodCompletely freeThe BadFiller to sift through • You have to browse by genreThe Bottom LinePopcornflix is a great free place to find that old gem of a movie you had almost forgotten about.PopcornflixPopcornflix is another great free service with a lot of filler to sift through, but lots of good movies, too.

  • Price: Free

Like Crackle, Popcornflix is completely free and with a somewhat eclectic movie selection (with hidden gems if you have the patience).
Cons: There’s a lot of filler to sift through, and you have to browse by genre. Why is this a thing!

BEST FREE SERVICE (WITH ADS)

The GoodOffers free movies (with ads)The BadThe ads • Not a great browsing interfaceThe Bottom LineTry Vudu before you pay for a rental on one of the other services – you might get lucky (if you don’t mind ads).VuduVudu has movies for rental, but also a good selection of free movies with ads.

  • Price: Free (with ads), with some films for rent

Like the Amazon platforms, Vudu has movies available for rental or purchase as well as free streaming (look for the “movies on us”). The free ones stream with ads while the rest have pretty standard prices.
Cons: Literally how hard is it to alphabetize these libraries. Come on guys!

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