Best places to stream movies: Why we love Hulu, Netflix, Popcornflix

Best places to stream movies: Why we love Hulu, Netflix, Popcornflix

news image

There’s more to life than Netflix, people. (Though Netflix is on here, too).


Every product here is independently selected by Mashable journalists. If you buy something featured, we may earn an affiliate commission which helps support our work.


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. 

SEE ALSO: 7 ways to transform your Netflix account into a movie lover’s dream

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).

Has every movie, pretty much • If you have Prime, you’ll get lots of movies free

Busy and distracting interface

If you have Prime, don’t forget that a lot of movies come with it, too. Also, Amazon Prime has basically everything.

1. Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime lets you access almost every movie out there, and many are free with a membership.

  • Price:
    $99/year or $12.99 monthly

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


and Amazon Studios’ own

Manchester by the Sea

, as well as a massive library of foreign films.


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.

Bad browsing platform – you have to search

While better known for its TV options, Hulu also has a lot of great movies, but you’ll have to know what to search for.

2. Hulu

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.

  • Price:

For years,


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.

It’s Netflix, so you know how to use it

They’ve been prioritizing original content, and might not have the movie you want

Netflix isn’t as much about movies as it used to be, but you can still find some in addition to their originals.

3. Netflix

Netflix owns the market for a reason, but lately has been prioritizing original content over other movies.

  • Price:
    $7.99 – $13.99/month

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.

Quality movie selection • Ability to scroll alphabetically and by genre

Smaller selection than, say, Amazon

If you prefer high-quality films and docs, HBO is the place to be.

4. HBO Go/HBO Now

HBO offers high-quality films and the best documentary selection, and the ability to browse alphabetically and by genre.

  • Price:

Though more limited in numbers,




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.

Free • Sometimes has big movies because of the Sony connection

Crackle’s selection can be random, but maybe you’ll find a hidden gem, and besides, it’s free.

5. Crackle

Sure, lots of the movies available are totally random, but you can’t argue with free, can you?

  • Price:

If you want your free streaming to actually be free, don’t sleep on


. 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).

Every new movie can be rented or bought there, pretty much

Streams on Apple TV, but requires download on devices

iTunes is the place to go if you’ve decided you want to pay for a movie.

6. iTunes

If 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,


is more than likely to have it. You just have to, you know, make that leap. And they’re not always that cheap.

Cons: These stream well enough if you have an AppleTV, but have to be downloaded on computers and mobile devices. Gimme my instant gratification!

Big selection of foreign films • Some films are even free

Works better on devices than with a smart TV

If you’re more of an international viewer, YouTube could be the best pick.

7. YouTube

YouTube 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

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.

Filler to sift through • You have to browse by genre

Popcornflix is a great free place to find that old gem of a movie you had almost forgotten about.

8. Popcornflix

Popcornflix is another great free service with a lot of filler to sift through, but lots of good movies, too.

  • Price:

Like Crackle,


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!

Offers free movies (with ads)

The ads • Not a great browsing interface

Try Vudu before you pay for a rental on one of the other services – you might get lucky (if you don’t mind ads).

9. Vudu

Vudu 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,


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!

A must for cinephiles who love the classics

Don’t expect new releases • Not free, so you have to be really into film

This talked-about service is for classic film lovers and those who aspire to be classic film lovers.

10. Filmstruck

Filmstruck is getting great word-of-mouth for their quality selection – just don’t expect new releases.

  • Price:

Though not a household name,


is essential for cinephiles obsessed with the classics – or those hoping to get better acquainted with the history of film. 

Cons: Don’t go here looking for new releases.

Read More


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here