You're a diehard film buff with a particular affection for certain types of films.
Maybe you're fond of classic Hollywood films from the '30s and '40s.
Perhaps you enjoy silent movies or foreign and independent films.
Popular streaming services like Netflix and HBO offer an array of motion pictures, but the lineups tend to highlight the usual box office hits and pop culture favorites.
If you’re a film buff looking for your niche movie fix, where can you go?
You're not stuck with the usual suspects.
The Criterion Channel, Kanopy, and other options provide you with a chance to stream classic, foreign, and indie films.
Read on for more options.
The Criterion Channel
With an admission price of $10.99 a month (or $99.99 a year) and a free 14-day trial, the Criterion Channel plays host to more than 2,000 films from its own Criterion Collection and film distributor Janus Films.
The lineup features silent films from Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd, classic Hollywood films such as The African Queen and High Noon, foreign greats like Bicycle Thieves and Seven Samurai, and a healthy sprinkling of indie films to top it all off. The film library includes a wonderful variety of special features, including documentaries, commentary tracks, interviews, and personal picks from celebrity film buffs.
The selection varies from month to month, so you'll always find something new to watch.
From your web browser, you can view a list of all films on the site or search for specific ones by year, director, genre, or country.
The Criterion Channel is compatible with iOS, Android, Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV devices.
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Kanopy is a free service with a catch.
You can't sign up for it directly.
Instead, you have to use your account from a library system.
That means your public or university library must support it, and not all do.
For example, I used to access the service through the New York Public Library, and enjoyed classics like Chinatown, Sunset Boulevard, Metropolis, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Nosferatu, M, Jules and Jim, and Battleship Potemkin.
Then the NYPL decided it was no longer worth the cost, so for now I'm out of luck.
If your library does support it, you can watch up to 10 films per month on an iOS, Android, Amazon Fire TV, or Roku device.
Selection is varied with more than 30,000 films, from Hollywood classics and foreign films to independent movies, short films, and documentaries
Priced at $4.99 a month or $39.99 a year (with a free, seven-day trial), IndieFlix serves up thousands of movies, documentaries, shorts, and TV shows.
That includes some classic studio films from Hollywood's golden years.
I discovered a slew of favorites, including The Invisible Man, The Magnificent Seven, In the Heat of the Night, White Heat, Notorious, My Man Godfrey, and Mrs.
Miniver, as well as a dose of B-films like Zontar: The Thing From Venus and Bride of the Gorilla.
Most of the selections are a bit more off the beaten path.
The site arranges its films into such categories as Social Impact (Good for You and the World), Art Films (Experience the Arts), Snack Watch (Shorts Under 30 Minutes), and Animations (‘Toon into These).
Among those, you'll uncover a potpourri of movies from filmmakers around the world.
I'll confess that I've never heard of most of the movies I found on the site, but that's not a bad thing.
Instead of just re-watching my favorites, I also enjoy discovering films I'd probably never find anywhere else, especially ones that become new favorites.
And for its low monthly or yearly price, IndieFlix is worth the trip.
The Film Detective
The Film Detective is a great site if you're into classic, and not-so-classic, Hollywood films.
That means A-listers, B-listers, and even some C-listers.
You can watch all the films on the site for free with ads, or pay $3.99 a month or $34.99 a year for an ad-free experience (including a free 14-day trial).
The site allows you to search films by genre (musical, mystery, horror, comedy, foreign, and more), or browse by decade (from the 1910s through the 2000s).
In my quest, I uncovered a selection of terrific films—early silents by Chaplin, Lon Chaney's Hunchback of Notre Dame from 1923 and The Phantom of the Opera from 1925, Carole Lombard's My Man Godfrey from 1936 and Nothing Sacred from 1937, Frank Capra's Meet John Doe, and Francis Ford Coppola's Dementia 13 from 1963.
I also found some potentially corny but cool serials such as Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe, Captain Video, and Dick Tracy Returns.
There is even a selection of cartoons from the ‘30s and ‘40s starring Superman, Popeye, and Betty Boop.
Be warned, though, because the site does feature a lot of low-budget films with titles like Queen of the Amazons, The Ape Man, Attack of the Giant Leeches, and Girl on a Chain Gang.
So if you like to spice up your entertainment with some of the best—and worst—of Hollywood's past, The Film Detective is worth your time.
The Internet Archive
Here’s a free option worth considering if you’re looking for older feature films, shorts, documentaries, and more from around the world.
The Internet Archive is home to a range of content, including web pages, books, audio, images, software, and videos.
After you launch the site, click the heading for video.
From there, you can investigate different categories, such as Animation & Cartoons, Cultural & Academic Films, Sports Videos, Television, and Movies.
The Movies category alone offers more than 25,000 videos from full-length feature films to classic shorts to worldwide documentaries.
Checking out silent films, I found several short classics from Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, great horror films like The Phantom of the Opera and Nosferatu, and even older pictures such as George Méliès’ A Trip to the Moon from 1902 and Thomas Edison’s Frankenstein from 1910.
From the ‘30s and ‘40s, I discovered shorts from the likes of W.C.
Fields as well as classic films such as His Girl Friday, The Front Page, and Meet John Doe.
A special Film Noir selection offers such cool movies as The Stranger by Orson Welles, Gaslight by George Cukor, and Hitchcock’s Rebecca.
Beyond watching the films on your computer, you can download Internet Archive apps for iOS/iPadOS and Android.
The major downside is that the picture quality isn’t on par with what you’d find on paid services, but this is still a good resource for tracking down older titles you may not be able to find anywhere else.
Amazon Prime Video
For $8.99 a month standalone or $12.99 per month/$119 per year as part of an Amazon Prime subscription, Amazon Prime Video is the most traditional streaming service on this list.
It offers a selection of original productions, as well as many popular movies, shows, and documentaries.
Where this service differs from the other top streaming services on the market is the healthy selection of classic films.
You can find Charlie Chaplin's The Kid, Alfred Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief, and the Oscar-winning Marty with Ernest Borgnine.
A number of foreign and independent films are also available.
Many classic films are not included with your Prime Video subscription; trying to watch familiar favorites like Casablanca, King Kong, Gone with the Wind, and Citizen Kane will cost you $2.99 or $3.99 to stream, which is similar to services like YouTube, Google Play, and iTunes.
However, if you already have a Prime membership, and don't mind the occasional extra fee, Amazon Prime is a prime spot to catch the classics.
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