Sure, you could spend the next decade systematically watching everything on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, but with TVs becoming smarter, it’s easier than ever to broaden what you watch.
From classic TV shows to art-house films to popcorn-crunching blockbusters, a monthly subscription is the new way to make sure you’re never anything less than fully entertained.
Try out the services below, and don't forget to set your phone to silent:
If Netflix is a 500-screen multiplex, Mubi is a cool indie cinema with a nice bar and gourmet nachos. Netflix has over 30,000 titles in its media library; Mubi has just 30. The list remains that size but a new film is swapped in each day. The quality is high: everything’s worth watching, and major blockbusters sit among the more artful selections. The app works with Chromecast, Apple TV, consoles and smart TVs, and there’s even an Apple Watch app for picking films (not for watching on your wrist though, that would just be silly).
Clerks: This sums up the kind of film you get on Mubi: it’s black and white and critics like it – but you’ll find it’s easy to get into
Indieflix sells itself as a selection of independent films, especially short films, but beyond the artful two-to-20-minute pieces it’s a nostalgic VHS bargain bin full of low-budget grindhouse films like Laser Mission and Midnight Cop. So you might find it a little niche, but you could always just use the free one-month trial to enjoy some Hasselhoff (below). Indieflix has an iOS app that doesn’t support Chromecast or offline viewing, but you can easily bigscreen it via Roku or an Xbox 360.
Bail Out: Rotten Tomatoes reviews include the phrase “garbage, but… the good kind of garbage” in this Hasselhoff flick.
BBC Store (from £1.89)
People talk as if Netflix and Amazon were doing something new by making high quality new series, but the Beeb’s been at it for decades. The BBC Store has over 7000 hours of some of the broadcaster’s greatest hits available. Purchases are added to a new section in the iPlayer app and prices are decent: full series of genre defining comedies like The Thick Of It are available for £3.99, and lavish dramas like War & Peace and Parade’s End go for £6-£10.
The Hour: At £7.99 for each of its series, this drama about TV journalists uncovering corruption in the ’50s is great value
BFI Player+ (£4.99/month)
If Mubi is a gateway to the mind-expanding delights of ‘proper’ cinema, the excellent BFI Player+ will turn you into a full-blown film freak. The selection is unashamedly artistic: recent additions include Icelandic comedy drama Rams and acclaimed indie James White. The BFI’s selection is a masterclass in curation, but the flipside is that it’s not as easy to use as Mubi – the app’s clunky, and there’s no support for Chromecast, Roku or Amazon Fire TV, so you’ll have to hook up a laptop.
Rams: A story about sheepfarming brothers who haven’t spoken for decades mixes big landscapes with extra-dry humour.
Curzon Home Cinema (from £2 per film)
Curzon's brick and mortar cinemas will be familiar territory for film fanatics whose love of the silver screen goes far deeper than the latest shiny superheroes-in-spandex Hollywood blockbuster. Beyond the classy bars, the cinema's hand-picked selection of critically acclaimed indie gems and foreign flicks provide a haven for film fans, and its Home Cinema service lets you view the latest films from the comfort of your own sofa, the from the very same day it hits Curzon cinemas. A new app for iOS and Android lets you ease your hellish commute too.
Son of Saul: Hungarian director László Nemes' debut feature depicting the harrowing tale of a WWII concentration camp prisoner's discovery of his dead son's body won both a Golden Globe and the Oscar for best Foreign National Film earlier this year.