Does choosing a Netflix movie make you feel like this?
If you can relate, hopefully this guide takes a weight off your cinema-inclined mind.
Step 1) Ask yourself, “Who will be watching this film?” If you’re watching by yourself, skip to step 2. If you’re watching with others, read on: There’s nothing worse than picking out the perfect film for yourself, only to find that those in your viewing party are vehemently against romantic time-period movies, for instance, or are allergic to Tom Selleck. Avoid these major conflicts by knowing your audience and including them in the decision making process.
Step 2) What genre would be appropriate? If you’re watching alone, to choose your genre simply add your standard genre preference + your current state of mind. If you prefer romantic comedies normally and you’re feeling romantic….well, the choice is just obvious. However, you may typically gravitate towards violent action movies, but find yourself in a fragile state of mind after hitting a squirrel on the way home from work, and thus opt for a comedy (with no woodland creatures).
If you’re watching with a group, note that no one will by 100% happy. You might hit an unexpected 70%+ satisfaction rate (like in the case of “Guardians of the Galaxy”) but you’re aiming closer to 55% enjoyment/ person.
The key is to know everyone’s preferred genre, rule out the extreme outliers, and make a decision based on whoever’s turn it is to compromise. (In our house, I have more get-out-of-compromise cards than my husband because, frankly, he’s nicer.) So for instance, if I prefer romantic comedies and my husband prefers sci-fi/fantasy, we can eliminate strictly romance or sci-fi movies, and find something with elements of both. Thus we could land on my choice, Stardust, or Ironman, if I’m feeling like I owe him…or it’s his birthday.
Step 3) Find a Movie that You Know You Like, and Check the “More Like This” Tab This is the easiest way to possibly find a movie that you might sort of like.
On the pros side:
- You narrow your massive genre search to a handful of potential winners.
- One of those might be a real gem.
On the cons side:
- You don’t know if the movie is actually similar to the one you watched or, say, just happens to have the same actor in it. (Sandra Bullock is great, but While You Were Sleeping is very different than Hope Floats.)
- You might have tried this trick too many times, and have watched all the “More Like This” options that look remotely watchable. For shame.
- You’ll potentially experience the massive panic attack that comes with comparing a new movie to an old favorite. (These attacks can be ameliorated by watching new movies with friends. Or wine and chocolate. Or popcorn. Ideally all of the above.)
- Occasionally you get bizarre suggestions that make you question the whole “more like this” system: For instance, if you’ve watched Grease, Grease 2 is a logical suggestion. But you’re also encouraged to watch Twilight, which I think you’ll find has a slightly less bubbly musical feel to it.
If you land on a keeper, move to step 5. If you’re stuck on a few possibilities go to step 4.
Step 4) Read Reviews for Select Movies This step is actually not helpful and should be ignored. Why? Because the people reviewing the movies are inevitably not you and their qualifications for “good” movies are probably just
different than yours wrong. If I had a nickel for every 5-star review that made me NOT want to watch a movie, I’d be able to afford going to the movies instead of Netflix. For instance, I’m not against “wholesome” movies, but if the wholesome actors are so bad that I’m getting stress-sweats watching them, the movie is simply not 5-star material. You’ll probably find a better movie by closing your eyes and randomly stabbing a choice on the screen with your finger.
Step 5) Use Your Tie-Breakers If you’re struggling to narrow down a movie based on steps 3 and 4 alone, try these standard tie-breakers:
- Choose based on the length of the film (Hint: The longer you take picking out your Netflix movie, the shorter the movie you’ll want to watch)
- Choose based on Netflix’s new ambiguous “%match” guess for your movie preferences. Note that if you and someone else in your family both use the same Netflix profile, your results may be skewed. For instance, I’m not really sure how they score a movie match for someone who ostensibly liked Stranger Things and Christmas Kiss.
- Choose by actor preference.
- OR (my personal favorite) pick two that you definitely think you’d like, and in a moment of panic which we’ll call spontaneity, irrationally abandon both and choose a random third option instead.
Step 6) Watch the First 3 Minutes of Your Selected Movie Even for the noncommittal, watching 3-minutes of anything probably won’t kill you right away.
However, stop watching the movie immediately if any of the following occurs:
- After 3 minutes, the opening credits are still rolling
- The acting is giving you stress-sweats (See Step 4)
- You didn’t realize the movie was English sub-titles only and you have the multi-tasking ability of a rock.
- The plot is so corny that you find yourself dry-heaving.
- You can’t stomach the __________ (fill in the blank with your deal-breaker.)
If you can’t continue your film, repeat steps 3-5 until you’re satisfied or skip to step 8.
Step 7) Enjoy the Rest of Your Film- Probably Congratulations! You’ve already invested 40 minutes in this film before it ever started, so let’s hope it is worth it.
Step 8) Give Up on Netflix for the Night What can I say? Once in a blue moon you’ll find a Netflix golden nugget that makes you believe you can find true bliss every time…but that’s a myth, like Elvis being alive or “delicious” low-fat sour cream. Accept it. And possibly blog out your frustration.