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Battle of the streaming services: A comparison of some of the best-known places to get your content fix

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I love movies; watching them, thinking about them, talking about them, bonding over them, and writing about them. I struggle to fill my free time by doing anything other than watching the latest addition to my excessive need-to-watch list. 

So, in this article, I present my thoughts, opinions, and recommendations on some movie streaming platforms I use. I will analyze each site’s usability, selection, and outlying factors that I can’t generalize to every platform. I will also award an overall score for each: small popcorn, medium popcorn, or large popcorn, with large being the best, of course. 

Let’s start with the original, the trailblazing, the dependable: Netflix

  • Usability: Netflix, really, is the gold standard for how easy it is to use and navigate. When I took notes on the others, I automatically compared their usability to Netflix because of how convenient I think it is. 
  • Selection: In recent years, Netflix’s selection has taken a hit because of the creation of other streaming platforms and the losses that Netflix faced as a result. However, I think the original content that Netflix produces makes up for the losses. 
  • Outlying factors: Netflix wins extra points because all of my friends have it, so it’s easy to share movies with them.
  • Movie recommendations: Lost in Translation because it’s one of my all-time favourites, and Good Will Hunting because of the exciting details about it like how Matt Damon and Ben Affleck wrote the screenplay, the incredible Elliot Smith soundtrack, and Gus Van Sant as the director.
  • Overall score: Large popcorn.

The next streaming platform I’ll analyze is Disney+.

  • Usability: There’s nothing noticeably inconvenient about using Disney+. I also appreciate that I can search through the movies alphabetically in each genre. 
  • Selection: I have to give Disney+ credit for having more than the guaranteed titles you expect them to have (Disney recently bought 20th Century Fox). 
  • Outlying factors: I’m not a big Disney fan.
  • Movie recommendations: O Brother Where Art Thou because the soundtrack is phenomenal, and I love the Coen brothers. Another recommendation is Savages starring Phillip Seymour-Hoffman; the story really resonated with me.
  • Overall score: Medium popcorn, at best.

Now it’s Amazon Prime Video’s turn on the chopping block.

  • Usability: It’s very similar to Netflix and Disney+, but the big problem with Amazon Prime is that they don’t really separate the content that comes free with having an account and the content that users must pay extra to watch. I also think it’s weird that there are titles on the platform that you can both watch for free and pay to rent. 
  • Selection: There’s nothing incredibly unique about Amazon’s selection; they have some of the same content as Netflix. However, I think Amazon’s original content is just getting started, and the future is bright.
  • Outlying factors: The main problem I have with Amazon’s streaming platform is that it contributes to Jeff Bezos’ unimaginable wealth, and I don’t want to support him in any way.
  • Movie recommendations: Paterson, which features an outstanding performance by Adam Driver in a quietly beautiful movie, and Frances Ha because how rare is a modern film shot in black and white!
  • Overall score: Solely because of Jeff Bezos, I’m awarding a small popcorn.

This last streaming platform doesn’t get enough credit and deserves to be included: Kanopy.

  • Usability: I find Kanopy can be overwhelming to use because of the unbelievable number of categories, but it does offer a similar feel to Netflix et al.
  • Selection: Kanopy obliterates the competition in the selection category. Just log on and try not to find hundreds of movies you want to watch. 
  • Outlying factors: Kanopy wins bonus points since it’s free for MacEwan University students and anybody with an Edmonton Public Library membership. You can’t beat free.
  • Movie recommendations: Downtown 81, which stars Jean-Michel Basquiat, is a must-watch for anybody who likes his art, and Guy Maddin’s My Winnipeg because it’s the wildest film I’ve seen recently. 
  • Overall score: Large popcorn without a doubt.

I’m hesitant to declare one of these platforms as the best; they each have their merits and their downfalls. Further, if I genuinely believed that any one of these platforms was the best, then I wouldn’t have an account for all of them. As I see it, the best plan of attack to achieve maximum entertainment, choice, and experience is to have access to as many platforms as possible.

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