How to Find New, Original Content on Streaming Platforms

Various corners of the internet have repeated the refrain time and time again: Hollywood’s not coming out with anything original anymore. It’s remakes all the way down. While I’d go along with a statement like most of the tentpole films that get a ton of marketing are remakes or adaptations, I don’t think that’s true for all film by any stretch. You just have to actually pay attention or look for the original ones out there. Unfortunately, that’s not something any of the streaming platforms are interested in doing. Search functions are limited and clunky, and all the streamers just shove the big budget stuff in your face all the time.

Thankfully, I’ve found a workaround. (Again. I had one before, but they shut down.)

For this one, you just go over to Metacritic. If you’ve never used the site, it’s something you should be aware of anyway. Unlike Rotten Tomatoes, which reduces each review down to a “liked/didn’t like” rating, Metacritic uses a lot more nuance, giving each review a score from 1-100, then averaging those scores out to come to a number. Unlike IMDB, it’s not just user reviews. (It has those, but far fewer than IMDB, so if you just want to see what scored well with average viewers, you should keep going there.) Metacritic covers movies, TV shows, and video games. (Looking at it now, it apparently even does music, though I’ve never used it for that.)

If mouse over the “Movies” tab at the top of the page, “Best Movies of [Insert Streaming Service Here]” comes up, and you can then see all the movies on that platform, sorted by Metacritic score. Better yet, you can search multiple platforms at once, and you can easily filter by date or by genre. Want to see a great action movie from the ’60s? You can find it, and I almost guarantee the platforms won’t be highlighting it.

There are some limitations. I’ve found it struggles to tell the difference between Amazon Prime and Amazon purchase options. It also seems not to have literally everything on those platforms. (It does TV shows, but it’s much more hit and miss. According to it, Max only has 6 TV shows total. That’s not right.) But if you’re looking to break free of whatever it is each platform just wants to cram down your throat, using this approach can really help you find different things. Even (yes) new films that are original and compelling. For example, I searched for a new-ish mystery film and was suggested The Endless, on Peacock. It got an 80 on Metacritic (which is a very solid score for the site), and I gave it a shot and (shocker) gave it an 8/10. Smart science fiction-y puzzle movie about a doomsday cult that may or may not actually be on to something. (You should check it out.)

As far as interpreting ratings at the site goes, I’ve found anything that scores above a 60 has a good shot at being very good. Once you hit the 70s or 80s, that spikes dramatically, and anything over a 90 should probably get some of your time. That said, even a movie in the 50s might be a good fit for you personally. It’s all relative, of course.

In any case, there’s my good deed for the day. Hopefully it helps some of you. One day, perhaps we’ll finally get to a point where the search options on these platforms are actually decent. Until then, there’s this.

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