31 Best Movie Streaming Sites & Apps That Are — Bonus! — Free Or Budget-Friendly – Scary Mommy

by Deirdre Kaye December 12, 2021
Movie night isn’t what it used to be, is it? A parent now, you spend all day watching YouTube unboxing videos and silly cartoons. Then, when the kids are finally asleep, you have roughly two hours before your partner-in-crime turns into a pumpkin. We can no longer spend our Friday nights wandering, hand-in-hand, around Blockbuster… and that’s a cryin’ shame. So, when she’s set on Pride & Prejudice (specifically the one with Matthew Macfadyen), or you’re bound and determined to rewatch all The Matrix films, finding them can be a bit of a challenge — especially since not everything is on Netflix anymore. But with more and more streaming services popping up, finding the exact film you want takes a bit longer. What you really need is a breakdown of the best streaming sites so that you don’t get stuck scrolling aimlessly until you both pass out.
Of course, there are so, so many streaming services. Which ones are worth the money? And which free ones aren’t going to make you feel like criminals for tuning in? We sorted through the dozens of streaming sites and apps and picked our favorites.
You’re most likely already paying for Amazon Prime anyway, right? So, you might as well take advantage of Prime Video. Amazon’s library is pretty inclusive. There’s not much you can’t find on it. The only setback? Not everything is “free” (or “included with Prime”). It’s a bit disappointing to think you found what you were looking for, only to discover you need to pay for it. Look for the little white “Prime” banner across the left-hand corner of titles to save yourself some frustration.
Cost: $12.99 per month (plus taxes for Amazon Prime, which includes Prime Video, or $8.99 per month (plus taxes) for a Prime Video membership.
Looking for the perfect gift for your MIL for the holidays? A subscription to Discovery+ might be the ideal solution. It’ll set you back around five bucks a month, but the app offers access to shows and movies on all her favorite cable channels, from A&E and Lifetime to Travel Channel and TLC. This could be your chance to convince her to cut the cord.
Cost: $4.99 per month.
Whenever we consider canceling all our streaming services and going back to cable, Disney+ always changes our minds. Not only have they put out some amazing shows like The Mandalorian and The Mighty Ducks series, but they’re also home to literally all our favorite new and old Disney movies. That’s right. No more trying to buy a DVD before the film goes “back in the vault.” Now, they’re all just readily available. Also, you can watch Hamilton on Disney+. And why wouldn’t you?
Cost: $7.99 per month for Disney+; $13.99 per month for the ad-supported Disney Bundle featuring Disney+, ESPN+, and Hulu; and $19.99 per month for the ad-free Disney Bundle featuring Disney+, ESPN+, and Hulu.
This streaming site caters to a pretty niche audience. That said: If you’re looking for anime, Crunchyroll is the single best place to watch it.
Cost: Although you can watch many films on Crunchyroll for free, subscriptions start at $7.99 per month and get you access to more titles in higher resolutions.
Do you *need* HBO Max? No. But will you want it? Certainly. It offers a ton of movies to stream, including the network’s own high-quality content.
Cost: $9.99 per month for HD content with ads; $14.99 per month for even more HD movies ad-free.
Hulu was already a great place to watch television after getting rid of cable — and then they started adding movies. Their search feature is excellent, but we love their timely categories that constantly change with each approaching holiday or event. They have an outstanding collection of movies for kids, too.
Cost: $6.99 per month for ad-supported, $12.99 per month for ad-free, and $64.99 per month for Hulu+ Live.
While Netflix no longer has the library it once had, it’s still home to thousands of movies each month. Plus, they seem to be single-handedly trying to revive the teen drama genre by releasing tons of great new, original content.
Cost: $8.99 for basic, $13.99 for standard, and $17.99 for premium.
When Paramount+ started up, we initially rolled our eyes. But now we get it. Their selection is next level. Want horror? They’ve got it. Need something for the kids? Definitely check there. Looking to laugh your ass off by yourself? They have multiple Will Ferrell movies. At $10 a month for both Paramount+ *and* Showtime, you can add it into your subscription services without feeling like you might as well go back to cable.
Cost: $4.99 per month for essential, $9.99 per month for premium, $11.99 per month for essential plus Showtime, $14.99 for premium plan plus Showtime.
We’ll be honest: We got Peacock entirely because we wanted to watch the new Saved By The Bell series. But they offer a ton of great movies, too. Also, we heard rumors about a new Reno 911 coming only to Peacock!
Cost: Free for basic, $4.99 per month for Peacock Premium.
Sure, you can put on clothes, drive through the snow to Walgreens and then stand out in the frozen hellscape while you pick a movie from the machine outside, take your DVD home and then try to remember to return it on time. Or you can just use the Redbox app. So much easier.
Cost: Depends on the movie and whether you rent or buy it on demand.
You already know you like Showtime, so this is a no-brainer. And their app-based subscription service is often cheaper than getting it to go with cable.
Cost: $10.99 per month.
Take note: Vudu is a bit like Redbox in that their focus is on movie rentals. However, they also have a very large “free with ads” section. There’s no tricky business here, either. It’s easy to spot which is which, so you can find the best movie for your circumstances.
Cost: Depends on the movie and whether you rent or buy it on demand.
Sony’s Crackle is a pretty great free service. Yes, many movies have ads cut into the film, which can be a downer for some viewers. However, considering you don’t have to pay for Crackle (which is available as an app for pretty much any smart device), the ads don’t seem so bad. It’s not any worse than your days of watching movies on USA or ABC Family.
FilmRise is loaded with films, especially classics, and has a ton of great television shows, too. Like 21 Jump Street and The Commish, you guys!
Say hello to another fantastically niche streaming service. It’s where you can find all the shows and movies made by Sullivan Entertainment. “Sulli-who?” My man. Ask the women-over-thirty in your life. They’ll know. Aside from all the other amazingly cheesy Canadian romances, Sullivan produced exceedingly good (and exceedingly long) Anne of Green Gables movies. It’s the best place to watch them without dropping $60 for DVDs.
Not only is IMDB free, but it’s also packed with incredible movies. Everything is legit, though you’ll have to watch an ad or two throughout the film in many cases. Seems tolerable enough, yeah?
Got a library card? Then you most likely have free access to Kanopy’s ever-evolving library of films. The best part? No ads!
Plex certainly has cons: The interface isn’t great, and you must link your account to other accounts. But the library is decent, it’s free, and it holds your spot on numerous movies at one time.
Never heard of Popcornflix? It’s time you checked it out. They offer a giant library of films to choose from, especially in the sci-fi genre.
Roku is more than just a device that gives you access to streaming apps/channels. It has its own library of movies to stream, too. Take note: It’s not available in many countries. However, it’s totally free and doesn’t even ask for your email address to use it.
YouTube has a ton of pirated content, yes. But with a bit of searching, you can also find plenty of films that have been released on YouTube legally. You’ll have ads, though.
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