RIP, FilmStruck: Where to Stream Indie, Arthouse, and Classic Films Right Now
As FilmStruck winds down its incredible streaming service, cinephiles will have to turn elsewhere for at-home options. Here are some worthy contenders.
With the recent loss of the Criterion Collection–backed streaming service FilmStruck, cinephiles looking to get their fix of indie, arthouse, and classic films from the comfort of their own homes are going to have to look elsewhere. When FilmStruck shuts down at the end of November, it will leave a giant gap in the curated streaming world, removing (hopefully just temporarily, though it’s still unclear what will happen to its Criterion depths) hundreds of essential films from easy viewing.
There are, of course, a few alternative options for movie lovers looking to fill the hole left by FilmStruck, and while no other single service offers everything that it did (how could they?), there are a few worth pursuing. From obvious streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon Prime to more curated outlets like Shudder and Filmatique, there are more options than ever before, and more than enough to please even the most discerning of film fans. Can you cobble together your own fake FilmStruck from these picks?
Netflix ($7.99 – $13.99 per month)
Netflix may be the world’s foremost streaming outlet, but it’s no secret that its selection of classic films is tremendously lacking. Still, a recent perusal of its “classic movies” tag pulls up some promising, if obvious picks, from “The Godfather” to “The African Queen” and “Touch of Evil.” The service fares far better when it comes to indie and arthouse picks, and their constantly evolving Originals label continues to boast some big names in the independent world, from Dee Rees and Alfonso Cuarón to Paul Greengrass and Alice Rohrwacher.
Amazon Prime ($12.99 per month)
Netflix’s biggest competitor gives it a real run for its money, thanks to its own studio label with a decidedly auteuristic bent and a wide selection of films for every taste. But its streaming service has one major leg up on the enemy, thanks to a much deeper library of genuinely classic films from some of cinema’s most-loved names. Good luck finding a Pier Paolo Pasolini film; at Amazon, you can stream everything from “Medea” to “Love Meetings.” There are even a handful of Criterion Collection picks, from “Cameraperson” to “Gomorrah,” small comfort for FilmStruck obsessives. The somewhat clunky user interface — it’s basically just the endless scroll of shopping on Amazon — may sometimes feel defeating, but it does offer browsers the chance to see if a movie they really want to see outside the streaming sphere is available for purchase. Physical media, what an idea!
Hulu ($5.99 – $39.99 per month)
Hulu might be better known for its TV options (that pricey $39.99 per month option? that’s for the added live TV option), but the streaming heavy hitter also has a number of films that might appear to movie wonks, from “Silence” to “Arrival,” “Columbus” to “Hunt for the Wilderpeople.”
MUBI ($8.99 per month)
The closest corollary to the joys of FilmStruck, the streaming site offers curated picks from a wealth of auteurs and rising stars. While its classic ranks aren’t as deep as FilmStruck’s, MUBI boasts a wide selection of world cinema picks, along with cult features and festival winners. The site also stocks a slew of rentals as well (often packed with recent features, but there are plenty of classics in there, too) from directors like Park Chan-wook, Roger Vadim, and Rachel Lang. MUBI also boasts a “Special Discovery” series, which “presents hand-picked films from established directors and introduces some of the most talented filmmakers emerging on the scene.”
Fandor ($5.99 per month)
Much like MUBI, Fandor offers a variety of indie and festival picks, plus a number of documentary options. Added bonus: Half of your Fandor purchase dollars will go to support its community of filmmakers and film providers.
Kanopy (Free with library card)
The great hidden gem of the streaming world! Kanopy has thousands of available films, from classic movies to new documentaries (and, yes, there are some Criterion Collection picks to be found), and all the low, low, rock bottom price of free. The service has partnered with public libraries and universities around the world to make their deep coffers available to registered users, and while that occasionally comes with monthly limits, it’s worth the constraints to have access to such a rich resource for absolutely free.
TCM.com (Free with cable subscription)
While plenty of networks offer free online streaming with cable subscriptions, Turner Classic Movies offers arguably the best version: Viewers can both tune in and watch movies live as they play on the cable outlet, or they can delve into an enviable library of titles available at any time. For classic film lovers, there is simply no substitute.
Filmatique ($4.95 per month)
The tightly curated, indie-leaning site releases one film per week, every week, with an eye toward “works from new directors and celebrated auteurs from around the world.” Its current selection is filled with some bonafide IndieWire favorites, like Charles Poekel’s “Christmas, Again,” Amy Seimetz’s “Sun Don’t Shine,” and Celia Rawson Hall’s “Ma.”
IndieFlix ($4.99 per month)
Another indie-inclined streaming service places a special emphasis on films with a “social impact.” The site is easily navigable, and already has one up on Netflix: It’s got some of the easiest-to-browse categories on any service of its kind, from musicals to classics, and everything in between.
Shudder ($3.99 – $4.99 per month)
A must-have for horror aficionados, this AMC Networks–backed service is all about thrillers, chillers, gorefests, and the kind of movies designed to keep you up late at night. It boasts original series and podcasts, and has recently started distributing its own films picked up on the festival circuit, like Alice Lowe’s “Prevenge” and Ryûhei Kitamura’s “Downrange.”
Le CiNéMa Club (Free)
The totally free, wonderfully curated site only offers up one film a week, but each one is an instant must-see. Though the site is mostly focused on short films, the selection is filled with exciting treats of all stripes, including early works from rising stars to underseen offerings from established names. Each week, picks are announced on the site and via email, and recent picks include films from Hong Sang-soo, Anna Pollack, Ari Aster, Eva Husson, and Harmony Korine.