Deciding what to watch can be the most difficult part of movie night. Ultimately, finding the right film comes down to personal preference, but we’ve rounded up some insights to consider when you’re searching for the perfect film for any situation.
1. If you’re stressed, check out a comedy. That seems straightforward— after all, a tense movie might only make you more stressed—but there’s a real, biological reason for aiming for a chuckle. A study found that laughing while watching a comedic film causes your blood vessels to dilate by 22 percent, counteracting the effects of stress hormones.
2. Horror movies can have the opposite effect, increasing your cortisol levels even though you aren’t in any actual danger. But as long as you don’t have heart problems to worry about, this doesn’t mean the effects are all bad. The increased heart rate and spike in adrenaline are what make these flicks feel so thrilling to fans.
3. If you’re feeling lucky, you could leave it all up to chance with NetflixRoulette.net, which spits out a single option with each spin (click of a button). You can enter some basic criteria like genre and whether you’re looking for a movie or a television show, but the beauty is being told what to watch.
4. If you’re struggling with problems in your life, it might seem like a news documentary would help to put things in perspective, but studies show that it could make your own issues loom larger. In fact, just 15 minutes of watching negative news caused people to feel more “catastrophic” about concerns in their own lives. Best to save the harrowing documentaries for a brighter day.
5. When picking a family film, you’ll need to take into account the influence your choice might have on your kids. This can mean a lot more than just barring R-rated flicks. If gender parity is important to you, try applying the Bechdel Test, a series of questions established in the 1980s for weeding out films with fair representations of women from, well, most other films. Ask yourself: (1) Does this movie have more than one woman in it? (2) Do they talk to each other? (3) Is their conversation about something other than a guy?
6. Visit SuggestMeMovie.com, because it does exactly that. Tell the site the time frame, genre, IMDb score, and any keywords (they wisely suggest “Brad Pitt”) you’re interested in and it will give you a movie suggestion, complete with a trailer.
7. AGoodMovieToWatch.com is a little more specific, but it’s great if you’re looking for something a tad more obscure. The site’s algorithm only bothers including movies that were highly rated on both IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes and also fit their “little-known” criteria. By only showing you movies that weren’t big box office hits, the site aims to help you discover flicks you might otherwise miss.
8. When it comes to picking a family-friendly film, parents get the final say about what’s fair game for a certain age group, but who better to know if your kids will enjoy it than someone else their age? KidsPickFlicks.com includes reviews written by (and for) children, with their ages listed. These tiny critics don’t always match mainstream consensus - when Slate polled a handful of kids about some of the latest Pixar movies, their opinions didn’t always match the critics.’
9. As your kids get a little older, encourage them to watch something fantasy-based. It could prove to be educational. A recent study showed that children exposed to just 15 minutes of highly-imaginative clips from movies—specifically, magical scenes from the Harry Potter films—scored better on tests of creativity than kids who were shown non-magical clips.