How To Find The Perfect Movie To Watch For Movie Night

man watching tv on his couch with popcorn

What are the movies you must see before you die, and how do you find them?

For the condensed “How To Find The Perfect Movie To Watch guide, please scroll to the bottom or click here.

I host a movie night once every two months. One reason for its continued growth and success is that the movies we watch are both unique (we don’t watch a film that someone has seen before) and worth watching. Even outside of movie night, “Is this movie worth watching?” is a crucial question for me. Yes, it may conflict with the innate creative principle of watching new movies, asserting that everything is art and everything is worth watching. Unfortunately, I disagree with that principle. I value my time and want the best chance of enjoying everything I watch.

This doesn’t mean everything I watch has to be an Oscar nominee (although each year there are many well-deserving films that surpass the nominees and winners, which often get overlooked, but that’s another conversation). I still watch movies in theaters before they receive audience ratings, and I even indulge in low-rated comedies when I want to switch off my brain, such as “Please Don’t Destroy: The Treasure of Foggy Mountain” or “Ricky Stanicky” (both of which I enjoyed).

When selecting a film for movie night, I aim to watch something that has already garnered public consensus. I have come up with a foolproof way to select a movie that has been deemed “good enough” by audiences.

TV with applications in front of a person sitting on a couch in a dark room

How To Find The Perfect Movie To Watch For Movie Night (Long Version)

For the condensed “How To Find The Perfect Movie To Watch guide, please scroll to the bottom or click here.

  1. Figure out which movie genre you want to watch. Choose from the following genres:
    • Action
    • Animation
    • Comedy
    • Crime
    • Drama
    • Fantasy
    • Horror
    • Romance
    • Sci-Fi
    • Sports
    • Thriller

There are also niche genres to explore, such as Western, Historical, Music, Mystery, Biography, Documentary, etc. The bulleted genres are the most common and offer a wide selection of movies. Most movies in niche genres also fit into one of the categories above.

  1. Unfortunately, the next step depends on which streaming platforms you are subscribed to. This is the reality we live in. Check out my blog, “What is the Best Streaming Platform in 2024?” to figure out which streaming services you should keep, subscribe to, or cancel. Thankfully, Rotten Tomatoes has a useful tool, Movies to Stream at Home, to help narrow down your search. This tool shows which movies are available on different streaming platforms, although it doesn’t distinguish between which movies are included/free with your subscription and which ones you have to rent/pay extra for (this is an issue with Prime Video). To check if a movie is included in the streaming service or if you have to pay for it, you have to select the movie on Rotten Tomatoes and find the section near the top titled, “Where To Watch.” Here you you can see which services you can stream, rent, or buy the film from. You can use Google Search, IMDb, or Letterboxd to confirm.
  1. Based on Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer and Audience Score, select a movie with an adequate score (from experience, this varies depending on the genre you selected; for example, Horror and Comedy movies tend to have lower average scores than Drama or Thriller movies). I prefer the Audience Score. In most cases, I would rather hear what the average movie viewer thinks about a movie than a critic. A movie is considered “Fresh” if it has a rating of 60%+. This means that over 60% of the reviews were positive.
  1. After narrowing down your choices to between 10 and 30 movies, cross-reference the Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score with IMDb or Letterboxd ratings. IMDb and Letterboxd have much more intuitive rating systems than Rotten Tomatoes scores. Read my blog discussing the pros and cons of each movie rating site, “What Is The Best Movie Rating Website: IMDb, Letterboxd, Rotten Tomatoes, or Metacritic?” Rotten Tomatoes scores give you a good idea if the movie will entertain you/be enjoyable. IMDb ratings give you an idea if the movie is actually good. Letterboxd is a mix of both. In the past, I have used IMDb. Recently, I do both IMDb and Letterboxd. To keep it simple, I will only use IMDb in this example for selecting a movie.
  1. Just like Rotten Tomatoes, IMDb’s movie ratings vary depending on the genre you choose. The general rating score I use when determining if a movie should be considered for movie night is 7.0+. I use 6.5+ if the genre selected was Action, Comedy, Romance, Horror, or Fantasy.
  1. Come up with a list of 5-15 movies that have piqued your interest.
  1. Watch the trailers for these movies on YouTube and rate them on a scale of 1-3, with one being the lowest rating and three being the highest. You can choose to rate them on a different scale than 1-3; this is just the easiest version.
  1. Choose the movie you’d like to watch the most. You also have a list of movies in this genre you can view at a later time!
Person eating popcorn about to watch Netflix

How To Find The Perfect Movie To Watch For Movie Night (Short Version TLDR)

Below is the condensed easy-to-follow guide. For the full guide please scroll up or click here.

  1. Select one of the following movie genres:
    • Action
    • Animation
    • Comedy
    • Crime
    • Drama
    • Fantasy
    • Horror
    • Romance
    • Sci-Fi
    • Sports
    • Thriller
  1. After selecting a genre, use Rotten Tomatoes, Movies to Stream at Home, to help select some movies you may be interested in.
  1. Choose between 10 and 30 movies with an adequate Audience score, 60%+.
  1. Cross-reference the movies you selected on Rotten Tomatoes with their ratings on IMDb or Letterboxd. If you use IMDb, for Action, Comedy, Romance, Horror, or Fantasy, keep the movies that are over 6.5. For all other movie genres, keep the movies that are over 7.0.
  1. Narrow your list down by selecting 5-15 of the top-rated IMDb movies.
  1. Watch the trailers for these movies on YouTube and rate them on a scale of 1 (lowest) – 3 (highest).
  1. Choose the movie you’d like to watch the most. You also have a list of movies in this genre you can view at a later time!