Cable On Demand
Cable offers VOD programming (same-day-as-disc releases, older titles and pre-theatrical exclusives) for rent, usually for 24- or 48-hour periods at prices from about $2.99 for older titles to $9.99 for new or exclusive releases. Since cable offers a direct connection from your cable provider, its VOD offerings are usually less prone to outside interference and can be streamed with surround sound and 3D when available.
Woody Allen returns with his most successful movie in years with the fantastical rom-com Midnight in Paris, which finds a hopeless romantic (Owen Wilson) time-traveling to 1920s Paris every night to mingle with his literary heroes. Wilson discovers that people from every time period romanticize another and decides to settle for nothing less than true love in the present, where he is currently engaged to an insufferable, condescending (pardon our French) bitch played by Rachel McAdams.
Warrior is to mixed martial arts what Rocky is to boxing, but this sports drama starring Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton as estranged brothers that must face each other in the ring shares more DNA with The Fighter. Nick Nolte stars as the alcoholic father that broke the family apart, and you might need to find that subtitles button for his early scenes with Hardy unless you have a good ear for marble-mouthed muttering. The fight scenes are realistically shot and will fire up any UFC fan.
A young girl who witnesses the brutal murder of her parents grows up to be a deadly assassin in Colombiana, which stars Zoe Saldana and Michael Vartan. Although the theatrical PG-13 version is available to stream, you'll want to choose the unrated version for a movie with this much violent action.
Margin Call takes place at a bank over a 36-hour period during the financial collapse of a few years ago. The large ensemble cast includes Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Zachary Quinto, Penn Badgley and Demi Moore. This indie drama about morality vs. money is available the same day as DVD.
For a family film with a porpoise, check out Dolphin Tale, which is inspired by the true story of a group of people who band together to save an injured dolphin. The kid-friendly flick starring Ashley Judd, Harry Connick Jr. and Morgan Freeman is available to stream in either 2D or 3D.
Also available in either 2D or 3D is Glee: The Concert. Gleeks will sing the praises of this live-concert film featuring their favorite actors from the show onstage.
These four services stream movies to your TV via computer, Blu-ray player, game console or other compatible connected device. Like cable VOD, they offer new titles for rent from about $3.99 to $6.99, but, unlike cable, they also offer the option of downloading the movie to own from about $14.99 to $19.99. Usually movies presented in HD cost a bit more than streaming a SD version.
All of the movies listed above that are available on cable On Demand are also available to own or rent on Vudu, iTunes and Amazon, although not in 3D. Blockbuster has them all too except Warrior.
Brad Pitt plays Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane who teams up with a young economist (Jonah Hill) to change the way baseball is played in Moneyball. The Oscar contender won't be available on DVD or Blu-ray until January 10, but you can download to own—not rent—right now on iTunes, Amazon and Vudu.
The retro TV drama Pan Am starring Christina Ricci had a bumpy ride in the ratings, but you can stream the first season on Vudu, iTunes and Amazon. No word yet if you'll be able to book a flight for a second season, though.
Fox's Terra Nova is about a group of people who travel through a wormhole from a poisoned, dying Earth to start over 80 million years ago during the time of the dinosaurs. It's a little Avatar, a little Jurassic Park, a lot of cheese and available to rent or own on Amazon and iTunes.
James Marsden and Kate Bosworth pay a young couple that have a Deliverance-style getaway thanks to depraved locals led by Alexander Skarsgard in Straw Dogs, which is available to rent or own on all four services.
Netflix's all-you-can-stream buffet costs $7.99 per month and gives instant access to thousands of movies and television shows via a computer, Blu-ray player, game console or other compatible device. Don't depend on Netflix streaming for same-day-as-disc releases, however. Instead, Netflix offers catalog titles, vintage movies, indie flicks and TV episodes with unlimited access for one monthly price.
The documentary If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front examines the case of Daniel McGowan, a member of the radical environmental group who was arrested for arson against two Oregon timber companies, and the ramifications of the FBI's decision to classify ELF as terrorists.
Do you think Twilight is lame? Can't wait until June for the next season of True Blood? Satisfy your bloodthirst and sink your fangs into We Are the Night, a surprisingly sleek and sexy German horror film about three wealthy female vampires who prowl the streets of Berlin. Things turn garlic when one of the undead beauties tries to bring a new woman into the fold, which attracts the unwanted attention of a smitten police officer.
Continue your foreign-language stream-a-thon with the harrowing Chinese drama Aftershock, in which a young girl is abandoned after the devastating 1976 Chinese earthquake and those earth-shaking 23 seconds result in 32 years of her trying to rebuild her life.