One of the advantages of video streaming services is that you can discover movies that might not have made it to mainstream audiences. This is doubly true of Mubi, with its eclectic collection of content handpicked by its curators. The service features a substantial collection of films, documentaries, and shorts you can stream at 1080p and download on mobile devices at any time. Mubi also has several community features that facilitate film discussion and discovery. Some people may prefer the greater range of choices offered by other video streaming services, but the prospect of a curated library will certainly appeal to others.
Mubi is similar to The Criterion Channel in that it is solely dedicated to films, with none of the TV-style series available on the major streaming services. Mubi has two main sections: a lineup of 30 films in its Now Showing section that changes every day and a Library that includes hundreds of films that have since rotated out of the Now Showing section. A Mubi representative confirmed that Mubi’s streaming rights for each title varies in length and that the available titles in the Library varies by country. At the time of this review, the number of titles in Mubi’s US Library sits at above 800 entries.
For comparison, The Criterion Channel has about 2,000 films available for streaming. Mubi and The Criterion Channel differ in the type of films they offer. Put simply, The Criterion Channel, though it is still a niche service, manages to look mainstream in comparison to Mubi. We recognized many of the films in The Criterion Channel’s library, but only found a few familiar ones in Mubi’s collection. However, the combination of Mubi’s curated Now Showing section and focus on under-the-radar entries most suited for film festivals may be just what some viewers want, particularly those who are tired of superhero movies and over-the-top visual effects.
Mubi classifies films with tags such as Adaptations, Brief Encounters, Debuts, First Look, The New Auteurs, Undiscovered, and Weimar Germany. For an idea of the type of content you can expect on Mubi, here’s a list of all 30 films and shorts available in the Now Showing section the last time we tested it: Almayer’s Folly, MS Slavic 7, The Unspeakable Act, Animal Crackers, Olla, Why Does Herr R. Run Amok, Hermia & Helena, The Blue Angel, Around the World When You Were My Age, Two Ships, The Stranger, Bird Talk, Metropolis, Crystal Swan, Last Letter, Take Me Somewhere Nice, Cassandro, The Exotico, Spies, Searching EVA, Life is a Miracle, Underground, The Man With The Golden Arm, Nosferatu, Love in the Buff, Transnistra, Carnival of Souls, The Fall, Neon Bull, Le Gai Savoir, and From Caligari to Hitler: German Cinema In The Age Of The Masses. Note that the titles available to you in the Now Showing section will undoubtedly be different than the above, given Mubi’s constantly changing lineup. Many of those films may still be available in the Library section, however.
If you are looking to watch the most popular movies on-demand, mainstream services such as HBO Max (DC, New Line Cinema, and Warner Bros.) and Disney+ (Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars) are better options. KweliTV offers a curated selection of shows and films from Africa and beyond. For high-quality short films more in line with Mubi, check out Vimeo‘s library.
Mubi currently has over 200 documentaries in its catalog that spans almost 100 years of filmmaking. From modern documentaries about visionaries and leaders like RBG, I Am Not Your Negro, and Dior and I to 1927’s Berlin: Symphony of a Great City, Mubi’s titles come from all around the world. Of particular interest are Buffalo Juggalos, Man on Wire, and the 2010 Banksy film, Exit Through the Gift Shop.
You won’t find many celebrity biopics or interviews in this collection. Most of the documentary films instead deal with topics such as the creation of art, the balances of power, and social justice. For instance, there’s Werner Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams on the discovery of cave paintings in France and The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975, which is about Swedish journalists covering the civil rights movement in America.
Mubi costs $10.99 per month (discounted to $95.88 if you pay for a year up front), but you can sign up for a free account if you only want to browse its film database and contribute to discussions. Mubi also offers a seven-day trial, but you must enter payment details to sign up.
The Criterion Collection costs the same as Mubi at $10.99 per month, but its annual rate is slightly more expensive ($99.99 per year). Other video streaming services offer extensive libraries of movies too, though they cater to more-mainstream audiences. HBO Max costs $14.99 per month, Netflix’s Standard Plan (the minimum tier we recommend for most people) is $12.99 per month, and Hulu’s Ad-Free plan is $11.99 per month. Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ come in cheaper at $8.99 per month and $6.99 per month respectively. Horror fans don’t need to pay as much for dedicated entertainment; Shudder is only $5.99 per month.
In addition to streaming via a web browser, Mubi offers apps for mobile phones (Android and iOS), media streaming devices (Apple TV, Chromecast, Fire TV, and Roku), and Smart TVs (Sony, Samsung, Android TV, and LG). You can subscribe to Mubi as a Prime Video channel, too. Mubi does not offer an app for the Xbox One, but you can use the service on a PlayStation 4.
Mubi’s web interface is simple and easy to navigate. It has a black, gray, and white color scheme that helps the film thumbnails pop. At the top of the page, there’s a search bar, a navigation menu, and an overflow menu that houses a jumble of other settings and sections. The overflow menu not only gives you access to your account, profile preferences, and help resources, but also to your watch list, viewing history, and Mubi’s Browse section. In the latter, you can dive into Mubi’s ever-expanding database of every movie imaginable, not just those in the streaming catalog. We would prefer to have some of these features pulled into the main menu for easier access.
The top menu has five options: Now Showing, Library, Feed, Notebook, and a profile icon. Occasionally, you may see a section called Live; Mubi hosts free films from time to time for both subscribers and non-subscribers.
The top section of Mubi’s Now Showing section showcases the film of the day (that is, the newest entry to the library), while a horizontally scrolling list below it shows hubs for different film categories and other exclusives to the service. The rest of the page lists all of the other films available for streaming in the Now Showing section along with brief descriptions.
Click the More Info button on a film’s card to view all its details, including streaming resolution; runtime; language and subtitle options; a synopsis; Mubi’s editorialized take; a list of awards; and a list of cast and crew members. Associated articles from The Notebook (another Mubi section we discuss below), plus some critic and Mubi user reviews also appear on the page. Mubi’s dedication to detail is excellent, especially since it extends to films that are not even available for streaming. Mubi is much like IMDb in that way, albeit with a nicer interface. From a film’s detail page (or any thumbnail), you can add it to a custom list, your favorites, or your watch list.
Mubi’s Library section includes some of the same film categories as the Now Showing page, along with some highlighted entries. A representative from Mubi explained that the Library section offers “a way for members to catch up on anything they missed previously or for rewatching favorites.”
Mubi builds in a few community-oriented features, including the Feed and Notebook sections. The Feed is just a running list of user reviews and social media posts; it’s not particularly useful for content discovery. The Notebook section features editorial content from Mubi staff and other contributors, including reviews and commentary. Film aficionados may find some appeal in the accompanying written content.
Mubi’s profile pages are its best social feature, though. Your profile page lists all of your ratings and reviews, watch list, favorites, lists, along with those you follow and people who follow you. Mubi supports custom profile and background photos. Importantly, you can make your profile private if you don’t want anyone to bother you or critique your taste in films.
These community features are a good way to discover content that’s not streaming on Mubi, too. For instance, you can find user-curated lists with similar films you may enjoy. Or if you like someone’s review, you can take a look at their profile to see what else they have been watching.
Mubi does not allow you to create multiple viewing profiles, which is a missed opportunity. Between partners, friends, or families sharing an account, it is unlikely that everyone shares the same tastes. Multiple profiles would allow individuals to better tailor the experience.
Still, most other video streaming services do not offer as many friendly features. Shudder and Sundance Now allow user ratings and reviews, though. Anime streaming services are among the other exceptions. Crunchyroll lets you set up a similar profile and write reviews of anime series, while DC Universe has an entire section related to browsing DC heroes.
We downloaded Mubi’s mobile app on an Android 11 test device and had no issues signing in to our account. The latest version of Mubi’s Android app feels snappier to navigate and brings over Mubi’s Library and Watchlist features from the web, all of which makes the app feel more cohesive. These same features are available on the iOS app as well.
You navigate the experience via three icons in a bottom menu, one for the Now Showing section, one for the new Library section, and one for your downloaded content. You still can’t access Mubi’s Browse section or manage your community profile from the app, however.
App settings are available via the overflow icon in the lower-right corner. Here, you can view your subscription status, restrict downloads to Wi-Fi only, and choose the download quality. You can also now access your Watchlist from this menu. There are not settings for a default streaming resolution (you can set this from the web interface) or adjusting the subtitles on the Android app.
The Now Playing section functions and looks the same as it does on the web; it’s a vertical list of the available films in that section. You tap on an individual entry to view its details, begin playback, download it, or add it to your Watchlist. All of the information about films in the Now Playing section makes the jump to mobile, too. You cannot write a review for a film from the mobile app, but you can read reviews from other people, as well as any related editorial content.
To download a film, tap the download icon that appears on the details page underneath the main thumbnail. Titles you download are accessible via the Your Offline Films section, but there is no way to sort downloads, which is disappointing. To get rid of a download, tap the X next to the title.
We retested Mubi’s download speeds by downloading the same standard-definition version of Metropolis (289MB). This time the download took about 20 minutes, which is an improvement over our last attempt (which took 27 minutes). We tested on the same device over the same Wi-Fi network (80Mbps download).
Mubi’s playback screen is basic but works fine. You get a play and pause button, a volume slider, a scrubbable video progress bar, and a language/subtitle toggle. That’s it. There’s no way to select or view the video playback resolution from the player. You can select a maximum video streaming resolution in the main Settings section, but we would still like the option to change or even confirm this resolution on the player. The Mubi mobile app’s playback screen has the added benefit of 15-second rewind and fast-forward buttons. One minor difference is the color of the video progress bar; on the web it’s blue, but on mobile, it’s green. Note that some older films may play in a letterboxed format.
Mubi allows you to sign in on five devices at the same time, but only supports two simultaneous streams. Most other video streaming services allow you to stream on three devices at the same time. As with The Criterion Channel, Mubi does not show any ads during playback, which is ideal. Some paid services, such as CBS All Access, Hulu, and Quibi still show ads in paid tiers.
Both Mubi and The Criterion Channel allow you to stream films in up to 1080p resolution. Other movie streaming services, including Apple TV+, Disney+, Netflix, and Prime Video offer 4K content.
We tried streaming Carnival of Souls in HD over a home Ethernet connection (200Mbps download) and encountered no buffering or streaming issues. Audio effects and dialog sounded crisp, as well.
Mubi does include subtitles for its content, but there’s no way to customize them from the player. You can change the size of the subtitles (Regular or Large) in the main Settings section, but that’s the full extent of options. The Criterion Channel does not offer subtitle customization options either, but many other video streaming services, including BritBox, offer far more options. Although we wouldn’t necessarily expect it for movie streaming services, Mubi does not include Audio Descriptions. Audio Descriptions are audible narrations of scene changes that would not be otherwise discernible through the regular dialog. Apple TV+, Netflix, and Prime Video all support audio descriptions.
The available subtitle language depends on the film. Some international films are not available in English, so you may need to rely on subtitles quite a bit if you are not multilingual. You can manually set your default language in the main Settings section. Apple TV+ is also particularly good about offering content in many languages, with the added benefit of letting you select a language for subtitles directly from the playback screen.
Mubi does not include any parental control tools, nor does it list the parental ratings for any of its content. A representative from Mubi explained that the service is for an adult audience. Some parents might want the option to block or only allow specific films, so we would like to see some options to accommodate that scenario. The Criterion Channel also neglects to include parental control options. Parental controls are common with mainstream services, including HBO Max, Disney+, and Netflix.
A VPN is an excellent tool for protecting your privacy online from the ever-present eyes of advertisers, your ISP, and the government. VPNs can also help you spoof your location online. This is a problem for some video streaming services if some content is region-specific. As such, many video streaming services attempt to block VPN traffic outright.
Mubi is available in 195 countries, but it does not offer the same titles for streaming in all locations. We tried to stream Mubi content after connection our test device to both US- and Spain-based Mullvad VPN servers. We had inconsistent success with streaming. Even if you do find a VPN that works with all of your video streaming services, there’s no guarantee that the two will continue to coexist peacefully.
Mubi combines many aspects typically associated with film communities—lesser-known titles, discussions, and an extensive collection of information—into a single service. In that regard, Mubi is impressive. We also like the support for offline downloads and 1080p streaming (though the top services offer 4K content). Still, we’d like Mubi to add multiple profiles and subtitle customization options. Both mobile apps have Mubi’s most important features now too, but more of the social features should make the move from the web.
Netflix remains our top pick for on-demand video streaming services because of its top-notch original content and feature-filled apps. Hulu + Live TV and YouTube TV are our top picks for live TV streaming; both boast excellent channel lineups and useful DVR capabilities.Source