May 30, 2020
The best movies you can stream for free right now

The best movies you can stream for free right now


Rick Broida/CNET

It’s movie night! Or, as I like to call it: night. Many of us have ample time right now to fill the holes in our movie resumes or rewatch beloved classics. The downside is that we may be low on funds for the likes of Netflix, HBO and other paid services. (Speaking of HBO, the network is currently offering a bounty of free programming — mostly TV series, but some movies as well.)

Thankfully, there are a number of totally free services that offer streaming movies. All you need is an internet connection and your phone, tablet or TV (ideally one equipped with Fire TV or Roku capabilities so you’re able to get the necessary apps). The catch, of course, is that you’ll have to sit through commercials — unless you’re streaming from Hoopla or Kanopy, which require a library card from a participating library.

Below I’ve rounded up some of the best free movies available right now (meaning April 2020 — availability is subject to change, as the services rotate their selections on a regular basis). These are, of course, my personal picks. If you’ve recently streamed a freebie you wholeheartedly recommend, name it (and where you watched it) in the comments!

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The Artist


Warner Bros.

Where to watch: Vudu

A silent movie? In this day and age? Never you mind. This homage to cinema’s silent era proved that a good movie is a good movie, even one without talking — or color. Borrowing a bit from Singin’ in the Rain, The Artist tells the story of a silent-film star struggling to make the transition to talkies. It’s utterly charming — there’s a super-cute dog, if you need extra convincing — and it won the Best Picture Oscar for 2011. Make sure you choose the Watch Free option when you look this up on Vudu.

The Big Short

Where to watch: IMDb TV

If you think it’s utterly impossible to make an entertaining movie about the 2008 financial crisis, watch The Big Short. The cast alone should convince you: Christian Bale, Brad Pitt, Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling. Take note, however, that while the movie is indeed entertaining, the subject matter may make your blood boil. 

Captain Fantastic

Where to watch: Kanopy

Ever wonder what it would be like to live off the grid? That’s what Viggo Mortensen’s dedicated dad does in this thoroughly charming film — and not for the reasons you’d expect. 

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Where to watch: Hoopla

As a general rule I don’t care for musicals, but there are three exceptions: Hamilton, Singing in the Rain and this one right here. Great story, great actors, great songs. Fair warning: You’ll be singing We Both Reached for the Gun for weeks after. 

The Commitments

Where to watch: Hoopla

Alan Parker’s ode to soul music — and working-class Ireland — features a great ensemble of unknowns, along with one of the best movie soundtracks ever. If there’s a better version of Mustang Sally, I’ve never heard it.

Dr. Strangelove

Where to watch: Crackle

Yes, it’s black and white. Yes, it came out in 1964. And, yes, it’s just as hilarious today as it was then. Stanley Kubrick’s dark comedy shows just what can happen when the inmates are running the asylum — and have access to nukes. Come for Peter Sellers knocking it out of the park in three different roles, stay for a modern meme’s worth of great quotes. (“You can’t fight in here, this is the War Room!”)

Ex Machina

Where to watch: Kanopy

If you like your sci-fi dark, occasional disturbing and thoroughly thought-provoking, watch Alicia Vikander absolutely crush it as the android Ava. It’s as good as, or better than, any Black Mirror episode — and in fact it could easily join that archive of futuristic cautionary tales.

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Where to watch: Crackle

One of the all-time great American Civil War movies, Glory stars Denzel Washington (who won an Oscar for it), Matthew Broderick (who took some maybe-warranted grief for his accent) and Morgan Freeman. It has a few pretty harrowing moments, though, so it’s best suited for teens and older.

The Iron Giant


Warner Bros.

Where to watch: The Roku Channel

Widely regarded as one of the best family movies ever, The Iron Giant may have old-fashioned animation and an even more old-fashioned story — it’s basically E.T. with a giant alien robot — but it feels timeless and delivers all the feels. Fun facts: This was Brad Bird’s first directing effort (he’d go on to do a little movie called The Incredibles) and Vin Diesel’s practice run for becoming the voice of Groot. 

Logan Lucky

Where to watch: Kanopy

Before Daniel Craig delighted audiences with his southern charms in Knives Out, he honed his skills in this underrated heist flick. Call it a poor man’s Ocean’s 11, because instead of robbing Vegas casinos, this hapless crew (which includes Adam Driver and Channing Tatum) sets out to knock over… a NASCAR racetrack.

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Where to watch: IMDb TV

An underrated animated gem, Megamind flips the superhero genre on its head. The voices of Tina Fey, Jonah Hill and Will Ferrell deliver silly, freewheeling fun that’s perfect for the whole family.




Where to watch: IMDb TV

A movie the whole family can wholeheartedly enjoy, Paddington tells the story of a bear of very little brain who — whoops, wrong bear. This one’s a young cub from Peru whose comic misadventures in London steer him (almost) into the clutches of an evil taxidermist. From what I understand, the sequel is even better — though not currently available to stream for free.

Spider-Man (2002)

Where to watch: IMDb TV

Let’s give credit where it’s due: Tobey Maguire helped usher in the modern era of superhero movies, bringing much-needed vulnerability and humanity to everyone’s favorite web-slinger. Watch it again because it still holds up, or show it to the kids so they learn who laid the groundwork for Tom Holland.

What We Do in the Shadows

Where to watch: Kanopy

Without question the best vampire comedy since Love at First Bite (which didn’t set the bar that high), this hilarious gore-fest stars Taika Waititi, who also directed, and Flight of the Conchords vet Jemaine Clement. Finally, a vampire movie that doesn’t take itself so seriously (cough, Twilight, cough).

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