When you don’t subscribe to streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime, it’s easy to feel left out. Everyone else is at home watching some standup comedy special while you’re trying to find the best videos to watch on YouTube. But amid all the side-eyeing on social media and keeping up with the Joneses, it’s easy to forget there’s a wealth of free movie resources that do indeed exist—you just need to know where to find them. To save you the trouble, and the roll-of-the-dice that comes with simply typing “free movies” into your search bar, we’ve dug our feelers deep into the ‘net and uncovered a list of the best movies you can stream right now in the USA, completely free:
Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure
You don’t have to sign up to watch free movies in full on the streaming service Tubi TV, which is great for anything from G to PG-13-rated films (R-rated movies require a signup, but thankfully there’s still no credit card information required). With news of a third Bill and Ted movie breaking now, there’s never been a better time to revisit the 1989 proto-stoner comedy, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, or its sequel, Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey, both on Tubi TV. It’s also worth the free registration to check out classic R-rated films like Showgirls and Glengarry Glen Ross.
Carnival of Souls
A ridiculous technicality landed this 1962 horror-thriller in the public domain in the US: the filmmakers “failed to display a copyright notice clearly enough in the credits.” Well, their slip-up is your opportunity to catch an exemplary early indie ghost story, which is said to have made a major impact on David Lynch.
The Driller Killer
The entire United Kingdom was up in arms over this sadistic, madly funny 1979 horror film about an artist who gets fed up and starts killing New Yorkers with a power drill. Abel Ferrara is easily one of the best and most underrated American filmmakers (Pasolini, anyone?) and this punk-grindhouse classic, now in the public domain, is where he made his first indelible impact.
I Am Not Your Negro
Did you know that if you have a library card, you probably have access to a library of over 30,000 amazing movies, 100% commercial-free? Yep, that’s the beauty of Kanopy: Not only can you stream all of Lars von Trier’s #rare ghost hospital mini-series, The Kingdom, you also have a reason to finally make that trip to the library that you’ve been putting off for years now. Our current pick for Kanopy is Raoul Peck’s Oscar-nominated 2016 documentary based on the work of James Baldwin, but this streaming service has thousands of other masterworks to choose from. Eat your heart out, Netflix!
If you’re OK with the occasional ad, you won’t have a problem finding something to watch on Popcornflix. Now available on the free streaming provider is Polish director Paweł Pawlikowski’s recent masterpiece—the New Yorker‘s words, not just mine—an old-school, black-and-white drama that harks back to the days where cinematography was slow, stunning, and still framed in 4:3. File this one alongside postwar essentials including Hiroshima Mon Amour and The Night Porter.
Intolerance: Love’s Struggle Throughout the Ages
The crowning achievement of the silent film era is a three-hour epic that rails against racism and smashes the hypocrisies of prejudice—and it’s from 19-freaking-16. The legendary D. W. Griffith was the man behind this movie camera, and it’s shrouded in as much mystery as it seeks to uncover, but it’s a must for anyone with even a passing interest in film—and human—history.
Night of the Living Dead
Another film that landed in the public domain due to human error is George A. Romero’s classic indie horror film, Night of the Living Dead. This 1968 movie is one of the first to link zombies and critiques of consumerism, making it the prototype for zombie movies that came after. While it’s neither as fast nor as grisly as, say, 2004’s Dawn of the Dead, it’s important to remember your roots—especially when you’re trying to re-bury the dead.
In 46 short years, the late Satoshi Kon wrote and directed four films that consistently make it onto lists of the best anime movies ever: Perfect Blue, Millennium Actress, Tokyo Godfathers, and Paprika. Each is a masterpiece in its own right, but the latter, his final feature film before his death in 2010, is perhaps the best entrée into his mind-bending body of work. It’s a sci-fi opus about a scientist who moonlights as a detective in people’s dreams, and it’s brimming full of subconscious-stimulating scenes you’ll never forget. Watch it for free now with ads (unfortunately), on Crackle, Sony’s streaming service. (For real anime heads, Fist of the North Star is also available.)
Selections from the National Film Registry
Each year, 25 films that are deemed “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant are selected for preservation by the United States National Film Preservation Board and added to the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress. While many of the films in the NFR have yet to become available for free streaming—here’s looking at you, Casablanca—American classics like The Hitch-Hiker (1953) and The Bargain (1914) are available to watch now on the LoC playlist, “Selections from the National Film Registry.”
Space Is the Place
It’s not totally clear how the films that populate the avant-garde art repository UbuWeb remain available and online for free, but we’re not complaining. The legendary jazz musician Sun Ra is the star of this 70s Afrofuturist sci-fi, which features better style than the last few decades of Met Galas. Watch it now.
An unforgettable script by Paul Schrader underlines Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese’s most-quotable collaboration about an insomniac Vietnam veteran who sets off on a vigilante mission to scour the scum out of New York City. You might have to watch it with commercials, but all it takes is a Facebook to watch it on Vudu’s collection of free, feature-length movies.
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