Despite its obvious reliability of providing countless movies to watch at your fingertips, Netflix does not always have what you are looking for and when you can only afford one digital streaming service subscription, in a world in which Blockbuster is ancient history, where can you turn to? What if I told you such exists multiple websites, such as Crackle, Pluto, or Vudu, in which you can legally watch free movies online?
Of course, as you comb through these priceless streaming services, be prepared to come across shameless parodies, straight-to-video action movie rip-offs, and the inevitable Pauly Shore comedy. However, if you know what to look for and if you can get past a few commercial breaks, you will find that within the world of free movies online is a plentiful bunch of masterful classics and cult favorites.
To help make your search all the more convenient, allow us to provide you with a few recommendations. These are just 10 of the best movies that you can watch online for free.
Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb (Crackle)
You know Stanley Kubrick as the visionary cinematic mastermind behind the awe-inspiring outer space journey of 2001: A Space Odyssey, the chilling, claustrophobic disorientation of his reimagining of Stephen King’s The Shining, or the dehumanization effects of war as observed in Full Metal Jacket. Yet, in addition to this visually stunning, horrifying, and nihilistic tales, Kubrick also became a master of the art of satire with this 1964 comedy that just may be goofiest movie about war ever made.
Convinced that Russia has been tampering with the United States’ water supply, a deranged army general sets off a series of events that puts the world under the threat of a nuclear holocaust and a War Room full of politicians and generals work unscrupulously in hopes of stopping it. Featuring Peter Sellers as multiple characters (including the title role) and future Patton star George C. Scott in, easily, his funniest role, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb is a zany farce that refreshingly makes light out of an otherwise horrifying concept. Stream it on Crackle here.
The Exorcist (IMDb TV)
The irony of The Exorcist’s enduring legacy as one of the most, if not the most, terrifying film of all time is that, in the eyes of director William Friedkin, his adaptation of William Peter Blatty’s novel is not a horror film at all. What attracted the filmmaker to the story of a 12-year-old girl’s (Linda Blair) demonic possession (inspired by the actual exorcism of 14-year-old Roland Doe in a St. Louis hospital) was not the opportunity to scare moviegoers out of their chairs, but a more unique opportunity than that.
William Friedken intended his 1973 Best Picture Oscar-nominee to be a commentary on the mystery of faith, as he put it, seen through the eyes of the film’s true main character, the spiritually disillusioned Father Karras (Jason Miller). Come to think of it, perhaps the non-horror-based approach to the story, not to mention its premise being based on fact, is the secret to how The Exorcist continues to provoke thought and frights to generations of moviegoers decades later. Stream it on IMDb TV here.
Most people, when they think of the late Patrick Swayze, picture the rough-and-tumble, badass action star of Point Break or Road House, or maybe they picture the gentle, questionable virility of the star of Dirty Dancing and To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar. For me, the definitive Swayze performance is as a pottery-loving Manhattan banker desperate to navigate the afterlife in 1990’s Ghost.
When Sam Wheat (Patrick Swayze) is murdered but his spirit stays behind on Earth, he reaches out to the only woman who can hear him, a scam artist (Whoopi Goldberg) who discovers her psychic abilities were more real than she thought, to help him communicate with his lover, Molly (Demi Moore). This smart and deeply moving supernatural drama was nominated for five Academy Awards and won two, including Best Supporting Actress for Goldberg, and immortalized the Righteous Brothers’ “Unchained Melody” as a romance ballad to be rivaled. Stream it on Tubi here.
Nightcrawler (Vudu, Tubi)
I’m sorry, but, no, this is not the origin story of the blue, teleporting mutant from X-Men. If anything, this is the origin story of a character who redefines the secret to a successful career by going to increasingly despicable and morally reprehensible means to get his way.
The “hero” (a term I use very lightly here) of writer and director Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler is Louis Bloom (an unrecognizably skinny Jake Gyllenhaal), an aspiring freelance video journalist who takes a dangerously literal interpretation of the mantra “if it bleeds, it leads” and, as his career takes off, begins to blur the line between voyeur and perpetrator of the heinous sites he records. If Gilroy’s deliciously nihilistic eye for Los Angeles or the fascinatingly discomforting psychology of the story does not rope you into this Taxi Driver for the 21st century tale, Gyllenhaal’s transformative performance is guaranteed to keep you in a tight grip. Stream it on Vudu here and Tubi here.
Rain Man (Pluto TV, Tubi)
There is no beating a redemption story, rarely is anything as rewarding and moving as a story of unlikely friendship - therefore a film that incorporates both themes must be unstoppable. Such is the case for the story of Barry Levinson’s Rain Man.
Self-centered car dealer Charlie Babbit (Tom Cruise) is angered to learn that his late father cut him out of his will, only to learn that what he believes should be his share has been left to the brother he never knew: an autistic savant named Raymond (Dustin Hoffman). Hoffman received an Oscar for his heartwarming performance in this 1988 Best Picture-winner about two long-lost brothers who learn a lot from one another in ways they never could have imagined. Stream it on PlutoTV here and on Tubi here.
Citizenfour (Vudu, Tubi)
Most documentaries aim to educate viewers on a specific topic or persuade viewers to buy into a particular concept, and often with impressive results. However, it is rare for a documentary to be merely an unbiased, non-participating observation of true history in the making. Citizenfour is one such film that achieves that.
Director Laura Poitras, joined by reporters Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill, was asked through emails sent anonymously by someone only self-identified as “CITIZENFOUR” to help him blow the whistle on the NSA’s illegal surveillance methods. The man, as you could have guessed, was Edward Snowden and what the cameras captured in this Academy Award-winner for Best Documentary Feature is an astonishing, gripping story of one man’s dangerous fight for his country’s privacy. Stream it on Vudu here and on Tubi here.
Silver Linings Playbook (Vudu)
Bradley Cooper was just another Hollywood heartthrob with a crass, riotous comedy called The Hangover as his biggest claim to fame until he showed the world what he was capable of in 2012. Silver Linings Playbook was the beginning of the illustrious career as both an actor and filmmaker that he would soon lead.
Based on the novel by Matthew Quick, Silver Linings Playbook follows the redemption of divorced former teacher Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) after his release from a mental institution, reluctantly receiving help from his new friend Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a girl with issues of her own. Director David O. Russell directs this heartbreakingly honest and beautiful story of unlikely romance that earned Lawrence her first Academy Award at just 23 years old. Steam it on Vudu here.
Your kids probably hear the name Guy Ritchie and think of solving mysteries with Robert Downey Jr. or dancing with a big, blue Will Smith in the Arabian desert. Well, that persona is a far cry from the British filmmakers roots who defined the British gangster comedy with movies like Snatch.
The director’s 2000 sophomore effort after Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels tells a collection of interweaving stories all connected by a race to retrieve a priceless diamond. Starring Brad Pitt as an incomprehensible gypsy boxer, Benicio del Toro as a bumbling jewel thief, and Jason Statham as an innocent boxing promoter, Snatch is a dizzying, hilarious roller coaster through London’s criminal underground that may require some subtitles every once in a while, but never fails to entertain. Stream it on Crackle here.
The Terminator (Pluto TV)
The action genre had never been so metal before future Academy Award-winning filmmaker James Cameron cast Austrian bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger as the titular cybernetic antagonist of this 1984 hit. Waitress Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) learns that she is the mother of the unborn savior of the future and must rely on a time-traveling soldier named Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) for protection from an unstoppable machine that wants to make sure her son is never born.
The Terminator puts a unique twist on the slasher genre by placing a violent cat-and-mouse game within a deeper story of humanity’s survival against our digital overlords with a time traveler element that only adds to the fun. Not only did it turn Arnold Schwarzenegger into a star, but it also preceded the revolutionary action film, arguably the best in the franchise, Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Stream it on Pluto TV here.
You’re Next (Tubi)
Speaking of unique twists on the slasher genre, typically, a horror film involves one masked psychopath chasing after a group of helpless victims, desperately seeking refuge. You’re Next, from the dynamic writer and director duo Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard, instead involves multiple masked assailants, who meet their match in Erin (Sharni Vinson) a “victim” who is far from helpless.
Australian college student Erin accompanies her boyfriend to a wedding anniversary at his parents’ house where the entire family is gathered, but soon learn they are trapped inside by a group of assassins who hide their faces behind masks resembling animal faces. You’re Next is a horror film that uses its brains as often as it shows them, never sacrificing tasteful suspense for shallow shock and never running out of clever ways to kill. Stream on Tubi here.
Hopefully we have provided you with an eclectic number of options when deciding what to spend your costless movie movie binge. Did we leave anything out that you found on your favorite free streaming service. Let us know!
Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in just about any article related to Batman.
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