With the world seemingly at our fingertips and thousands of play buttons clogging our lives as we scroll, it’s hard to imagine traveling back in time to a place where the selections were a bit more limited. Only a century ago, the film industry was merely budding, trying to find its footing in a world where stories and emotions comfortably lived in centuries-old forms like music and theatre. Now, movies and shows are so interwoven into our lives that it’s inescapable—and typically, they require pricey subscription fees, account juggling, and the use of VPNs to access international streaming libraries.
As any cinephile will probably tell you, a “better” way to view movies would be to take a trip to the movie theater to experience the grandiosity of film. It’s even better if you seek out local, indie theaters, which often screen older films and host fun themed events. (Art House Convergence has a great map to start your search for your new favorite theater.) Oftentimes, though, it’s another cost added to the long list of everyday expenses, or it’s out of peoples’ comfort zones after years of quarantining and working from home. Selections can also be limited in comparison to streaming services. So what’s a great way to enjoy the world of cinema without leaving your home or breaking the bank? Streaming movies that are legally free online.
Below is a list of services and channels that legitimately stream films from around the world for free. Many channels even have playlists to help you explore their huge library of movies depending on your mood or tastes. Their libraries range in genre, length, and time period, meaning you have every opportunity to find your new favorite cult classic from the 60s or rewatch a childhood favorite, with no price tag.
Sites that legally let you stream movies for free:
YouTube itself has many movies that are free to watch with ads. From award-winning O Brother, Where Art Thou? to the well-lauded zombie thriller Train to Busan, there’s bound to be a few flicks to check out.
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Did you miss Emma starring Anya Taylor-Joy or The Invisible Man starring Elizabeth Moss in 2020? Freevee, hosted on Amazon, has a wide range of movies from recent award nominated films to classic movies.
Cult Cinema Classics
As the name suggests, this channel boasts cult classics from every decade of film. Some of their popular videos are the Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant classic Charade and dozens of Betty Boop animated shorts.
The New Yorker Screening Room
In the mood for something short? The New Yorker has its very own online screening room that features dozens of short films from all over the world that are sure to catch your attention. Beside each film is a logline to give you a quick idea of what it's about. If you are a New Yorker subscriber, you can also read one of the publication's articles that gives more background into the making of the film.
Another popular YouTube channel with a plethora of genres, PizzaFlix offers up everything from black-and-white Sherlock Holmes movies to classics starring icons like Elizabeth Taylor and Jane Russell.
Timeless Classic Movies
Have you ever wanted to watch the horror classic Night of the Living Dead? Or maybe you've wanted to check out The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, one of the greatest horror films of the silent era? Timeless Classic Movies has plenty of classic greats, particularly in the horror or film noir genres, from the 1950s, way back to the 20s, and every time in between.
Disney’s Pixar Shorts
You don’t need a Disney+ subscription to watch Pixar shorts; all you need is a link! On Pixar’s YouTube channel, they have many of their SparkShorts avaialble for free. SparkShorts is a program the company created that allows for any of Pixar’s employees to submit an idea for a short with the chance to have it actually made. The resulting series of indie animated shorts are full of vibrancy and diversity, and are easy enough to watch that you could probably get through them all in one sitting.
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This free online service has everything from 2000s comedies like The Pink Panther and Looney Tunes: Back in Action, to horror classics like Tremors, The Shining, and the Final Destination series. If you’re not feeling either of those genres, you’ll be happy to find other flicks like The Hangover and The Fifth Element on Tubi as well.
h/t: [Open Culture]