Subscription streaming services like Netflix and Disney + might get all the attention, but the less advertised ones like Vudu, IMDb TV and Tubi also have a ton of great movies and TV shows in their libraries. Most importantly, many of their library offerings are available to watch for free, as long as you don’t mind watching a few ads along the way.
Below you will find a selection of the best movies to watch for free right now, including those that are family friendly and those that are not. TV Guide also has a list of the best TV shows to watch for free, if you fancy some TVs. And if you’re looking for something to watch right now, free or not, check out our Watch This Now page.
Movies for the whole family
Paddington (TV IMDb)
The live adventures of Paddington Bear (voiced by Ben Whishaw) are in addition to one of the few children’s films that is really fun for the whole family. Everyone will find something to love in this charming comedy. ((Paddington 2 it’s even better, but it’s not free streaming.)
Elf (TV IMDb)
You don’t have to wait for Christmas to enjoy the hustle and bustle of Buddy the Elf in New York. In fact, Will Ferrell’s unbridled joy could be a perfect comeback in these difficult times.
Little giants (TV IMDb)
This family comedy is near and dear to the hearts of 90’s children. It stars Rick Moranis as coach of the Little Giants, an equipment and waste ragtag pee-wee football team that faces the Polite Little Cowboys , coached by his brother and rival, played by Ed O’Neill. It is directed by Duwayne Dunham, who edited another film on this list, Blue velvet. He’s a versatile guy.
The never-ending story (TV IMDb)
This 80s classic may be too scary for small children (PG meant something different in 1984), but older children will be pierced by the magic puppet from this fantastic film (Falkor!) And sophisticated storytelling. It tells the story of Atreyu’s quest to save the mythical land of Fantasia from the evil force called Nothing.
Spider Man (TV IMDb)
One of the first in the modern era of superhero movies is still one of the best, especially for the way it does not look like other modern superhero movies. No MCU movie would ever have a scene like the one where Spider-Man (Tobey Maguire) and Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) kiss in the rain. I was 12 when this movie came out, the perfect age to watch it, and anyone my age can tell you how formative he was. An infinitely rewatchable film.
After the children go to bed
The passion of Christ (Vudu, IMDb TV, Tubi, Pluto TV)
Mel Gibson’s brutal, controversial and important religious film is still powerful, 16 years after its release. It covers the last 12 hours of the life of Jesus Christ, in agonizing details. It’s a classic among the faithful, and the most profitable film, not in English or Mandarin of all time. (if you want to watch it ad-free, it’s on Amazon Prime.)
Relay (Vudu, IMDb TV)
This trash masterpiece is one of the craziest cult films ever made. Every part of this action movie – from Patrick Swayze’s mule to the design of the bar holder (the group plays behind a chain link fence to protect them from rowdy customers) to exaggerated dialogue – is completely absurd and completely perfect. And watching it with ads will make you feel like you’re surfing the Saturday afternoon channels you want from a movie like this.
Ghost in the shell (Vudu, Tubi)
This classic Japanese film is one of the most accessible entry points into the vast world of anime, because it is so good that it can be enjoyed on its own without knowing anything about the genre (see also: films Studio Ghibli and Akira, also available free on Tubi). It tells a philosophical science fiction story of a cyborg who doesn’t know what it means to be human, a common science fiction trope that does better here than almost anywhere else.
Blue velvet (Vudu, Pluto TV)
It is obvious that this cult classic film is thrown with all the other cheap direct style thrillers on DVD and horror films from the free stack. David Lynch’s voyeuristic masterpiece exploring the dark belly of a seemingly idyllic small town is one of the best movies of the 1980s, with an unforgettable and terrifying performance by Dennis Hopper as psychotic criminal Frank Booth.
Chief (TV IMDb)
Jon Favreau’s love letter to food is one of the most appetizing films of the past decade. Favreau plays in this dramatic comedy as an upscale chef who leaves his fancy restaurant job to open a catering truck. This will make you yearn for the days when you could still go to a restaurant. Damn, do you remember restaurants? I liked it.
Looking for more recommendations for TV and movies? We have a ton.