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17 movies free to stream right now: The Sixth Sense, Die Hard, Train to Busan, more

You don't need a subscription to Netflix, Hulu or HBO Max to enjoy some genuinely great films, including several Oscar winners.

the-sixth-sense-1999
Buena Vista Pictures

Sure, there's a plethora of subscription-based streaming platforms out there with an endless selection of movies. But you don't always have to fork over cash to access some of the best films, as there are plenty of sites that offer totally free movies.

All you need is an internet connection and your phone, tablet or TV, ideally one equipped with Fire TV or Roku capabilities so it can 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 are ad-free but require a library card from a participating library.

Here are some of our top picks ranging from comedy to drama to horror. Availability is subject to change, as the services rotate their selections on a regular basis.

Read more: Best movies 2021: I Care a Lot, Nomadland, A Quiet Place Part 2, more

Movies to stream for free right now

Parasite (2019)

Neon

This South Korean film stole the spotlight at the 2020 Oscars, and for good reason. Directed by Bong Joon-ho, Parasite is a dark yet hilarious masterpiece that explores issues of class while keeping viewers on their toes.

Where to watch: Kanopy

Back to the Future (1985)

In this sci-fi classic, teenager Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) is accidentally sent to the '50s in a time-traveling DeLorean, and encounters young versions of his parents.

Where to watch: Peacock

The Big Short (2015)

Paramount Pictures

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. 

Where to watch: Kanopy, Tubi

Train to Busan (2016)

Next Entertainment World

A must-watch for horror fans, this South Korean film follows a father and daughter who get trapped on a train during a zombie outbreak. (The film is slated for an American remake, which has some fans up in arms. Guess you'll have to watch the original to decide for yourself how you feel about it all.)

Where to watch: Peacock

Die Hard (1988)

Video screenshot by Gael Fashingbauer Cooper/CNET

In this hugely popular action film (slash Christmas movie?), A New York policeman finds himself fighting to save a group of hostages from foreign terrorists in a Los Angeles high-rise. 

Where to watch: Peacock

Men in Black (1997)

Columbia Pictures

This sci-fi action comedy stars Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith, who play members of a secret agency supervising alien lifeforms on Earth. 

Where to watch: Peacock

The Founder (2016)

The Weinstein Company

You may never be able to pass the golden arches of McDonalds again without reflecting on the fast food giant's humble -- and tumultuous -- beginnings. The Founder tells the true story of how Ray Kroc turned the burger restaurant into a global giant, rough patches and all.

Where to watch: Pluto TV

Moonlight (2016)

In an Oscars ceremony finale no one is likely to forget, Moonlight was named best picture in 2017 (sorry, La La Land). The film follows the story of a young Black man grappling with his identity and sexuality.

Where to watch: Kanopy

ET the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

This '80s classic doesn't get old. About a boy who befriends a homesick alien, ET will make you nostalgic while pulling at your heartstrings.

Where to watch: Peacock

Lady Bird (2017)

Saoirse Ronan shines in this poignant coming-of-age story about a young woman who yearns for adventure while trudging through high school in Sacramento, California.  

Where to watch: Kanopy

The Sixth Sense (1999)

Buena Vista Pictures

Perfect for your Halloween movie binge, The Sixth Sense follows a child psychologist and a boy he's trying to help who sees ghosts. But what's real and what isn't starts to get a little blurry, making for a hauntingly memorable story.

Where to watch: Peacock

Ex Machina (2014)

DNA Films

If you prefer your sci-fi dark, occasionally disturbing and thoroughly thought-provoking, watch Alicia Vikander absolutely crush it as the android Ava. Anyone who digs Black Mirror will almost certainly dig this as well. In fact, Ex Machina could easily join that archive of futuristic cautionary tales. Same aesthetic, same vibe. (And Domhnall Gleeson was even in one of the best Black Mirror eps, Be Right Back.)

Where to watch: Kanopy

Captain Fantastic (2016)

Bleecker Street

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

Where to watch: Kanopy

Cast Away (2000)

Screenshot by Abrar Al-Heeti/CNET

When a FedEx executive's (Tom Hanks) plane crashes in a storm over the Pacific Ocean, he becomes the sole survivor and learns to live on a deserted island with only his volleyball friend, Wilson.

Where to watch: Peacock

Logan Lucky (2017)

Fingerprint Releasing

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.

Where to watch: Kanopy

What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

Madman Entertainment

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.

Where to watch: Kanopy

Stalag 17 (1953)

Paramount Pictures

This is one of the all-time great prisoner-of-war movies (and the obvious inspiration for the TV series Hogan's Heroes). Someone in the barracks is a German spy, and all signs point to William Holden. Is it him? The movie -- part comedy, part drama -- does a great job stretching out the whodunnit, leading to a genuinely surprising, satisfying conclusion.

Where to watch: Tubi