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The 11 best movies you can stream for free right now

No money for Netflix? No problem! Here's a list of genuinely great movies that won't cost you a cent.

inception-leonardo-dicaprio

You can watch Inception for free right now.

Warner Bros. Pictures

Feel as though you've run out of things to watch? Why not fill some holes in your movie resume or introduce friends or family to some beloved classics? Don't worry if you're low on funds for the likes of Netflix, HBO and other paid services: There are plenty of totally free streaming 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.

Below I've rounded up some of the best free movies available right now, meaning January 2021. Availability is subject to change, as the services rotate their selections on a regular basis. These are, of course, my personal picks. If you've recently streamed a freebie you wholeheartedly recommend, name it -- and where you watched it -- in the comments!

Read more: The TV shows we're watching during the coronavirus lockdown

Almost Famous

almost-famous
DreamWorks Pictures

Where to watch: The Roku Channel

In the pantheon of movies about rock bands, Almost Famous holds a top spot. Cameron Crowe's semiautobiographical nod to his early journalist days is notable not just for rocketing Kate Hudson to stardom, but also for the best use of an Elton John song in any movie ever.

The Big Short

Where to watch: Crackle

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. 

Captain Fantastic

Where to watch: Kanopy

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. 

Read more: Best streaming device of 2021: Roku, Apple TV, Fire Stick, Nvidia Shield and more compared  

Ex Machina

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A24

Where to watch: Kanopy

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.)

Read more: Coronavirus movie delays: 2020 and 2021 blockbusters postponed

Inception

Where to watch: The Roku Channel

Some consider this to be Christopher Nolan's best movie. Some think it's an overwrought mess of ludicrous plotting. (Jumping into someone else's dreams to implant suggestions? Sure, OK.) Me, I find it a thoroughly entertaining movie, one that works best if you don't overthink it. And I don't recall it ever being free to stream before. Just make sure to watch the Inception Pitch Meeting when you're done.

Logan Lucky

logan-lucky
Fingerprint Releasing

Where to watch: Kanopy

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.

Read more: James Bond movies ranked: The best and worst of 007

Stalag 17

Where to watch: Tubi TV

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.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Where to watch: Pluto TV

This is how you do Star Trek. Taking the "seed" (Trek fans will get it) of a story planted in the original series, director Nicholas Meyer crafted a movie that hits every note perfectly. At times funny, sad, thrilling and surprising, Wrath of Khan holds up incredibly well even after almost 40 years. 

That Thing You Do

Where to watch: The Roku Channel

Quite possibly the most underrated and overlooked movie on Tom Hanks' resume, this joyous gem charts the rise of fictional '60s band The Wonders. It's sweet, smart and funny, with an infectious soundtrack and more than a few familiar faces. (Watch for Liv Tyler and Charlize Theron in two of their earliest film roles.) Hanks plays a fairly minor part, which might explain why this isn't widely regarded as a "Tom Hanks movie," but give credit where it's due: He wrote and directed it as well.

What We Do in the Shadows

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What We Do in the Shadows draws back the curtain on vampire share houses.

Madman Entertainment

Where to watch: Kanopy

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 (cough, Twilight, cough).

Zombieland

Where to watch: Peacock

Who says the end of the world can't be funny? OK, it's not looking so hilarious in real life, but this makes it awfully fun to watch. Zombieland is chock full of clever twists on the (sorry) done-to-death zombie flick, and just like the aforementioned Shadows, it's refreshingly unserious about the subject matter.

Read more: All the latest Roku and Vudu coupons and the 15 best movies to watch on Amazon Prime Video.


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