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The Best Free Movies On YouTube

With so many streaming services and droves of new, exciting movies released all the time, it can be overwhelming to figure out what to watch when you just want to settle in with a new movie on a cozy weekend night. However, if you don't have the budget for a subscription service — with Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go, Amazon Prime, and more, the charges can add up quickly — or are just looking to expand your horizons, there's a new unlikely spot for great free (and legal) movies: YouTube.

Long known throughout the internet as a place for quick and funny videos, short series, and clips, YouTube is branching out as a streaming service. You can rent or purchase films directly through the side for a small fee, but now, they're setting themselves apart from the pack by releasing almost 100 free films, meaning all you have to do to watch one of your favorite flicks is sit through a few short ads. Here are some of the best movies you can watch right now for free on YouTube.

Tai Chi Zero

2012 saw the release of Tai Chi Zero, the first in a trilogy of super stylized Chinese action movies that blend 3D shots and ambitious camerawork with live-action martial arts (the second film in the series, Tai Chi Hero, is also available for free on YouTube, and the third, Tai Chi Summit, is yet to be released). The inaugural film in the series focuses on Yang Lu Chan (Jayden Yuan), a "freak" and outsider whose identifying feature is the horn in the middle of his forehead. The horn can trigger Hulk-level strength, making him a powerful fighter despite his lack of discipline, and in order to train, he goes to the secluded and exclusive Chen Village to learn t'ai chi ch'uan, an ancient form of martial arts that will allow him to harness his dangerous energy in a productive way, from the unwilling Master Chen.

Throughout his journey, Lu Chan meets Master Chen's beautiful daughter, Yu Niang (Angelababy), as well as her angry, outsider brother Fang Zijing (Eddie Peng), who was never taught the ancient martial art and is extraordinarily bitter about it. With its comic-book stylings — including onscreen diagrams of martial arts moves — the film was overwhelming for some critics, although some critics deemed it a "zippy postmodern object," and it ended up with a 61% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Directed by Frank Oz and adapted from a 1964 film called Bedtime Story, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels tells the uproarious tale of two con men trying to cheat a rich heiress out of $50,000. Michael Caine and Steve Martin co-star as smooth Englishman Lawrence Jamieson and his undignified American counterpart, Freddy Benson. Glenne Headly co-stars as rich socialite and would-be victim Janet Colgate, who has a few secrets of her own.

There are plenty of wild stories behind this wild film (for instance, Mick Jagger, David Bowie, John Cleese, and Eddie Murphy were all attached to the project at various points), but perhaps the best anecdote is from eventual star Michael Caine. When none of the crew members laughed, Caine claimed, he knew it was the funniest film he would ever make — and he was right. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels remains a comedy staple, and will be remade starring Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson.

Masters of the Universe

Based on the popular line of Mattel toys that featured characters like He-Man and Skeletor, Masters of the Universe should have been a cinematic slam dunk for young fans of the action figures, but that's not quite how it turned out. Starring Dolph Lundgren as He-Man alongside Frank Langella and Courteney Cox, the film tells the story of He-Man traveling to Earth to rescue the magical Cosmic Key, which accidentally falls into the hands of two teenagers, Kevin (Robert Duncan McNeill) and Julie (Cox). The group of heroes, human and alien warriors alike, are pursued by the evil Skeletor (Langella) and his main henchwoman, Evil-Lyn (Meg Foster).

Upon its release in 1987, the film fared poorly both critically and commercially, grossing only $17 million at the box office (against a $22 million budget) and suffering a slew of epic burns from critics. However, don't discount it just yet — in the years since its release, the film has gained a cult following, with defenders saying that it deserves a second chance and, despite its campy feel, is absolutely worth a watch. In fact, the franchise may be getting a reboot, so it's probably a good idea to revisit the original before the original becomes Hollywood's next big comeback story.

Europa Report

An ambitious yet seriously low-budget science fiction film from Ecuadorian director Sebastián Cordero, Europa Report stars a few big names like Embeth Davidtz (best known for Schindler's List and Matilda, among others) and the late Michael Nyqvist (who appeared in a Mission: Impossible film and John Wick, as well as the Swedish Millennium series) and focuses on a group of astronauts searching for life on Europa, one of Jupiter's moons. Six months into the mission, the ship is suddenly hit by a solar storm which leaves them unable to communicate with anyone on Earth, and after a series of accidents (including the death of Corrigan, a beloved junior engineer played by Sharlto Copley), they eventually land on Europa, discovering evidence that a single-celled organism exists on the planet and restoring communication, but the crew never makes it back to Earth, leaving behind only a video that is transmitted back home.

The making of the film was extremely faithful to the realities of space travel and of Europa itself — the filmmakers used maps for accuracy, and they used footage of space walks from the International Space Station and space shuttle to correctly portray how a human might move within space as well. These tactics paid off when it came to critical reception — among other positive reviews, space.com noted that the film was extraordinarily realistic, and it was nominated for a Bradbury Award by the SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) in 2013.


Flawless features an all-star pair as its two main cast members — Demi Moore and Michael Caine, both of whom shine in this creative heist thriller. The film opens on Laura Quinn (Moore), who is being interviewed for a relatively superficial piece about being the first woman to run the London Diamond Corporation, when she suddenly places an enormous diamond on the table in front of her and announces that she stole it. In a flashback to 1960, the film tells the story of Quinn's days at the London Diamond Corporation, where she keeps losing jobs to unqualified men and finds out from the building's janitor, Mr. Hobbs (Caine), that not only is she not getting promoted, the higher-ups are planning to fire her. Together, they put together a plan to rob the Corporation, but as with every good heist film, several twists and turns keep Quinn and Hobbs from their goals — and at every fork in the road, the two are tracked by Mr. Finch (French actor Lambert Wilson), a private investigator hired to investigate the crime.

The film earned lukewarm reviews from critics, but it's well worth a watch, thanks to its engrossing story, number of sharp turns, and excellent cast.

The World's Fastest Indian

Based on actual events, The World's Fastest Indian tells the story of Burt Munro, a speed racer from Invercargill, New Zealand who owned an Indian Scout motorcycle that he outfitted to his own specifications. Munro, as played by Anthony Hopkins, set a high number of land speed records for motorcycles (specifically ones with engines that were less than 1,000 cc) throughout the 1950s and 1960s, and as the film tells us, he encountered a number of hardships on this path to speed and glory. After irritating his neighbors at home in New Zealand, he hops a cargo ship to the States, where he's looked down upon by the people of Los Angeles, though he eventually succeeds thanks to a can-do attitude and pure friendliness. Overcoming the odds, he arrives at the Bonneville Salt Flats, the real-life home of the Bonneville Speedway, and ends up breaking several records and returning home to New Zealand as a hero.

Though the film received praise from both audiences and critics, some criticized it for being historically inaccurate, including concerns about Munro's race at the Bonneville Salt Flats, which ended up serving as a combination of some of Munro's greatest races, and concerns about U.K. native Hopkins playing the lead — though as far as the latter issue was concerned, at least one New Zealand critic confessed that though there were some accent errors, he embodied the spirit of Munro.


Infamous outlaw Butch Cassidy and his accomplice, the Sundance Kid, have been profiled almost countless times in pop culture — including Blackthorn, starring lauded playwright and actor Sam Shepard as an aged Cassidy, hiding out in South America as James Blackthorn. Shepard is joined by Nikolai-Coster Waldau (now known as Jaime Lannister on Game of Thrones) as a young Cassidy, who returns to the United States after the death of another Wild Bunch accomplice, Etta Price; along the way, he is attacked by a mysterious Spaniard, and the two eventually team up for a robbery, leading to plenty of betrayals and backstabbing along the way.

The film received mixed reviews from critics, undoubtedly suffering from comparisons to other depictions of Cassidy in film; outlets like the New York Times admitted that while some parts of the film worked splendidly, it fell victim to many Western cliches and simply didn't work as a whole. The reason to see it, unsurprisingly, is Shepard's performance, which was singled out for praise in an array of reviews, including those from the Los Angeles Times and Time Out New York.

The Escort

A 2016 release that flew deeply under the radar, The Escort is fairly self-explanatory, highlighting an unlikely love story while simultaneously humanizing the women who work in the sex industry. Directed by newcomer Will Slocombe, the film stars Lyndsy Fonseca as the title role, who viewers may recognize from RePlay, Agent Carter, or even as one of Ted Mosby's two children in How I Met Your Mother. Fonseca's Natalie is a Stanford-educated, high-end escort who is feeling unsafe in her line of work and ends up meeting Mitch (Michael Doneger), a broke, single journalist struggling with a sex addiction. They make a deal: Mitch will act as Natalie's bodyguard of sorts. But over time, the two end up developing feelings for each other.

The cast of this small indie film is rounded out by a few recognizable faces, including Tommy Dewey (Casual & The Mindy Project), Sonya Walgner (Lost), and even Rumer Willis (the daughter of Demi Moore and Bruce Willis, who has found success of her own in film and television), and though it wasn't seen by many, The Hollywood Reporter praised the film after its debut at the Los Angeles Film Festival, describing it as charming and sharp.


Before he joined the Star Wars universe with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and reinvented a classic with 2014's Godzilla, director Gareth Edwards broke onto the scene with Monsters, his 2010 directorial debut (for which he also acted as a producer, production designer, and designed all the visual effects). The creative sci-fi film concerns a NASA deep space probe that causes extraterrestrial life to spread across the border between Mexico and the United States; eventually, the infestation leads to part of Mexico being quarantined, and a wall is constructed between Mexico and the United States (an oddly prescient plot point). It also tells the story of an American photojournalist, Andrew Kaulder (Scoot McNairy), who is asked to find his boss' daughter, Samantha (Whitney Able) in Mexico and bring her safely back to the States, even though most forms of transportation have been rendered non-viable.

After its debut at South by Southwest in 2010, the film fared well critically, with a 73% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and critics praising the deft mix of romance, action, and classic science fiction themes throughout. Though it ended up spawning an ill-advised sequel, Monsters is a worthwhile watch.

Painted Skin: The Resurrection

Released in 2008, the Chinese film Painted Skin is a blend of supernatural action, horror, and romance that told the story of a series of love triangles, a series of murders, several demons, and fox spirits. An enormous hit in China, it broke box office records; in 2012, director Wuershan reunited most of the original cast for Painted Skin: The Resurrection, telling the story of Xiaowei (Zhou Xun), the fox demon from the first film, on a mission to find a man to fall in love with so she can assume a permanent human form. Xiaowei ends up intertwined with Princess Jing (Zhao Wei), a heavily scarred yet beautiful princess.

A beautiful film about the bond between the supernatural and human worlds, Painted Skin: The Resurrection received excellent reviews from critics while setting records at the Chinese box office, so all in all, even if you haven't seen the original Painted Skin, it's certainly worth settling in for a viewing of this exceptional foreign film.

Get Shorty

Based on a novel by Elmore Leonard, Get Shorty was released in 1995, five years after the book hit shelves. Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, who got his start as a cinematographer for the Coen brothers before getting into directing, the film stars huge names like John Travolta, Rene Russo, Gene Hackman, and Danny DeVito as gangsters, loan sharks, and everyone in between. Travolta plays Chili Palmer, a loan shark who goes through a series of jobs and disturbing discoveries before meeting film producer Harry Zimm (Hackman), from whom Palmer is supposed to collect a rather large sum — and whose Hollywood background awakens an unlikely new dream within the low-level mobster.

With a supporting cast that includes Harvey Keitel, Penny Marshall (as herself), Bette Midler, and James Gandolfini, the film was a hit both critically and commercially, earning Travolta a Golden Globe as well as spawning a 2005 sequel and an eventual series based on both the original film and novel starring Chris O'Dowd (Bridesmaids, The IT Crowd) and Ray Romano. Get your Get Shorty journey started with this classic '90s flick.

A Company Man

An action drama that was released in the United States in 2013 after its 2012 debut in South Korea, A Company Man tells the gripping story of a hitman who finds his life turned upside down. Masquerading as a normal white-collar worker, Hyeong-do (So Ji-sub) seems like any other man in a suit, but really, he's a dangerous assassin whose front is a job as a manager at a fake metal company. As one of the most sought after hit men in the business, Hyeong-do is highly valued, but when he meets a young single mother with whom he falls in love, his future at the company is compromised. Its theatrical release in the United States was limited at best, but now, American film fans finally have an opportunity to experience this Korean hit.


Written and directed by Keith Palmer, Swelter is a low-budget action film from 2014 that tells the story of the aftermath of a big-time Las Vegas casino heist. Starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, Alfred Molina, Grant Bowler, and Josh Henderson, the plot focuses on a group of thieves recently released from prison, who pulled off a casino robbery ten years prior but lost track of the money when all but one of them were shot and left for dead.

Though the film never received a full theatrical release, instead going directly to DVD, some of those who got the chance to see it compared it to classic films like Reservoir Dogs, and it was even nominated for an award at the International Press Academy's Satellite Awards. Now on YouTube, the film can find new life with an entirely new audience.

Great World of Sound

A small independent film that made a fairly big impression, Great World of Sound came out in the midst of the reality television fame phenomenon of the late aughts, when seemingly anybody could become instantly famous on an American Idol-type show without having to struggle or maybe even possess the requisite talent. Directed by Craig Zobel, who also helped to create Homestar Runner and would later go on to direct Z by Zachariah starring Margot Robbie, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Chris Pine, this unorthodox documentary features Pat Healy as Martin and Kene Holliday as Clarence, two men undercover on an actual audition circuit who convince strangers to perform for them in exchange for free recordings of their CDs and contact with radio stations. Those auditioning, tricked into thinking the two actors were record industry executives, were frequently and often entirely unaware that this was a film shoot, exposing themselves fully. Though a fictional throughline runs through the film, it ultimately blurs fact and fiction, thanks to the real-life audition footage Zobel incorporated, and it ends up being an incredibly revealing look about the desire for fame and celebrity.

Though many critics were likely unsure about how to fully categorize Great World, it still was well-received by critics; Roger Ebert gave the film three stars, noting that Zobel's debut was confident and well-designed, despite defying genre.

I'll Follow You Down

Fans of time-traveling sci-fi films will love I'll Follow You Down (released outside the United States and Canada as Continuum), a 2013 thriller starring well-known actors like Gillian Anderson, Haley Joel Osment, Rufus Sewell, and Victor Garber. It tells the tale of a professor (played by Sewell) who leaves for a business trip and never comes home. His son Erol (Osment) determines that his father's disappearance is due to his research experiments with time travel, but as he works with his grandfather (Garber) to find a way to travel in time, several disturbing events occur.

Though the film didn't fare so well critically, director Richie Mehta's science fiction outing was praised for its high-end cast, and thanks to the enduring love for Anderson's work on The X-Files and all the goodwill Osment has built up since The Sixth Sense, it's very possible that new viewers could discover this complicated time-travel odyssey.

Benny & Joon

The 1993 romantic comedy Benny & Joon starred a young Johnny Depp alongside Mary Stuart Masterson, telling the quirky love story of two unconventional people. Masterson plays Joon, orphaned and mentally ill, who lives with and is supported by her brother Benny (Aidan Quinn), but is romanced throughout the film by Sam (Depp), a friend's cousin struggling with illiteracy. While Benny wants to help his sister, he is unsupportive of her budding relationship with Sam, and frequently gets between them to his own detriment.

With huge stars like Depp as well as stars like William H. Macy, Oliver Platt, and future Academy Award winner Julianne Moore, even with a difficult and often challenging story, the film was a bona fide hit, with positive notices from critics and a surprisingly good draw at the box office. Even if just for the early performances from some of today's biggest stars, Benny & Joon stands the test of time and remains worth a watch today.

Very Good Girls

2014's Very Good Girls certainly has all the marks of a prestige indie film. Its cast includes Demi Moore, Ellen Barkin, Richard Dreyfuss, and Peter Sarsgaard alongside stars Dakota Fanning and Elizabeth Olsen (the younger sibling of the Olsen twins, who has since made a name for herself as Scarlet Witch in the Marvel Cinematic Universe). The film tells the story of two young women, Lily (Fanning) and Gerri (Olsen), who fall for the same boy, David (Boyd Holbrook), during their last summer before college. Both girls have to weather personal strife that goes beyond typical teenage girl drama, complicated by the fact that David is more interested in Lily, creating a rift between the two friends.

Unfortunately, the film wasn't exactly a hit with critics, but it was nonetheless praised the film for its sharpness and excellent performances. With promising stars like Olsen and Fanning, the film is worth a watch, and anyone who struggled through their teenage years will absolutely find a moment (or several) incredibly and perhaps painfully relatable.

With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story

The late, great Stan Lee was more than just a comic book writer — he was a self-made superhero and a legend unto himself. After his passing at the age of 95 in 2018, there's no better time to watch With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story, which chronicles everything from his childhood to the creation of seminal characters like the Hulk, Spider-Man, and the X-Men. Lee's life was so long and storied that many may have forgotten how many things he lived through and accomplished, including serving in World War II and his hard-fought battle to prevent comic books from being censored in the 1950s. The documentary wisely lets Lee speak for himself through most of its 80-minute runtime, telling stories about his humble beginnings. A particularly moving anecdote reveals that he once came close to quitting comics altogether until his wife, Joan, convinced him to write what he really wanted to write about, which resulted in the creation of the Fantastic Four.

No documentary about Stan Lee would be complete without plenty of Marvel stars and celebrities to talk about his influence, and a wealth of famous faces appear, from Tobey Maguire and Samuel L. Jackson to Paris Hilton and Ringo Starr. This film serves as the perfect ode to an icon and shows that he was still, at his core, relatable and accessible, even as perhaps the most influential man in comic book history.

Jesus Camp

This Oscar-nominated documentary may seem, at first glance, that it's choosing sides purely by existing, but Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing, the directors of Jesus Camp, wanted to assure viewers that they truly intended the film to be an accurate representation of camps where Christian teenagers were taught to take back the country and their identities as worshippers. The film focuses exclusively on a camp based in North Dakota called the Kids of Fire School of Ministry, turning an even narrower focus to three children who attended — Levi, Rachael, and Tory. Switching between the camp itself and a prayer conference in Missouri at Christ Triumphant Church, the film casts the camp's leader, Becky Fischer, in a dubious light, including a scene during which conservative talk radio host Mike Papantonio questions her choice to focus on bringing children into her particular brand of faith teaching.

The film immediately stirred up controversy by showing scenes where children were seemingly indoctrinated against "Muslim extremists" and told to be a part of the "army of God," and though many critics viewed the portrayal of evangelical Christians as straightforward and unflinching, Fischer eventually shut down the camp amidst criticism and concerns about her teachings, though she cited concerns about vandalism in the aftermath of the film.  

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

This 2011 documentary by director David Gelb focuses on Jiro Ono, an 85-year-old master chef and the proprietor of Sukiyabashi Jiro, an extremely unique Michelin-starred sushi restaurant in Tokyo. The restaurant only offers a 20-course fixed menu of dishes that cost at least 30,000 Japanese yen (just under $300 USD), has only ten seats, and is located, oddly enough, inside a subway station. Takashi, Jiro's younger son, left the nest to open a restaurant elsewhere in Japan, while his older brother, Yoshikazu, considers himself duty-bound to take over Sukiyabashi Jiro, and still works with their father. 

Originally, Gelb was going to make a documentary about sushi culture in general, but after eating at Jiro's restaurant, he was struck by the chef's artistry, commitment, and focus (not to mention his incredible sushi), and chose to focus exclusively on Jiro instead. The film has been met with nearly universal critical acclaim, and was even parodied by Fred Armisen on his series Documentary Now! (in which Armisen learns how to make the perfect grain of rice from his father, a no-nonsense chef). It has also been argued that the film is a perfect antidote to today's haphazard and "unfocused" culture, in that watching a master of his craft perfect the same techniques time and time again may inspire viewers to stop chasing the "next big thing" and learn to focus.

And While We Were Here

The story of strained marriages and new love, 2012's And While We Were Here was filmed on Ischia, an island outside of Naples, and stars Kate Bosworth alongside Jamie Blackley and Iddo Goldberg. During a visit to Naples, Jane (Bosworth) and her distant husband Leonard (Blackley) are having trouble connecting, so Jane takes a ferry to Ischia and meets a young, intriguing man named Caleb (Goldberg), with whom she immediately becomes infatuated. Throughout the film, Jane and Caleb begin an affair, even as Jane tries to rekindle the romance in her marriage.

Director Kat Coiro chose Ischia for personal reasons, as well as the fact that it's an incredibly beautiful locale, and though she originally wanted the film to be in black and white, she agreed to change it to color in order to attract a larger audience. Though the film received middling reviews from critics, it's a universal story of love, loss, and connection that will resonate with new audiences.

The Truth About Emanuel

Written, directed, and produced by Francesca Gregorini (Barbara Bach's daughter and Ringo Starr's stepdaughter), The Truth About Emanuel is a dark thriller about loss, grief, and letting go. Starring Jessica Biel, Kaya Scoledario (known for The Maze Runner films, among others), Alfred Molina, and Jimmi Simpson, the film tells the story of Emanuel (Scoledario), a teenage girl grappling with the loss of her mother who meets her mysterious new neighbor Linda (Biel), whose "daughter," Chloe, turns out to be a doll rather than a real child. As the story continues, Emanuel begins to have strange visions involving Chloe as well as her late mother, and the two women come together while coming to terms with their pasts.

After the film's premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in 2012, Gregorini received a nomination for the festival's Grand Jury Prize — Dramatic. Despite a cold reception from critics, this intense film is ready to discover a new life with a wider audience after its initial limited release.