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The 11 Best Free Movies On YouTube Right Now

In a world full of competitive streaming options and mounting monthly subscription fees, YouTube is offering a blissful return to basics and a bargain familiar to anyone who still remembers flipping through the channels: Put up with a few ads, and they'll give you some great movies for free. It's a great deal, and their selection has only been getting better. Their free library is loaded up with over 300 movies, many of them old favorites, cult classics, and popular hits. There's never been a better time to expand your horizons or curl up with something familiar and comforting.

And there's no catch. While people have always found ways to illegally upload content to YouTube, this set of movies is sponsored by YouTube itself, completely legal and completely free of charge. Dip in and start enjoying yourself. More are added all the time, but let's take a look at the 22 best free movies on YouTube right now.

Big Trouble in Little China

In 1986, John Carpenter broke the mold with Big Trouble in Little China, a satirical kung fu movie that sets a goofy Kurt Russell down in a labyrinthine Chinatown and leads him through a plot involving kidnapping and sorcery.

Big Trouble in Little China failed so badly at the box office — making back only approximately $11.1 million of its budget, which has been estimated at roughly $20 million — that it drove Carpenter away from the Hollywood system altogether: "I don't want to reach the point where I become embittered about making movies," he told Starlog.

But over the years, the film's reputation has increased, and it's now a bona fide cult classic. Empire rated it among the top 500 movies of all time, and it has vocal defenders who appreciate the way it skewers stereotypical Asian roles in the movies. At the time, it was also rare for a Western movie to feature a predominantly Asian cast. Actor James Hong has said, "There will never be another Big Trouble in Little China... Martial artists, the greatest of all, actors, writers, [in] that movie, John gave us all a chance."

The Terminator

There's never a bad time to watch The Terminator, James Cameron's spectacular 1984 sci-fi action movie about time travel, killer robots, and romance. Sure, it makes us paranoid our smart devices will someday turn against us, but it's good to be prepared.

Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) is an ordinary young woman whose life is suddenly upended when she turns out to be the target of a Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a cyborg sent from the future to destroy her before she can give birth to the son who might grow up to save the human race from an artificial intelligence system called Skynet. Luckily for her, someone else has come from the future — Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), a soldier sent to protect both Sarah and humanity's hope for an eventual victory.

Groundbreaking, intense, and incredibly fun, The Terminator fully deserves the praise heaped on it by Variety: "a blazing, cinematic comic book, full of virtuoso moviemaking, terrific momentum, solid performances and a compelling story." And if you like it, it's spawned a sprawling franchise with plenty more Terminator action to enjoy.

The Color of Money

Walter Tevis is having a bit of a renaissance with the breakout success of The Queen's Gambit Netflix series, which makes this the perfect time to pick up another of his adaptations.

Martin Scorsese's The Color of Money is a "25 years later" sequel to The Hustler, with Paul Newman reprising his role, but the film stands on its own. Newman plays Fast Eddie, a former pool hall hustler who starts mentoring Vincent (Tom Cruise), an up-and-coming player.

There's no way to do a belated sequel and please everybody, even if you're Martin Scorsese, but this is still the film that finally got Paul Newman his well-deserved Best Actor win at the Oscars. The cast is the strongest selling point here: Sheila Benson, writing for the Los Angeles Times, describes the core players as "an electrifying unholy trio." Add in the great match scored to "Werewolves of London" and the off-the-wall fact about how this movie is how the video game Doom got its name? You've got a must-watch.

Let Me In

Let Me In is the English-language version of Sweden's Let the Right One In, and it achieves the difficult task of actually living up to the icily gripping original. In fact, plenty of critics even argue that Let Me In is better. Horror site Bloody Disgusting said: "[Director Matt] Reeves takes a bold (and dangerous) step in (basically) doing a shot-for-shot remake of the Swedish vampire flick, but finds a way to season it with a little more emotion and flavor. Yes, I said it, Let Me In is a BETTER movie." Stephen King called it "the best horror film of the decade." Rolling Stone's Peter Travers said, "Prepare to be wowed. It's a spellbinder."

High praise all around. So what's it all about?

Let Me In is a quiet, creepy study of the friendship that develops between Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhree), a bullied young boy, and an otherworldly — and vampiric — young girl named Abby (Chloë Grace Moretz). Abby's "father," Thomas (Richard Jenkins), is really her protector and provider, tasked with murdering people to provide Abby with a steady supply of fresh blood. Add in the law closing in on Thomas and bullies closing in around Owen, and you get a recipe for both terror and disaster. Beautifully made and impossible to look away from, Let Me In deserves all the acclaim.

Slumdog Millionaire

2008's Slumdog Millionaire probably needs no introduction. Featuring a star director — Danny Boyle of Trainspotting fame — and a star lead — the always-great Dev Patel — Slumdog Millionaire was a huge success, first on the festival circuit and then at the box office. It went on to win an incredible eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.

And, of course, it has a terrific hook. The film tells the life story of Jamal Malik (Dev Patel), a poor young man who has had an unexpected and thrilling victory on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, not missing a single question. Now he has to tell his life story to prove he came by the answers honestly.

The film is packed with incredible, almost fantasy-like coincidences, but it is, as the Los Angeles Times pointed out, not strict realism but rather a "Hollywood-style romantic melodrama that delivers major studio satisfactions in an ultra-modern way." Of course, the film isn't above criticism, especially within India, which critics have argued the movie misrepresents. Whether you see magic in it or just roll your eyes, it's still a great conversation-starter.

Super Size Me

You may not want to watch this one while you're eating. This 2004 documentary chronicles Morgan Spurlock's ambitious — and unusual — quest to eat nothing but McDonald's for every meal for a month, in order to do a crash course on the effect of fast food on the body. Don't try this at home.

As much as no one wants to see Spurlock vomiting in a parking lot, Super Size Me is funny, riveting, and thought-provoking. It spawned multiple critical follow-up fast food binges with varied results. You can obviously argue with the validity of Spurlock's experiment, but it's hard to argue with the entertaining film that results from it. As Empire says, "It's a hugely enjoyable descent into epic gluttony. It's the thinking man's Jackass."

Super Size Me might be about junk food, or it might be about junk science, but it's still incredibly watchable and a raucous good time.

Stargate

Tune into the beginning of an epic franchise with the original Stargate, the 1994 sci-fi film with Kurt Russell and James Spader. It would eventually result in a sprawling set of TV series — Stargate SG-1, Stargate: Atlantis, and Stargate: Universe, which ran for a combined total of 17 seasons — and a whole host of tie-in novels.

But it started out relatively modestly, with a standalone film about an expedition going through a Stargate — a ring that opens up a wormhole through space — to a distant planet, discovering aliens who once came to Earth and posed as Egyptian gods. Spader plays Daniel Jackson, a civilian linguist, and Russell is Colonel Jack O'Neil, an Air Force officer who is fine with this being a suicide mission.

The film got a rocky critical reception. Roger Ebert hated it so much that he included it in a 2005 round-up of his most hated films. But it got a few kinder notices, including from MovieLine, which described it as "an instant camp classic," which at least makes it the good kind of bad. At the time, no one could see the kind of mark it would eventually leave on the TV landscape. It really is the little sci-fi film that could.

Moulin Rouge!

Moulin Rouge is wonderfully and unabashedly overblown, from its swoon-worthy romance to its gorgeously artificial sets and its exuberant musical numbers that are mashups of popular songs.

The story follows Christian (Ewan McGregor), an aspiring young writer living in a garret in Paris. When he meets Satine (Nicole Kidman), a courtesan and the star performer at the Moulin Rouge cabaret, the two fall in love at first sight. But Satine needs to be practical — she's promised to the weaselly Duke (Richard Roxburgh), who has invested heavily in the Moulin Rouge's new show... which Christian is supposed to write. It's a tangled web of desire, secrets, danger, heartbreak, and can-cans.

Within the movie, the Moulin Rouge promises that the new show will leave its audience "dumb with wonderment," and that's exactly the effect of Moulin Rouge itself. Entertainment Weekly sums it up well: "Baz Luhrmann's trippy pop culture pastiche from 2001 [is] an aesthetically arresting ode to poetry, passion, and Elton John." If that description sounds at all like something you would like, Moulin Rouge was made for you.

Ghost in the Shell (1995)

Even if you haven't seen Ghost in the Shell, you've probably seen Ghost in the Shell.

This cyberpunk noir anime, centering on a cyborg government agent investigating a hacker, has exerted a huge influence on science fiction movies. As the Guardian recounts, when the Wachowskis saw it, their pitch for The Matrix gelled: they screened the movie for prospective producers and announced, "We wanna do that for real." James Cameron, who admired the film, borrowed a little from it in making Avatar; Steven Spielberg did the same with AI: Artificial Intelligence. It really was a perfect storm of stunning visuals, high-concept ideas, and futuristic speculation.

And, as one of the breakout anime movies in the West, it remains a terrific gateway into the form. Reel Rundown gives it an enthusiastic recommendation: "As deep as its wonderful animation and posing lots of philosophical questions, Ghost in the Shell is a world-class piece of science fiction that is uniquely Japanese and utterly irresistible... dark, brooding and adult." It's not just worth watching, it's worth using as an intro to a whole complex genre.

Traitor

2008's Traitor is a great, tense thriller that, thanks to its casting of Don Cheadle and Guy Pearce, now has the benefit of feeling like a very weird Iron Man 2 reunion.

The movie dives straight into a thicket of moral dilemmas and high-stakes conflicts. Cheadle plays Samir Horn, a Sudanese-American man who seems to be engaging in some murky dealings; FBI Agent Roy Clayton (Pearce) suspects him of terrorism. But this is more than a cat and mouse game: It's really a kind of character study that's a vehicle for Cheadle's performance.

Even critics who found the politics clumsily handled or the twists implausible agree that it's hard to look away from Cheadle. A.O. Scott of the New York Times wrote, "Cheadle's performance gives Traitor a sense of ethical gravity and real intrigue... Somehow the character retains his credibility even as the movie, perhaps inevitably, trips over some of its own complexities and confusions." If you can allow for a slightly messy plot as long as a film is ambitious enough and has this strong of a performance, you're bound to be glued to your seat during Traitor.

The Cutting Edge

Sometimes cult classics are weird, challenging movies that could never have found a mainstream audience. And sometimes they're adorably cheesy rom-com sports movies. We don't make the rules; we just watch the movies. And we can definitely get behind The Cutting Edge, the endearing early '90s movie about a prima donna figure skater (Moira Kelly) and the former ice hockey star (D.B. Sweeney) who becomes her new skating partner.

The movie has plenty of loyal fans who perfectly sum up its sunny appeal. Writing for Decider, Josh Sorokach says, "At its core, The Cutting Edge is an endlessly rewatchable, immensely enjoyable film that not only understands but embraces the fact that rom-coms are supposed to be fun... the film's ideal rating in a fair and just world [would be]: 100% followed by eight exclamation marks, four hockey pucks, the thumbs-up icon, and a smiley face with sunglasses emoji." Fansided agrees: The movie is just plain irresistible and "like a fine wine ... [it] has gotten better with age." Whether it's an old favorite or whether you're watching it for the first time, it's almost guaranteed to turn a bad day around.