It wasn’t too long ago that if you wanted to watch a movie for free, you had to either sit through whatever was playing on basic cable, sneak into a movie theater, or get yourself invited over to the house of a friend who pays for Netflix or one of its competitors.
Not any more: Thousands of films are streaming for free if you know where to look, including some of the best films of all time.
You might think that all streaming services are subscription-based (meaning that you need to pay a monthly fee for access), but you’d be mistaken. Even though subscription streamers like Netflix, HBO Max, and Amazon Prime may get all the press (as well as all the good original series), there’s actually a whole category of streaming platforms that are ad-supported, meaning that, as with cable, they’re completely free as long as you’re willing to sit through a few commercials.
These platforms, like Tubi, Pluto TV, Vudu, and the former IMDb TV, recently rebranded to, er, Amazon Freevee), are all free to download into your Smart TV or access through your computer, and they’re home to a surprisingly good array of movies, including some great movies we bet you’ve never seen.
To determine the best movies to stream for free this May, 24/7 Tempo developed an index using average ratings on IMDb, an online movie database owned by Amazon, and a combination of audience scores and Tomatometer scores on Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie and TV review aggregator, as of April 2022, weighting all ratings equally. We considered only movies with at least 5,000 audience votes on either IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes and that are streaming on Tubi, Pluto TV, Plex, Amazon Freevee, Peacock, Vudu, and Crackle. Documentaries were not considered. (Data on streaming availability, current as of this month, comes from the streaming guide Reelgood, and directorial credits are from IMDb.)
From top-tier movies like “Gladiator” and “There Will Be Blood” to lesser-known but equally praiseworthy films like “Lion” and “Dark Waters,” all of these movies are worth watching. And thankfully, they’re all available to stream for free.
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