HomeOur ObsessionsInsider tips: Where to watch all the best movies online for free

Insider tips: Where to watch all the best movies online for free

There's a treasure trove of free cinema classics on video platforms like YouTube and Popcornflix. Uploaders have done the work so you don’t have to.

Insider tips: Where to watch all the best movies online for free

Although streaming behemoths such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime have brought an endless torrent of viewing pleasure into our homes, they don’t always offer everything you want. It’s too easy to forget about the treasure trove of bona fide cinematic classics on video platforms like YouTube and Popcornflix, which you can dive into at any time without paying a subscription fee. These uploaders have done the work so you don’t have to, and it’s all legal (we promise).

Popcornflix

Sunset Boulevard (1950)

This classic Billy Wilder (The Apartment) flick – often hailed as one of the greatest films ever made – follows screenwriter Joe Gillis (William Holden), who stumbles across the decrepit home of faded silent star Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) and is hired to rework a script for her.

Hugo (2011)

In Martin Scorsese’s marvellously cinematic tale, an orphan named Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) tries to fix a mysterious automaton left behind by his father, believing that it will reveal a very secret but very important message.

Memories of Murder (2003)

South Korea, 1986: Three detectives struggle to solve the case of the nation’s first reported serial killer, who has been preying upon innocent young women in their rural community.

There Will Be Blood (2007)

Director Paul Thomas Anderson’s merciless turn-of-the-century epic follows the vengeful Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) – a power-hungry, oil-guzzling tycoon who will seemingly stop at nothing to protect his fortune. Needless to say, Day-Lewis (Phantom Thread) delivers a maddening performance that you won’t easily forget.

Election (1999)

Reese Witherspoon (Big Little Lies) and Matthew Broderick (The Producers) go head-to-head at high school in this hilariously dark comedy that pokes fun at everything from suburban life to politics.

YouTube

Léon (1994)

Director Luc Besson (The Fifth Element) delivers a knockout with Léon – an adrenaline-fuelled (and surprisingly sweet) rollercoaster ride that will leave your head spinning. A young Natalie Portman (in her film debut) teams up with Jean Reno’s eponymous assassin, seeking bloody vengeance for the murder of her family.

The Toxic Avenger (1984)

It’s gross, it’s juvenile, it’s Troma. The purveyors of puerile 80s schlock found their first hit in this 1984 “classic”, which went on to spawn three sequels, a Marvel Comic, and even a stage production musical, proving that The Toxic Avenger is a monster movie for the ages.

Shadow of a Doubt (1943)

The arrival of a much-loved uncle (Joseph Cotten) brings joy to his loved ones, until his behaviour begins to seem a little off. His niece (Teresa Wright) is the only one who has suspicions, and so it’s up to her to uncover the gruesome skeleton in her family’s closet. This classic bone-chiller from the master of suspense will bring you face-to-face with domestic horror.

Charade (1963)

Often called “the best Hitchcock film Hitchcock never made”, this electrifying romcom / suspense classic crackles with hilarious dialogue between screen giants Audrey Hepburn (Breakfast at Tiffany’s) and Cary Grant (North by Northwest). They play a couple on the run (in Paris!) from several shady guys who want to retrieve a fortune stolen by Hepburn’s recently murdered husband.

Rashomon (1950)

Rashomon is the best kind of film homework. Kurosawa (The Hidden Fortress) tells a simple tale in a deceptively complex way – by presenting four different versions of “the truth”, each told by a different person who claims to have witnessed a brutal attack on a samurai and his wife. It’s a story that will test your ability to piece information together and a captivating study of perspective that grows richer with each viewing.

Rope (1948)

In this suspenseful thriller, two young men strangle their “inferior” classmate, hide his body in their apartment, and invite his friends and family to a dinner party as a means to challenge the “perfection” of their crime. Technically innovative for its time, director Alfred Hitchcock shot the whole thing in roughly ten-minute takes and hid the cuts as best he could, which gives Rope the intimacy and tension of a stage play.

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

The nation is gripped by panic as the dead rise from their graves. A group of survivors barricade themselves in an old farmhouse as they try to fend off the hordes of cannibalistic zombies. This revolutionary low-budget shocker is essential viewing for anyone who considers themself a horror fan.

Carnival of Souls (1962)

James Wan’s 2011 horror hit Insidious was famously inspired by this low-budget effort from prolific short film director Herk Harvey. It’s a strange, unnerving tale about a woman who finds herself inexplicably drawn to an abandoned carnival following a tragic car crash, and it’s had a profound influence on cult filmmakers like David Lynch (Twin Peaks) and George Romero (Monkey Shines) in the decades since its release. If you like your horror movies soaked in a dreamy and surreal atmosphere, this one is truly unmissable.

Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979)

This surreal, nightmarish take on the Dracula lore comes from renegade German filmmaker Werner Herzog (Fitzcarraldo). He sticks close to the original Stoker text and also to the 1922 film version from which he pulled the name. But his version of the Count – the inimitable Klaus Kinski with his bald head and rat-like features – still reigns as the most horrifying bloodsucker of them all.

The Vanishing (1988)

A young couple named Rex and Saskia are on vacation. One night, they stop at a busy service station where Saskia is abducted. After three agonizing years without closure, Rex begins to receive mysterious letters in the mail. A truly gripping and deeply unsettling horror experience that will turn your blood ice-cold with that ending.

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Kieran Dutton is a writer and filmmaker from the North East of England. He likes long walks on the beach, playing games with animals, and movies about cults.

kieran@filmdaily.co