We lived in the age of movie theaters, then we lived in the age of home video, and now we live in the age of streaming. Like every period in the history of cinema, ours has its advantages and its disadvantages. The quasi-religiosity of the cinephile viewing experience is, arguably, not as well served by clicking on a Youtube video as it is by attending a screening at a grand revival house. But on the whole, we do have the advantage of access, whenever and wherever we like, to a great many films that most of us may have been wholly unable to see just a couple of decades ago — and often, we can watch them for free.
That said, these are still relatively early days for on-demand viewing, and finding out just where to do it isn’t as easy as it could be. That’s why we’ve rounded up this collection of Youtube channels with free movies, which together constitute one big meta-collection of hundreds of films. Among them are numerous black-and-white classics, of course, but also critically acclaimed pictures by international auteurs, rather less critically acclaimed (but nonetheless enjoyable) cult favorites, documentaries on a wide variety of subjects, and even twenty-first-century Hollywood releases.
Which films you can watch will vary, unfortunately, depending on which part of the world you happen to be watching them in. But no matter your location, you should easily be able to find more than a few worthwhile selections on all these channels. One under-appreciated aspect of our streaming age is that, though the number of choices may sometimes overwhelm, it’s never been easier to give a movie a chance. One click may, after all, transport you into a picture that changes the way you experience cinema itself — and if it doesn’t, well, at least the price was right.
- Cult Cinema Classics: This channel features cult classic films from the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60, 70s and 80s, providing access to 100 horror films, almost 400 western films, and a large number of Pre-Code films.
- Kino Lorber: Kino Lorber, a leading film distributor, has put 145 films on YouTube. The collection includes 80 documentaries on topics like on M.C. Escher, Stanley Kubrick, Hannah Arendt, and Hilma af Klint.
- Korean Classic Films: This channel lets you experience decades of Korean cinema, including but not limited to those of mid-20th-century masters like Kim Ki-young, Im Kwon-taek, and Kim Soo-yong, director of haunting, even brazen pictures of the 1960s and 70s like Mist and Night Journey. Enter the channel here.
- Mosfilm: One of the oldest film studios in Russia & Europe, Mosfilm has put online hundreds of Russian and Soviet films, many with English subtitles. The collection includes major films by Andrei Tarkovsky and an epic adaptation of War & Peace. Here, you will also find Battleship Potemkin and other films by Sergei Eisenstein. Enter the channel here.
- National Film Board of Canada: Canada’s public film producer and distributor has put online a large collection of short films. The channel features over 50 films from celebrated Canadian animator Norman McLaren, plus curated collections of films from the 1940s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and beyond.
- New Yorker’s Screening Room: On The New Yorker‘s YouTube channel, you can find a Screening Room that hosts nearly 70 award-winning short films. This collection includes some wonderful claymations and animations. We previously featured the collection on our site in 2021.
- PizzaFlix: A passion project created by two film industry professionals with 50 years combined experience. They control a large, privately-held broadcast-quality film & TV library and have put online over 300 cowboy westerns, 80+ noir films, 200+ classic thriller and mystery films, and a number of films by Roger Corman.
- Popcorn Flix: A little like PizzaFlix (above), this archive has playlists of action movies, sci fi films, westerns, thrillers, comedies, dramas, and more.
- Timeless Classic Movies: Just as the title says, it’s a fine collection of timeless classic movies. Among other things, you can find 35 noir films and 60 classic thrillers here.
- YouTube’s Free Streaming Movies: YouTube itself hosts a large number of free streaming movies, mostly mainstream Hollywood productions. That said, you can also find some classics there, like the Coen Brothers’O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams, Yasujiro Ozu’s Tokyo Story, and Clint Eastwood’s The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly and also Fistful of Dollars. Enter the channel here.
If you know of other YouTube channels that legitimately host films online, please add them to the comments section below.
And, for more films, be sure to explore our collection, 4,000+ Free Movies Online: Great Classics, Indies, Noir, Westerns, Documentaries & More
Watch 3,000+ Films Free Online from the National Film Board of Canada
Watch 30+ Exceptional Short Films for Free in The New Yorker’s Online Screening Room
Watch More Than 400 Classic Korean Films Free Online Thanks to the Korean Film Archive
Watch 70 Movies in HD from Famed Russian Studio Mosfilm: Classic Films, Beloved Comedies, Tarkovsky, Kurosawa & More
Kino Lorber Puts Online 50 Free Films: Watch Classics by Jean-Luc Godard, Derek Jarman, Taika Waititi & Other Major Filmmakers
Charade, the Best Hitchcock Film Hitchcock Never Made: Stars Cary Grant & Audrey Hepburn
Watch Free Cult Films by Stanley Kubrick, Fritz Lang, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi & More on the New Kino Cult Streaming Service
Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.