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The best free movies on YouTube right now (May 2024)

Ripley holds a cat in Alien.
20th Century Studios

Streaming services continue to provide thousands of movies for consumers to watch every month. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and Max are some of the top streaming services on the market. However, these services have monthly fees. If you subscribe to all four services, then it will cost you a pretty penny. If you’re looking for alternative streaming options, try YouTube, which offers free movies with ads.

YouTube does not have the expansive libraries that Netflix or Max boast. But YouTube offers many films in multiple genres, including drama, comedy, action, adventure, thriller, and horror. To help guide your choice, we curated a list of the best free movies to watch on YouTube this month.

Looking for more stuff you can watch for free? Check out our guides to the best free shows on YouTube and the best sites for watching free movies online.

Recently added to YouTube

School of Rock (2003)

School of Rock
82%
7.2/10
pg-13
110m
Genre
Comedy, Music
Stars
Jack Black, Joan Cusack, Mike White
Directed by
Richard Linklater
Watch on YouTube

Guitarist Dewey Finn (Kung Fu Panda 4‘s Jack Black) loves everything about rock and roll. However, his overt enthusiasm and passion got him fired from his band. With no job and little money, Dewey’s rock dreams are fading quickly. However, the rock gods give Dewey a lifeline, as he pretends to be his roommate (Mike White) and pose as a substitute music teacher at a private elementary school.

At first, the job is a way to make money. But Dewey realizes some students are gifted musicians, and he decides to form a rock band as a class project. With only a few weeks before the local Battle of the Bands competition, Dewey must whip the kids into shape and create a makeshift band to keep his music dreams alive.

Alien (1979)

Alien
89%
8.5/10
r
117m
Genre
Horror, Science Fiction
Stars
Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright
Directed by
Ridley Scott
Watch on YouTube

“In space, no one can hear you scream.” That’s the famous tagline for Alien, Ridley Scott’s terrifying sci-fi horror set in deep space. Pitched as “Jaws in space,” Alien follows the crew of the Nostromo on their way home to Earth. Notable crewmembers include Dallas (Tom Skerritt), the ship’s captain; Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), a warrant officer; and Ash (Ian Holm), the Nostromo’s science officer.

While in stasis, the crew is awakened early to investigate a distress call from a nearby moon. During their investigation, the crew discovers a desolate alien ship home to hundreds of eggs. The nightmare begins when one of the eggs hatches and attaches to a crewmember’s face. Once the alien boards the Nostromo, all bets are off. The alien is now the apex predator. With nowhere to run, the crew must act quickly and figure out how to escape before they meet their end at the hands of the alien.

Almost Famous (2000)

Almost Famous
90%
7.9/10
r
124m
Genre
Drama, Music
Stars
Billy Crudup, Frances McDormand, Kate Hudson
Directed by
Cameron Crowe
Watch on YouTube

It’s the early 1970s. Music journalism is on the rise, thanks to rock and roll. That’s the background for Almost Famous, Cameron Crowe’s Oscar-winning coming-of-age drama. William Miller (Patrick Fugit) is an aspiring teenage rock journalist who gets the break of a lifetime when Rolling Stone assigns him to profile Stillwater, an emerging band set to embark on a nationwide tour.

William is thrust into the chaos of life on the road, opening his eyes to sex, drugs, alcohol, and music. Thankfully, William has seasoned groupie Penny Lane (Kate Hudson) to guide him every step of the way. Backed by a terrific screenplay and sensational music, Almost Famous is a satisfying love letter to journalism and rock and roll.

Lady Bird (2017)

Lady Bird
93%
7.4/10
r
94m
Genre
Drama, Comedy
Stars
Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts
Directed by
Greta Gerwig
Watch on YouTube

Before helming the No. 1 movie at the box office in 2023, Barbie director Greta Gerwig excelled in quieter coming-of-age films, with her solo directorial debut, Lady Bird, being her standout. Set in 2002, Lady Bird stars Saoirse Ronan as Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson, an angsty high school senior who dreams of escaping Sacramento in favor of the big cities on the East Coast. Lady Bird’s mother, Marion (Laurie Metcalf), loves her daughter but tries to ground her in reality, causing friction between the two.

The ambitious Lady Bird uses her senior year to open up and experience new things, even if that means pretending to be someone she’s not. Thanks to Gerwig’s keen writing and directing, Lady Bird is a charming and beautiful story about adolescence at an important time in one’s development. 

O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

O Brother, Where Art Thou?
69%
pg-13
107m
Genre
Adventure, Comedy, Crime
Stars
George Clooney, John Turturro, Tim Blake Nelson
Directed by
Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Watch on YouTube
The Coen Brothers take on The Odyssey in O Brother, Where Art Thou? In the 1930s, in the Deep South, prisoners Everett, Pete, and Delmar (George Clooney, John Turturro, Tim Blake Nelson) manage to escape from a chain gang and immediately go searching for a hidden treasure. They’re relentlessly pursued by the law but stay one step ahead as they encounter comical characters and ridiculous situations inspired by Homer’s Odyssey, from alluring Sirens to a menacing Cyclops.

I Kill Giants (2018)

I Kill Giants
74%
6.1/10
pg-13
106m
Genre
Fantasy, Drama
Stars
Madison Wolfe, Imogen Poots, Sydney Wade
Directed by
Anders Walter
Watch on YouTube
This fantasy film follows Barbara Thorson (Madison Wolfe), a young girl who finds solace from the realities of her difficult family life by retreating into a magical world where she is the greatest giant fighter the world has ever seen. But as the giants’ threat to her world grows, Barbara finds help from her new friend Sophia (Sydney Wade) and her school counselor, Mrs. Mollé (Avatar: The Way of Water‘s Zoe Saldana).

My Friend Dahmer (2017)

My Friend Dahmer
68%
6.2/10
r
107m
Genre
Drama, History, Crime
Stars
Ross Lynch, Alex Wolff, Anne Heche
Directed by
Marc Meyers
Watch on YouTube

Someone at YouTube has very deftly picked up on the renewed interest in Jeffrey Dahmer by getting the rights to stream My Friend Dahmer. This serial killer movie is based upon the true story of John “Derf” Backderf (Alex Wolff), a cartoonist who was the closest friend that Jeffrey Dahmer (Ross Lynch) had in high school. In this adaptation of Backderf’s graphic novel, he and his fellow outcasts befriend Dahmer, but they aren’t blind to his bizarre behavior. However, they couldn’t have predicted that the awkward young man that they knew would go on to become one of the most infamous serial killers of the last century. It’s also a tragic tale, as no one notices how monstrous Dahmer has become until it’s far too late to stop him.

The Illusionist (2006)

The Illusionist
68%
7.6/10
pg-13
110m
Genre
Fantasy, Drama, Thriller, Romance
Stars
Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti, Jessica Biel
Directed by
Neil Burger
Watch on YouTube
The Illusionist beat the similarly themed film, The Prestige, to theaters by about two months, but Christopher Nolan’s movie is the superior of the two. Regardless, The Illusionist has its charms, largely in the core trio of Edward Norton, Jessica Biel, and Paul Giamatti. When they were young, Eduard Abramovich (Norton) and Duchess Sophie Von Teschen (Biel) had a passion for each other that her parents forbade. Upon adulthood, Edward reinvented himself as Eisenheim The Illusionist and reunited with Sophie before she could be married to the malevolent Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell). When Sophie is murdered, Chief Inspector Walter Uhl (Giamatti) is unnerved when Eisenheim appears to be able to summon Sophie’s spirit at will.

Free to Play (2014)

Free to Play
7.8/10
75m
Genre
Documentary
Stars
Benedict Lim, Danil Ishutin, Clinton Loomis
Directed by
Valve Company
Watch on YouTube
More than a year after the Overwatch League was founded, e-sports are still carving out a niche and establishing itself as a legitimate form of entertainment. Those who don’t game on a competitive level might not understand the level of dedication required for such endeavors, not to mention the physical and mental tolls placed on young players who train for hours on end each day. Free to Play, a documentary from game developer/distributor Valve Entertainment, focuses on two athletes and one coach who are competing in the 2011 International Defense of the Ancients (DotA) tournament. It explores the stresses the players are forced to deal with and deftly compares the struggles of e-sports athletes to those of traditional athletes.

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Night of the Living Dead
89%
7.9/10
96m
Genre
Horror, Thriller
Stars
Duane Jones, Judith O'Dea, Karl Hardman
Directed by
George A. Romero
Watch on YouTube

A seminal entry for American horror cinema, George A. Romero’s classic horror movie follows seven people who find themselves trapped in Pennsylvania as the terrifying walking dead surround them. They have to try to survive without understanding the terror that lurks outside.

The movie has been noted as the first zombie film, and its influences can be seen in everything from 28 Days Later to Shaun of the Dead. Romero’s debut — he wrote, directed, edited, and acted in the film — made him into a superstar, quickly revolutionizing the genre on a budget of a mere $114,000.

Editors' Recommendations

Movie images and data from:
Nick Perry

Nick Perry is a freelance writer who bounced from Hollywood to Silicon Beach to pajama pants. His work has been featured on Digital Trends, Good Morning America, Entrepreneur, Mashable, and more media outlets.

Blair Marnell

Blair Marnell has been an entertainment journalist for over 15 years. His bylines have appeared in Wizard Magazine, Geek Monthly, SYFY Wire, Superhero Hype, Collider, DC Universe, and the official sites for Star Trek and Marvel. He also lends his pop culture expertise to Digital Trends on a variety of TV, movie, and streaming features.

Dan Girolamo

Dan is a passionate and multitalented content creator with experience in pop culture, entertainment, and sports. Throughout his career, Dan has been a writer, broadcaster, podcaster, editor, and social media manager. At Digital Trends, Dan covers film and television, from reviewing upcoming projects to interviewing actors and directors. Outside of Digital Trends, he has been an Oscar prognosticator since 2016 as well as a sportswriter with a special concentration in New York professional sports. Dan is still waiting for the New York Knicks to win a championship, but unfortunately, he will have to wait a lot longer for this dream to become a reality.

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