The streaming market has become increasingly diverse. In the past few years, dozens of platforms have made their way to the digital world, from general providers like Netflix and HBO Max to more niche sites like The Criterion Channel and BroadwayHD.
As great as Netflix, Disney+, or Paramount+ is — providing subscribers with oodles of premium content updated regularly — it’s also extremely hard to beat free content like the numerous movies currently streaming on YouTube.
From beloved modern films like Train to Busan to tried and true cult classics like Tokyo Godfathers, here are some of the best movies currently streaming on YouTube — for free, no less!
Horror: Train to Busan
The world has seen so many zombie movies over the years, it’s become one of those hotbed genres that audiences become easily bored with in no time at all. It takes a truly bold and original movie dealing with zombies to reestablish audiences’ interest in the walking undead — said movie coming in the form of Train to Busan.
On a train from Seoul, a group of passengers survive a zombie outbreak, trying to save themselves until they arrive at a quarantined military outpost in Busan.
Far and away one of the best zombie movies of the past few decades, Train to Busan is as terrifying to watch as it is chock full of action. Featuring a large ensemble cast, you get the sense that absolutely anyone can die at any minute — which, of course, they do — making the entire movie that more dramatic and suspenseful. For hardcore fans of George Romero, there’s not a chance you’ll be disappointed with Train to Busan.
Sci-Fi: Killer Klowns from Outer Space
Killer Klowns from Outer Space is one of the handful of horror movies that has gone on to achieve an increasingly larger and larger number of avid fans and followers. An initial sleeper hit, critics were divided on what to make of this campy 1988 oddity — but it found a welcome place in the home of comedic horror fans.
Arriving from the distant reaches of space, a strange and mischievous band of aliens disguised as clowns invade a small town, hunting the local residents as potential sources of food for their travels.
From its premise and production value alone, it’s easy to dismiss Killer Klowns as some half-baked horror story that takes its ridiculous concept far too seriously. But its original atmosphere and blend of comedy and horror provide plenty of fun, kitschy laughs.
Drama: Glengarry Glen Ross
Glengarry Glen Ross is one of several movies penned by Pulitzer Prize winner David Mamet that transitioned from a successful theatrical play into an award-winning film. With Mamet’s tight script providing the backbone for the movie, Glengarry Glen Ross is — like its original theater production — a cutthroat exploration of the business world, as well as an acting tour de force for everyone involved.
At a middling real estate agency, four salesmen (Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Alan Arkin, and Ed Harris) have their jobs threatened when their employer (Kevin Spacey) pledges to fire anyone who fails to make a substantial sale in one week’s time.
Certain scenes in Glengarry Glen Ross will forever live in your head after your initial viewing, whether it’s Alec Baldwin delivering a profanity-laden “motivational speech” to the real estate agents or the elderly Lemmon begging Spacey to not fire him. It’s a movie where the impeccable writing goes hand in hand with some first-rate acting, contributing to a film as uncomfortable to watch as any horror or thriller movie you’re likely to get your hands on.
Anime: Tokyo Godfathers
Satoshi Kon was a giant in the anime field, standing tall with other established directors like Hayao Miyazaki and Mamoru Hosoda. His films, Perfect Blue and Paprika, continue to stand the test of time as some of the most beloved entries in the anime, sci-fi, and fantasy fields. However, it’s Kon’s most grounded movie, Tokyo Godfathers, that continues to define Kon’s career.
On Christmas Eve in Tokyo, three homeless people stumble upon an abandoned newborn baby. The next day, the three agree to try and locate the baby’s parents, reuniting the child with its rightful family.
A loose retelling of the 1948 John Wayne Western, 3 Godfathers, Tokyo Godfathers is a moving humanistic tale of family and friendship existing in an outwardly cruel and indifferent world. Kon’s animation is predictably awe-inspiring, pairing nicely with the overall warmer tone of the story. Christmas might well be over, but there’s never a bad time of the year to enjoy Tokyo Godfathers.
Action: Godzilla (1954)
It’s a toss-up which is the essential giant monster movie: King Kong or Godzilla (two creatures that have been ironically paired against one another dating back to the late ‘60s). As great as the original Kong is, most people tend to gravitate towards Godzilla if only for its importance in establishing the kaiju movie — a genre that gave birth to such iconic creations as Rodan, Mothra, and Gojira’s ancient nemesis, King Ghidorah.
Following a string of ships mysteriously blowing up off the coast of Japan, a team of scientists uncover the existence of a massive, rampaging creature created by US nuclear weapons testing.
Like King Kong, there is a deeper meaning behind Godzilla than what originally meets the eye. Far from being a simple monster movie alone, director Ishirō Honda managed to weave in Japanese fears over atomic weaponry and fallout just 10 short years after the bombings of Nagaski and Hiroshima, as personified by the gargantuan Gojira. Even as we near its 70th anniversary, it still holds up just as well as it did in 1954.
Adventure: O Brother, Where Art Thou?
With the notable exception of The Ladykillers, any time you press play on a Coen brothers’ movie, you know it’s going to be good. Building off the momentum the two siblings had conjured up in the ‘90s with Fargo and The Big Lebowski, O Brother, Where Art Thou? continued to show audiences everywhere that the Coens still had it, entering the 2000s in the strongest possible way.
Escaping from a chain gang, three convicts (George Clooney, John Turturro, and Tim Blake Nelson) make their way across the Southern US during the Great Depression, looking for treasure that one of them claims to have buried.
A loose retelling of The Odyssey, O Brother, Where Art Thou? is as light and entertaining as any of the brothers’ previous movies. In contrast to the darker undertones of Fargo or Barton Fink, O Brother, Where Art Thou? returns to the energetic, cartoonish tone set by the Coens in Raising Arizona, belonging in the same category as their more recent films like Hail, Caesar! and Buster Scruggs.
Documentary: Grizzly Man
Few documentaries are as fascinating and downright tragic as 2005’s Grizzly Man. A moving portrait of animal activist Timothy Treadwell, it’s also a calculated study on how hostile nature can be, regardless of the perceived “connection” you think you have with your environment or the animals occupying your surroundings.
Timothy Treadwell was an ardent animal lover advocating for the preservation, protection, and research of Alaskan brown bears. Made up of footage shot by Treadwell as well as interviews with his friends, family members, and wildlife experts, the movie focuses on Treadwell’s efforts to study bears, contributing to his and his girlfriend’s death from a vicious bear attack.
Grizzly Man is a sobering reminder that — despite how outwardly adorable bears might be or how fascinating they can be from an intellectual perspective — they are still wild animals, capable of mauling the most physically imposing humans with the utmost ease. It’s also a film that demonstrates just how at the mercy of nature we genuinely are, and that — the moment we step into the woods — we are no longer the top of the food chain, and are subject to a different set of rules that these animals live by.
No, not that Frozen. A far cry away from the whimsical merry of Disney’s Frozen, this 2010 thriller has routinely been called “Jaws in the snow” — an apt description once you’ve seen the actual film.
After getting trapped on a ski lift in an isolated mountain resort, three friends (Shawn Ashmore, Kevin Zegers, and Emma Bell) combat freezing temperatures and ravenous wolves, trying to survive the night until rescue arrives.
Frozen’s simple setup leads to plenty of opportunities for consistently hair-raising scares. The three main actors are all perfectly believable in their respective roles, bringing out the increasing levels of desperation, fear, anxiety, and ultimate exhaustion they experience from their situation.
Western: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
One of the most (if not the most) iconic Western ever made, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is the essential Spaghetti Western to come out of Italy during the genre’s peak in the late 1960s. With genre creator Sergio Leone behind the camera, Ennio Morricone handling the soundtrack, and the three main leads all expertly cast, it is one of the most visionary Westerns you’ll ever see.
Upon learning the location of a buried cache of gold deep behind Confederate lines, a bounty hunter (Clint Eastwood), a bandit (Eli Wallach), and a mercenary (Lee Van Cleef) race to find the treasure amidst the horrors of the Civil War.
The genius of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is its varying levels of comedy, suspense, humanity, and Western stereotypes. It starts off as a conman movie reminiscent of The Sting, verges into the revenge story in act two, briefly transforms into a prison film in act three, dabbles in the war movie in act four, before finally crescendoing into a full-blown Western in the final act. It is, in other words, the complete package when it comes to cinematic experiences.
Trading in its ski lift for a sinking island in the Outback and its hungry timber wolves with a massive saltwater croc, Rogue can best be described as the Australian version of Frozen. But far from being a simple Jaws ripoff, Rogue balances a suspenseful atmosphere with impressive practical effects to create a movie even Steven Spielberg might’ve been proud of.
When their boat sinks in the middle of the Australian forest, a group of tourists are terrorized by a giant, man-eating crocodile hunting them.
One of the best monster movies almost no one has seen, Rogue is also the definitive movie detailing a behemoth, carnivorous reptile — beating out Lake Placid by a clear mile. Like Frozen, it may not match the high bar set by Jaws, but it’s original enough to warrant a watch at least once.
This post was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.