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11 best free movies on YouTube in January 2022

Dillon Freasier as H. W. Plainview Daniel Day-Lewis as Daniel Plainview in a conversation with someone else in There Will Be Blood
(Image credit: AA Film Archive / Alamy Stock Photo)

You will be shocked by the best free movies on YouTube. We were. After doing the research for this article, we at Tom's Guide were surprised by two things. First and foremost: YouTube has free movies beyond just the clips people upload and channels post. We're talking legit films that we all paid money to go see in theaters.

Our list of the best free movies on YouTube includes one of Tom Cruise's best films of all time, an under-appreciated thriller featuring John Goodman and one of the Coen Brothers' best films. So, what's the catch, I can hear you ask.

If you watch these free movies on YouTube, you'll have to sit through ads. Or at least you would if you don't have YouTube Premium, which erases ads from all YouTube videos. Oh, and some of them aren't streaming in HD, either. But that's not exactly surprising when YouTube is also a site that sells movie rentals and purchases.

So, without further ado, here are our picks for the best free movies on YouTube.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Michelle, pressed against a door, while John Goodman as Howard Stambler looks through its window in 10 Cloverfield Lane

(Image credit: Entertainment Pictures / Alamy Stock Photo)

10 Cloverfield Lane

Cloverfield is a name that has a lot of connotations in movies these days, after the woefully received 2008 movie of the same name. But 10 Cloverfield Lane is a must-see no matter if you saw Cloverfield or not. A "bottle episode" of a movie, it takes place nearly entirely in a bunker where Howard (Goodman) has been keeping Michelle (Winstead) after he found her post-car crash. Howard doesn't seem entirely trustworthy (and he's more than a little creepy), so Michelle doesn't know if she should believe him that the outside world has been destroyed by a chemical attack. Tension ramps up as Michelle learns more and more about Howard.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 90% (Certified Fresh)
Stars:
John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Gallagher Jr.
Director:
Dan Trachtenberg
Watch it for free on YouTube

Dillon Freasier as H. W. Plainview and Daniel Day-Lewis as Daniel Plainview in a conversation with someone else in There Will Be Blood

(Image credit: AA Film Archive / Alamy Stock Photo)

There Will Be Blood

Researching this story gave me plenty of surprises, not the least of which including the reveal that the fantastic award-winning There Will Be Blood is actually free on YouTube. Another fantastic Daniel Day-Lewis performance — this time as miner Daniel Plainview — anchors this amazing film about how money corrupts man. Yes, that description, and the story of how oil ruins everything it touches, isn't exactly new. That said, There Will Be Blood thrives off of amazing work from all involved, including co-star Paul Dano, director Paul Thomas Anderson and Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood, whose original orchestral score ties the whole thing together.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 91% (Certified Fresh)
Stars:
Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, Kevin J. O'Connor, Ciarán Hinds, Dillon Freasier
Director:
Paul Thomas Anderson
Watch it for free on YouTube

John Turturro as Pete, Tim Blake Nelson as Delmar and George Clooney as Ulysses stare into the distance in O Brother, Where Art Thou?

(Image credit: United Archives GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo)

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Another surprising gem to find in this list, O Brother, Where Art Thou? is one of the Coen Brothers' best films. Also beloved for its folk music soundtrack, O Brother, Where Art Thou? transports audiences back to Mississippi in 1937 — but it's actually referencing even older lore. Co-written by Ethan and Joel Coen, O Brother uses three escaped convicts — Pete (Turturro), Delmar (Blake Nelson) and Ulysses Everett McGill (Clooney) — to riff on Homer's epic Greek poem The Odyssey. The trio are hunting for treasure, and wind up on a series of farcical adventures. A master-class of filmmaking in many ways.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 78%
Stars:
George Clooney, John Turturro, Tim Blake Nelson, John Gootman, Holly Hunter
Director:
Joel Coen
Watch it for free on YouTube

Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy in Wargames

(Image credit: Allstar Picture Library Ltd. / Alamy Stock Photo)

Wargames

Global Thermonuclear War sounds like a fun retro computer game, right? Well, that's basically what David Lightman (Broderick) thought. In actually, the high schooler had hacked into a military supercomputer, and set the country into the start of an actual war with the Soviet union. How is that possible? Lightman's accidentally interacted with the WOPR, a NORAD supercomputer that is running simulations of war. The endgame for these wargames comes through trying to convince the AI behind WOPR about the reasons to not go to war. A great mix of teen drama and thrilling adventure, Wargames is one of the best free movies on YouTube.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 93% (Certified Fresh)
Stars:
Matthew Broderick, Dabney Coleman, Ally Sheedy, John Wood
Director:
David Fincher
Watch it for free on YouTube

Clint Eastwood as Blondie (the Man with No Name), holding a gun in the air in a still from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

(Image credit: AA Film Archive / Alamy Stock Photo)

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Perhaps the spaghetti Western, Sergio Leone's The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is more proof that the best free movies on YouTube include inarguable classics. Clint Eastwood stars as a bounty hunter called Blondie who has to work with two fellow lowlifes — Tuco (Eli Wallach) and Angel Eyes (Lee Van Cleef) — to find buried gold. Betrayal, murder and bullets all pour in the subsequent scenes. Ennio Morricone provides a fantastic score, filled with songs that will get stuck in your head.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 97% (Certified Fresh)
Stars:
Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach, Lee Van Cleef
Director:
Sergio Leone
Watch it for free on YouTube

Julie Hagerty as Elaine Dickinson and Robert Hays as Ted Striker in a cockpit with the inflatable autopilot "Otto" on the left in Airplane!

(Image credit: AA Film Archive / Alamy Stock Photo)

Airplane!

There are movies that use comedy as punchlines, with gaps in between riffs. And then there's Airplane!, a film that is constantly trying to make you laugh, and likely make the cast crack up, too. It all revolves around a whole plane's crew and passengers who are struck with food poisoning. Hilarious if you lived through the spate of disaster films released right before Airplane! came out in 1980, but still funny if you love a good punchline.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 97% (Certified Fresh)
Stars:
Robert Hays, Julie Hagerty, Peter Graves, Robert Stack, Lloyd Bridges, Kareem Abdul-Jabaar, Leslie Nielsen
Directors:
Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker
Watch it for free on YouTube

Tom Cruise as John Anderton, kneeling on a ledge in Minority Report

(Image credit: AF archive / Alamy Stock Photo)

Minority Report

Again, our search for the best free movies on YouTube let us hit another gem with one of Tom Cruise's top movies: Minority Report. An adaptation of Philip K. Dick's novella of the same name, the film revolves around the concept of precrime: the "art" of using a trio of psychics to figure out and stop crime before it's even committed. The inherent issues of the system, judging someone for something they haven't done, are brought to light when Chief Paul Anderton (Cruise) is accused of murdering a man he's never met. He then dives into the system to reveal how (or if) he's been framed.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 90% (Certified Fresh)
Stars:
Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton, Max von Sydow, Lois Smith, Peter Stormare
Director:
Steven Spielberg
Watch it for free on YouTube

Claire Danes as Juliet and Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo kiss in Romeo + Juliet

(Image credit: Allstar Picture Library Ltd. / Alamy Stock Photo)

Romeo + Juliet

Director Baz Luhrman's color-soaked and emotional adaptation of William Shakespeare's tragedy came out at just the right time. Dropped right during Leonardo DiCaprio's ascendance to be the king of the teen heart-throbs, this version of Romeo & Juliet seems ripped from MTV with its look. Claire Danes, as Juliet, is a perfect match for this Romeo, and their chemistry made this movie feel like the ideal setup for Titanic, the following year's mega-blockbuster. It doesn't hurt that DiCaprio is surrounded by a team of all-stars working their best magic, including an excellent performances from John Leguizamo as Tybalt.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 73%
Stars:
Leonardo DiCaprio, Claire Danes, Paul Rudd, John Leguizamo, Harold Perrinau
Director:
Baz Luhrmann
Watch it for free on YouTube

The cast of But I'm a Cheerleader, in cleaning clothing, including Clea Duvall, Melanie Lynskey and Natasha Lyonne

(Image credit: AF archive / Alamy Stock Photo)

But I'm a Cheerleader

A nice and light satirical comedy, But I'm a Cheerleader gives us one of the few starring roles in Natasha Lyonne's early career — well before Russian Doll reminded everyone that she was severely underrated. The film is focused on Megan (Lyonne), who thinks she's a normal high school girl, or at least she did before her panicked parents declare her to be gay and send her to a True Directions, a boot camp meant to force her back into heterosexuality. And, of course, her visit to True Directions leads to Megan questioning her heterosexuality. 

Rotten Tomatoes score: 41%
Stars:
Natasha Lyonne, Clea Duvall, RuPaul, Cathy Moriarty, Bud Cort, Mink Stole
Director:
Jamie Babbit
Watch it for free on YouTube

George Wyner (As Colonel Sandurz), Rick Moranis (as Dark Helmet) and Mel Brooks as President Skroob) looking up in fear in Spaceballs

(Image credit: United Archives GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo)

Spaceballs

Spaceballs, a low-fi Star Wars parody, may not leave you saying "may the Schwartz be with you," but you may remember it for making sure the farce is with you. With characters such as Yogurt, Pizza The Hutt and Lord Dark Helmet, Spaceballs is a movie for people who don't believe in subtlety. Not every joke may hit, but the ratio is strong enough to make this a memorable movie that many nerds of a certain vintage will love to put on, but probably don't know it's one of the best free movies on YouTube.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 56%
Stars:
Mel Brooks, John Candy, Rick Moranis, Bill Pullman, Daphne Zuniga
Director:
Mel Brooks
Watch it for free on YouTube

A close of Arnold Schwarzenegger in black and white

(Image credit: PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo)

Pumping Iron

If you thought Arnold Schwarzenegger was a weird adult, you should see young Arnie in this documentary shot during his days as a young body-builder. Through a series of interviews with Schwarzenegger in the days before the Mr. Universe and Mr. Olympia competitions (and during said events), the film shows a side of the megastar you've probably never seen. Surrounded by his fellow bodybuilders, Schwarzenegger constantly says the unexpected, and you get a glimpse of how he became so popular — as it was all happening.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 91
Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno, Roger Callard, Franco Columbu
Directors:
George Butler, Robert Fiore
Watch it for free on YouTube

Henry T. Casey
Henry T. Casey

Henry is a senior editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.