Roku just got 27 free movies — and these are the ones you should watch

A Roku remote in hand in front of a TV with the Roku home page.
(Image credit: Henry T. Casey / Tom's Guide)

We've paid for enough movies recently, so we're happy to see Roku's added 27 free movies to The Roku Channel for January 2023, along with two TV shows. And this is much better news than we've seen with the recent new Roku channels, because these movies tell stories across an impressively wide range of genres. Of course, Roku's able to give these movies away for free because they're ad-supported.

Oh, and don't click away if you're worried you can't watch these movies without one a Roku device: I was able to open nearly all of these flicks — more on that below — on my work computer. They're currently available in The Roku Channel on Roku devices, The Roku Channel website (opens in new tab) and Fire TV's Roku app. 

Roku (opens in new tab) announced these new movies on Sunday (January 1). While this set includes at least one out-and-out stinker (2018's Gotti starring John Travolta holds a rare 0% score on Rotten Tomatoes (opens in new tab)), you'll find some very good movies, too.

Of course, giving movie recommendations is a practice where your mileage may (and probably will always) vary. That said, we've bolded 14 picks below, giving you a way to filter by our belief on what's of decent-enough quality. Free is nice, but your time is also valuable. 

The two most obvious picks for movies to watch on Roku this month are Back to the Future and Taxi Driver, a pair of instant classics. The former is an iconic time-travel comedy that's more for the family-friendly crowd, while the latter is one of star Robert DeNiro's best performances — albeit a completely gutting one.

Then we've got some hidden gems that may have gone off your radar. No (93% on RT), starring Gael Garcia Bernal, is a historical drama based on the ad campaign that took down Chilean dictator Augustus Pinochet. And then there's Southside with You (91% on RT), a film about Barack Obama's first date with his future wife Michelle.

Want something more comedic? Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox story is a good biopic-lampooning John C. Reilly vehicle, and Ice Cube's Barbershop and Barbershop: The Next Cut are both solid and entertaining outings. 

Every new free movie in The Roku Channel

Here is the full list of new movies added to The Roku Channel (there seems to be a glitch with Brothers, at the moment, as it's the only film listed in Roku's post that's not playing for free).

All of our picks are highlighted in bold, and Roku's plot synopses are in italics.

  • Akeelah and the Bee – A young girl from South Los Angeles tries to make it to the National Spelling Bee.
  • Back to the Future – Marty McFly, a 17-year-old high school student, is accidentally sent 30 years into the past in a time-traveling DeLorean invented by his close friend, the maverick scientist Doc Brown.
  • Barbershop – A day in the life of a South Side Chicago barbershop.
  • Barbershop 2: Back in Business – The owner of an historic South Side Chicago barbershop is pressured to sell out to a land developer, but must face the impact this would have on his close-knit community.
  • Barbershop: The Next Cut – As their surrounding community has taken a turn for the worse, the crew at Calvin’s Barbershop come together to bring some much needed change to their neighborhood.
  • Brothers – While on tour in Afghanistan, Sam’s copter is shot down and he is presumed dead. Back home, it is his screw-up brother who looks after the family. Sam does return, but with a lot of excess baggage.
  • Cadillac Records – Chronicles the rise of Chess Records and its recording artists.
  • Cinderella Man – The story of James J. Braddock, a supposedly washed-up boxer who came back to challenge for the heavyweight championship of the world.
  • Country Strong – A rising country-music songwriter works with a fallen star to work their way to fame, causing romantic complications along the way.
  • Enough – After running away fails, a terrified woman empowers herself in order to battle her abusive husband.
  • Evan Almighty – God contacts Congressman Evan Baxter and tells him to build an ark in preparation for a great flood.
  • Eve’s Bayou – What did little Eve see–and how will it haunt her? Husband, father and womanizer Louis Batiste is the head of an affluent family, but it’s the women who rule this gothic world of secrets, lies and mystic forces.
  • Finding Neverland – The story of Sir J.M. Barrie’s friendship with a family who inspired him to create Peter Pan.
  • Gotti – The story of crime boss John Gotti and his son.
  • Hook – When Captain James Hook kidnaps his children, an adult Peter Pan must return to Neverland and reclaim his youthful spirit in order to challenge his old enemy.
  • No – An advertising executive comes up with a campaign to defeat Augusto Pinochet in Chile’s 1988 referendum.
  • Public Enemies – The Feds try to take down notorious American gangsters John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, and Pretty Boy Floyd during a booming crime wave in the 1930s.
  • Rough Night – Things go terribly wrong for a group of girlfriends who hire a male stripper for a bachelorette party in Miami.
  • Southside with You – Chronicles the 1989 summer afternoon when the future President of the United States, Barack Obama, wooed his future First Lady, Michelle Obama, on a first date across Chicago’s South Side.
  • Taxi Driver – A mentally unstable veteran works as a nighttime taxi driver in New York City, where the perceived decadence and sleaze fuels his urge for violent action.
  • The Founder – The story of Ray Kroc, a salesman who turned two brothers’ innovative fast food eatery, McDonald’s, into the biggest restaurant business in the world, with a combination of ambition, persistence, and ruthlessness.
  • Underworld – Selene, a vampire warrior, is entrenched in a conflict between vampires and werewolves, while falling in love with Michael, a human who is sought by werewolves for unknown reasons.
  • Underworld: Evolution – Picking up directly from the previous movie, vampire warrior Selene and the half werewolf Michael hunt for clues to reveal the history of their races and the war between them.
  • Underworld: Rise of the Lycans – An origins story centered on the centuries-old feud between the race of aristocratic vampires and their onetime slaves, the Lycans.
  • Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story – Singer Dewey Cox overcomes adversity to become a musical legend.
  • Written in the Stars – When Kelsey’s magazine approves her pitch about a skeptic’s take on love and horoscopes, she is teamed up with Astrology guru, Carter. Clearly from opposite worlds, they put their competing perspectives aside to work the story around a local meteor shower festival. Through both fact and fate, they soon unearth that love really can be written in the stars.
  • Young Guns – A group of young gunmen, led by Billy the Kid, become deputies to avenge the murder of the rancher who became their benefactor. But when Billy takes their authority too far, they become the hunted.

Roku also lands two free TV shows

It's not all movies on Roku in January's new listings — two new shows just dropped as well. The first is Sky's 2022 series The Fear Index starring Josh Hartnett, while The 2012 miniseries Hatfields And McCoys gives Yellowstone fans another way to watch Kevin Costner.

Again: you don't need a Roku for The Roku Channel

As noted above, you can watch these movies without a Roku.

The Roku Channel is available on Fire TV (opens in new tab), select Samsung TVs, as well as iOS (opens in new tab) and Android (opens in new tab).

You can also just pull The Roku Channel (opens in new tab) up in a web browser.

Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing 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.