15 movies cord-cutters can stream for free while waiting out the coronavirus

Whether you’re sheltering in place to stem the spread of the coronavirus or you’re just looking for great deals in home entertainment, streaming a good movie over the internet is a fabulous way to pass the time. But who has the budget to pay for all those high-profile services? Well, here are 15 movies you can stream for the grand total of zero dollars.

You’ll need to put up with pauses for ads in some cases, and you might need to sign up for the services offering the flicks, but the films themselves are uncut and you can watch them on your schedule (unlike old-fashioned TV broadcasts). Hoopla and Kanopy are available to just about anyone with a library card, while Crackle, iMDB, Popcornflix, PlutoTV, the Roku Channel, TubiTV, Vudu, and YouTube can be accessed with either a web browser or a smart TV app (on your TV, cable/satellite set-top box, or other media-streaming box).

The following pick-me-up recommendations revolve around distractions, surprises, and general entertainment. They’re not exactly kid-fare, but you don’t need to worry about upsetting your kids if they come in while you’re watching them. We’ll publish a second installment of this story on Friday. You can click the links after each recommended film to go directly to the service(s) where they can be streamed.

The Adventures of Tintin

The Adventures of Tintin Paramount

Captain Haddock and Tintin look for treasure in The Adventures of Tintin.

Steven Spielberg’s computer-animated adventure The Adventures of Tintin (2011)—based on the popular Belgian comic book series—is an exhilarating ride, recalling his Indiana Jones movies, but with an intrepid kid, Tintin (voiced by Jamie Bell) and his dog, Snowy, rather than an archeologist. They team up with Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis) to seek a treasure, a clue to the location of which is hidden inside a model ship. English filmmakers Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead) and Joe Cornish (Attack the Block), co-wrote the delightfully goofy screenplay, and their favorite actors, Nick Frost and Simon Pegg, provide character voices.

You can watch The Adventures of Tintin at Hoopla, Popcornflix, or TubiTV.

The Ballad of Lefty Brown

Big Fish A24

Trusty sidekick Lefty Brown (Bill Pullman) seeks to avenge the death of his partner in The Ballad of Lefty Brown.

This skillful, unpretentious Western finds a fresh take on an old, classic story. When the hero, Edward Johnson (Peter Fonda) is murdered, the story shifts focus to Edward’s dopey, misfit sidekick of some forty years, the loyal Lefty (Bill Pullman), who tries to find the killer. Thanks to Pullman’s unhurried, expert performance, he becomes a commanding character, unwise in the ways of the civilization, but at home while riding the range. Director Jared Moshe shot The Ballad of Lefty Brown (2017) on glorious film stock, framing characters against overcast skies, with rays of light occasionally streaming across.

You can watch The Ballad of Lefty Brown at Kanopy.

Big Fish

Big Fish Columbia Pictures

Sandra (Alison Lohman) and Ed Bloom (Ewan McGregor) share a romantic encounter in Big Fish.

After many films about misfits and outsiders, director Tim Burton turned toward an adult story with Big Fish (2003). A no-nonsense journalist, Will Bloom (Billy Crudup), visits his dying father Edward (Albert Finney), a notorious spinner of tall tales. Edward tells his fanciful life story in flashback, with Ewan McGregor as young Edward, in a strange and glorious fantasy world involving circuses, a giant, and a big fish. Will tries to figure out the truth of it, and where he, himself fits in. The movie’s most touching sequence don’t involve flashbacks at all, but reflect the bittersweet sadness of leaving childish things behind.