The best movies to watch on Tubi for free right now8 min read
Tubi, Fox’s ad-supported free streaming service, has one of the most vast libraries of any streaming service out there, with thousands upon thousands of movies available for you to watch at home.
That makes it quite difficult to curate the best of the best. I’m not exaggerating — when building this list, I looked up my “liked” films on Letterboxd that are currently on Tubi, and more than 100 showed up. So we’ve done our best to narrow that down to a group of excellent movies from a variety of moods, cultures, and eras.
We’ll continue to update this list with more Tubi picks over time, building out a full catalog of excellent free movies for you to watch at home.
Let’s get into it.
Run time: 1h 56m
Director: Zhang Yimou
Cast: Deng Chao, Sun Li, Zheng Kai
No one in the world makes more beautiful action movies than Zhang Yimou. His latest, the political comedy Full River Red, is a fun and strange twist-y thriller that trades some of his usual love for soaring action for fast-paced dialogue and a highly complicated narrative. But Zhang is perhaps best known for his work in the wuxia genre, like Hero, House of Flying Daggers, and Shadow — all breathless displays of cinematic excellence.
Much like Full River Red, Shadow is rich on political intrigue. But it doesn’t skimp on the action — that umbrella you see above is made of blades, and there are many outstanding action sequences utilizing the unconventional weapon. While in color, Shadow makes great use of black-and-white imagery in every element, from stark costuming and set design to lighting that brings out the contrast of black and white. It’s also a master class of framing bodies in motion and one of the best action movies of the century. We are all lucky to be able to watch it for free. —Pete Volk
Genre: Steampunk sci-fi action
Run time: 2h 6m
Director: Katsuhiro Otomo
Cast: Anne Suzuki, Manami Konishi, Katsuo Nakamura
Katsuhiro Otomo’s 2004 steampunk action anime doesn’t get nearly as much love as it deserves. Steamboy follows the adventures of James Ray Steam, the wizkid grandson of a genius scientist living an alternate 1860s Britain, who finds himself in the crosshairs of a nefarious robber baron who wants to conqueror the world using the “Steamball,” an invention capable of generating an infinite (and dangerous) amount of energy. It may not have neon-lit metropolises populated by roving teenage biker gangs and children with terrifying psychic powers, but it certainly doesn’t lack for its own gorgeous Victorian-era visuals, thrilling action sequences, and beautifully realized mechanical animation. If nothing else, Otomo’s film is a marvel of early 21st-century animation, a film situated at the faultlines of traditional hand-drawn cel animation and the anime industry’s gradual embrace of digitally rendered and painted set-pieces and 3D-animated assets.
It’s a gorgeous love letter to pulp action serials, steampunk alternate history stories, and the writings of Jules Verne cast in a similar mold as another 2004 cult classic: Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. While the film wasn’t quite the second coming of Akira anime fans so eagerly wanted it to be, Steamboy is a more than worthy follow-up to Otomo’s feature debut in its own right and more than enough to tide you over while you wait for an update on Orbital Era, the director’s first anime feature in 20 years, which was announced in 2019. —Toussaint Egan
Joint Security Area
Run time: 1h 50m
Director: Park Chan-wook
Cast: Lee Yeong-ae, Lee Byung-hun, Song Kang-ho
Park Chan-wook’s most recent movie, Decision to Leave, was my No. 1 film of 2022, and he’s one of my very favorite filmmakers working today. He’s made many excellent movies over the course of his career, and you can argue it all traces back to Joint Security Area, the breakout hit that helped launch his career.
A tightly wound thriller, JSA stars with the killing of two North Korean soldiers in the DMZ, and a Swiss Army major who has been sent to investigate the killings. As we learn more, JSA starts to become a movie about an unlikely friendship, and the ways that constructs like borders divide us and put is in deadly opposition to each other.
The highest-grossing movie in Korean history at the time, JSA helped launch Park’s career as well as those of stars Lee Young-ae, Lee Byung-hun, and Song Kang-ho. They’re all excellent in the movie, bringing a complicated and intense story to life. —PV
Run time: 1h 46m
Director: Abbas Kiarostami
Cast: Juliette Binoche, William Shimell
The late Abbas Kiarostami was one of the most masterful directors of his time, and his masterful romance Certified Copy is available to watch for free at home. Congratulations.
Certified Copy follows two people: a French antique dealer (Juliette Binoche, arresting as always), and a British writer (famed opera baritone William Shimell), who meet in Tuscany while the latter is promoting his new book. The book, titled Certified Copy, puts forth the argument that there is no such thing as a “copy” in art, because even reproductions are original works. The two debate this idea, as the idea of what is “real” gets called into question, even the very nature of their relationship.
A gorgeous film led by two unforgettable performances, Certified Copy is the kind of masterpiece that will linger with you for years to come. You will fall in love, with this film specifically and with film generally: It depicts humanity at our most impenetrably complex in a way that lays bare our fears and hopes, all while being warm, charming, and delightfully funny. It’s one of a kind, but also in conversation with many other films about love and art. After all, every copy is its own original work. —PV
Genre: Psychological thriller
Run time: 2h 28m
Director: Lee Chang-dong
Cast: Yoo Ah-in, Steven Yeun, Jeon Jong-seo
Lee Chang-dong’s Burning easily ranks as one of the most engrossing psychological thrillers of the 2010s. Based on a short story by The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle author Haruki Murakami, the film focuses on the story of Lee Jong-su (Yoo Ah-in), an aspiring writer who reunites with his childhood friend Hae-mi (Jeon Jong-seo) after years apart… or does he?
Soon after, Jong-su meets Ben (Steven Yeun), a “friend” of Hae-mi’s whose extravagant lifestyle, vague occupation, and seemingly ironclad hold over Hae-mi conjures feelings of suspicion and jealousy within Jong-su. When Hae-mi suddenly disappears one day, Jong-su’s desperate search to find her unearths a web of implications that shake him to his core.
Burning is a mystery-thriller that thrives on insinuations conveyed through a triumvirate of masterful performances between Yoo, Jeon, and especially Yeun, whose portrayal as Ben sincerely ranks as one of the most unsettling on-screen antagonists in recent memory. —TE
Run time: 2h 51m
Director: Steve James
Cast: William Gates, Arthur Agee
The NBA playoffs have just started with a bang, so what better time than now to watch the greatest basketball movie (and one of the greatest American documentaries) ever made?
Hoop Dreams embeds itself with two high school basketball stars who want nothing more than to make it in the NBA. It’s not just a basketball movie, though; director Steve James paints an in-depth portrait of not only his subject’s lives, but of the fallibility of the American dream and who gets left behind. One of the defining movies of our nation, Hoop Dreams is a compelling and moving must-watch for all, not just basketball fans. —PV
The Long Goodbye
Genre: Crime drama
Run time: 1h 52m
Director: Robert Altman
Cast: Elliott Gould, Nina van Pallandt, Sterling Hayden
Movie detectives have rarely ever been as charming as Elliott Gould’s mumbly, clever, and easygoing Philip Marlowe in The Long Goodbye. Robert Altman’s 1973 masterpiece follows Marlowe as he investigates the disappearance of a famous author and wonders whether it’s connected to the death of his own friend. Of course, as with all great PI stories, everything’s connected and there are no coincidences, just a web of lies, mischief, and crime for Marlowe to sort out.
For all the things that make this movie great, Gould’s ability to float through it so effortlessly might be the most fun. He has a witty comeback for everything, whether it’s a hungry cat, a kick in the teeth, a death threat, or a mostly naked Arnold Schwarzenegger. Marlowe’s the kind of breezy, malleable character that smokes incessantly and can strike a match on any surface the world offers him.
All of this flexibility is set up perfectly by the movie’s score, too, for which John Williams wrote one perfect song, then endlessly modified it, changing its genre and style to fit the mood — sometimes deciding on one approach at the beginning of a scene, then swapping halfway through when the vibes are off, just like Marlowe himself. —Austen Goslin
Genre: Sci-fi action
Run time: 1h 43m
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Cast: Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Daniel O’Herlihy
Paul Verhoeven’s Robocop is not only one of the most thoroughly entertaining quotable action movies of its era, but a powerful satire of Reagan-era social policies that explicates the dehumanizing force of rote bureaucracy and policing on the individual. Peter Weller is Alex Murphy, a Detroit city police officer murdered in the line of duty who is resurrected by an unscrupulous mega-corporation with hopes of privatizing law enforcement. Murphy’s personal journey from an unfeeling implement of state-sponsored violence into a conscious being who rediscovers his humanity and exacts justice on the apparatus of crime and exploitation that created him is one of the best sci-fi movies of the late 20th century. Plus, it’s got a scene of a guy getting shot in the dick and another of a man being transformed into a goopy mutant before being mowed over by a van. I’d buy that for a dollar! —TE
Genre: Action horror
Run time: 2h 1m
Director: Panos Cosmatos
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Andrea Riseborough, Linus Roache
Yearning for more Nicolas Cage-fueled insanity after watching Renfield and The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent? What am I saying — of course you are!
Panos Cosmatos’ 2018 action horror film Mandy not only features what many considered one of the actor’s best performances of the past decade, it’s also — as revealed in a recent episode of The Late Show With Stephen Colbert — one of Cage’s favorite movies he’s ever worked on.
After watching Mandy, it’s not hard to see why. Praised for its psychedelic brutality, over-the-top performances, and a prog-rock-inspired score courtesy of the late great composer Jóhann Jóhannsson, Mandy follows the story of a lumberjack who embarks on a conquest of revenge to kill the monstrous Gwar-like cult members who murdered his beloved girlfriend (Andrea Riseborough). You wanna see Nicolas Cage drink vodka in his underwear while wailing hysterically in a pink-tiled bathroom? Here ya go. You wanna see Nicolas Cage go head-to-head against a hulking monster named “Fuck Pig,” snort cocaine off a glass table, and get into chainsaw fight? You got it, sport! Mandy is a blast and if you haven’t seen it yet, boy are you missing out. —TE