Bored at home? These 13 free (and free-to-try) streaming services have an endless amount of movies to stave off cabin fever

Rudie Obias
·15 mins read

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Video streaming to get through social distancing. (Photo: Walt Disney Company/Paramount Pictures/Netflix/Warner Bros./Tristar Pictures/Sony Pictures/Columbia Pictures/A24/Criterion Collection/Lionsgate/Yahoo Lifestyle)
Video streaming to get through social distancing. (Photo: Walt Disney Company/Paramount Pictures/Netflix/Warner Bros./Tristar Pictures/Sony Pictures/Columbia Pictures/A24/Criterion Collection/Lionsgate/Yahoo Lifestyle)

As more and more people stay at home, it’s only a matter of time before boredom sets in. An excellent way to pass time and curb any creeping loneliness? A good movie.

We’ve rounded up 13 streaming services — some are free, others offer free trials — that should be on your radar. Each of these services streams old and new movies alike, and they have content that appeals to all ages. If you’re sharing a home with the kids in your life, these services will have plenty for them as well as all the adults.

Here are 13 of the best streaming services to help you survive social distancing:

Watch Netflix for free for an entire month

Always Be My Maybe (Photo: Netflix)
Always Be My Maybe (Photo: Netflix)

Netflix is still the gold standard of video streaming. No other streaming service has more movies just a click away. However, over the years, Netflix has been losing more and more feature films to other up-and-coming streaming services like Disney+. So to fill the void, the streaming giant has created its own movies that can’t be found anywhere else.

For example, award-winning movies like The Two Popes, Marriage Story and Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman can only be found on Netflix, while popular romantic comedies like Always Be My Maybe and To All the Boys I've Loved Before are exclusive to the streamer.

Netflix also has plenty for kids, like Super Monsters Save Halloween and Angela's Christmas. The company also has more original action movies, like Triple Frontier and Michael Bay’s 6 Underground than any other streaming service.

If you don’t have Netflix already, you can sign up for a generous 30-day free trial. If you choose to keep it, plans start at just $9 per month for basic service (non-HD video and only one stream at a time), while premium packages (4K Ultra HD video and up to four streams at once) are $16 per month.

Click here for a full list of everything Netflix has to offer.

Shop it: Netflix, 30-day free trial (starting at $9 per month),

Catch up on your favorite TV series for a full week with HBO Now

Shazam! (Photo: Warner Bros.)
Shazam! (Photo: Warner Bros.)

If you’re a fan of genre movies like DC superhero movies, then HBO Now is a good pick for you with new titles like Shazam! and Aquaman on-board. The streaming service also has a robust selection of action, noir, horror, comedy and science fiction movies like Robocop, The Town, Shutter Island, Crimson Peak, Godzilla: King of the Monsters and more.

In addition, HBO Now has a wide range of original films and documentaries ready-to-stream, including Behind the Candelabra, Temple Grandin, Leaving Neverland, Paradise Lost and much more.

Compared to Netflix, HBO Now has more adult-themed offerings like The Mule, A Star Is Born (2018), and Prisoners included, while kids are not forgotten with family-friendly movies like Pokémon Detective Pikachu and The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part available to stream.

Right now, HBO Now has a seven-day free trial, so you can try before you subscribe. However, if you opt to join the streaming service after the trial is over, it’s going to cost you $15 per month. For a full list of everything available to stream on HBO Now, click here.

Shop it: HBO Now, Seven-day free trial ($15 per month),

Get an entire week’s worth of documentaries, movies and more with Disney+

Frozen 2 (Photo: Disney)
Frozen 2 (Photo: Disney)

Disney+ is the go-to streaming service for all Disney, Star Wars, Marvel and Pixar fans. One of the service’s most unique selling points is that it’s home to every single episode of The Simpsons, where fans — or anyone who managed to miss it all these years — can binge the show’s entire 30-season run on Disney+.

Right now, Frozen 2 just dropped on the streaming service — and Black Panther was just added to fill out more of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If you want to catch up with the adventures of The Mandalorian with Baby Yoda, then Disney+ is definitely the streaming service for you. It’s ideal for kids and their grown-ups — the service even includes nature and culture programming from National Geographic that the whole family can enjoy together.

You have nothing to lose by giving it a spin — Disney+ is offering all new subscribers a free seven-day trial. If you love it, subscribe to the service for just $7 a month, or sign up for a whole year for just $70. That breaks down to about $5.83 per month instead.

Interested in Disney+? Check out a full list of everything available to stream here.

Shop it: Disney+, Seven-day trial ($7 per month),

Get a whole week of top-tier TV and new releases with Hulu

A Simple Favor (Photo: Lionsgate)
A Simple Favor (Photo: Lionsgate)

Hulu (formerly Hulu Plus, now just Hulu) is one of the most robust streaming services out there, full of universally adored movies and new(ish) releases. In fact, most of the movies on the streaming service are just a year or two old with titles like Booksmart; I, Tonya; A Quiet Place; Mission: Impossible — Fallout; Instant Family and the criminally underrated A Simple Favor in their catalog.

Not to mention all the top-tier TV shows like The Handmaid's Tale, Castle Rock and High Fidelity, as well as older and current TV shows like Seinfeld, Grey’s Anatomy, Killing Eve, How I Met Your Mother and more. There’s just something for everyone on Hulu.

You can take advantage of a free seven-day trial, but if you choose to sign up, Hulu starts at $6 per month for an ad-supported version. Meanwhile, you can go ad-free for $12 per month. Check out a full list of everything available to stream here.

Shop it: Hulu, Seven-day trial (starting at $6 per month),

If you’re already a Prime member, you get Amazon Prime Video for free

Beautiful Boy (Photo: Amazon Studios)
Beautiful Boy (Photo: Amazon Studios)

While every Amazon Prime membership comes with free two-day shipping, it also comes with access to Amazon Prime Video for free. So if you’re an Amazon Prime member, then Prime Video already comes with the service baked in. So take advantage and enjoy it.

Prime Video is Amazon’s one-stop-shop for all things movies. If you want to watch newer movies like The Invisible Man (2020), Emma (2020), The Way Back and more, you can rent movies on Prime Video (at an additional cost). It also has a selection of movies to stream as part of the service, including What Men Want, Bumblebee, Fighting with My Family and more. Just look for the Prime checkmark next to the title to stream it without a rental fee.

However, the streaming service also has a large library of original movies that aren’t available anywhere else. Just like Netflix, Amazon Studios produced a wide range of movies that are exclusive to the retail giant — including Beautiful Boy, Suspiria (2018), Cold War, The Lost City of Z, Manchester by the Sea and so much more.

Amazon offers a very long 30-day free trial for Prime. This service includes two-day free shipping, access to Prime Video and Prime Music, discounts at Whole Foods Market and so many more perks. Sign up for a free trial here. If you want to know what’s streaming on Amazon Prime Video right now, check out a full list of everything available here.

Shop it: Amazon Prime Video, 30-day free trial ($120 per year),

Starz has all the newest releases before other streaming services

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Photo: Sony Pictures)
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Photo: Sony Pictures)

It used to be just a premium cable network, but now Starz offers a standalone streaming service that doesn’t require a cable subscription. It seems that most movies make their way to Starz first before they go to HBO Now or Netflix, so if you want to catch the first wave of streaming after a movie leaves theaters, then this is a good choice.

For example, Starz now features new-to-streaming movies like Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Zombieland: Double Tap, Venom, Spider-Man: Far From Home, Men In Black: International and more, while it has a good selection of older movies, including Hondo, The Aviator, Brewster’s Millions, The Wiz, Field of Dreams and much more. The service has original programming like Outlander, American Gods and Power too.

Starz has a seven-day free trial to try before you subscribe, but if you choose to opt-in, the service runs at $9 per month. For a full list of everything available on Starz, click here.

Shop it: Starz, Seven-day trial (starting at $9 per month),

CBS All Access is perfect for Star Trek fans

Star Trek: First Contact (Photo: Paramount Pictures)
Star Trek: First Contact (Photo: Paramount Pictures)

If you’re a fan of all things Star Trek, then CBS All Access is the streaming service for you. It includes every episode of every Star Trek TV show, including TOS (the original series), The Next Generation, the new Picard series, Deep Space Nine and more. In addition, the streaming service also includes a handful of Star Trek movies, such as The Voyage Home, Generations and First Contact.

However, the streaming service is not just for Star Trek fans. CBS All Access also has more movie offerings available — including The Social Network, The Iron Giant, Awakenings, Rachel Getting Married and more.

CBS All Access is offering a free 60-day trial with promo code “GIFT” at check out, while the service starts at just $6 per month. Check out a full list of movies available to stream here.

Shop it: CBS All Access, 60-day trial with promo code “GIFT” (starting at $6 per month),

The Roku Channel is totally free to stream, if you don’t mind ads

Stand By Me (Photo: Columbia Pictures)
Stand By Me (Photo: Columbia Pictures)

While The Roku Channel used to be just for the Roku platform, the streaming channel is also available to watch on the web at for anyone to stream. It’s free to sign up and watch, but all of its movies have ads every 25 minutes or so.

If you don’t mind watching ads during older movies like Stand By Me, Three Kings, Annie, Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion and more, then The Roku Channel is a good option for free on-demand entertainment.

Shop it: The Roku Channel, Free with ads,

VUDU has both new releases and older flicks in one place

The Muppets Take Manhattan (Photo: TriStar Pictures)
The Muppets Take Manhattan (Photo: TriStar Pictures)

As a rental service, VUDU is top-notch with early access to HD and 4K new releases like Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey, The Way Back, The Invisible Man (2020), Pixar’s Onward, The Hunt and more. Although rentals are $20 for a day or two, VUDU also offers older ad-supported movies to watch for free with titles like The Muppets Take Manhattan, Magic Mike XXL, Eat Pray Love, Carol, Point Break and more freebies on-demand.

Shop it: VUDU, Free with ads,

Sundance Now is offering a 30-day trial

Exit Through The Gift Shop (Photo: Oscilloscope Laboratories)
Exit Through The Gift Shop (Photo: Oscilloscope Laboratories)

If you’re a fan of thoughtful indie movies, documentaries and foreign films, Sundance Now might pique your cinephile interest. The streaming service features off-the-beaten path cinema and arthouse films, including Exit Through The Gift Shop, The Keeping Room, Wendy and Lucy, To The Wonder, Victoria, Tangerine and more. So if you love watching movies from directors like Terrence Malick, Kelly Reichardt, Gregg Araki, Lynne Ramsay, Joshua Oppenheimer and other auteur filmmakers, then you might want to give this streaming service a shot.

Sundance Now offers a 30-day free trial with promo code “SUNDANCENOW30,” while it starts at just $5 per month for an annual pass. However, if you want to go month-to-month instead, a subscription is just $7.

For a complete list of everything available to stream, click here.

Shop it: Sundance Now, 30-day free trial with promo code “SUNDANCENOW30” (starting at $5 per month),

Sling TV is perfect for cord-cutters looking for bang for their buck

Get more than 45 TV channels available to stream. (Photo: Sling TV)
Get more than 45 TV channels available to stream. (Photo: Sling TV)

If you’re a cord-cutter, then Sling TV is one of the best options for getting all of those movie channels that used to be only available on cable. Now you can stream “cable” on your TV, smartphone and tablet with Sling TV.

Starting at $20 for the first month of service ($30 per month after that), you can get up to more than 45 live TV channels — including AMC, TNT, TBS, BET, USA, IFC, Lifetime and more — available to stream anywhere with an internet connection. This means you’ll have more options and more movies to watch. Meanwhile, none of these channels on Sling TV are available on Netflix, HBO Now, Disney+ or Hulu.

Think of Sling TV as a cable subscription, but with the ability to watch on just about any device up to three streams at the same time. Meanwhile, you can also record movies just like a DVR (Digital Video Recorder) starting with up to 10 hours of storage space for free, or up to 50 hours for an additional $5 per month.

Right now, Sling TV is offering a 14-day free trial to see if it’s the streaming service for you. If you’re a cord-cutter and you still don’t want to miss out on cable networks, then Sling TV is a good pick. For a full list of networks available on Sling TV, click here.

Shop it: Sling TV, 14-day free trial (starting $30 per month),

Kanopy is free with your library card

Moonlight (Photo: A24)
Moonlight (Photo: A24)

Want to stream for free without ads? If you have a valid library card, then you can login into Kanopy, a free streaming service that features older and new indie and arthouse films and documentaries. It features a wide range of movies, including Moonlight, Eighth Grade, Clue, Memento, Oldboy, Hereditary and more.

The streaming service even features a few titles from the Criterion Collection — such as Modern Times, In the Mood For Love, The Wages of Fear and so much more — if you’re looking for a free arthouse movie fix. A lot of the movies can be found on other services like Netflix, Hulu, Criterion Channel and more, but Kanopy is completely free with a library card, while those mentioned are not.

So what’s the catch? While Kanopy is free, you have a cap on how many movies you can watch in a month. It’s not unlimited. In addition, your local library has to support access, so not every library card is accepted. However, more than 4,000 public libraries and college campuses support the free streaming service, so there’s a very good chance the library card in your wallet will work with Kanopy.

Click here for a full list of all the movies available to stream.

Shop it: Kanopy, Free with library card,

Watch cult classics on The Criterion Channel for two weeks for free

The Gold Rush (Photo: Criterion Collection)
The Gold Rush (Photo: Criterion Collection)

If you’re a fan of “important classic and contemporary films from around the world,” then The Criterion Channel is a must-have streaming service.

While it doesn’t feature every movie and short film included in the Criterion Collection — upwards of 1,300 from a deeply-curated home video publisher and brand with exclusive video material and artwork — it does have a rotating selection of films in the collection, such as Charlie Chaplin’s The Gold Rush, Aguirre, the Wrath of God, Seven Samurai, The 400 Blows, Amarcord, Rome Open City and so much more. Sorry, but there are no Wes Anderson or Michael Bay movies available to stream here, even though their movies are part of the Criterion Collection too.

The Criterion Channel also features films that have yet to get the “Collection” home video release treatment, like Terry Gilliam’s The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Sally Porter’s Orlando, Jonathan Demme’s Stop Making Sense concert documentary and more. Meanwhile, a majority of these movies are exclusive to the Criterion Channel, so you won’t be able to stream them on Netflix, HBO Now, Hulu, Disney+ and other streaming services.

Right now, Criterion Channel has a 14-day free trial to try before you subscribe, but after the trial period is over, the streaming service will charge you $11 per month or $100 per year — which is about a $3 savings per month. Click here for a full list of everything Criterion Channel has to offer.

Shop it: The Criterion Channel, 14-day free trial (starting at $11 per month),

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