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Best movies on IMDb TV

IMDB TV on an iPad and iPhone
(Image credit: IMDB TV)

IMDb is one of the best movie resources the internet has to offer, but it can also be a place to watch some of your favorite movies on IMDb TV, a free (with ads) streaming service.

Ad-supported (AVOD) platforms like IMDb TV are becoming more and more popular in the ever-growing streaming marketplace, offering some big name movies and TV shows without having to sign up for another monthly subscription plan.

Take a look at some of the best movies on IMDb TV right now.

50/50 (2011) 

A guy getting cancer isn’t typically the premise of a comedy, but somehow 50/50 makes it work. The dramedy is directed by Jonathan Levine and stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard and Anjelica Huston.

What makes the comedy work in this film are the little ways that Adam’s (Gordon-Levitt) personality and existing relationships change following his diagnosis - be it with his best friend (Rogen), his mother (Huston) and his girlfriend (Howard) - as well as the new community he finds in fellow patients and his therapist (Kendrick). It also delivers on the drama that you’d expect.

Of course, it can only help to get laughs when you have a scene where Gordon-Levitt shaves his head with Rogen’s ball trimmers.

The African Queen (1951) 

There are few classic Hollywood stars as big as the duo of Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart, and The African Queen is the only time that the two icons ever shared the screen together. Throw in John Huston as the director, and magic occurred.

Bogart (in his lone Oscar-winning role) plays the drunken river boat captain of The African Queen who is tasked with transporting Hepburn’s straight-laced missionary to safety during World War I. However, she convinces him to instead take the boat and try to attack an enemy warship. In their journeys they gain mutual respect for each other.

The African Queen is consistently regarded as one of the best films ever made, see for yourself why.

The Artist (2011)

The Artist is the Best Picture winner from 2011. You can be forgiven for forgetting that little fact because almost immediately after it won its golden statue it’s place in the cultural zeitgeist disappeared like the silent era itself. However, that doesn’t mean the film has lost any of the charm that got people to vote for it in the first place.

The Artist is an homage to silent film, telling the story of a silent-era film star and the tumbles that his life takes with the emergence of the talkie. Gorgeous black-and-white cinematography, a charming Jean Dujardin and the scene-stealing pup Uggie keep The Artist as an entertaining watch.

Biutiful (2010)

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's most recent films (The Revenant, Birdman) were big scale productions in English. Biutiful, on the other hand, is an intimate drama in Spanish, but it is still a masterful exhibition of the director's talents and vision.

In the film, Javier Bardem gives an incredible performance as a man dying of cancer who is looking to leave this life on his own terms. While the subject is heavy, the director and star manage to walk the tight rope and have Biutiful land on the side of touchingly poignant rather than deeply depressing.

Blue Valentine (2010) 

Blue Valentine is far from your typical Hollywood romance. The trio of writer/director Derek Cianfrance and stars Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling tell the story of a modern day couple, warts and all.

The film is a showcase for Williams and Gosling, and both are exceptional as they show the evolution of their character’s relationship from courtship to marriage to, ultimately, separation. Williams would receive a Best Actress nomination for her work.

It’s not the easiest of watches, to be fair, but Blue Valentine is a powerful work that deserves to be seen.

Brokeback Mountain (2005)

There was an unfortunate stigma around Brokeback Mountain when it was coming out, with many simply referring to it as the “gay cowboy movie.” For anyone who saw it though, they realized that it was actually a beautiful and tragic love story with two all-time great performances from Heather Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal.

Adapted from a short story by Annie Proulx and directed by Ang Lee (for which he won his first Oscar), Brokeback Mountain is set in the 1960s when Ennis and Jack work together for a summer herding sheep. They form a deep bond and reveal their true selves, something they are not able to do in their lives again when they’re apart.

While today the casting of two straight actors for gay characters would like be met with some criticism, Gyllenhaal said in a recent interview that he believes the film helped break some of the stigma about LGBTQIA roles and movies.

The Descendants (2011)

Just because Hawai’i has picturesque views doesn’t mean that it’s all sunshine and rainbows. We saw that recently with HBO’s The White Lotus, but also with the 2011 Alexander Payne film The Descendants starring George Clooney.

Clooney stars as Matt King, a man whose wife has been in a fatal boating accident and who has to reconnect with his two daughters, while also dealing with the revelation that his wife cheated on him and making a decision on a land deal that has massive implications. Shailene Woodley also stars.

The Descendants is a funny and touching family story featuring one of Clooney’s best performances and was a breakout role for Woodley.

Detroit (2017)

After making two films that depicted America’s recent conflicts in the Middle East in The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow turned her camera back to American soil and a touchstone moment in the past in her film Detroit.

Detroit is a retelling of the 1967 Detroit riots, particularly an instance at a hotel where a squad of police officers harassed and ultimately killed three Black men. John Boyega, Anthony Mackie, Jason Mitchell, Will Poulter, Jacob Latimore, Jack Reynor, Algee Smith, Samira Wiley and Kaitlyn Dever star in the film.

Bigelow crafted a pressure cooker film about a forgotten moment in U.S. history.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) 

Amy Heckerling has made two classic movies about high school, including Clueless in the ‘90s and Fast Times at Ridgemont High in the ‘80s. The latter is a must-watch, especially when it’s as readily available as it is on IMDb TV.

The film follows a whole bunch of high schoolers in a southern California high school as they deal with sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. With a screenplay by Cameron Crowe, the film stars Jennifer Jason Leigh, Judge Reinhold, Phoebe Cates, Forest Whitaker, Robert Romanus, Brian Backer, Amanda Wyss and Sean Penn as the memorable stoner Jeff Spicoli.

While Fast Times is as funny as any movie set in high school (Penn is great, and Reinhold’s fantasy of Cates leads is iconic), the film also dives into the personal connections for many of these characters that gives it a fantastic depth.

His Girl Friday (1940)

If anybody suffers from an inability to watch a movie just because it’s in black and white, His Girl Friday may be the cure for that. A classic from Howard Hawks with Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell in peak comedic form, this mile-a-minute comedy still has legs after all these years.

Grant stars as a newspaper editor who schemes to keep his ace-reporter, and ex-wife (Russell), from remarrying and leaving the paper.

It’s not as easy to find some classic movies like His Girl Friday on streaming, so best to jump on the chance when you’ve got it.

How to Train Your Dragon (2010)

Take off with How to Train Your Dragon, the original animated film that spawned a new franchise for Dreamworks that gives some of the best Pixar films a run for their money.

Following a young, scrawny Viking named Hiccup, he begins to question the hunting of dragons by his village after bonding with one of the creatures.

Gorgeous animation and a thrilling score are highlights of How to Train Your Dragon, along with the voice cast of Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, America Ferrera, Craig Ferguson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse,  Jonah Hill, Kristen Wiig and more. 

How to Train Your Dragon spawned two sequels, but its the original the remains the cream of the crop.

L.A. Confidential (1997)

Based on James Ellroy's novel of the same name, L.A. Confidential is a fantastic crime story set in the golden era of Hollywood as three police officers with varying styles of enforcing the law team up to investigate a series of murders.

Curtins Hanson directs Guy Pearce, Russell Crowe, Kim Basinger, Kevin Spacey, James Cromwell, Danny Devito and David Strathairn in this tale of murder, corruption and hookers made up to look like movie stars.

L.A. Confidential was one of the big films of 1997, and had it not run into Titanic it may very well have come out on top in the awards and cultural landscape.

The Lady Vanishes (1938) 

The master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, is best known for work like Rear Window, Psycho, Vertigo and North by Northwest, but the legendary director has a filmography that spanned more than 50 years, with numerous classics. One of his lesser known but certainly not lesser works is The Lady Vanishes.

In the story of The Lady Vanishes, a young socialite meets a kind elderly woman on her travels and the pair share a compartment on the train. However, when the young woman wakes from a nap, she finds the elderly woman gone and no one saying that they’ve ever seen such a person before.

This thriller was among Hitchcock’s early works that earned him his famed nickname.

Lion (2016)

Based on a true story, Lion is about a five-year-old Indian boy who gets lost from his older brother and can’t get home. He is eventually adopted and raised by an Australian couple. When he grows up, he begins to search for his family again with the little information that he can remember.

This emotional journey was directed by Garth Davis and starred Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman (both nominated for Oscars), Rooney Mara, David Wenham and Sunny Pawar as the young boy.

Get your handkerchiefs ready.

Little Women (1994)

Greta Gerwig notably adapted the classic Louis May Alcott story of the March family in 2019, but 25 years earlier we got another rendition of Little Women that was the quintessential version for its own generation.

Gillian Armstrong directed 1994’s Little Women, which starred Winona Ryder as Jo, Kirsten Dunst and Samantha Mathis as Amy (young and older), Claire Danes as Beth and Trini Alvardo as Meg, while Susan Sarandon played Mrs. March and Christian Bale was Laurie. Ryder would earn a Best Actress nomination for her work.

There are few things better to say about a story like Little Women than that it can be retold multiple times in different eras and have a similar impact on viewers while staying true to its source material.

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

The original zombie movie (so much so that they’re not even called zombies in the film), George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead is a horror classic. Compared to where the genre has gone (looking at you Army of the Dead), Night of the Living Dead’s simple but striking tone of terror is incredible.

Night of the Living Dead stars Duane Jones, Judith O’dea, Karl Hardman, Marilyn Eastman, Keith Wayne and Judith Riley as a group of survivors who find themselves trapped in an abandoned house as these undead ghouls close in around them. However, the group’s arguments about how best to survive the night pose almost as much of a danger.

Paris, Je T’aime (2006) 

Films from Joel & Ethan Coen, Wes Craven, Olivier Assayas, Alfonso Cuaron, Gus Van Sant and Alexander Payne would make for a pretty fun movie marathon. But in Paris, Je T’Aime, you get all of those directors plus other international filmmakers in a single two-hour movie.

Paris, Je T’aime is a compilation of short films all set in Paris and playing in different genres. In addition to the list of directors, the cast includes the likes of Juliette Binoche, Steve Buscemi, Willem Dafoe, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Bob Hoskins, Olga Kurylenko, Margo Martindale, Nick Nolte, Natalie Portman, Gena Rowlands, Catalina Sandino Moreno and Elijah Wood.

This format has been repeated a few more times with films like New York, I Love You, Rio, I Love You and Berlin, I Love You.

Philadelphia (1993)

It’s weird to think that early in his career, Tom Hanks was thought of more as a comedic actor than somebody who could play any role. That image changed, however, when people saw Philadelphia.

Hanks stars as a man diagnosed with HIV who is fired by his high-powered law firm because of his condition. With the help of an at first homophobic lawyer, played by Denzel Washington, they sue the law firm over wrongful dismissal. Jonathan Demme directed the film that also starred Antonio Banderas, Jason Robards, Mary Steenburgen and more.

Hanks would win his first of back-to-back Oscars for Philadelphia, but this powerful story amid the heights of the AIDS epidemic is worth a watch for more than simply Hanks’ performance.

Searching (2018)

If you don’t know who Aneesh Chaganty is yet, I can’t recommend that you watch his films enough, as I think he is one of the better young directors out there. Thus far he has crafted two taut, engaging thrillers in 2020’s Run and 2018’s Searching.

Searching follows a father (John Cho) who desperately looks for clues after his daughter goes missing. That premise offers plenty of interesting, though not necessarily new, material, but what Chaganty does to make it something unique is tell the story entirely through screen images, i.e. video calls, computer screens, etc.

The concept sounds limiting but it actually puts viewers right in the middle of the action, as helpless as Cho’s father is for most of the film. It’s a thrilling watch from an emerging talent.

Short Term 12 (2013)

Before Brie Larson was Captain Marvel, she was another kind of hero — a supervisor at a residential treatment facility for kids from troubled backgrounds. However, like any great heroic character, she has her own cracks that challenge.

Short Term 12 is a fantastic indie film from Destin Daniel Cretton (who recently directed Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings) and in addition to Larson starred John Gallagher Jr., Kaitlyn Dever, Stephanie Beatriz, Rami Malek and LaKeith Stanfield.

Larson should have nabbed her first Oscar nomination for her work (the Academy made up for their omission with her win for Room).

Sing Street (2016)

John Carney, patron saint of movies about the power of music, crafted an ode to the ‘80s and a story of love and brotherhood with his brilliant, sweet film Sing Street

Set in Ireland in the 1980s, young Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) tries to win the affections of Raphina by starting a band with friends from school. Surprisingly enough, they’re actually really good, and their music not only strengthens the bond between Conor and Raphina, but gives the young man a new confidence. 

Sing Street features some fantastic original songs (“Drive It Like You Stole It” will get stuck in your brain pretty easily) as well as just being an overall joy to watch.

Sorry to Bother You (2018)

Boots Riley didn’t hold back with his feature writing/directorial debut, making the high-concept, wacky social comedy Sorry to Bother You.

The film stars LaKeith Stanfield as Cassius Green, who takes a job as a telemarketer and discovers that he can move quickly up the ranks by employing a “white voice” (voiced by David Cross). However, the further up the chain he goes the crazier things become. Tessa Thompson, Jermaine Fowler, Terry Crews, Kate Berlant, Steven Yeun and Danny Glover also star.

Sorry to Bother You is absolutely crazy and hilarious in the best ways. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more original movie.

Wild (2014)

Reese Witherspoon straps on a backpack and goes hiking from the southern U.S. border in California to the northern border in a cathartic journey in the Jean-Marc Vallée film Wild, based on Cheryl Strayed’s memoir of the same name.

Wild is a showcase for Witherspoon as her character deals not just with the elements of hiking thousands of miles, but the emotional journey that she is on following the death of her mother (played in flashbacks by Laura Dern). It easily stands as one of Witherspoon’s best performances, one that netted her an Oscar nom.

Michael Balderston

Michael Balderston is a D.C.-based entertainment writer and content producer for What to Watch. He previously has written for TV Technology and Awards Circuit.