If this was the year you decided to cut back on cable or one of your many streaming platforms, you may be looking for content to watch this holiday season for free.
The CBC News Entertainment team has put together a short watchlist of free shows and films streaming in Canada — including our favourite holiday-themed picks.
While the content listed below is free, some servicessuch as Kanopyrequire you to sign-in through a library card or university ID, while others are ad-supportedwith premium options.
Rare Exports (Tubi, Kanopy)
The blackest comedy from Finland, Rare Exports has been my go-to Christmas recommendation since it was first unleashed on the world in 2010. You know you're in for a good time when the father contacts the authorities and says, "We have Santa Claus, and we're holding him ransom."Young Pietari has been waiting to see Santa, counting down the days before Christmas. But when an American mining company excavates a long-frozen Yuletide monster, Pietari and his father are too busy fighting to survive to worry about milk and cookies Scary and sweet all at the same time, Rare Exports could be your new favourite Christmas cult classic.— Eli Glasner
Christmas Cartoon Extravaganza (Tubi)
With so many Canadianscutting cable, you might miss your favourite Christmas cartoon classic as you lay on the couch in an eggnog-induced stupor. But a quick search on Tubi finds a wealth of animated archives, including a compilation titledChristmas Cartoon Extravaganza that featuresversions of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman and others from decades past. They might not be the versions you remember, but there's a certain beauty to the hand-drawn animation and playful characters.— Eli Glasner
Kiss KissBangBang (Kanopy)
What says Christmas more than Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer joining forces as a thief and a private eye trying to solve a murder mystery? It may seem like typical cinematic shlock, but in the hands of writer-director Shane Black (the writer behindThe Nice Guys and Lethal Weapon), KissKiss Bang Bang is a pitch-perfect buddy-cop comedy. Besides killer punchlines and whip-smart dialogue, Black has a recurring motifin his work where he sets the story during Christmas, making Kiss Kiss Bang Bang the perfect holiday romp.— Eli Glasner
Holiday odds and ends (Pluto.tv,Kanopy, CBC Gem, CTV)
Pluto.tv has two full-time Christmas channels (plus two fireplace channels and a holiday lights channel), if you cut cable and are looking to fill a Hallmark-style Christmas movie gap.
Meanwhile, Kanopy —which also offers afireplace channel — has the Canadian Christmas horror classic Black Christmas from the '70s. It also has hundreds of much less dark holiday fare, including the Jamie Lee Curtis-led Christmas with the Kranksand the Kate Beckinsale vehicle Serendipity (which is more of a romance than a Christmas movie, but it still counts!).
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This oneon theCTVwebsite is probably the highest on my list of free-to-stream holiday movies: the Nancy Meyers classic The Holiday with Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz. CBC Gem also has one I watch every single year: Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean.For something newer, Gemhas the Kristen Stewart and Aubrey Plaza holiday comedy Happiest Season.
And if Christmas episodes are your thing: Schitt's Creek streams on Gem, while Friends and Community stream on CTV. — Teghan Beaudette
Sort Of (CBC Gem)
Our country produced stellar originals this year, and Sort Of continues to be one of the best. In its three seasons, all available for free on CBC Gem, we see our protagonist Sabi Mehboob navigate their South Asian queer identity, all while dealing with the very real struggles of a young person adapting to city life, multiple gigs and finding meaning in community. Whenco-creator and lead Bilal Baig announced the end of the series this fall, they told CBC News they are looking forward to the next slate of Canadian content that follows. "Part of what I'm curious about is: what happens after?" Baig said. "What are the shows that get made? Who gets to be heard?" — Arti Patel
Children Ruin Everything (CTV)
If you're looking for a binge-worthy light comedy that even non-parents can be on board with, look no further than Children Ruin Everything, a CTV original available on demand. The series, currently in Season 3, follows the story of a couplegrappling with the realities of raising children and all the intricacies that come with it. Whether that means parenting in a cluttered home, adjusting to hangovers or just the idea of two little humans eating up your time, the show is a lighthearted treat. The best part, however, has to be the two young kids on the show — Logan Nicholson (Felix) and Mikayla SwamiNathan (Viv) are two up-and-coming Canadians to keep an eye on. — Arti Patel
LISTEN| Children Ruin Everythingcreator on being inspired by real life: Q13:11Children Ruin Everything creator Kurt Smeaton on how being a father informs his funniest work
Q13:11Children Ruin Everything creator Kurt Smeaton on how being a father informs his funniest work
Multiple channels (PlutoTV)
Re-runs during the holidays are a given, but the idea of watching your old favourite television shows the rest of the year sounds ideal. PlutoTV, a free live FAST streaming service that launched in Canada earlier this year, has more than 160 channels dedicated to playing rerun after rerun of classic hits like Beverly Hills, 90210, Star Trek: The Next Generation and almost every popular MTV reality series you can think of, including Catfish and The Hills. You will quickly learn it's easy to get lost in the nostalgia and time will become a blur, but if your holiday season plans include lounging around at home, 24 hours of CSI sounds perfect. — Arti Patel
Blood Quantum (CBC Gem)
Sometimes you need a good scare during the holidays. Blood Quantum, released in 2019 and available to stream for free on CBC Gem, is a gory and fast-paced movie that features a nearly all-Indigenous cast. It follows members of a fictional Mi'kmaq reserve as they deal with a zombie outbreak. The film's director, writer and editor, Jeff Barnaby, who is Mi'kmaw from Listuguj, Que., told CBC News, "In qualified and political terms, it's 100 per cent a Native zombie exploitation film." He said the film also doubles as a metaphor for environmental catastrophe. —Brock Wilson
Blue Valentine (CTV)
Featuring Canadian actor Ryan Gosling, Blue Valentine is free to stream on CTV. Released in 2010, the film follows Dean and Cindy, played byGosling andMichelle Williams. It's a sombre, non-linear portrait of the pair's marriage, filled with both tender moments of romance and raw instances of pain. Beautifully shot, Blue Valentine's colour palette seems to change along with the characters:bright during the early instances of courtship, more gritty and muted during the heavier portions. —Brock Wilson
Various Oscar winners and nominees (Kanopy)
It's an annual challenge to cram in as many Oscar buzzworthyfilms as possible in advance of the actual awards, and all you need is a library card for a chance to catch up on Kanopy. Lots of titles from Oscars ofyears past — winners and nominees — are there for free, such asI, Tonya, Barney's Version, Moonrise Kingdom, Good Will Huntingand many, many more. Enjoy with popcorn. — Laura Thompson
Stories We Tell (NFB.ca)
It's been just over a decade since filmmaker Sarah Polley turned the lens on herself and her family to uncover a complex trove of memories and secrets that she pieced together for a critically acclaimed documentary, Stories We Tell (2012).
As we have become even more invested in Polley's life and work over time, it's a fascinating rewatch to dive into this offering of her personal history, with a revelation that lands just as exceptionally now as it did then. — Laura Thompson
As a seasoned entertainment enthusiast with a broad spectrum of knowledge spanning film, television, and streaming platforms, I can provide valuable insights into the content mentioned in the article. My expertise is not only grounded in a comprehensive understanding of popular culture but also in an ability to discern quality and significance within the vast landscape of media.
Let's delve into the concepts introduced in the article:
Cord-Cutting Trend: The article acknowledges the growing trend of individuals reducing their reliance on traditional cable services and exploring alternative streaming options. This reflects a broader shift in consumer behavior, emphasizing the desire for flexibility and cost-effective entertainment solutions.
Streaming Platforms: The piece mentions several streaming platforms offering free content in Canada, including Tubi, Kanopy, Pluto.tv, CBC Gem, and CTV. Each platform has its unique offerings, ranging from classic TV shows and films to original content. It highlights the increasing availability of free, ad-supported streaming services as an alternative to subscription-based models.
Holiday-Themed Content: The article provides a curated list of holiday-themed shows and films available for free streaming. From the Finnish dark comedy "Rare Exports" to classic Christmas cartoons on Tubi, it caters to diverse tastes. Additionally, it recommends "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" on Kanopy as a Christmas-themed comedy with a twist.
Canadian Content: The article showcases a variety of Canadian productions available on platforms like CBC Gem and CTV. "Sort Of" on CBC Gem and "Children Ruin Everything" on CTV are highlighted as examples of compelling Canadian originals, demonstrating the richness of homegrown content.
Genre Diversity: The piece spans different genres, from light comedy like "Children Ruin Everything" to a horror film like "Blood Quantum." This reflects the diverse preferences of viewers and the wide range of content available on free streaming services.
Nostalgia and Reruns: The mention of Pluto.tv emphasizes the appeal of nostalgia with its extensive collection of classic TV shows, including hits like "Beverly Hills, 90210" and "Star Trek: The Next Generation." This caters to audiences seeking comfort in familiar content.
Film Recommendations: The article recommends specific films such as "Blue Valentine" on CTV and mentions the availability of various Oscar winners and nominees on Kanopy. This provides viewers with options to explore acclaimed and award-worthy films without a subscription fee.
Documentaries and Personal Stories: It highlights the availability of thought-provoking documentaries like "Stories We Tell" on NFB.ca. This reflects the growing interest in real-life stories and personal narratives that provide a deeper understanding of the human experience.
In conclusion, the article offers a well-rounded guide for viewers seeking free, quality content during the holiday season and beyond. Whether one is interested in festive favorites, Canadian productions, or Oscar-worthy films, the article provides a diverse range of options catering to varied tastes and preferences.