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The 40 Best Movies on Kanopy Right Now

Kanopy is a platform that allows you to stream movies for free with your library card or university login. It's just like making a trip to the library to borrow DVDs, except without the trip or the DVD part - just the watching.

Kanopy, like your library, is full of classics. That's a great thing if you're into older movies, but if you're looking for quality recent titles you have a lot of digging to do. The goal of this list is to gather the excellent recent movies available on Kanopy in one place. 40 of them.

All of these movies, like everything else on agoodmovietowatch, are highly-rated by viewers and acclaimed by critics.

Songs My Brothers Taught Me (2015)

This slow-burning drama is set in an Indigenous reservation in South Dakota, where Johnny is a teenager who dreams of moving to L.A. with his girlfriend. He would have to leave behind his little sister, who is just grappling with the recent loss of their father. 

Director Chloé Zhao (The Rider, Nomadland) worked with amateur actors whose lives mirror the characters, often adapting the script to the actors' stories. She filmed 100 hours of footage that she then distilled into an hour and a half. 

The result is a film shot from the outside but which is grounded in local stories. And these stories are rough, sad, complex - but so important to listen to and understand. It's an incredible feat to make an observational film that's so grounded in reality - only a genius could: that's Chloé Zhao, and this mature work is -somehow- her first feature film.

Genre: Drama
Actor: Irene Bedard
Director: Chloé Zhao
Rating: Not Rated
Go to Kanopy

Tunisian director Kaouther Ben Hania’s new movie is about an arrogant European artist who tattoos a Syrian man's back, essentially turning the man's body into artwork. 

The man, as a commodity, is able to travel the world freely to be in art galleries, something as a simple human with a Syrian passport he couldn’t do. Seems unlikely? It’s based on a true story.

But Ben Hania is not really interested in the political statement aspect of this unlikely stunt. Instead, she looks at what this would do to a human-being, to the man's self-esteem, his relationships, and the turns his life takes. It's a fascinating movie.

Genre: Drama
Actor: Christian Vadim, Darina Al Joundi, Monica Bellucci
Director: Kaouther Ben Hania
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Ne le Dis à Personne (Tell No One) (2006)

Francois Cluzet, who you may remember from The Intouchable, plays a man whose wife is killed and is accused of murdering her. To make matters even more confusing, signs that his wife is actually still alive surface. This well thought out thriller is at all times the furthest thing from boring and has, among other great components, well crafted chase scenes as the protagonist looks for 8 years of unanswered questions.

(Sam Cheng)
Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Actor: André Dussollier, Anne Marivin, Dorothée Brière, Eric Savin, François Berléand, François Cluzet, Gilles Lellouche, Guillaume Canet, Jean Rochefort, Kristin Scott Thomas, Laurent Lafitte, Marie-Josée Croze, Marina Hands, Nathalie Baye, Olivier Marchal, Philippe Lefebvre, Sara Martins, Thierry Neuvic
Director: Guillaume Canet
Rating: Unrated
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Good Time (2017)

A fast-paced thriller, and "actually dangerous" movie as envisioned by its directors, Good Time is about a bank robbery gone wrong and one brother trying to get his other brother out of jail in its aftermath. It's a deep and fast dive into New York's criminal underworld that will not give you the time to catch a single full breath. The rhythm here is, without exaggeration, unlike anything I've seen before. It's anxiety-inducing and very... primal. Incredible work featuring a career-pivoting performance from Robert Pattinson as the loose criminal that will do literally anything in the pursuit of seeing his brother free.

Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Actor: Barkhad Abdi, Ben Safdie, Benny Safdie, Buddy Duress, Gladys Mathon, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Necro, Peter Verby, Robert Clohessy, Robert Pattinson, Taliah Webster
Director: Ben Safdie, Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie, Joshua Safdie
Rating: R
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Columbus (2017)

What goes well with a love story? Creative architecture. Columbus the movie is such a great and genuine exploration of this idea, filmed in Columbus the city - a weird experimental hub for architecture that actually exists in real life! After his architect father goes into a coma, Jin (John Cho), a Korean-born man finds himself stuck in Columbus without a foreseeable end. In Korean tradition when a parent dies, the son should be in the same place physically otherwise they can't mourn. While waiting to see what will happen to his father he meets Casey (Haley Lu Richardson), an aspiring architect herself, who's also stuck in Columbus because of her mother. This is a beautiful movie with real-life issues and situations, to be especially appreciated by viewers who don't mind a slow narrative in exchange for a meticulously-crafted movie.

Genre: Drama, Romance
Actor: Erin Allegretti, Haley Lu Richardson, John Cho, Michelle Forbes, Parker Posey, Rory Culkin
Director: Kogonada
Rating: Not Rated
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Skin (2018)

This true story of a white-supremacist and the civil rights unit that tried to stop his group was so gripping. 

You might recognize the title from the Oscars ceremony, as a shorter version of Skin (same director but different actors) won the Academy Award for Best Short Film. 

The longer movie provides much more time for the characters to develop, and room for more of a commentary on the current political situation in the U.S.

Fun fact: see that scary man in the picture? That’s Billy Elliot star Jamie Bell who went through a transformation for the role, including always wearing a device to pull his ears closer to his head because they were “too cute”.

Genre: Drama
Actor: Ari Barkan, Bill Camp, Colbi Gannett, Daniel Henshall, Danielle Macdonald, Jaime Ray Newman, Jamie Bell, Jenna Leigh Green, Kylie Rogers, Louisa Krause, Mary Stuart Masterson, Mike Colter, Russell Posner, Vera Farmiga, Zoe Colletti
Director: Guy Nattiv
Rating: R
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Wendy and Lucy (2008)

Wendy (Michelle Williams) is a drifter driving up to Alaska in hopes of finding work. When her car breaks down, she and her dog Lucy are stranded and forced to scrounge for food and repairs, hitting one roadblock after another on her path to an uncertain dream. This sympathetic and solemn look at poverty from director Kelly Reichardt serves as a reminder of how easy it is to fall through the fragile American safety net.   

Reichardt’s uncompromising approach paired with Williams’s restrained performance makes the experience authentic and intense, recalling the work of Ken Loach. This natural sharpness makes for an engrossing watch that builds in power until the emotional release of the film’s heartbreaking conclusion. 

(Igor Fishman)
Genre: Drama
Actor: David Koppell, Deirdre OConnell, Larry Fessenden, Michelle Williams, Will Patton
Director: Kelly Reichardt
Rating: R
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Lady Vengeance (2005)

This Park Chan-Wook classic is the third part of a trilogy of films around the theme of revenge, following Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and Oldboy. While ultimately unique, Lady Vengeance is a thriller set in a prison, in the vein of films such as the Japanese action drama Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion. After being framed and wrongly convicted for murder, our protagonist seeks out the true perpetrator of the crime –– but more than anything else, she seeks vengeance. 

This film’s run time is 115 minutes and every second is essential. There is often gratuitous violence perpetrated by men against women in film, however Lady Vengeance takes back control and for that reason it remains one of my favorite revenge films.

(Jasmine Renaé)
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Actor: Anne Cordiner, Bu-seon Kim, Byeong-ok Kim, Choi Hee-jin, Choi Jung-woo, Choi Min-sik, Go Su-hee, Ha-kyun Shin, Hye-jeong Kang, Ji-tae Yu, Jin-seo Yun, Kang Hye-jeong, Kang Hye-jung, Kang-ho Song, Kim Bu-seon, Kim Byung-ok, Kim Shi-hoo, Kim Yoo-jung, Ko Chang-seok, Ko Su-hee, Kwon Yea-young, Lee Dae-yeon, Lee Seung-shin, Lee Yeong-ae, Lee Yong-nyeo, Lee Young-ae, Min-sik Choi, Oh Dal-su, Oh Gwang-rok, Park Myung-shin, Ra Mi-ran, Ryoo Seung-wan, Seung-Shin Lee, Seung-wan Ryoo, Shi-hoo Kim, Shin Ha-gyun, Shin Ha-kyun, Song Kang-ho, Su-hee Go, Toni Barry, Yea-young Kwon, Yeong-ae Lee, Yoo Ji-tae, Yoon Jin-seo
Director: Chan-wook Park, Park Chan-wook
Rating: R
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Rosie (2019)

This emotional and moving story is about a mother of four who is forced into homelessness in Dublin. With her husband working in a demanding restaurant job, Rosie is left to take care of the children while trying to find anything resembling accommodation. She starts by seeking the help of the city council, but every facility she calls is full or refuses to welcome them.

As a viewer, the heartbreaking reality of the situation sinks in quickly: Rosie and her husband are priced out and there are too many people in their condition. Their car doesn't fit them. But to her children, relatives, and school officials, Rosie keeps up appearances and doesn't compromise on her overwhelming child care tasks. 

Genre: Drama
Actor: Moe Dunford, Sarah Greene
Director: Paddy Breathnach
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The Whistleblower (2010)

Based on a true story, The Whistleblower is the biography of a once Nebraskan police officer who volunteers for the U.N. peacekeeping mission in post-war Bosnia. Once there, she uncovers a human trafficking scandal involving peacekeeping officials, and finds herself alone against a hostile system in a devastated country. Rachel Weisz plays the whistleblower in a powerful lead role, but the true star of the movie is its director, Larysa Kondracki, who thanks to near documentary-style film-making delivers a perfectly executed political thriller with utmost authenticity.

Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Actor: Alin Panc, Benedict Cumberbatch, Danny John-Jules, David Hewlett, David Strathairn, Jeanette Hain, Liam Cunningham, Luke Treadaway, Monica Bellucci, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Paula Schramm, Pilou Asbæk, Rachel Weisz, Rayisa Kondracki, Sergej Trifunović, Stuart Graham, Vanessa Redgrave, Vlad Ivanov, William Hope
Director: Larysa Kondracki
Rating: R
Go to Kanopy

More lists

A quick recap

Split by genre of this selection on agoodmovietowatch.com
Comedy
36
Drama
150
Documentary
63
Romance
28
Average score
81.5%
from our staff
Average score
81.4%
from our users
There are
110
more suggestions in this category.
Find them by going back to agoodmovietowatch.com