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.

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.

(agoodmovietowatch)
Genre: Drama, Romance
Actor: Caitlin Ewald, 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”.

(agoodmovietowatch)
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, Jeanine Jackson, 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, Kim You-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, Tony 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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Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)

This unique romance is set during a time when a man would be sent the painting of the woman he was to marry before the wedding could take place. Héloïse, secluded with her mother and a maid on a remote island, doesn't approve of her upcoming wedding and refuses to be painted. Her mother sends for a new painter, Marianne, to try to paint her without her noticing. Marianne has to take on this near-impossible task when she starts having feelings for Héloïse. This makes for a riveting romance where Marianne has to choose between her heart and her art while keeping a huge secret from her love interest.

(agoodmovietowatch)
Genre: Drama, Romance
Actor: Adèle Haenel, Luàna Bajrami, Noémie Merlant, Valeria Golino
Director: Céline Sciamma
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: Lochlann O'Mearáin, 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.

(agoodmovietowatch)
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
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The Florida Project (2017)

Every once in a while there are movies that expand the definition of quality film-making. This is one of those movies.

Here is an incredible, yet delicate film that follows three children from poor families who are stuck living in subpar motels. Their lives and friendships are portrayed with honesty and precise aesthetics. It’s a story that at first seems as plot-free as life itself.

It succeeds in capturing an innocence that is usually reserved to a child’s imagination: a precarious living condition full of adventures and fun. It’s hard to describe it beyond that; it’s the kind of film that must be seen to be fully understood.

And it ends on a very high note.

(agoodmovietowatch)
Genre: Drama
Actor: Aiden Malik, Bria Vinaite, Brooklynn Prince, Caleb Landry Jones, Christopher Rivera, Jim R. Coleman, Josie Olivo, Karren Karagulian, Macon Blair, Valeria Cotto, Willem Dafoe
Director: Sean Baker
Rating: R
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The Believer (2001)

Ryan Gosling plays a Jewish Neo-Nazi in this extremely riveting window into the definition of inner conflict. It is a prime example of how character development should be done and it put Gosling on the map for me. He starts out as an exemplary student in Hebrew school until he starts questioning his teachings and exploring alternative ideologies, leading him to the neo-Nazi movement. Won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance

(agoodmovietowatch)
Genre: Drama
Actor: A.D. Miles, Billy Zane, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Elizabeth Reaser, Garret Dillahunt, Glenn Fitzgerald, Heather Goldenhersh, Joel Garland, Joshua Harto, Peter Meadows, Ronald Guttman, Ryan Gosling, Summer Phoenix, Theresa Russell, Tibor Feldman
Director: Henry Bean
Rating: R
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Half Nelson (2006)

The self destructive, substance abusing history teacher Dan (Ryan Gosling) works in a Brooklyn middle-school and is constantly at odds with the curriculum, preferring to teach 13 year old kids Marxist theory in class. Meanwhile, his student Drey (Shareeka Epps) has to go through struggles of her own, her brother being in jail on drug charges and her single mother having to work long hours to make ends meet. Slowly, an unlikely and tender friendship between teacher and student evolves, in which it becomes less and less clear who of them is the adult part. Steering away from cliches, Half Neslon is not your typical social drama. Its intelligent plot twists, great cast (with outstanding performances by both Gossling and Epps) and slow, non dramatic storytelling makes this a highly underestimated movie that, although treating depressive topics without any easy relief for the viewer, will leave with an inner smile, albeit a sad one.

(Doomy)
Genre: Drama
Actor: Adepero Oduye, Anthony Mackie, Deborah Rush, Deidre Goodwin, Denis O'Hare, Jay O. Sanders, Jeff Lima, Katie Nehra, Monique Gabriela Curnen, Nathan Corbett, Nicole Vicius, Raymond Anthony Thomas, Ron Cephas Jones, Ryan Gosling, Shareeka Epps, Sharon Washington, Starla Benford, Tina Holmes
Director: Ryan Fleck
Rating: R
Go to Kanopy

More lists

A quick recap

Split by genre of this selection on agoodmovietowatch.com
Comedy
40
Drama
175
Documentary
132
Romance
32
Average score
81.5%
from our staff
Average score
81.4%
from our users
There are
130
more suggestions in this category.
Find them by going back to agoodmovietowatch.com