100 Best Movies on Kanopy Right Now

100 Best Movies on Kanopy Right Now

June 21, 2024

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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.

81. Heidi (2015)

7.2

Country

Australia, France, Germany

Director

Alain Gsponer

Actors

Anna Schinz, Anuk Steffen, Beth Armstrong, Bruno Ganz

Moods

Easy, Feel-Good, Heart-warming

Where The Secret Garden championed the restorative powers of tending to a garden as well as one’s thoughts, Swiss novel Heidi touched on similar themes a few decades before, celebrating instead the natural beauty of the Alps mountainside, and the titular character bringing back joy and hope to her family. The film remains faithful to the novel, playing out the book’s events with a more sleek look and even more stunning landscapes of the Swiss Alps. While previous generations would inevitably compare the version of their time to this latest version, 2015’s Heidi is a decent adaptation, recreating the classic tale for today’s kids.

82. The Reason I Jump (2020)

7.1

Country

United Kingdom, United States of America

Director

Jerry Rothwell

Actors

David Mitchell, Donna Budway, Emma Budway, Jeremy Dear

Moods

Discussion-sparking, Instructive, Touching

For better or worse, The Reason I Jump isn’t a documentary made for autistic viewers but for a neurotypical audience that may not be very knowledgeable about autism. This means the film doesn’t really offer anything new to the conversation, and it misses the opportunity to truly let its main characters express themselves in their own unique ways, uninterrupted. That said, The Reason I Jump still structures itself smartly (with stunning filmmaking to boot) by having each of its five characters introduce us to different aspects of the autism experience, from sense and memory to communication and community.

83. Listen (2020)

7.0

Country

Portugal, United Kingdom

Director

Ana Rocha de Sousa, Female director

Actors

António Capelo, Brian Bovell, Holly Horne, Jay Lycurgo

Moods

Discussion-sparking, Emotional, Thought-provoking

Sincere and direct, Ana Rocha de Sousa’s debut feature is a tragic portrayal of an immigrant family in the United Kingdom. Known best abroad for her role in Love Actually, Lúcia Moniz shines as devoted mother Bela, who, along with Jota (Ruben Garcia) struggles to keep their family together. The couple and their three children, including the deaf middle child Lu (Sophia Myles), come under the scrutiny of social services, especially after the unexplained bruises. While at times heavy-handed, the film raises important questions on family separation and social services, especially with their limitations with children with disabilities.

84. Reality (2023)

7.0

Country

France, United Kingdom, United States of America

Director

Female director, Tina Satter

Actors

Allan Anthony Smith, Benny Elledge, Bill Maher, John Way

Moods

Character-driven, Gripping, Intense

This taut chamber piece about NSA whistleblower Reality Winner (yes, that’s her real name) is based on the FBI’s account of her interrogation one June day in 2017. “Based on” doesn’t quite capture Reality’s exhaustive commitment to the facts, though, because this movie is essentially a dramatic reading of a verbatim transcript of the FBI agents’ recording that day. The only time it breaks with reality is when it reaches a redacted portion of the transcript, at which point characters glitch out of view, leaving us staring into the blank set around them. Otherwise, every cough, false start, and even every off-topic remark is recreated with exacting precision here, lending the film a paradoxically stilted, slightly stagy air. But rather than pull you out of the proceedings, Reality’s palpable artificiality only immerses us into the uneasy tension and surreality that its anxious protagonist must have been feeling that day.

That anxiety is contagious, thanks to the movie’s clinical style and central performance. The camerawork is largely unblinking, moving in uncomfortably close on Reality (Sydney Sweeney) as two FBI agents (Josh Hamilton and Marchánt Davis) subject her to their bizarre hot-cold interrogation, which ranges from seemingly friendly inquiries about her dog to jugular-aimed questions about the allegations against her. Sweeney shoulders all this pressure remarkably well, deftly keeping us as much in the dark as Winner tried to keep the FBI in — which makes not knowing the real story a benefit, rather than a barrier, to watching Reality.

Outside of Sweeney’s commanding performance, Reality feels somewhat limited by its absolute loyalty to the FBI’s transcript, though. Much of the film’s 83-minute runtime is dedicated to recreating the text, which leaves only a few minutes at the end for it to express its own point of view on Winner’s actions. Though these scant moments make for a compelling reframing of the charges against Winner, they feel overshadowed by and separate from the movie’s rigorous devotion to the transcript, which ultimately means Reality can’t quite transcend its status as merely an interesting filmmaking curio.

85. A Fish Called Wanda (1988)

7.0

Country

United Kingdom, United States of America

Director

Charles Crichton

Actors

Al Hunter Ashton, Andrew MacLachlan, Cynthia Cleese, David Simeon

Moods

Easy, Quirky

As long as you don’t take it too seriously and see it for the silly ‘80s comedy that it is, then A Fish Called Wanda comes as a pleasantly hilarious way to pass the time. The heist doesn’t make much sense but the farce the characters put on is as delightfully silly as they come. There are traces of Cleese’s Monty Python sketch humor here, as you’ll see in the puns and the wild physical gags he makes, and Curtis proves that comedy is her true calling. But some of the best parts of the movie are when the British characters rib with the Americans—it’s a classic feud, one you won’t help but laugh at, regardless of where you’re coming from.

86. Camille Claudel (1988)

7.0

Country

France

Director

Bruno Nuytten

Actors

Alain Cuny, Aurelle Doazan, Danièle Lebrun, Gérard Depardieu

Moods

Challenging, Character-driven, Discussion-sparking

We remember the idea of the tortured artist, in part due to many works depicting life’s sorrows, but also due to the fact plenty of the greats fit this trope well. Camille Claudel is one such tortured artist, but her anguish has not led her to artistic acclaim. Instead, Isabelle Adjani’s take on the sculptor contemplates the ways her genius has gone unrecognized, in part due to her bout of insanity, but in part due to the maddening ways her art has been cut short by those that claim to love her. While it does take nearly three hours, and, like in real life, the film focuses more on her relationship with Rodin than her own art, Camille Claudel nonetheless remains a fascinating character study of a woman that just wanted to make art on her own terms.

87. The Beauty Inside (2015)

7.0

Country

South Korea

Director

Baik

Actors

Bae Hyun-kyung, Bae Sung-woo, Choi Yong-min, Chun Woo-hee

Moods

Dramatic, Emotional, Feel-Good

When we love a person, most of us are convinced that we love them for their personality, and if we truly love them, love would remain even if their beauty fades away. The Beauty Inside, a Korean remake of the 2012 American interactive Internet series, challenges this notion. As Woo-jin’s body changes regularly, he’s unable to live a normal life because of a lack of a consistent appearance, a lack of a visual reference point that allows him to be recognized by the people he loves. While more can be explored with the premise’s metaphysical elements, and Woo-jin’s characterization is mostly a neutral, blank canvas, The Beauty Inside is still a sweet, feel-good romance that makes the impossible feel wonderfully possible.

88. Idiots and Angels (2008)

7.0

Country

United States of America

Director

Bill Plympton

Actors

Arielle Doneson, Carrie Keranen, Greg Sextro, Marc Diraison

Moods

Challenging, Character-driven, Dark

As much as we’d like to think everyone can be redeemed, there are terrible, awful people that do exist that make it hard to believe in change. Idiots and Angels takes one such person named Angel, and forces him through a highly unusual, creepy, and cynical redemption tale that involves a body transformation that’s less heavenly and more Kafkaesque. As he pulls feathers from his body, Angel’s miserable, terrible self has no choice but to act decently for once. It’s a unique transformation, one we wish our curmudgeonly acquaintances would have, and with no words spoken, Bill Plympton’s unique cross-hatched animation takes center stage. Idiots and Angels may not be the most perfect animated film out there, but it’s certainly one of its kind, something you’ve probably never seen before.

89. Infamous (2006)

7.0

Country

United States of America

Director

Douglas McGrath

Actors

Brady Coleman, Brady Hender, Brent A. McCoy, Brett Brock

Moods

A-list actors, Character-driven, Emotional

It’s difficult to try to capture the truth of who a person really is, especially when there’s already preconceived notions or previous depictions about said person. Released a year after Capote (2005), Infamous inevitably drew comparisons to the biopic, especially with the stark difference between their tones. It starts off with a more gossipy, idle tone, introducing novelist Truman Capote first through documentary-like interviews, just before Toby Jones as Capote charms his way through droll chatter about some famous people. It seems much more vapid than Philip Seymour Hoffman’s depiction, but much more warm too, making Capote’s tendencies to gab and tell other people’s stories, in part due to fame, but also due to a certain joie de vivre of storytelling, once that inevitably breaks him when he finds the story of what his life could have been. Infamous might not be as acclaimed as its preceding Capote depiction, nor is it more truthful, but it’s certainly a fascinating portrayal of a fascinating man.

90. XXY (2007)

7.0

Country

Argentina, France, Spain

Director

Female director, Lucía Puenzo

Actors

Ailín Salas, Carolina Peleritti, Carolina Pelleritti, César Troncoso

Moods

Challenging, Discussion-sparking, Raw

Some bigots like to equate genitals to one’s gender and sexual orientation, but in practice, it’s not always a straightforward equation, especially for the rare, but natural, occasion when people are born with both male and female sex organs. XXY isn’t the first film to discuss the intersex experience, but it’s one of the first features that managed to be critically acclaimed. Unlike some of its predecessors, XXY is much more grounded, taking place in the modern era, and is mostly centered on Alex’s gender and sexual exploration. The film isn’t a perfect depiction– at the time, intersex wasn’t even the most common term, and sex-reassignment surgery was often the default action– but there is a lot in the film that dared to question certain ideas, such as having to choose only between a binary. Not many intersex films were created after this, in part due to how rare intersex is, and how broad the term encompasses multiple conditions, but XXY stands out all the more because of it.

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