The 40 Best Movies on Kanopy Right Now

The 40 Best Movies on Kanopy Right Now

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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.

40. Monsieur Lazhar (2012)

6.9

Country

Canada

Director

Philippe Falardeau

Actors

André Robitaille, Brigitte Poupart, Daniel Gadouas, Danielle Proulx

Moods

Depressing, Dramatic

After the sudden death of a teacher, 55-year-old Algerian immigrant Bachir Lazhar is hired at an elementary school in Montreal. Struggling with a cultural gap between himself and his students at first, he helps them to deal with the situation, revealing his own tragic past. A strong portrait without any weird sentimentality. 11-year-old actress Sophie Nélisse makes her brilliant debut.

39. Trouble the Water (2008)

6.9

Country

United States of America

Director

Carl Deal, Female director

Actors

George W. Bush, Julie Chen, Julie Chen Moonves, Michael Brown

Moods

Inspiring, Instructive, Thrilling

Nominated for an Academy Award for best documentary feature. On the day before Hurricane Katrina, a young aspiring rap singer in the 9th Ward turns her new video camera on herself and her neighbors. She keeps shooting as the water rises, neighbors struggle to rescue each other, people panic and flee. Weeks later she returns to her neighborhood and records the death and decay left behind. Raw and real, worth watching.

38. Sound of Noise (2010)

7.0

Country

France, Sweden

Director

Johannes Stjärne Nilsson, Ola Simonsson

Actors

Anders Jansson, Irene Lindh, Iwar Wiklander, Paula McManus

Moods

Easy, Funny, Quirky

When a group of percussionists illegally carry out a city-wide performance act, it’s up to policeman Amadeus Warnebring to stop them. The musical fugitives perform on stolen objects and disrupt public spaces, but Warnebring has his own reasons to pursue them so determinedly: he’s tone-deaf for one and born into a family of snobby musical geniuses for another, making this case all the more meaningful and consequential to him.

Sound of Noise is more than reminiscent of Stomp, what with its playful symphonies subsisting on random borrowed objects, but it is livened up with the suspense of a caper, the dry wit of a Swedish comedy, and the abundant charms of a light romance.

37. Retablo (2017)

7.0

Country

Germany, Norway, Peru

Director

Álvaro Delgado-Aparicio L., Alvaro Delgado-Aparicio

Actors

Amiel Cayo, Claudia Solís, Coco Chiarella, Hermelinda Luján

Moods

Dark, Depressing, Discussion-sparking

Fourteen-year-old Segundo dreams of being just like his father Noé, a revered tableau artist in their small Peruvian town. The teenage apprentice follows Noé’s every move and instruction, that is until one day, he discovers a shocking truth about Noé’s identity. Hurt, angered, and incredibly confused, Segundo starts detaching from his family, as well as from the life he thought he’d wanted to live. 

Retablo is a slow but vibrant film, set in Peruvian locales and spoken in the country’s indigenous tongue, Quechua. Its limited dialogue smartly reflects the people’s own silence when it comes to sex and gender ideas, although the movements themselves—from traditional parties to teenage fights—have a lot to say about masculinity, conservatism, and the dangers of their excess. Retablo might be a difficult watch for some, but it’s just as necessary and enlightening.

36. In the Fade (2017)

7.0

Country

France, Germany

Director

Fatih Akin

Actors

Adam Bousdoukos, Aysel Iscan, Denis Moschitto, Diane Kruger

Moods

A-list actors, Action-packed, Character-driven

In Fatih Akin’s In the Fade, Katja is seeking justice after the killings of her Turkish husband and their young son in a terrorist bomb attack. Diane Kruger in the role of Katja delivers a powerful and rather grueling performance, for which she was awarded Best Actress at Cannes Film Festival. Her grief is vivid and forces viewers to bear witness to her inescapable pain. In the Fade also won the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film, beating astonishing films such as Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Loveless. This moving story about a fearless woman determined to take justice into her own hands to fight the cruelty of others delivers a message that needs to be heard.

35. Hive (2021)

7.0

Country

Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia

Director

Blerta Basholli, Female director

Actors

Adem Karaga, Adriana Matoshi, Armend Smajli, Astrit Kabashi

Moods

Discussion-sparking, Thought-provoking, True-story-based

It’s been years since Fahrije and the women of her village lost their husbands to the war. It’s one thing to move on after their passing, but quite another to never be sure about their whereabouts, dead or alive. Hive tells the story of how, in the wake of this inexplicable loss, the women of a Kosovo village reluctantly band together and make a new life for themselves and their families.

Thanks to its grit and restraint, Hive avoids the cheesy trappings of a melodrama. The dialogues are straightforward and the performances taut but affecting. Their battle with poverty and misogyny is sadly a familiar tale, but told through the lens of single mother/burgeoning entrepreneur Fahrije, it is rendered deeply personal and illuminating. 

 

34. Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom (2019)

7.1

Country

Bhutan, China

Director

Pawo Choyning Dorji

Actors

Kelden Lhamo Gurung, Kunzang Wangdi, Sherab Dorji, Ugyen Norbu Lhendup

Moods

Character-driven, Discussion-sparking, Dramatic

On his first day of class in the remote village of Lunana, the city teacher Ugyen asks his students what they want to be when they grow up. One of the children, a young boy named Sangay, answers that he aspires to be a teacher “because a teacher touches the future.” Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom, however, subverts this thematic by spending most of its runtime showing how the villagers touch Ugyen’s heart through genuine acts of kindness, forcing him to rethink his long-term dream of becoming a singer in Australia.

Not only does Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom succeed in its heartfelt dramatization of a Gen Z finding his place in the highlands, it also serves as a propagandistic validation of Bhutan’s “happiest country in the world” epithet. In doing so, the film presents the Bhutanese mountains in as breathtakingly picturesque a manner as possible, limning a paradise through the grassy meadows and children’s faces.

33. The Nightingale (2018)

7.1

Country

Australia

Director

Female director, Jennifer Kent

Actors

Aisling Franciosi, Anthony Phelan, Baykali Ganambarr, Ben McIvor

Moods

Challenging, Dark, Depressing

From The Babadook director Jennifer Kent comes another horror, although this one is more about the horrors of humanity. Set in 1825 Tasmania, The Nightingale follows Irish settler Clare as she seeks bloody revenge on the monsters who wronged her and her family. She teams up with an Aboriginal guide named Billy to accomplish her goal.

Because of its often violent and disturbing tone (the film is rated R for its potentially triggering scenes), The Nightingale understandably polarized audiences upon its release. But it’s also an excellent conversation piece, best watched with friends or anyone up for a discussion-filled movie night.

32. The Divine Order (2017)

7.1

Country

Switzerland

Director

Female director, Petra Biondina Volpe

Actors

Bettina Stucky, Ella Rumpf, Marie Leuenberger, Marietta Jemmi

Moods

Discussion-sparking, Grown-up Comedy, Heart-warming

With a particularly empowering tenderness and resilience, The Divine Order explores a glossed-over chapter in history wherein Swiss women could not vote until 1971. The hillside Swiss farming village in which Nora Ruckstuhl lives seems picture-perfect. But under the village’s close-knit and idyllic surface, change is stirring. When an emerging sense of autonomy pushes Nora to question her identity beyond being a complacent housewife, she publicly declares herself in favor of women’s suffrage and draws attention from both outspoken opponents and quiet supporters.

As Nora discovers herself—what she does and doesn’t like; what her body looks like; what pleasure feels like—she also uncovers a yearning for better, for more: who is she not just as a spouse and mother, but also as a friend, a member of a greater community, an independent woman?

31. Always (2011)

7.2

Country

South Korea

Director

Song Il-gon

Actors

Cho Seong-ha, Goo Seung-hyun, Han Hyo-joo, Jin Goo

Moods

Depressing, Emotional, Intense

Always follows the story of Jeong-hwa and Cheol-min, both very different individuals who are gentle in their own way. The story starts off by demonstrating how different the leads are in terms of their personality and their outlook on life. The plot can be a little predictable and cliche in some moments, but Always is not a complicated movie—though in addition to being a romance, it also includes some surprising violence that may intensify your viewing experience. Still, Always is about the two leads’ struggle against fate as they try to survive their tough situations, with strong chemistry between the lead actors from start to finish.

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