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.

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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, Sebastian Sozzi, Shareeka Epps, Sharon Washington, Starla Benford, Thaddeus Daniels, Tina Holmes, Tristan Mack Wilds
Director: Ryan Fleck
Rating: R
Go to Kanopy
Four Lions (2010)

Four Lions is as black and as dark as a movie can ever get, mixing cultural relevancy with humor and ridiculousness. It is insensitive to Islam, insensitive to terrorism and insensitive to the viewer. But it is hilarious. The director spent three years talking to Imams, terrorism experts and basically everyone. The result? A legit 97 minutes that will dazzle even extremists with its knowledge of Islam and the accuracy of its lines. Needless to say that it will upset quite a few people, but that is always a good sign for black comedy movies, right?

(Anass Boudiga)
Genre: Comedy, Crime, Drama
Actor: Adeel Akhtar, Alex MacQueen, Arsher Ali, Benedict Cumberbatch, Craig Parkinson, Darren Boyd, Julia Davis, Kayvan Novak, Kevin Eldon, Nigel Lindsay, Riz Ahmed, Waleed Elgadi, Will Adamsdale
Director: Chris Morris, Christopher Morris
Rating: R
Go to Kanopy
Laurence Anyways (2012)

This is a gorgeous French-Canadian movie with out-of-this-world sound work.

Laurence is deeply in love with his girlfriend, Fred. On his birthday, he announces to her that he wants to restart his life as a woman, having always hated his male body. Fred doesn't know how to take the news: “everything I love about you is everything you hate about yourself”.

Laurence Anyways is about how their romance continues after this revelation. There are so many reasons to watch this movie: the story, the acting, the cinematography; but trust me, the soundtrack alone is reason enough.

(agoodmovietowatch)
Genre: Drama, Romance
Actor: Anne Dorval, Antoine-Olivier Pilon, Denise Filiatrault, Emmanuel Schwartz, Éric Bruneau, Magalie Lepine Blondeau, Manuel Tadros, Melvil Poupaud, Monia Chokri, Monique Spaziani, Mylène Jampanoï, Nathalie Baye, Patricia Tulasne, Sophie Faucher, Susan Almgren, Suzanne Clément, Violette Chauveau, Xavier Dolan, Yves Jacques
Director: Xavier Dolan
Rating: Not Rated
Go to Kanopy
1985 (2018)

1985, a movie from 2018, was made like it was filmed during the year it’s about: it’s shot on gorgeous black-and-white Super 16mm film.

Not that it would be needed, but this minimalist setting puts a spotlight on the ensemble cast of this well-acted drama based on an award-winning short film.

In particular, the central one by Cory Michael Smith (Gotham, Camp X-Ray). He plays Adrian, a man visiting his conservative family in Texas from New York, so gently at times and explosively at others, it’s a sight to behold.

Adrian, estranged from his family for three years, visits them to find a way to tell them that he has AIDS.

(agoodmovietowatch)
Genre: Drama
Actor: Aidan Langford, Bill Heck, Cory Michael Smith, Jamie Chung, Michael Chiklis, Tina Parker, Virginia Madsen
Director: Yen Tan
Rating: Not Rated
Go to Kanopy
Winter Sleep (2014)

An absolutely beautiful film about superficiality, arrogance, and heartbreak. It focuses on the life of Aydin, a retired actor who now lives very comfortably managing a small hotel and a number of other small properties. Throughout the film Aydin's image shifts as he tackles the problems of his rather typical life. Having said this, there is nothing else typical about this film. It captures human relationships with an almost frightening precision. It almost feels as though you have an inside view into someone's actual life as Aydin battles it out with his sister Necla and his young wife Nihal. To me this is easily one of the best dramas of the decade, and if you so much as like movies that focus on humans and their interactions, it will be that for you too.  Nuri Bilge Ceylan will make 3 hours pass more quickly than they ever have before.

(Gastón Quiroga)
Genre: Drama
Actor: Ayberk Pekcan, Demet Akbag, Ekrem İlhan, Emirhan Doruktutan, Haluk Bilginer, Mehmet Ali Nuroğlu, Melisa Sözen, Nadir Sarıbacak, Nejat İşler, Nejat İşler, Serhat Mustafa Kılıç, Tamer Levent
Director: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Rating: Not Rated, Unrated
Go to Kanopy
The Disaster Artist (2017)

A hilarious and smart comedy that is almost impossible to hate. It doesn’t matter if you liked The Room or not; or if you’ve even heard of it, you will find The Disaster Artist extremely enjoyable. Same applies for James Franco, it’s irrelevant if you think he’s the hottest man walking or a complete waste of screen-time - this movie is better approached without any preconceived ideas. It follows the true events surrounding Tommy Wiseau’s making of The Room, a movie so bad it actually became a worldwide hit. Tommy’s character, played by Franco, is 100% mystery. He pops out of nowhere and does and says things that contain little to no logic. Capitalizing on this, the movie is both absolutely hilarious and intriguing from beginning to end.

(agoodmovietowatch)
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Actor: Adam Scott, Alison Brie, Amechi Okocha, Andrew Santino, Ari Graynor, Bob Odenkirk, Brett Gelman, Brian Huskey, Bryan Cranston, Casey Wilson, Charlyne Yi, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Danny McBride, Dave Franco, David DeCoteau, Dree Hemingway, Dylan Minnette, Eliza Coupe, Erin Cummings, Frederick Keeve, Hannibal Buress, Ike Barinholtz, J.J. Abrams, Jacki Weaver, James Franco, Jason Mantzoukas, Jason Mitchell, Jerrod Carmichael, Jessie Ennis, John Early, Josh Hutcherson, Judd Apatow, June Diane Raphael, Kara Gibson, Kate Upton, Keegan-Michael Key, Kether Donohue, Kevin Smith, Kristen Bell, Lauren Ash, Lizzy Caplan, Megan Ferguson, Megan Mullally, Melanie Griffith, Nathan Fielder, Paul Scheer, Peter Gilroy, Randall Park, Ricky Mabe, Seth Rogen, Sharon Stone, Slim Khezri, Sugar Lyn Beard, Tamzin Brown, Tom Franco, Tommy Wiseau, Xosha Roquemore, Zac Efron, Zach Braff, Zoey Deutch
Director: James Franco
Rating: R
Go to Kanopy
Leave No Trace (2018)

Leave No Trace is the amazing new movie from the director of Winter's Bone, Debra Granik. It's the story of a father and his daughter who live completely off the grid in a national park in Portland, and their quiet quest to not be separated and remain off the grid. It's not the sensational, tear-jerker story that you'd expect something with this premise to be. Rather, and like Winter's Bone, it chooses a humane and realistic approach to the subject matter. The decision to live outside society is almost irrelevant to this movie. More so, its inevitability for certain people with certain mindsets is what is interesting. A stunningly quiet movie, really well-acted too.

(agoodmovietowatch)
Genre: Drama, Mystery
Actor: Ben Foster, Dale Dickey, Dana Millican, Debra Granik, Derek John Drescher, Isaiah Stone, Jeff Kober, Jeffery Rifflard, Spencer S. Hanley, Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie, Thomasin McKenzie
Director: Debra Granik
Rating: PG
Go to Kanopy
And Then We Danced (2020)

Georgian dance has cut-throat competition: the art form is dying even within Gerogia, and to make it, dancers compete to join the one duo that represents the country. The chance finally comes and the spot opens up, igniting the hopes of performers from around the country. Mervan is one of them, a young dancer from a poor background who takes food from his restaurant job to feed his family. His main competition is a newcomer, Irakli, who also comes from a difficult background and hopes to secure the spot to provide for his ill father.

When their lives hang on them competing against one another, Mervan and Irakli fall for each other.

And Then We Danced is full of incredible dance sequences that add to the beauty of the romance at its center; but it's also a heartbreaking exploration of unfulfilled ambition.

Genre: Drama, Romance
Actor: Aleko Begalishvili, Bachi Valishvili
Director: Levan Akin
Rating: 12
Go to Kanopy
35 Shots of Rum (2008)

This bittersweet film about a father and a daughter marks one of the more tender spots in Claire Denis’ brilliant filmography. Frequent collaborator Alex Descas plays Lionel (the father), while Mati Diop, now a director in her own right, plays Josephine (the daughter.) The film captures the two at a crossroads, with their closely-knit relationship tested as Josephine grows closer to her boyfriend, and Lionel must face the possibility of finally letting her go.

A melancholy lingers in the air as we learn more about their lives and the small community of neighbors and coworkers in their orbit. Meanwhile, the film's climax holds a mesmerizing sequence set to the Commodores’ Nightshift, which has to rank as one of the best needle drops in cinema from a director who already has an all-timer under her belt. (see. Beau Travail)

(Igor Fishman)
Genre: Drama
Actor: Alex Descas, Grégoire Colin, Ingrid Caven, Jean-Christophe Folly, Mati Diop, Nicole Dogué
Director: Claire Denis
Rating: Unrated
Go to Kanopy
The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (2005)

Mr. Lazarescu is a widower living with his cats in a small Bucharest apartment. One night when he begins to feel sick and calls for help, he sets in motion a kafkaesque parade of nurses, doctors, and hospitals as he is ferried through a bureaucratic maze unable to get treatment for his rapidly deteriorating condition. Cristi Puiu’s searing indictment of a failed healthcare system mixes kitchen-sink realism with tinges of gallows humor for a remarkable one-of-a-kind experience.

Beneath its grim demeanor is a clear-eyed portrait of the heart-rending weariness of paramedics and hospital staff that speaks spectacularly to our current mid-pandemic moment of exhausted doctors and overflowing facilities. This focus on the toll of the system on paramedics, in particular, makes this a fantastic pairing with Martin Scorcese’s’ underrated Bringing Out the Dead.

(Igor Fishman)
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Actor: Adrian Titieni, Alexandru Potocean, Alina Berzunteanu, Cristi Puiu, Dan Chiriac, Dana Dogaru, Dorian Boguta, Doru Ana, Dragos Bucur, Gabriel Spahiu, Ion Fiscuteanu, Luminita Gheorghiu, Mimi Brănescu, Mimi Branescu, Monica Bârlădeanu, Monica Barladeanu, Simona Popescu
Director: Cristi Puiu
Rating: R
Go to Kanopy

More lists

A quick recap

Split by genre of this selection on agoodmovietowatch.com
Comedy
42
Drama
180
Documentary
137
Romance
33
Average score
81.5%
from our staff
Average score
81.4%
from our users
There are
134
more suggestions in this category.
Find them by going back to agoodmovietowatch.com