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.

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.

(Bilal Zouheir)
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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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, 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, Starla Benford, Tina Holmes
Director: Ryan Fleck
Rating: R
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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, Nigel Lindsay, Riz Ahmed, Will Adamsdale
Director: Chris Morris, Christopher Morris
Rating: R
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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.

(Bilal Zouheir)
Genre: Drama, Romance
Actor: Anne Dorval, Emmanuel Schwartz, Magalie Lepine Blondeau, Melvil Poupaud, Monia Chokri, Mylène Jampanoï, Nathalie Baye, Sophie Faucher, Susan Almgren, Suzanne Clément, Violette Chauveau, Xavier Dolan, Yves Jacques
Director: Xavier Dolan
Rating: Not Rated
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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.

(Bilal Zouheir)
Genre: Drama
Actor: Aidan Langford, Bill Heck, Jamie Chung, Michael Chiklis, Tina Parker, Virginia Madsen
Director: Yen Tan
Rating: Not Rated
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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
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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.

(Bilal Zouheir)
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Actor: Adam Scott, Alison Brie, 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, Hannibal Buress, Ike Barinholtz, J.J. Abrams, Jacki Weaver, James Franco, Jason Mantzoukas, Jessie Ennis, Josh Hutcherson, Judd Apatow, June Diane Raphael, 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, Randall Park, Ricky Mabe, Seth Rogen, Sharon Stone, Slim Khezri, Sugar Lyn Beard, Tommy Wiseau, Zac Efron, Zach Braff, Zoey Deutch
Director: James Franco
Rating: R
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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.

(Bilal Zouheir)
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
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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, Mati Diop, Nicole Dogué
Director: Claire Denis
Rating: Unrated
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Nebraska (2013)

Nebraska is a poem distilled into a film. Peter Travers from Rolling Stone says "is it a comedy or a drama? Both at the same time, as life itself." Everything about it is perfect: the acting, the photography, the story. In case that's not enough and you need to know the plot to get convinced, I'll tell you that it's a road movie about a senile old man and his son. If you still want more information, you can Google it, but come on! You'll just be wasting time that would be better spent on watching this masterpiece.

(Helena Barker)
Genre: Adventure, Drama
Actor: Angela McEwan, Bob Odenkirk, Bruce Dern, Devin Ratray, June Squibb, Mary Louise Wilson, Rance Howard, Stacy Keach, Tim Driscoll, Will Forte
Director: Alexander Payne
Rating: R
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More lists

A quick recap

Split by genre of this selection on agoodmovietowatch.com
Comedy
36
Drama
146
Documentary
60
Romance
29
Average score
81.5%
from our staff
Average score
81.4%
from our users
There are
106
more suggestions in this category.
Find them by going back to agoodmovietowatch.com