The Best Movies on Kanopy (February 2022)

Published by Streaming Movies Right staff | Blog


Kanopy screenshot

Kanopy is a lesser-known streaming service, but it is a total hidden gem. Not only can it be accessed for free (if you're based in the US), it's also jam-packed with documentaries, short films, and blockbusters. We don't often see people talking about how good Kanopy is, so we thought we'd round up some of the best movies you'll find on the platform. 

Before we get into the list, we should mention that Kanopy can be accessed via your university or library. You'll either need to be a student/professor or have a public library card. If you've got that information then you'll be able to stream movies through the platform without paying anything. Now let's take a look at the best movies on the platform:


Directed by Mel Gibson (also 'Hacksaw Ridge'), Apocalypto is a fast-paced, frantic and tense story of a young man who essentially heads in one direction for half the film, then goes the other way. It doesn't sound exciting but it totally is. Streaming options for Apocalypto here.

Barefoot Artist

A great documentary about a fascinating artist.

Trouble The Water

An interesting documentary about how a rapper founder her voice during Hurricane Katrina, well worth a watch.

Ex Machina

This is a relatively low budget sci-fi from Alex Garland, who also wrote/directed the excellent Annihilation for Netflix. Starring Alicia Vikander, Domnhall Gleeson and Oscar Isaccs, this movie boasts some big names but is pretty small-scale - you might even describe it as "slow" (however I do mean that in a positive way). Definitely check Ex Machina out if you have access to Kanopy. 

What We Do In The Shadows

This is a New Zealand comedy about vampires, featuring a few faces that you'll recognize from popular comedies such as Flight of the Concords. It's definitely...weird, but also very funny. What We Do In The Shadows essentially a mockumentary and it has a bit of heart too. Check it out!


We've spoken about Hereditary a few times on our website, because it's one of the best horror movies of the last 20 years. Disturbing, extremely well shot and creative, this should be required viewing for anyone who wants to learn how to structure a horror scene. Film students - definitely get your hands on this one with Kanopy!


It feels a bit strange recommending Mother!, because it's not an entirely enjoyable experience. I first saw this movie at the cinema and there were more than a few walkouts. What Darren Aronofsky manages to do very well is create a sense of chaos and claustrophobia. This is another movie that film students will be able to pour over endlessly, definitely check it out if you can access Kanopy.

Call Me By Your Name

From the same director as the brilliant Suspiria remake, Call Me Be Your Name is a stylish and cool film that'll make you want to pack up and move to a quaint little Italian town.

The Hunting Ground

The Hunting Ground remains one of the most powerful and shocking documentaries you'll ever watch. It's an important watch, especially for anyone looking to get involved in the US education system.


Moonlight famously won the Oscar for Best Picture in 2017 after a mix-up gave the award to La La Land initially, but this film should be removed for a lot more than that. It's beautifully made and deals with some interesting topics. Definitely check it out.

It Comes At Night

Again, It Comes At Night is a bit of a funny recommendation because it's not exactly action-packed. But that's kinda what makes it brilliant - it's another film from A24 (like Hereditary), a studio that has become pretty well-known for creating misleading trailers, but also for making great movies. It Comes At Night definitely fits that category - don't watch the trailer, just enjoy the slow, tense movie. It's awesome that it comes ready to stream with Kanopy.

Brokeback Mountain

This film from Ang Lee is heartbreaking and features 2 amazing performances from Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger. It's well worth a watch, find it on Kanopy here.


Sicario is one of the movies that helped to establish Denis Villeneuve as one of the best filmmakers working right now. Find the movie on Kanopy here.


A great movie about a talented young drummer with a fierce mentor. We included this film in our list of the best movies about drummers.

Lucky Luciano (1973)

A film about the famed gangster, Lucky Luciano. We have a full guide on movies about Lucky Luciano.


This documentary is about the community living in the harsh conditions on Mount Everest. We included this movie in our list of the best movies about Mount Everest to watch.

Swim Team (2016)

Swim Team is a powerful documentary that is currently sitting with a 100% perfect rating on Rotten Tomatoes. You can stream this documentary via Kanopy for free, and also included this film in our list of the best movies about swimming.

Return of the River (2014)

A great film about a community that fought to set their river free from 2 dams, resulting in the largest dam removal ever. We included this film in our list of the best movies about rivers.

The Sower (2017)

A very interesting story based on a true event where all the men in a village got called to battle by Napoleon, and the woman left in the village agreed that if any man returned they would all marry him and have him as a shared husband. It's quite a strange film but is also very well-received critically, and is currently sitting with a perfect 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. We included this movie in our list of the best movies about Napoleon.

The Last Mountain (2011)

This documentary is about a small community in West Appalachia that is fighting against large corporations to stop them from mining for coal on a mountain near their homes. It's a powerful documentary that we really enjoyed, and we included it on our list of the best movies about Appalachia.

A Year in Burgundy (2013)

This documentary follows 7 wine-making families in the Burgundy region of France as they make wine throughout an entire year, and explores the processes they use and the deep tradition they retain in everything that they do. If you're interested in wine then this is a great film to watch.

Flags of our Fathers (2006)

This film is all about the battle in 1945 which resulted in one of the most famous images ever - the American soldiers raising the flag on Mount Suribachi. We included this movie in our list of the best Native American movies.

View from a Blue Moon (2015)

This great surfing documentary is known for being the 1st surfing documentary to be shot in 4k, and some of the footage is superb. The documentary follows John Florence, a legend in the world of surfing. We included this film in our list of the best surfing documentaries.

So as you can see, Kanopy has some truly awesome movies available to stream. If you have a public library card or you're a student/professor then you absolutely have to get access to Kanopy!