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The best movies on Kanopy right now

We could all use some adventure during these difficult times, and that’s where Kanopy steps in. The online streaming service is an educational platform of sorts, with a focus on documentaries, education, and indie cinema. Compared to other streaming services, Kanopy puts more of a focus on the enrichment and fulfillment of knowledge and culture. It features a variety of subjects and categories, from science to history to LGBTQ culture and technology. Best of all, it’s completely free for those who have a library card or university credentials.

There is much to discover on Kanopy, but for those new to the platform, here are a few of the better free movies to stream.

Further reading

Before A Rooster Crows: A Puerto Rican Coming of Age Story

Life has a way of changing plans, and for Carmin, those plans change drastically. Originally heading to the American Mainland to be with her mom, a sudden change of events leaves her on the island with her strict, conservative grandmother. Now living in the mountainous region of Barranquitas, Carmin learns many lessons in the absence of a normal teenage life. 

There are not many coming of age stories that come from Latin America, let alone Puerto Rico. Director Arí Manuel Cruz and screenwriter Kisha Tikina Burgos display a sharp, conflicting drama of a woman coming into terms of what is happening to her, lead by an unflinching performance in actress Miranda Purcell. Before A Rooster Crows: A Puerto Rican Coming of Age Story is a familiar, yet refreshing story , set within the island of Puerto Rico.

Eye In The Sky

War never changes, but how it is fought always changes. In the secrecy of special forces warfare, a top-secret drone operation unfolds in Kenya. Colonel Katherine Powell leads an operation to stop an incredibly dangerous terrorist network deep within the heart of the country. To do so, drones are at the forefront, providing lethal surgical strikes, but also putting civilians at risk. When a 9-year-old girl enters the area of operation, an international dispute will be set off, creating a calamity of moral, political, and personal conflict. Helen Mirren leads this sharp military thriller alongside Aaron Paul and the late great Alan Rickman. Through their talents, Eye In The Sky provides a haunting but realistic depiction of the new age of modern warfare, along with the toll it takes on both military pilots and innocent civilians. 

Logan Lucky

It’s a high-profile heist, but not where you’d expect. Recently laid off from his job, Jimmy Logan falls on hard times. With money tight and no other options, a trip to the bar with his brother helps Clyde, but a fight with a NASCAR-team owner sees his car torched. Looking for payback, and a big payout, Jimmy turns to Clyde and assembles a rag-tag team of rebellious professionals to infiltrate the Charlotte Motor Speedway for one of the strangest heists ever attempted. Up-and-coming actor Adam Driver stars in this wildly eclectic heist film from director Steven Soderbergh. Alongside Channing Tatum and Seth MacFarlane, Logan Lucky is eclectic and highly entertaining heist comedy delivers the thrills, wits, and cheers that one would expect from the director of the Oceans franchise.

Seven Samurai

From the The Magnificent Seven to The Mandalorian, the influences and impacts of 1954’s Seven Samurai are immense. Regarded as one of the most thrilling and sweeping epics of all time, Seven Samurai tells the tale of a 16th-century village, whose inhabitants suffer from the intimidation of ruthless bandits. With no one else to turn to, the villagers plea with a group of aimless Samurai to pick up their swords and defend the village. Seven Samurai was directed by Akira Kurosawa, whose film style was extraordinarily ahead of its time. This three-hour epic paved the way for hundreds of stories in pop culture as it weaves the themes of honor, hope, heroism, and sacrifice in the face of great injustice. 


The year is 1959 and it is the height of the Cold War. There is little difference between a nuclear missile and a manned rocket, and the Russians have put their first man into space. Space is soon becoming a new arena to which to wage a world war. Great Britain launched its first manned mission to space, but the capsule malfunctions and the astronaut is left to cope with the effects of low oxygen. It’s a dangerous race against time as the oxygen runs out. 

This Cold War thriller was nominated for Best Narrative at Venice Film Week and won the award for Best Sci-Fi Film at the American Movie Awards. Capsule is a fictional, but mesmerizing, take on the early days of space travel and the looming threat of The Cold War. 

Yamasong March of Hollows

In strange land of fantasy and nature, a lone automaton girl pairs with a fierce tortoise as a grave threat looms over them. A sinister mechanized army stands before them, ready to destroy all in its path. Hope for the future lies in securing an ancient, legendary relic that can defeat the army and save the creatures of their homeworld. With each other — and a band of reluctant outlaws — hope for the future lies in courage. Yamasong March of Hollows uses a combination of animation and modern puppetry to tell its fantastical tale across its wondrous world. Yamasong March of Hollows features an incredibly talented voice cast, too, including Whoopi Goldberg, Peter Cullen, George Takei, Nathan Fillion, and Abigail Breslin, among others. 

Storm Boy

Loss and grief are never easy, but comfort and hope can be found in the unlikeliest of places. Michael Kingsley is a recently retired businessman, and as he enjoys his newfound, workless life, he comes across his granddaughter and tells her a story of his friendship with an orphaned pelican named Mister Percival. Storm Boy is based on the novel of the same name by author Colin Thiel, and the movie is powered by the performance of Geoffery Rush. The story and its themes of grief, loss, and unconditional love have been hallmarks of the book, and have given readers valuable lessons. In addition to releasing this newest film adaptation, Storm Boy has recently been adapted into a video game for modern consoles and systems by Blowfish Studios.

The Monster

It is the middle of the night and darkness envelopes the road. When a recently-divorced mother and her headstrong daughter venture out into the night on an emergency trip, tragedy strike in the form of a collision. While they are fine, their vehicle is disabled. Suddenly, a strange, mysterious creature stalks them in the dark. With only the interior of their car to defend themselves, mother and daughter cling to survival against this strange and unknown menace. The Monster evokes a kind of old-fashioned horror that plays into childhood fears with a sense of entertaining uneasiness and sharp simplicity. The Monster is driven by sharp directing and pacing from filmmaker Bryan Bertino, who wrote and directed 2008’s The Strangers.


Quiet, secluded Adam spends his life as a college lecturer with a troubled personal life. His relationship with his current companion is ending and his life feels unfulfilled. Suddenly, when watching an older film at the recommendation of one of his students, Adam spots an actor who looks nearly identical to him. Adam tracks the actor down and begins to engage in a dangerous and twisted scheme of madness and manipulation. Enemy is a surreal psychological thriller of identity and personality. Jake Gyllenhaal gives a cunning and uneasy performance, guided by visionary director Dennis Villeneuve, whose works include Sicario, Arrival, Blade Runner 2049, and the upcoming sci-fi epic, Dune.

Editors' Recommendations

Roberto Nieves
Former Digital Trends Contributor
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