Free movie streaming options, in case you’ve exhausted Netflix


If you’re already exhausting your Netflix choices within the first week of shelter-at-home, you might want to consider the free streaming services offered by public libraries.

Cardholders at most San Francisco Bay Area libraries can watch movies on Kanopy or Hoopla. Both have monthly limits, which vary by library.

To see if you have access to either of these services, check your library’s website or go to the Kanopy or Hoopla Digital site. Kanopy allows you to search for partner libraries directly from the home page; Hoopla asks you to create an account first.

(If you don’t see your library listed below, check out Kanopy and Hoopla anyway. You’ll probably find it on at least one of these sites.)

To log in, you will need a library card or a university or faculty student card. Some libraries, including the San Jose Public Library, are issuing temporary cards online during the coronavirus shutdown.


Libraries include Redwood City, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, San Mateo, Burlingame, South San Francisco, San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda, Concord. Hayward, Fremont, Pleasanton and certain branches of the Santa Clara County, San Mateo County and Contra Costa County systems.

Kanopy has plenty of classic European films (including a Criterion channel), documentaries, and American art house favorites. It’s not heavy on G-rated options. The top row of its selection page is “no credit” – movies that won’t count towards your monthly limit.

Five to start:

  • Captain Fantastic. Viggo Mortensen plays a father raising his unorthodox children in the woods.
  • I capture the castle. Rose Byrne, Bill Nighy, Henry Thomas in an adaptation of the cult favorite 1948 novel.
  • Delays. Romantic comedy starring Sam Rockwell, Chloe Grace Moretz as his daughter, and Keira Knightley as a young woman who starts hanging out with the teenager.
  • How to talk to girls at parties. Elle Fanning and Nicole Kidman are aliens who came to earth; based on a story by Neil Gaiman.
  • Leave no trace. If you can’t get enough of fathers and daughters living in the woods. Starring Thomasin McKenzie (“Jojo Rabbit”).


Libraries include San Jose Public Library, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, Los Gatos, Palo Alto, San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Hayward, some San Mateo County branches.

Much more of a handbag than Kanopy. It’s strong on mainstream ’30s Hollywood releases, Lifetime (and Lifetime-type) movies, and kids’ content. You have to hunt to find the gems, and you can’t really rely on category tags. Under Art House, for example, is “Drunk Parents.”

Five to start:

  • Adventureland. Set in an amusement park in the 1980s. Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Ryan Reynolds, Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig.
  • What we do in the shadows. Taika Waititi’s mockumentary about modern urban vampires.
  • The Florida Project. Willem Dafoe, 2017 arthouse hit; little kids go wild at a motel near Disney World.
  • The engagements. The Dubliners have put together a soul band. Excellent soundtrack, and 16 year old singer Andrew Strong is a revelation.
  • The station agent. Peter Dinklage plays a man who inherits an abandoned train station that becomes the center of a strange community. With Michelle Williams.

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