There are no terrible fake movies or annoying ads on this free streaming service. But there are two pitfalls.
As more and more streaming services want to reach into your pocket, many Australians are looking for an entertainment bargain.
And the best deal is getting something for free. Best of all, it’s ad-free.
Kanopy started operating in Australia 18 months ago, but doesn’t have the marketing muscle of its bigger counterparts such as Netflix or Disney+, so it doesn’t have much exposure among the streaming masses.
But it has a catalog of great movies that rivals Netflix or Stan – in fact, you’ll often find certain titles only available on Kanopy.
It’s not the only free streaming platform, but its advantage over SBS On Demand is that it’s ad-free, and it’s much better than Tubi in that it’s not populated of unwatchable B movies that are more like fake porn but without the porn.
HOW TO JOIN NOW
Kanopy membership is tied to your library card.
That’s right, you need to register at your local library or university library to access Kanopy. Not all boards are registered with Kanopy but you can check if yours is here.
You know how your library had that small selection of VHS tapes (then DVDs) you could borrow? It’s the 21st century version of that, and there are no waiting lists for Fern Gulch be brought back.
Once you have your library card number and password in hand, you can sign up for a Kanopy account and away you go.
HOW IT WORKS?
Participating libraries pay Kanopy a license fee to access its platform, but it costs you nothing (other than your council’s rates).
Most libraries set a monthly limit on the number of movies you can stream.
For example, the Sydney City Council has a limit of five films (or credits) per member. When you start playing a movie you have three days to finish it, after that if you play that movie again it will use another credit. Once you have exhausted your monthly credits, you will have to wait until the next calendar month. Unused credits do not carry over and you cannot purchase additional credits.
But there is a loophole – if you are a member of two different participating libraries, such as the University of Melbourne and the City of Melbourne, you are allowed to use credits allocated by both libraries. Children’s and educational content has no limits.
Like Netflix and other streaming apps, Kanopy is compatible with desktop browsers, mobile phones, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, select Android and Samsung smart TVs, Telstra TV, and Chromecast.
There is another catch. Sometimes, usually towards the end of the month, you may see a message that access is limited by your library and you can’t watch anything. This means that your library is likely over budget (libraries pay for every title watched) and you will have to wait until the next calendar month when it resets, even if you have unused credits.
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WHAT YOU CAN WATCH NOW
Kanopy has an impressive and curated film library, focusing on acclaimed indie films, foreign language films, or hidden gems. In other words, you won’t find silly Michael Bay blockbusters here, but you might find your new favorite.
New titles are added frequently, but here are some of the best movies on Kanopy right now.
Good time: Before diving into the crazy world of Uncut Gems, discover the previous film of the Safdie brothers. It stars Robert Pattinson as Connie, a bank robber whose brother gets caught after a dye pack explodes during a job. In order to get the bail money, Connie will do anything.
Mrs Macbeth: Florence Pugh is the hottest movie star right now, so make sure you’ve seen her breakout performance in the spellbinding showdown. Lady Macbeth where she plays a young woman married to a cold and indifferent older man in a deal for worthless land.
Colossal: A genre-defying dark comedy-drama with a clever twist, Anne Hathaway plays a crazed alcoholic with a bizarre connection to a Godzilla-like monster halfway around the world.
Boy: Taika Waititi’s tender and funny film Kiwi centers on an 11-year-old boy, obsessed with Michael Jackson, living with his grandmother and trying to impress a girl at school. When his father returns in search of his lost money, Boy desperately seeks a relationship with his old man. It has Waititi’s signature blend of humor and heart.
Only lovers will remain alive: One of Jim Jarmusch’s seven Kanopy films (others include Paterson and Mystery Train), this hypnotic and languorous story about two century-old vampires stars Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston.
Brooklyn: A great historical story, brooklyn stars Saoirse Ronan as a young Irish woman who arrives in New York in the 1950s and finds herself torn between the lure of Ireland and the possibilities of her new home.
Meek Cut: Set in the mid-19th century, this clever western from director and independent darling Kelly Reichardt follows a group of settlers whose two-week journey west turns into an unexpected survival test.
Blue Valentine: Derek Cianfrance’s drama stars Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling as a young couple whose marriage is on the brink, with the film oscillating between when they first fell in love and how it all falls apart .
Animal Kingdom: Director David Michod’s Australian thriller follows a ruthless Melbourne crime family and launched the international careers of Jacki Weaver, Ben Mendelsohn and Joel Edgerton.
Love: The multi-award winning French film by acclaimed filmmaker Michael Haneke is a beautiful treatise on love, aging and bereavement. Emmanuelle Riva has become the oldest Best Actress Oscar nominee for her role in Love.
Seller: A young married couple in Tehran find their marriage strained after a violent attack. Sellerwhich won the Foreign Language Oscar, is a social critique of family, gender and revenge.
Stories we tell: Canadian filmmaker Sarah Polley’s deeply personal documentary about her family’s history involving a secret affair is a gripping and powerful film.
Wake up in fear: This classic 1971 Australian film was considered “lost” for many years, until a copy was found in a safe in the United States in the early 2000s. It tells the story of a city schoolteacher stranded in an outback town who embarks on days of gambling, drinking, and kangaroo hunting.
Blue is the warmest color: The 2013 Palme d’Or-winning gay love story is considered one of the best films of that year. Starring Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos, this French film tells the story of two women and their bond from adolescence to adulthood.
Umberto D.: A classic of the Italian neorealist movement, Vittorio De Sica’s 1952 film tells the story of a poor retired civil servant who is about to be evicted from his rental accommodation.
My uncle : French comedy filmmaker Jacques Tati was a huge Buster Keaton fan and that love of slapstick comedy runs through all of his works, including My unclewhich in addition to being hilarious is also a scathing critique of modernity.
You were never really there: Maybe you think Joaquin Phoenix was amazing in Jokerbut the groundwork for that performance was laid in Lynne Ramsey’s psychological thriller where Phoenix plays a traumatized and violent mercenary hired to retrieve a kidnapped girl.
Carol: Todd Haynes’ adaptation of Patricia Highsmith The price of salt is a sensual and urgent love story between two women – one a glamorous older woman (Cate Blanchett) and the other an aspiring photographer working in a department store (Rooney Mara).
The wolf pack: This fascinating documentary by Crystal Moselle reveals the story of seven children who were homeschooled by their parents in their small New York apartment. The children had indeed been locked inside but everything changed when one of them decided to go for a walk.
The Babadook: Jennifer Kent’s terrifying horror film received little attention in Australia until it became an international hit. Starring Essie Davis, the Adelaide story is about a widowed mother and her six-year-old son who are haunted in their home.
Youth: Céline Sciamma wins praise everywhere for her passionate film Portrait of a lady on firebut his previous film, Youth, well worth a watch. With Karidja Touré in the role of an African teenager living in a disadvantaged district of Paris, Youth examines conceptions of race, gender and class.
Frances Ha: Directed by Noah Baumbach and co-written by Baumbach and Greta Gerwig, Frances Ha is a charming coming-of-age story about a dancer finding her place in the world.
Phoenix: A German drama with Nina Hoss, Phoenix is the story of a concentration camp survivor who undergoes facial reconstruction following a gunshot wound. When she returns to Berlin after the war, her husband is convinced that it is someone else.
Heathers: One of the most influential teen comedies of the 80s, Heathers is a repression of the sentimentality of John Hughes by having its main characters hurt souls with a violent and anarchic sequence.
Are they not holy bodies: David Lowery’s crime drama stars Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara. When the couple are arrested for illegal activities, Bob takes the blame and goes to jail. Four years later, he breaks out and promises to find his family but there are three bounty hunters on his trail.
I’m not your nigger: Directed by Raoul Peck, this documentary is based on writer James Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript on the history of racism in the United States. It chronicles the lives of Baldwin’s friends, including Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.