As Netflix et al. add more content, it’s difficult to know what to look for amidst all of the newly added titles. So at the start of every month, I publish a list of particularly noteworthy and interesting movies and TV shows to add to your streaming queues.
If you’d like to receive my streaming recommendations even sooner, become an Opus subscriber today.
Community, Seasons 1 – 6 (April 1)
This cult TV show about a group of community college students and their crazy hijinks may be the most pop culture-literate show since Spaced. I’m looking forward to the various paintball episodes, the Dungeons & Dragons episode, the darkest timeline, and of course, Troy and Abed in the morning!
Lethal Weapon (April 1)
One of the great buddy cop movies. No, scratch that… Lethal Weapon is the buddy cop movie. Written by Shane Black and directed by Richard Donner, this movie has it all: a by-the-books officer close to retirement, his new partner (who happens to be unhinged), a crazy conspiracy that pushes them to the edge of the law and beyond. Basically, it created the template for all buddy cop movies to follow… and it’s still the best one ever. (And if you want even more Murtaugh and Riggs, you’re in luck; the three sequels will also be available on this date.)
Minority Report (April 1)
What would you do if you could stop murderers before they ever killed anyone? In Minority Report, Tom Cruise’s police officer works for a department that uses psychics to stop murders before they happen, only to be framed for a murder he hasn’t yet committed. Steven Spielberg consulted with numerous experts for Minority Report in order to ensure that its depiction of the future would be as plausible as possible, from the user interfaces to the driverless cars to the way that facial recognition is used.
Sherlock Holmes (April 1)
Guy Ritchie’s take on the world’s most famous detective is so much better than it has any right to be. Much of that is due to Robert Downey, Jr., performance as Holmes, and his chemistry with Jude Law’s Doctor Watson. Together, the original dynamic duo must match wits with a mystic who promises to rain devastation on London.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (April 2)
The final installment in Sergio Leone’s “Dollars Trilogy,” The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is marked by brilliant directing and gorgeous cinematography, as well as Ennio Morricone’s legendary theme. Not only is it one of the greatest and most iconic westerns of all time, it’s one of the most iconic movies of all time.
Hail, Caesar! (April 16)
I confess, I wasn’t as taken with Hail, Caesar! as I have been with other Coen Brother films. But even a lesser Coen Brother film is still more creative than most films. Set during Hollywood’s golden age, the film follows a studio exec who must find his missing leading man while managing the stresses inherent to a major motion picture production. The film boasts an impressive cast, including Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, and Channing Tatum, but Alden Ehrenreich steals the show as a singing cowboy actor.
Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 (April 23)
When the first trailer for the latest installment in the Ghost in the Shell franchise was released, many were critical of its cutesy aesthetic (including yours truly). But the second trailer looked a little better. Plus, it had more details about the story, which involves “post-humans” along with the series’ usual inclusion of heady political and philosophical themes.
Drifting Dragons (April 30)
Based on Taku Kuwabara’s manga, Drifting Dragons follows the crew of a dragon-hunting ship as they sail the skies looking for their latest quarry. At times reminiscent of Hayao Miyazaki’s Castle in the Sky, it’s also an interesting celebration of cooking as the crew tries to find the perfect way to prepare their aerial cuisine.
Here’s everything arriving on and leaving Netflix in April 2020.
Blazing Saddles (April 1)
Mel Brook’s satire of the Western film is a comedy classic — though its treatment of racism (and flatulence) may be jarring for modern audiences. When a new sheriff rides into the small town of Rock Ridge, its citizens are shocked to learn that he’s black. However, he may just be their best hope when a greedy lawyer wants to destroy their town to make way for a new railroad.
Romancing the Stone (April 1)
If you’re looking for a throwback to classic adventure films, but with a dash of romance, then Romancing the Stone might be just up your alley. Starring Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner as a pair of unlikely lovers who find themselves chasing a priceless jewel in South America, the film was a massive box office hit in 1984. Tragically, the film’s writer, Diane Thomas — who was working as a waitress when she wrote the script — died shortly after the film’s release.
Snatch (April 1)
Following the smash success of Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, writer/director Guy Ritchie’s sophomore film found him returning with a similarly convoluted criminal comedy with an ensemble cast that emphasizes style way over substance. Snatch begins with a diamond heist that eventually turns into a comedy of errors, but through twists and turns, involves ex-KGB agents, bare-knuckle boxing matches, and Brad Pitt sporting a very distinctive Irish accent. Requires the STARZ add-on.
Spider-Man (April 1)
Originally released in 2002, it could be argued that Spider-Man helped kick off the modern superhero movie craze due in large part to actually taking the character seriously. Of course, it helped to have a director like Sam Raimi behind the camera, and his very distinctive visual style and aesthetic. The film stars Tobey Maguire as the titular hero, Kirsten Dunst as his crush Mary Jane Watson, and Willem Dafoe as the Green Goblin.
Zombieland (April 1)
Along with Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland is proof that the best zombie movies are those that blend their undead gore with comedy. Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, and Abigail Breslin as a ragtag group of survivors of the zombie apocalypse — oh, and Bill Murray in an inspired cameo — Zombieland is proof that you can find plenty to laugh about while watching the end of civilization.
Parasite (April 8)
Bong Joon-ho’s darkly comedic thriller about two South Korean families, one rich and one poor, who become inextricably linked together, was one of the most acclaimed films of 2019. Not only was it the first non-English film to win “Best Picture” at the Oscars, but it also won for best director, original screenplay, and foreign language film. Beyond America, it was the first South Korean film to win the prestigious Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, which it won unanimously.
Sense and Sensibility (April 17)
Emma Thompson spent five years adapting Jane Austen’s classic novel, and the result is a lavish and utterly delightful adaptation directed by Ang Lee and starring Thompson, Alan Rickman, Kate Winslet, and Hugh Grant. Released in 1995, the film was a massive commercial and critical success. The film received seven Academy Awards nominations, with Thompson winning an Oscar for “Best Adapted Screenplay.” Requires the STARZ add-on.
Here’s everything arriving on and leaving Hulu in April 2020.
The James Bond Franchise (April 1)
The first 20 James Bond films, including Dr. No, From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, Live and Let Die, and GoldenEye, will arrive on Amazon in April. And even better, they’ll be streaming in 4K. Which means that the exploits of the world’s greatest spy will have never looked better.
Tales From the Loop (April 3)
Simon Stålenhag’s fantastical depictions of strange, advanced technology littering the picturesque Swedish countryside have inspired books and games, and now it’s inspired this Amazon original series. Tales From the Loop is set in a small town built on top of “The Loop,” a device meant to uncover the secrets of the universe. My guess? Lots of strangeness ensues.
The Lighthouse (April 16)
Richard Eggers’ follow-up to The Witch was arguably one of the 2019’s strangest movies. Starring Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson as a pair of lighthouse keepers who slowly descend into madness when they’re trapped in their remote location, The Lighthouse was widely acclaimed for Dafoe and Pattinson’s performances as well its technical merits (e.g., cinematography, production design).
Here’s everything arriving on and leaving Amazon in April 2020. As usual, there’s a lot of overlap between Hulu and Amazon Prime’s offerings.
Onward (April 3)
Pixar’s latest animated feature only arrived in theaters a few weeks ago, but maybe it’s a sign of these pandemic times that it’s arriving on Disney+. Set in a fantasy world where magic has disappeared, Onward follows two elven brothers who go on a quest to see their dead father again.
The Straight Story (April 3)
It makes me incredibly happy that a David Lynch film will be on Disney+. Yes, the same David Lynch who gave us Twin Peaks, Eraserhead, and Mulholland Drive. Compared to those titles, The Straight Story — which is based on the true story of an elderly man who traveled hundreds of miles on a riding lawn mower to reunite with his estranged brother — may seem downright prosaic. But the fact that it’s so “normal” may be the most Lynchian thing about it. Richard Farnsworth was nominated for a “Best Actor” Oscar for his performance in The Straight Story.
National Treasure (April 30)
When Disney+ launched last year, there were some surprising omissions in its list of launch titles. One such omission was National Treasure, a perfectly serviceable family adventure flick starring Nicolas Cage as a historian obsessed with finding a vast treasure hidden by America’s Founding Fathers. The movie’s depiction of American history may be fanciful to a fault, but does it really matter when you get to see Cage exploring ruins and escaping centuries-old traps that would make Indiana Jones green with envy?
Here’s everything arriving on Disney+ in April 2020.