April is a good month to be outside. The darkest days of winter are officially behind us, spring should eventually be sprung, and as an added bonus, it’s also Saoirse Ronan’s birthday on the 12th. There’s a lot of great things happening.
But for those in long, committed relationships with the screens of their lives, there’s also a lot to look forward to. (Praise be, another season of The Handmaid’s Tale is upon us!) Emphasis on “a lot”—and because there are too many things to watch and not enough time to do it, we’re going to help. Below is a collection of movies and shows streaming on Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu, which ones Ringer staffers recommend and why.
There’s a little bit of everything, from acclaimed indie films to superhero shows to fancy food porn. Let’s jump in. — Miles Surrey
What’s New to Streaming in April
A selected list of movies and TV shows that The Ringer is excited about.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer (coming to Amazon Prime on April 5)
K. Austin Collins: [Yorgos] Lanthimos, the increasingly popular Greek auteur, doesn’t tell stories so much as he imposes rigid conditions from the outset and calls them a premise—and a style. His movies are laboratories, wards of moral and behavioral chaos. They are controlled environments in which characters’ inner lives and desires unspool or devolve with an absurdist sense of humor and the tragic, but also darkly humorous, weight of inevitability.
Cool Runnings (coming to Hulu on April 1)
Andrew Gruttadaro: Jamaican runner Derice blows his chance at making the Olympics as a sprinter and decides his next-best option to win a medal would be to bobsled in the Winter Games. As expected, neither he nor his newly recruited Jamaican teammates know the first thing about bobsledding, so coach Irving Blitzer (John Candy) attempts to teach them. Derice is silly for picking bobsledding as his alternate sport, but the reason behind all of it — that he and his teammates, who are also failed track runners, want to compete in the Olympics so badly that they’ll pick up whatever sport they have to — is heartwarming and underrated, even if the stakes aren’t technically that high.
The Florida Project (coming to Amazon Prime on April 6)
Collins: The Florida Project is a wonderful movie. It’s a reminder that a child’s-eye view necessitates doing more than crouching the camera low to see the world from the POV of someone 4 feet tall. That’s clearly a key ingredient. But you can’t just remake the world in images; you have to remake the world as an experience. That notion is a key to understanding the oddness of the movie’s final turn, when, all of a sudden, it becomes an outright fantasy seen, of course, from Moonee’s point of view. I’ll let it surprise you as it did me—I’m still a little thrown by it. Maybe it doesn’t work. But it’s a lesson in how far [director Sean] Baker will go. It’s an adventure.
Preacher Season 2 (coming to Hulu on April 10)
Alison Herman: In the second season, Jesse has turned from soul-searching about his purpose in life to literal searching for the divine, resulting in a show that’s radically different — and radically improved. Preacher has pivoted from neo-Western farce to road-trip buddy comedy, with a prevailing mood that’s shifted accordingly from static to dynamic.
Chef’s Table: Pastry (coming to Netflix on April 13)
Herman: Precisely staged, unrelentingly self-serious, and soundtracked almost exclusively by classical music, Chef’s Table embraces the Michelin guide’s view of fine dining: the more courses, and the less choice or accessibility, the better.
The Handmaid’s Tale Season 2 (coming to Hulu on April 25)
Herman: No series, movie, book, or podcast’s context has been altered more radically [by the 2016 election] than The Handmaid’s Tale. Watching the show’s principals navigate that sudden shift has made for a fascinating press tour. More importantly, situating the show within our new reality makes for profoundly affecting TV. The Handmaid’s Tale didn’t ask for this moment. The show rises to it regardless.
Some New-ish Things You Might’ve Missed
Because it’s hard to keep up, here’s a few movies and TV shows that have premiered somewhat recently that may be worth catching up on.
Wild Wild Country (on Netflix)
Herman: Wild Wild Country is not an exposé of a cult, and those hoping to have their voyeurism indulged with outlandish details about group sex and assassination plots may come away disappointed. Instead, it’s an exploration of what it means to be in a cult, a less titillating approach that’s unexpectedly illuminating.
Jessica Jones (on Netflix)
Surrey: Season 2, which finally arrived March 8, is a slow, introspective burn, burrowing deeper into the psyche of Jessica (played by a still-terrific Krysten Ritter), the origin of her powers, the endless toil of addiction, trauma and survivor’s guilt, and—to plagiarize Uncle Ben for a minute—what responsibilities a superhero like Jessica has to herself and the people around her.
The Looming Tower (on Hulu)
Michael Baumann: The most interesting thing about The Looming Tower is that it exists as proof that plugging successful filmmakers and actors into a story that fits the current televisual fashion does not automatically make for great television. It’s not enough to reach back into the 1990s and say “I’ve got to get one of those” if the end result lacks maturity and curiosity.
Collateral (on Netflix)
Herman: Collateral is less a whodunnit than a whydunnit. [Showrunner David] Hare’s script has a sharp sense of justice and little in the way of moral ambiguity; when one side of a dispute involves people risking their lives to escape a horrific civil war the other side had a role in starting, the moral high ground isn’t up for grabs.
Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams (on Amazon Prime)
Herman: Electric Dreams’ ambitions are as lofty as they are contradictory, at least on their face: to be evergreen but prescient, to leverage its classic sci-fi credentials without being weighed down by them—and thanks to its format, to start from scratch in the attempt each time. When the show misses its mark, it’s understandable. When it strikes, however, Electric Dreams does equal justice both to its 1950s roots and modern-day context.
A small, random collection of movies and TV shows that are a little more off the beaten path, for when you’re in a certain kind of mood.
What to Watch If You’re Feeling Sad About the Melting Snow: Fortitude, 2015’s British series about snow and the people who choose to live in it, contains what is quite possibly one of the grandest bait-and-switch television twists of all time. The show starts as a brooding murder mystery: A scientist in a remote, and seemingly idyllic, community on Svalbard is gruesomely killed in his own home. The investigation marches along just fine for a few episodes with all the requisite intrigue—police corruption! an alluring hotelkeeper! swingers!—until suddenly, midway through the first season, it becomes apparent that Fortitude is in fact a batshit Arctic science fiction saga, and not a murder mystery at all. Stanley Tucci is there for some reason, heroically playing the role of “Stanley Tucci in a Canada Goose jacket,” and thank God—there might not be anyone better equipped to parse the violent doings of frostbitten Scandinavian townies. It is all very pretty, and very strange, and really I would just like someone to discuss it with, so please watch it, and soon. It’s on Amazon Prime. — Claire McNear
What to Watch If You Miss The Soup: Netflix is so frickin’ smart—like the kind of smart where they think of the obvious things before anyone else. The Soup, the clip show hosted by Joel McHale, was cancelled by E! In 2015, and not a day has gone by in which I haven’t missed it. It was an essential companion to all bad TV; it is the reason why watching shows like The Hills and Jersey Shore was so fun, and why we all know about One Tree Hill’s Heart Dog. In February, Netflix gave McHale his own show called The Joel McHale Show With Joel McHale, and guess what? It’s almost identical to The Soup. Order has been restored in the universe, and I am so mad I didn’t think of this genius idea before Netflix did. — Gruttadaro
What to Watch When You’re in the Mood For Some Slightly Sub-prestige Sci-fi: Travelers, Stargate veteran Brad Wright’s latest series currently streaming on Netflix, features both Will from Will & Grace and an unrelated character named Grace, and delivers two (going on three) seasons’ worth of solid, save-the-world-from-impending-apocalypse sci-fi. The time-travel elements—yes, it’s that type of travel—make more sense than they usually do, although it’s still probably best not to kick the central conceit’s tires too hard. — Ben Lindbergh
What to Watch If You Stan for Nicole Kidman, Jude Law—Or Both: We are living in blessed times, as the Kidman-aissance overlaps with the Law-wakening. OK, those terms need some work, but there’s no denying that we are in the midst of a career surge for both actors. This makes it the perfect time to revisit their first movie together, Anthony Minghella’s 15-year-old Civil War drama Cold Mountain, streaming on Netflix. This movie is … a lot of movie. It’s like The Notebook, but with a lot more violence (and weirdly, the same amount of carpentry). But all you need to know is that it starts with a romance between bright-eyed and beautiful Jude and Nicole, and ends with a romance between war-hardened but still beautiful Jude and Nicole. — Kate Halliwell
What to Watch If You’re Weirdly Hypnotized by Freddie Highmore: I’ve made it very clear on this site that I don’t care much for The Good Doctor, but a good chunk of America is entranced by it. Perhaps it’s because of Freddie Highmore. And if you have Highmania™, then I suggest all five seasons of Bates Motel on Netflix. The sorta-prequel to Psycho sees pre-Good Doctor Highmore as a teenage Norman Bates, and plenty of Oedipal undertones with his mother Norma Bates (an excellent Vera Farmiga). Their dynamic is oh-so-creepy, and the inevitability that Norman will kill his mother hangs over the entire series. I promise it’s a lot more fun than it sounds, and if you make it all the way to the final season, you will see Rihanna as Marion Crane. No, seriously. — Surrey
What to Watch When You’re Feeling Ennui: I’m the kind of Ridley Scott fan who can quote along with G.I. Jane and get into arguments over Kingdom of Heaven. But somehow I’d never seen Thelma & Louise until I encountered it on Amazon Prime a couple weeks ago, and frankly it changed my life. It’s weird to call a movie where the heroines suffer and die “life-affirming,” but it is. Everyone’s felt trapped and hopeless at one point or another. And as opposed to American Beauty and Fight Club, which point toward a sort of Annoying Boy In Your Freshman Political Philosophy Class will-to-power worldview, the titular Thelma and Louise want nothing more than their own self-determination, their own pursuit of happiness, and they achieve it, if only briefly. As a generally mopey, pessimistic person, I was genuinely moved by this movie. It was a privilege to experience that in a film that was fun and exciting, rather than self-serious and dark. I want nothing more than for all of you to experience that as well, if you haven’t already. — Baumann