Boy, oh boy is April a great month for new streaming titles. From hit movies to big TV shows to the first season of Netflix's new Marvel series Daredevil (launching April 10) — this month has it all.
But there are plenty of less-known titles that could get lost in the noise of all those big names. Here are four movies and one TV miniseries you should add to your Netflix and Amazon queues immediately.
Director Paul Greengrass — perhaps best known for The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum — is also a renowned re-creator of history. That led to 2006's United 93, a stunningly faithful replication of the crash of the titular flight into a Pennsylvania field on September 11, 2001; as well as Oscar Best Picture nominee Captain Phillips, about the 2009 hijacking of a container ship by Somali pirates.
But this 2002 breakthrough film is a docudrama that takes an almost journalistic approach to the events of January 30, 1972, when British soldiers shot more than two dozen unarmed protestors in Northern Ireland.
Greengrass's hyper-attention to detail means that the film seems to fit the phrase "you'll feel like you're there" almost completely accurately. The director also filled the film with then-unknown actors, though a few have gone on to successful careers since its release.
Bloody Sunday is a look at a day most Americans likely know very little about, and it will give you a stronger appreciation for a corner of history that could feel very distant for those living in the States.
Watch it on Amazon Prime.
The Wachowskis, who went on to create the Matrix trilogy and several other films with huge cult followings, broke through on their debut, this 1996 crime thriller. It's also one of the earliest movies about lesbians to earn mainstream critical attention.
Jennifer Tilly and Gina Gershon play lovers who are aiming to rip off one of their mobster boyfriends for millions of dollars. The tale features several riffs on the tropes of film noir — those stories of dark people making dark choices on the seedy side of town that so dominated detective films in the 1940s and '50s. Here, though, the addition of a lesbian affair adds a charge to the whole story that flips familiar tropes on their ear.
The movie likely hasn't aged perfectly, as with most films in the '90s prominently featuring LGBT themes. (I haven't seen it in years.) But it's worth seeing for its terrifically twisty plot and for its importance to mainstream acceptance of LGBT themes in major films.
Watch it on Netflix.
The Roosevelts: An Intimate History
I wrote an extensive review of this back when it debuted on PBS in 2014. Suffice it to say that this movie from famous documentary filmmaker Ken Burns perfectly captures the Roosevelt family.
It focuses primarily on Teddy, Franklin, and Eleanor and covers a century of American history, from the Civil War to the 1960s.
It's a marvelous piece of documentary filmmaking, but it's also a beautiful series of smaller biographies of the three figures. There's so much great stuff here for history buffs and neophytes alike.
Watch it on Amazon Prime.
Okay, saying this one might have escaped your attention is a bit of a stretch. The 1993 Bill Murray vehicle, directed by Harold Ramis, is one of the most popular movie comedies of the past 30 years.
But there's never a day that couldn't be improved by firing up this movie and watching as Murray's character, Phil, is forced to relive the same Groundhog Day over and over and over again until he gets it "right" — with some estimates of the amount of time Phil spends living this single day extending to 10,000 years. Andie MacDowell plays Phil's love interest, and the ensemble cast is filled with great character actors, adding to the fun.
But this is also one of the sneakiest, most philosophical movies ever made, with lots to say about how easy it is to get stuck in the same patterns and how difficult it can be to truly change our ways. It's endlessly rewatchable, too, so turn it on again.
Groundhog Day will be available on Amazon Prime beginning Thursday, April 2, but you can already rent or purchase it for download.
This terrifying, arty ghost story proved one of 2014's surprise critical sensations. The Australian film came out of nowhere at that year's Sundance Film Festival to earn rave reviews, then took the arthouse world by storm. It's part of a major new wave of horror films that find the unchecked emotions of their characters as terrifying as any monster. It made my top 10 films of 2014 list for good reason.
Directed and written by Jennifer Kent, the film follows a single mother, played by the remarkable Essie Davis, who can't escape the grieving process for her husband, who died in a car crash when driving her to the hospital to deliver their son. Now, the boy has grown into a six-year-old child, and his constant noisemaking and haunted nature make him an unsettling constant companion to have around.
And that's before the pop-up book promising a malevolent, top-hatted boogeyman is on his way to devour the mother's soul.
Creepy and atmospheric, The Babadook is a must-see for horror fans — and, honestly, anybody else.
It will be available on Netflix April 14, 2015.