We’ll level with you: April 2017 is absolutely stacked with new streaming options, to the point where the committed viewer could get away with not leaving the house for the entire month. There’s a true bounty, featuring hotly anticipated original TV series, intriguing new documentaries, underseen recent classics, and some of the best films of last year.
We don’t recommend going quite so far as to forgo the outside world in favor of devouring the streaming riches on offer, but we’re attempting to make it a little easier to plan just how much of April you’ll need to devote to watching All of the Things. We’ve pulled the best options from a variety of services — Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, HBO, Showtime, and Starz — and arranged them by premiere date. There’s something promising debuting every few days, so bust out the calendar, cancel your social engagements, and start planning how you’re going to get through it all.
Premiering April 1
Andrew Dominik’s 2007 release was barely shown in theaters, due to the indifference of its distributor, Warner Bros. But its tale of the life and death of Jesse James — as seen through the eyes of his assassin — is one of the best movies released since 2000, with grandly poetic images and beautiful performances from Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck.
Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (GMK) is what modern-day reboots Godzilla and Kong: Skull Island are building to: a gigantic kaiju-fest complete with laser beams, massive furry moths, and three-headed dragons fighting one another. Granted, special effects have gotten a lot better since GMK came out in 2001, but there’s enough silly monster stuff here to keep you entertained and looking forward to 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters.
The Kids Are All Right (Starz)
Midlife crises are collective in Lisa Cholodenko’s note-perfect comedy about a modern family thrown into upheaval by the arrival of the sperm donor to two lesbian parents (Annette Bening and Julianne Moore). Awkward as only a liberal dramedy can be, The Kids Are All Right features spotless performances by a veteran ensemble, including a breakout turn from Mia Wasikowska as the curious daughter determined to form a fledgling relationship with her biological dad. What’s great about The Kids Are All Right is that everyone is a mess, and that’s all right too. Plus, Mark Ruffalo gets to play the hot rebel — a rare treat.
Teen Witch (Starz)
1989’s Teen Witch is about the most important things in life: high school, magic, mean teachers, true love, and some really good-looking dude named Brad. There’s also a makeover and Zelda Rubinstein, known for her work as the creepy medium Tangina in the Poltergeist franchise, as a slightly less creepy but still strange Madame Serena. Teen Witch is not to be confused with 2016’s The Witch, a horror story about a teenager who eventually becomes a witch — but who, unlike Teen Witch’s protagonist, does not have the ability to magically imbue others with rapping abilities.
Premiering April 4
Chewing Gum season 2 (Netflix)
One of Netflix’s recent British imports is the very funny coming-of-age comedy Chewing Gum. Creator/writer/star Michaela Coel is fantastic as the equally gawky and curious Tracey, who in the first season launched herself into the brand new world of sex with such reckless abandon that the results were both hilarious and horrifying. Season two promises more of the same.
Dimension 404 season 1 (Hulu)
Hulu’s answer to Black Mirror is this anthology series about the darkest corners of the internet, produced by the ever-ambitious online video kings at Rocket Jump. The series boasts an amazing cast — including everybody from Patton Oswalt to Lea Michele — and its vibe looks a little more overtly sci-fi than Black Mirror’s dystopian hues.
Premiering April 5
Preacher season 1 (Hulu)
This 2016 adaptation of the acclaimed comic book of the same name lacks the kind of overarching storyline that would make it really compelling, but as a delivery mechanism for exciting moments, it’s a lot of fun. Like most moment-based shows, it should play very well in a binge. Hang in there for some of the truly inventive fight scenes, and for the performances of Ruth Negga as the live-wire Tulip and Dominic Cooper as the chaplain with strange powers who gives the series its title.
Premiering April 6
The BFG (Netflix)
The most recent film by Steven Spielberg — released just last summer! — rather crashed and burned at the box office, despite its family-friendly premise and children’s literature pedigree. The gentle, lovely little film follows a young girl who meets the Big Friendly Giant of the title, and it’s sprinkled with just enough of the dark horrors of the Roald Dahl novel it’s based on to make it engaging.
Premiering April 7
The Get Down season 1, part 2 (Netflix)
The Get Down’s bizarre release strategy — the first season was released in two halves eight months apart — and a messy pilot seem to have gotten in the way of buzz for this energetic, enthralling tribute to the Bronx in the ’70s, the early days of hip-hop, and the creative impulse. Here’s hoping the season’s final five episodes wrap up the storylines in satisfying fashion, because the series may be too expensive for Netflix to renew.
American Playboy (Amazon)
Does the world really need a 13-hour “docuseries” about the life of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner? Probably not, but Amazon is giving this one a big push anyway, and its promise of rarely seen footage from Hefner’s archive, alongside scripted scenes starring actors as the young Hef and pals, could make for something intriguing.
Premiering April 8
Kubo and the Two Strings (Netflix)
With its gorgeous stop-motion design, a tale of adventure and fantasy in Japan, and the borrowed spirit of legendary filmmaker Akira Kurosawa, Kubo and the Two Strings was one of our favorite movies of 2016. Ostensibly about a boy searching for his lost family, Kubo knows what all good stories know — that a story reveals as much about the teller as the tale. Laika’s always-loving animation turns every story into a feat, made even more epic by the herculean studio efforts that went into the film’s creation. Kubo features the largest stop-motion puppet ever created, and took five years of painstaking labor to finish. The result is pure cinema magic.
Premiering April 13
Short Term 12 (Hulu)
Before she was tapped to play Captain Marvel, Brie Larson played a superhero of a more humble sort in Destin Daniel Cretton’s Short Term 12. The film follows the action at a residential group facility for troubled teens, where Larson’s Grace is a senior member of the support staff. Her difficult job takes a toll on her, though — particularly affecting her relationship with her boyfriend, who also works at the facility — which comes to a head with the introduction of a new resident who stirs up some buried trauma.
The Handmaiden (Amazon)
It’s just about impossible to describe Park Chan-wook’s stunning film without ruining the twists, but we’ll give it a shot. Though it was adapted from Sarah Waters’s book The Fingersmith, which takes place in Victorian England, The Handmaiden is set in 1930s Japanese-occupied Korea, as an ambitious Korean handmaiden (Kim Tae-ri) plots against her charismatic Japanese mistress (Kim Min-hee). But if that sounds straightforward, trust us: it’s not. The Handmaiden is a twisty, sexy thriller that never goes in the direction it’s telling you it is, which makes for one hell of a fun ride.
Premiering April 14
The Love Witch (Amazon)
The Love Witch is lit and shot to look like a 1960s Technicolor film, with costumes and sets designed by writer-director Anna Biller to evoke a vaguely psychedelic fairy tale/lighthearted self-aware horror story/queasy feminist psychosexual dramedy about a woman who’s hunting for a man (literally). If that bizarre combination appeals to you, you’re in luck — while The Love Witch leans heavily on its inspirations, it isn’t like anything you’ve seen before. It’s deliciously campy, sometimes shocking, and totally unconventional.
The Babadook (Hulu)
One of the best of a recent wave of outstanding horror films, The Babadook effectively made single motherhood into the ultimate nightmare while propelling its cast and crew into the much-deserved limelight. The Babadook delivers a star turn for Essie Davis as Amelia, the mother whose attempts to deal with her hyperactive, perpetually terrified son (Noah Wiseman) leave her exhausted, isolated, and open to the curse of the dreaded Babadook, a ghoulish children’s book monster. (Think Slender Man, but better-dressed.) This is already prime horror material, but writer-director Jennifer Kent levels up by turning Amelia’s psychological breakdown into something so raw and scary that it becomes a form of primal feminist rage. If you think you’ve seen this one before, watch it again; it rewards repeat viewings like few films of its ilk.
Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return (Netflix)
Twelve seasons, one epic crowdfunding campaign, one successful offshoot cult website, and an infinite number of heckle-worthy B-movies later, Joel and the Bots are back! Longed for by fans of terrible sci-fi the world over, MST3K returns for an entire new season with an ensemble of geeky A-listers, including Jonah Ray as the host, and Felicia Day and Patton Oswalt as descendants of the original mad scientists who started this whole shebang. Keep an eye on the cult bad flick Reptilicus, which appears to be one of the movies riffed on, and enjoy the kitschy retro look of the comeback. Oh, and look out for MOVIE SIGN!
Premiering April 16
April is a crowded month for new TV, and Showtime’s big entry is this new six-episode miniseries from 12 Years a Slave screenwriter and American Crime creator John Ridley. It follows 1970s political activists as they work to break cycles of police violence in the United Kingdom, and it stars Freida Pinto and Idris Elba, among others. The intersection of social justice and history is a place within which Ridley usually works well, so this is one to anticipate.
Premiering April 21
Bill Nye Saves the World, season 1 (Netflix)
A science talk show isn’t the most natural idea in the world, but if there’s anybody who can make it work, it’s the inexhaustible Bill Nye. The first season of his new Netflix series unleashes a torrent of celebrity guests upon a variety of important science topics (climate change! GMOs! sex!), complete with in-studio demonstrations.
Premiering April 22
In 2010, a nonfiction book about the true story behind the world’s most commonly replicated “immortal” strain of lab cells became an unlikely best-seller — and HBO’s teaser trailer for its new adaptation of the book gives you a taste of how surprising and dramatic that story is. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is a strange, harrowing, and deeply moving story of the way corporate greed often consumes and usurps individual identity, even after death. Throw in legendary Broadway director George C. Wolfe working with Oprah Winfrey and Hamilton’s Renée Elise Goldsberry, and this adaptation is a must-see. (You should probably have tissues ready.)
Premiering April 25
Queen of Katwe (Netflix)
Mira Nair's Queen of Katwe is based on the true story of Phiona Mutesi, an illiterate teenager from a slum outside the Ugandan capital of Kampala who discovers she has a knack for chess, thanks to a missionary (who also grew up in the slums) running a chess club for local kids. Starring Lupita Nyong'o, David Oyelowo, and newcomer Madina Nalwanga, it's heartwarming and inspirational, but also the opposite of a white savior movie — and all the better for it. This is one for the whole family.
Premiering April 26
The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)
Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel — about an America overtaken by a far-right movement that systemically deprives women of their rights — is 30 years old, but it has never felt more timely. Hulu’s highly anticipated new TV version is a smart, compelling adaptation that uses Atwood’s novel as a window into a terrifyingly plausible world. Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss anchors the uniformly excellent cast (including Alexis Bledel, showing sides she never did on Gilmore Girls), but the real star here is the textured, detailed world building and the newfound urgency and immediacy of the story’s dystopian impulse.
Premiering April 27
American Honey (Amazon)
British director Andrea Arnold takes a visually stunning, nearly three-hour ramble through red-state America in this coming-of-age road movie. First-time actor Sasha Lane plays Star, a self-reliant but naive teenager who falls in with a crowd of rowdy youths; the group — overseen by a rattail-wearing Shia LaBeouf — traverses the country in a van, selling magazine subscriptions to unsuspecting marks. A rambunctious movie with a lot on its mind, American Honey is a complicated evocation of the freedom that comes with having nothing, and what it means to define yourself outside of possessions.
Premiering April 28
Casting JonBenet (Netflix)
In Casting JonBenet, a group of actors in Colorado audition to play characters in a movie about JonBenet Ramsey, the 6-year-old beauty queen who was murdered in her family’s home the day after Christmas in 1996. Through the audition process, the actors start to reveal what they think about the case and how their own personal experiences shape what they believe. In the process, what we believe about the still-unsolved case gets more complicated too. Casting JonBenet is a quiet and moving look at how we think about crime in America, and how not just media coverage but also our own lives mess with our sense of objectivity.
Dear White People season 1 (Netflix)
Director Justin Simien adapts his 2014 satirical film into a 10-episode TV season, a key part of Netflix’s attempts in 2017 to diversify its original series. The movie was pretty terrific (and funny) as it stood, but it’s not as if the intervening years haven’t given Simien more topics to tackle and issues to raise. And if early episodes are any indication, he’s done so with aplomb.
The British comedy Catastrophe is a raunchy, delightfully unvarnished look at the challenges of marriage and parenthood, minus most of the clichéd trappings that usually accompany those topics. The painfully funny, eminently filthy series will tread some serious ground in season three, as central couple Sharon and Rob try to keep it together and manage their family of four in the aftermath of a drunken and devastating season two cliffhanger. While that may sound grim, it’s exactly the type of scenario that series creators and stars Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney excel at mining for comedy. The six-episode season also features Carrie Fisher in the last role she filmed before her death on December 27, 2016; Fisher plays Rob’s overwhelmingly critical mother, Mia, and according to Delaney, she’s “a huge part” of the season three finale.
Premiering April 30
American Gods season 1, episode 1 (Starz)
In certain corners of the internet, this Starz adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s novel of the same name is the most anticipated TV series of the year, thanks to both a stunning cast (including old favorites such as Ian McShane and vibrant newcomers like Ricky Whittle) and showrunners like Bryan Fuller and Michael Green. Fuller, in particular, brought the seemingly unadaptable Hannibal Lecter books to TV, and the early episodes of American Gods suggest he might have done the same for this tale of old gods washing up on American shores.
Animal Kingdom season 1 (Amazon)
There’s no reason this TNT adaptation of the 2010 Australian crime drama film should be as good as it is. And indeed, the early episodes take some time to put all the pieces into place. But former Halt and Catch Fire showrunner Jonathan Lisco and his team finally turn the story of a crime boss mother and her fractious sons into a simmering family drama, filled with rage, regret, and secrets. If you liked Netflix’s Bloodline but wished it were 15 percent creepier, this is the show for you.