The best movies on streaming (April 2021)
Catching up on Oscar fare this spring? Have no fear, the EW experts have selected the best movies available on Amazon Prime, HBO Max, Hulu, and Netflix this April. From classic winners to 2021 Oscar contenders, these films are worthy of love from even the most discerning cinephile. And don't worry, it's not all Academy Awards fodder; there are plenty of films to watch if you just need to exhale and skate away from it all.
Amazon Prime Video
Lords of Dogtown (2005)
There's never a bad excuse to watch a Heath Ledger movie. Here he steals the show as the offbeat manager to the pioneers of professional skateboarding. One of the titular lords, Stacy Peralta, actually wrote the script too, so while it still has all the beats that make a good sports movie, it remains very grounded in reality. —Marcus Jones
Watch Lords of Dogtown on Amazon Prime here.
EW grade: A (Read the review)
Related reading: History of Lords of Dogtown
My Cousin Vinny (1992)
Completely wild for anyone over 30 who's both a Marisa Tomei fan, and a Spider-Man fan, to see a new generation primarily know her as Aunt May in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Although she is a delight in those movies, viewers deserve to see her at her funny, irresistible Oscar-winning best as Mona Lisa Vito in this courtroom comedy. —MJ
Watch My Cousin Vinny on Amazon Prime Video here.
EW grade: C+ (Read the review)
Related reading: My Cousin Vinny is an accurate portrayal of lawyers
Waiting to Exhale (1995)
Just giving us the GIF of Angela Bassett strutting away from a burning car alone is enough to make Forest Whitaker's directorial debut iconic. Then you add in the impeccable soundtrack featuring star Whitney Houston's hit "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)," and the delicious melodrama coming from author Terry McMillan adapting her own novel for the screen. It all makes for a film that is a joy to turn on at any time of the day. —MJ
Watch Waiting to Exhale on Amazon Prime Video here.
Related reading: Whitney and Angela: Waiting to exhale
Talk about a film ahead of its time. Deeply flawed superheroes are all the rage now, but while this Will Smith star vehicle was a hit at the box office, it got a pretty tepid critical response. It remains a quick, interesting watch though, especially when one begins thinking about what could have been if co-writer Vince Gilligan got the greenlight to keep things R-rated like what was originally planned. —MJ
Watch Hancock on Amazon Prime Video here.
EW grade: C+ (Read the review)
Related reading: A Will Smith era ended with the very strange Hancock
The King's Speech (2010)
It's been a full decade since The King's Speech took home Best Picture, a win that remains controversial for many over the more daring entries of Black Swan and The Social Network. But The King's Speech is an excellent period piece loaded with fabulous performances, not the least of which is Colin Firth's Oscar-winning role as King George VI. When King George, who goes by Bertie, must assume the throne after his brother abdicates the throne, he's overwhelmed by the responsibility, most particularly the prospect of public speaking thanks to his lifelong stutter. But with the help of Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), he's able to deliver a stirring address to Britain after the nation declares war on Hitler's Germany. For that final speech alone, underscored by a Beethoven movement to prime effect, it's worth revisiting. —Maureen Lee Lenker
EW grade: B+ (Read the review)
The Oscars love a good underdog story and there's perhaps no greater underdog than 1977 Best Picture winner Rocky. It's hero is the unlikeliest — a small-time boxer who gets the rare chance to fight a heavyweight, all while going after the girl he loves who fills his gaps. Add to that the fact that star Sylvester Stallone wrote the script himself and basically sold everything he had to create this one last shot at making in Hollywood, and you've got a true Cinderella story. Plus, does it get much better than the "Gotta Fly Now" montage that runs up the Philadelphia Art Museum steps? Excuse us, while we go punch something. —MLL
Related reading: How Rocky nabbed Best Picture
There are Best Picture winners, and then there are movies so classic you need only say the title to elicit a barrage of quotes. A Warner Bros. studio production turned sterling piece of cinema history, Casablanca stars Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine, an American who owns a nightclub in war-torn Morocco. When his lost love Isla (Ingrid Bergman) walks back into his gin joint, it sends him plunging into an ethical dilemma where he must choose between the woman he loves and the greater good. It's more than earned its iconic status in Hollywood history, and is always worth a revisit (for extra resonance, try watching remembering that when it was released the outcome of WWII was in no way predetermined). As long as time goes by, we'll always have Casablanca. —ML
Chloe Zhao's cinematic treasure Nomandland first dazzled critics at the Venice and Toronto film festivals last year, and has been the talk of the town ever since. And it's no wonder why — as Fern, a woman who lost everything in the Great Recession who becomes a van-dwelling modern-day nomad traveling the country, Frances McDormand is at her very best. It's a perfectly lived-in performance that feels uncannily real, which is also the perfect way to describe the film itself. —Lauren Huff
Watch Nomandland on Hulu here.
EW grade: A (Read the review)
Talent: Frances McDormand, David Strathairn
Related reading: Before her Marvel spotlight, Chloé Zhao made her masterpiece
Another Round (2020)
This international co-production between Denmark, the Netherlands, and Sweden follows a group of friends who start an experiment among themselves to drink every day to see how it affects their lives. Beloved by critics following its debut at TIFF, this little dramedy surprised once more when it was nominated for not one, but two Oscar nominations: Best International Film, and most shockingly, Best Director for Thomas Vinterberg. Almost no one saw that coming, and thanks to Hulu adding it to their platform, you can see what all the fuss is about for yourself. —LH
Watch Another Round on Hulu here.
The Mole Agent (2021)
This tender documentary about an 83-year-old man who is hired by a private investigator to go undercover at a nursing home in order to try to uncover signs of elder abuse is up for Best Documentary at this year's Oscars. Part spy movie, part meditation on getting old and how we treat our elderly, The Mole Agent serves as a sweet reminder that it's never too late to try a new adventure. —LH
Watch The Mole Agent on Hulu here.
Talent: Maite Alberdi (director)
Mad Max (1980)
It's hard to believe now, but critical reception to this dystopian thriller upon its release in Australia in 1979 was mixed at best. The first in a long line of what would become beloved cult classics, which most recently included Mad Max: Fury Road, Mad Max follows Mel Gibson's titular police officer-turned-vigilante in a post-apocalyptic Australia. Critics changed their tune over time, and following its massive U.S. debut in 1980, it nabbed the title of most profitable film ever made to boot (at the time). Mad Max 2, Beyond Thunderdome, and Fury Road came after, with a fifth film, Furiosa, still to come, but this is the film that started it all. —LH
Watch Mad Max on Hulu here.
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (2021)
A pair of Oscar-nominated powerhouse performances anchors George C. Wolfe's adaptation of August Wilson's play, dramatizing a tumultuous recording session with real-life blues legend Ma Rainey. It's real-life screen legend Viola Davis who fills Ma's shoes, in a turn that earned her a record-breaking fourth Oscar nod, making her the most-nominated Black actress in Academy history. Then there's the late, great Chadwick Boseman as trumpeter Levee Green, in a fiery performance (the clear frontrunner) that will make you ache for the talent that we lost, but grateful for the gift that he gave. —Mary Sollosi
Da 5 Bloods (2020)
The Academy failed to do right by Delroy Lindo and Spike Lee (who is probably pretty used to the Academy failing to do right by him now, but still), so the very least we can do is to furiously stream the movie which ought to have received more recognition than just a (very deserved) Original Score nod for Terence Blanchard. Lindo's indelible performance, as a Vietnam vet reuniting with his old squad to revisit the country of their trauma, ought to have made it to the big show, but the small justice we can deliver him is to watch and be moved by it ourselves. —MS
EW grade: A– (Read the review)
Related reading: Delroy Lindo on his titanic performance in Da 5 Bloods
The White Tiger (2021)
While we at EW are pretty miffed that The White Tiger didn't score with the Academy in more categories, its Best Adapted Screenplay nomination — for writer-director Ramin Bahrani, who adapted his friend Aravind Adiga's 2008 Booker Prize-winning novel — is more than deserved. Rare is the film that brings such a rich, packed novel to such vivid life, and with a dazzling star turn from newcomer Adarsh Gourav, as a servant determined to become his own master in contemporary India, it's one that will stick with you long after this Oscar season has ended. —MS
EW grade: B+ (Read the review)
Talent: Adarsh Gourav, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Rajkummar Rao
Hillbilly Elegy (2021)
We can't in good conscience actually recommend Hillbilly Elegy, which EW's review delicately labeled "a horrific showcase for miserable overacting." We would be remiss, however, to neglect to point out that this is your last chance. Glenn Close was nominated for Best Supporting Actress and her wig was nominated for Best Hair and Makeup, so you officially have an excuse to watch Ron Howard's misguided adaptation of J.D. Vance's memoir until 5 p.m. PST on April 25, at which moment this rotted pumpkin of a movie will turn back into I suppose a normal pumpkin, bereft of relevance. You will never again have a good reason for choosing to see it. The countdown has begun. —MS
EW grade: F (read the review)
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