It’s finally (almost) April! Can you believe it? The sun is shining, the weather is breaking, the buds are blossoming, and the streaming services are a flutter with a brand new batch of new releases primed and ready for your eyeballs. Before we spring forward into the new month, however, there are just as many wonderful outgoing releases leaving streaming that are just begging for your attention.
From Tony Scott’s Deja Vu and Charles Laughton’s classic The Night of the Hunter to Punisher: War Zone and The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai, there’s something for everyone to watch this weekend, whether it’s Oscar-nominated dramas of ruthless oil barons, body-horror sci-fi, or modern fairy tales.
Here are the 15 best movies you need to watch before they leave streaming at the end of March.
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai
Across the 8th Dimension is the latest cinematic adventure of Dr. Buckaroo Banzai, the famed physicist/neurosurgeon/test pilot/rock star who occasionally saves the world. Oh, you’re not familiar?
Peter Weller stars as Dr. Buckaroo Banzai, who in this installment must save the Earth from the Red Lectroids, a group of inter-dimensional aliens led by an absolutely maniacal John Lithgow (delivering one of the most deliciously amped-up performances the 80s had to offer). Banzai is aided by his sidekicks, who are also his band mates, including Jeff Goldblum dressed up as a cowboy named “New Jersey.”
One of the great joys of Buckaroo Banzai is that, despite actually being a standalone film, it throws you into what feels like the middle of a long-running serial, to its great (and often bizarre) benefit.
One of two movies directed by W.D. Richter (writer of 1978’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Big Trouble in Little China, and, improbably, Stealth), Buckaroo Banzai is an unforgettable cult classic. And just remember ... no matter where you go, there you are. —Pete Volk
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai leaves Amazon Prime Video on March 30.
A delightfully gothic Batman adaptation with deliciously German Expressionist architecture and a great score by Danny Elfman, Batman Returns is filled with strange vibes, overwhelming its bizarre plotting with a tangible sense of Gotham as a real place.
Michael Keaton returns as Bruce Wayne, this time facing off against the Penguin (Danny DeVito) and business tycoon Max Shreck (Christopher Walken), with the occasional help of Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer). Impeccably cast and with truly unforgettable moments (the Penguin runs for mayor!), Batman Returns is the most completely realized version of Gotham City ever put on film. —PV
Batman Returns leaves Hulu on March 31.
Long before John David Washington’s leading role in Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, his father Denzel Washington starred in his own time-twisting sci-fi action film directed by the late Tony Scott. Washington stars as Doug Carlin, an ATF agent who joins a top-secret government program in the wake of a terrorist attack on a New Orleans ferry that claims the life of his wife. Using cutting-edge technology in the form of an experimental headset, Carlin must peer through the folds of space-time to investigate the events of the fateful day as they are happening in order to discern the identities of those responsible and bring them to justice. Washington’s second collaboration with Scott following 2004’s Man on Fire is an exhilarating whodunnit packed with explosive action, shocking twists, and frenetic, pulse-pounding cinematography that’s well worth a revisit. —TE
Deja Vu leaves Amazon Prime Video on March 31.
The Florida Project
Central Florida is a weird place to be a kid from a poor family. You grow up in the shadow of corporate dreamlands, where people from around the world come to live out a fantasy of a weekend at the “happiest” places on Earth, fueled by workers who historically have made an average of $10 an hour. Directed by Sean Baker, The Florida Project is one small story set in this shadow, about a 6-year-old girl named Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) who lives in a Kissimmee motel called The Magic Castle with her mother Halley (Bria Vinaite), who, trying to make ends meet, often leaves Moonee to her own devices, and the reluctant supervision of motel manager Bobby (Willem Defoe). The Florida Project is one of the best stories about Central Florida and Walt Disney World, a story about childlike wonder and joy a stone’s throw away from its monolithic commercialization, and the economic hardship that keeps the monied dreams of tourists afloat. —Joshua Rivera
The Florida Project Leaves Netflix on April 6th.
Jeff Goldblum stars in David Cronenberg’s 1986 sci-fi horror drama The Fly as Seth Brundle, a brilliant and ambitious scientist who undergoes a metamorphosis that would chill Gregor Samsa to the bone. The Fly is a tragic story of science run amok that’s as macabre as it is heart-wrenching, elevated by Cronenberg’s penchant for body horror special effects, gratuitous violence, and explicit sensuality. —TE
The Fly leaves Amazon Prime Video on March 31.
Get on the Bus
Spike Lee’s drama Get On The Bus follows the story of 15 Black men who collectively board a bus in Los Angeles bound for Washington D.C., where they plan to attend the Million Man March. Sharing nothing in common aside from their race, destination, and gender, the passengers aboard begin a shared journey of self-discovery that will force them to answer the question of what drew each of them individually to embark on this pilgrimage in the first place. Get On The Bus is a powerful film, dispelling the misconception of the Black experience as a monolith in lieu of a story of strength through solidarity, compassion, and hope. —TE
Get on the Bus leaves Criterion Channel on March 31.
Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing is a heist film par excellence, a labyrinthine drama composed of expert performances interlocking with one another like the tumblers of a lock before culminating in a frantic, engrossing conclusion. Sterling Hayden stars as Johnny Clay, an ex-convict who assembles a gang to pull off a $2 million hold-up of a racecourse. Supported by a cast including Elisha Cook Jr., Joe Sawyer, Jay C. Flippen, and more, The Killing was touted by Kubrick himself as his first mature feature. Today, it’s a film whose influence can be felt and seen in everything from Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs to 2008’s The Dark Knight. —TE
The Killing leaves Amazon Prime Video on March 30.
The NeverEnding Story
The NeverEnding Story is a classic fantasy film dedicated to the power of storytelling to liberate and edify the imagination of a young mind. The film follows Bastian (Barret Oliver), a young boy troubled by school bullies, who discovers an ancient storybook that draws him into the hero’s journey of a young warrior named Atreyu (Noah Hathaway), who in turn embarks on a journey across the mythical land of Fantasia to save the world from a dark, malicious force known as “the Nothing.” Through the proxy of Atreyu’s quest, Bastian undergoes his own emotional journey: one that emboldens him with the courage and wisdom to confront the challenges of life head on and grow into a mature young adult. There’s a reason why this film is often mentioned in the same breath as 1987’s The Princess Bride; both are quintessential ’80s touchstones that anyone would be remiss to miss out on. —TE
The NeverEnding Story leaves Netflix on March 30.
The Night of the Hunter
The sole film produced by actor-director Charles Laughton, The Night of the Hunter is hailed by many as one of the most masterful stories ever committed to the screen. At the heart of the movie’s enduring legacy is Robert Mitchum’s iconic performance as Harry Powell, a misogynistic serial killer with a flair for silver-tongued theatricality. Centering initially on Powell’s plot to romance a gullible widow and uncover the whereabouts of a stolen cache of $10,000, the film later unfolds into an odyssey across a rich expanse of stark, silhouetted environments, as the widow’s children desperately attempt to elude the mad preacher’s murderous intent. If you’re looking for a classic thriller with beautiful imagery, a moving score, and memorable performances, The Night of the Hunter boasts all those in ample amount. —TE
The Night of the Hunter leaves Amazon Prime Video on March 30.
Christopher Nolan’s 2006 film The Prestige, much like a magic trick, is (roughly) composed of three parts, or acts. The first part is exposition, where we’re introduced to the film’s protagonists in the form of two rival illusionists played by Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale. The second part is the premise, where things sour in the wake of a devastating on-stage accident, pitting the two men on a life-long collision course that transforms their professional rivalry into a perilous blood feud. The third part is the climax, where the film takes everything we thought we knew about these characters and turns those assumptions on their head to pull off the single greatest cinematic twist of Nolan’s career. Oh, and David Bowie is here dressed up like Nikola Tesla. Are you watching closely? —TE
The Prestige leaves Amazon Prime Video on March 30.
Punisher: War Zone
I’d understand if you missed out on Punisher: War Zone the first time around — a lot of people did. But Lexi Alexander’s 2008 pre-MCU adaptation of one of Marvel’s darkest anti-heroes is one of the better entries in modern superhero cinema, filled with life and color, an absolutely batty performance by Dominic West as the main antagonist, and plenty of cartoonish violence.
The third Punisher movie (the first being the oft-forgotten 1989 version starred Dolph Lundgren), this version stars Ray Stevenson as Frank Castle on a quest for vengeance after the murder of his family. Alexander fully embraces the excess of the character’s tone and the violence he employs, highlighted by an unforgettable moment where Castle blows up a parkour-ing bad guy with a rocket launcher mid-rooftop jump. —PV
Punisher: War Zone leaves Peacock on March 31.
Paul Verhoeven’s Robocop is not only one of the most thoroughly entertaining, most quotable action movies of its era, but a powerful satire of Reagan-era social policies that explores the dehumanizing force of bureaucracy and policing on the individual. Peter Weller is Alex Murphy, a Detroit city police officer murdered in the line of duty, who is resurrected by an unscrupulous mega-corporation with hopes of privatizing law enforcement. Murphy’s personal journey from an unfeeling implement of state-sponsored violence into a conscious being who rediscovers his humanity and exacts justice on the apparatus of crime and exploitation that created him makes for one of the best sci-fi movies of the late 20th century. Plus, it’s got a scene of a guy getting shot in the dick and another of a man being transformed into a goopy mutant before being mowed over by a van. I’d buy that for a dollar! —TE
Robocop leaves Amazon Prime Video on March 30.
Ronin isn’t your typical heist movie. Directed by John Frankenheimer, the 1998 American action thriller stars Robert De Niro and Jean Reno as members of an elite team of mercenaries assembled by a mysterious handler to intercept and retrieve a suitcase before it is sold to the Russians. While it certainly doesn’t lack for bristling gunfights and nail-biting chase sequences, the strength of Ronin lies in the meticulous and deliberate setup leading to its fateful third act. Frankenheimer’s film is as austere as it gratifying; an action film with an emphasis on richly-crafted characters with byzantine alliances and a plainspoken sense of style. —TE
Ronin leaves Amazon Prime Video on March 30.
The Running Man
In a dystopian future, a violent game show dispenses justice and captivates the masses. In The Running Man, “runners” are criminals who run for their lives from armed mercenaries, hoping to gain a pardon from the government. Adapted from the 1982 Stephen King novel, The Running Man stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as a police helicopter pilot who is framed for a massacre he attempted to stop, and is forced to appear on the show as the latest runner. When he has a whole lot more success than the charismatic, cold-blooded host (Richard Dawson) planned for, the show pulls out all the stops to prevent him from gaining his freedom.
The Running Man was ahead of its time on our television culture and the influence of reality shows, and specifically competition shows — especially when it comes to opportunities for those that don’t have much. That influence lives on: The Running Man is now a real (less violent) variety show in South Korea, and Edgar Wright is directing a new adaptation of the novel. —PV
The Running Man leaves HBO Max on March 31.
There Will Be Blood
For a while, Paul Thomas Anderson’s mesmerizing story about the rise and fall of an oil baron was best known for an unfortunate milkshake meme. But it’s been 14 years since its release, so surely by now we can let go of that particular gag and get back to appreciating Daniel Day-Lewis’ typically intense performance and the film’s particularly uncompromising severity. It’s a severe-looking film, all cracked, dry surfaces and angry desperation, and the clash between Day-Lewis’ viciously competitive oilman and a struggling young preacher (Paul Dano) is just as severe. This is not a film about moderation or kindness, and the end is pure Grand Guignol, but it’s a hell of a ride to get there. —Tasha Robinson
There Will Be Blood leaves Netflix on March 31.