Happy March, Polygon readers. The weather is warming up, and so are the streaming services, with plenty of exciting new options for you to watch at home.
We’ve picked out 13 terrific options (including one collection of incredible movies) for you to consider for your movie options this month, including Emma Stone’s high school comedy Easy A on Netflix, an all-time underrated Denzel Washington performance now on Prime, one of the greatest comedies ever made (also on Prime), and a stack of banger action movies starring Michelle Yeoh now on the Criterion Channel.
It’s a good month for movies new to streaming services. Let’s get into it.
New on Netflix
Run time: 1h 32m
Director: Will Gluck
Cast: Emma Stone, Amanda Bynes, Penn Badgley
Easy A belongs in the pantheon of the great high school movies, alongside Mean Girls and The Breakfast Club; it really is that good. Riffing on The Scarlet Letter — the literary classic of which it’s a kind of inverted remake — it’s a sophisticated comedy of manners about bored, precocious teen Olive (Emma Stone), who agrees to pretend-bang her gay best friend to ward off the bullies. When others on the fringes of high school society find out and request the same service, she becomes a kind of imaginary prostitute, trading her new, falsely slutty reputation in for favors. The film walks the line of its illusory quandaries with a light, easy stride, and as a high school sex comedy in which no sex actually happens, it gets to be simultaneously scandalous and wholesome. Stone is a knockout in her first lead role, the script is a firecracker, and there’s a hilarious Greek chorus of dissolute grownups who comment wryly on the action without really having a moral leg to stand on, including Lisa Kudrow, Thomas Haden Church, and the deliciously wry Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci as Olive’s liberal parents. —Oli Welsh
Easy A is streaming on Netflix.
Magic Mike XXL
Run time: 1h 55m
Director: Gregory Jacobs
Cast: Channing Tatum, Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello
I love the first Magic Mike, a clever inversion of many romantic comedy tropes that also serves as a touching story about the American dream. Channing Tatum is a real movie star, and this franchise knows how to utilize him — both in his incredible control over his body while dancing as well as the deep melancholy that lies beyond the surface of his eyes.
Somehow, the sequel, Magic Mike XXL, is even better. A riotous celebration of pleasure (I have previously called it “Hellraiser without the pain”), XXL is also a great road trip movie and a great “the gang gets back together for one last job” movie. With the third movie of the trilogy, Magic Mike’s Last Dance, now available to watch at home, there’s no better time than now to catch up on the best entry in the series. —Pete Volk
Magic Mike XXL is streaming on Netflix.
New on Hulu
Run time: 1h 34m
Directors: Don Bluth, Gary Goldman
Cast: Meg Ryan, John Cusack, Christopher Lloyd
Fox Animation had a short lifespan, but boy did it crank out some bangers. And the most iconic of them all is probably Anastasia, an incredibly loose retelling of the lost Russian princess. In this version, the Russian Revolution is caused by Rasputin, a vengeful necromancer who hates the Romanoffs for some reason. We won’t dig into the ethics of all of this. Instead, come for the electric chemistry between maybe-lost princess Anya (Meg Ryan) and conman Dimitri (John Cusack), who blow away all other animated romantic couples of the time. The songs are infectious, and while the animation sometimes isn’t as polished as the Disney Renaissance movies of the time, the extravagant musical sequence in Paris more than makes up for it. Just don’t think too hard about the implications of the Russian Revolution being caused by an angry necromancer and his bat friend. —Petrana Radulovic
Anastasia is streaming on Hulu.
Love & Basketball
Genre: Romantic sports drama
Run time: 2h 4m
Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood
Cast: Sanaa Lathan, Omar Epps, Alfre Woodard
Listen — I don’t like playing basketball myself, but I love Love & Basketball. If someone were to ask me how that is even possible, I would say it’s because Gina Prince-Bythewood’s directorial feature debut (like every great sports drama) demonstrates a keen understanding that basketball (like every great sport) is not just about basketball; it’s about life. It’s about what happens both on and off the court, about the players and spectators who find meaning, truth, validation, material success, and yes, even love through the disciplined practice of the sport.
The film centers on the story of Monica Wright (Sanaa Lathan) and Quincy McCall (Omar Epps), two childhood friends and next-door neighbors who share an unmistakable bond through their mutual love of and dedication to basketball. As their relationship naturally blossoms from a close friendship into a budding romance, both Monica and Quincy are confronted by circumstances that see their lives diverge in starkly different directions, forcing them to consider the hard choice between pursuing their respective careers or their love for one another. If that storyline weren’t enough, Love & Basketball is stacked with some genuinely wonderful supporting performances courtesy of Alfre Woodard (12 Years a Slave), Harry Lennix (The Blacklist), and Dennis Haysbert (24) as Monica’s mother Camille, her father Nathan, and Quincy’s celebrity basketball star father Zeke, respectively. While the film hasn’t exactly aged well with respect to its depiction of dated gendered expectations in the form of Monica’s family life, Love & Basketball is an enduring love letter not only to the sport itself, but to its power in bringing people together, even in spite of themselves. —Toussaint Egan
Love & Basketball is streaming on Hulu.
New on Prime Video
Roman J. Israel, Esq.
Genre: Crime drama
Run time: 2h 2m
Director: Dan Gilroy
Cast: Denzel Washington, Colin Farrell, Carmen Ejogo
This legal drama comes from writer-director Dan Gilroy, brother of Tony (the author of the Bourne movies, with whom Dan worked on last year’s forensic examination of the Star Wars machine, Andor). While he’s just as fluid a writer as his brother, Dan has an off-kilter sensibility and a love of characters who don’t quite connect to the world around them, like Jake Gyllenhaal’s ghoulish news cameraman in his dark, pulpy, and brilliant directorial debut, Nightcrawler.
His follow-up to that movie sees him switch registers into something that looks more like conventional awards bait — the story of a blinkered, awkward, idealistic activist lawyer losing his principles and finding them again. You even have the great Denzel Washington in the role, adopting a shambling gait, a weird wardrobe, and tics that hint at Roman’s neurodivergence. But the character is more interesting and more destabilizing than that makes him sound. Gilroy’s breathless writing, backed by Washington’s fierce intellect, convincingly create a man for whom the world just can’t be made to fit — which, you come to understand, is very much the world’s fault. —OW
Roman J. Israel, Esq. is streaming on Prime Video.
Run time: 1h 9m
Director: Leo McCarey
Cast: Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx, Chico Marx
I grew up watching the Marx Brothers, one of the funniest comedy groups to ever grace this planet. Their run from 1931’s Monkey Business through 1935’s A Night at the Opera is one of the most consistent heights we’ve ever seen in comedy, with 1933’s Duck Soup a standout hilarious masterpiece that will keep you laughing until your sides split nearly a full century later.
The mirror sequence in particular, a breathtaking display of comedic chops, is an all-time classic that makes Duck Soup one of the best American comedies ever made. —PV
Duck Soup is streaming on Prime Video.
New on HBO Max
Genre: Sports action comedy
Run time: 2h 15m
Directors: Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski
Cast: Emile Hirsch, Matthew Fox, Christina Ricci
Lana and Lilly Wachowski’s live-action adaptation of the beloved sports racing anime is just one of several films of which my opinion and appreciation has evolved and changed over the years. Initially released to a thudding critical and commercial response in 2008, the movie has since undergone a reappraisal among not only fans of the Wachowskis’ work, but avid moviegoing connoisseurs as well.
Speed Racer is bright, loud, and frequently childish. It is also, beneath those surface-level attributes, a deceptively savvy story about one young man’s love for the sport of racing and his David and Goliath-esque battle against the combined forces of monopolistic corruption and the unassailable might of money.
Imagine if, without any warning, Ned Beatty’s “the world is a business” monologue from 1976’s Network was inexplicably spliced into the middle of 2001’s Spy Kids. Now, imagine the cartoonish vehicular theatrics of Furious 7 but, instead of playing out across the bustling streets of Los Angeles or some other exotic cinematic locale, they took place across a series of Hot Wheels-style racing tracks à la Mario Kart’s Rainbow Road. Imagine a child in chimpanzee-patterned pajamas and their pet chimpanzee dressed in child-patterned pajamas reenacting a scene from their favorite Saturday morning anime. That’s Speed Racer in a nutshell, and if I haven’t already made it clear enough: It’s awesome. —TE
Speed Racer is streaming on HBO Max.
Run time: 1h 28m
Director: Sean Baker
Cast: Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, Mya Taylor, Karren Karagulian
Shot entirely on an iPhone, this vivid, funny, sad, and painfully human vérité drama follows two trans sex workers as they walk the wild streets of West Hollywood one Christmas Eve. Sin-Dee (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez), a hotheaded motormouth just released from prison, goes on the warpath when she hears her pimp/boyfriend has been sleeping with a cis woman; Alexandra (Mya Taylor) tries to keep her friend’s rage under control and her own fragile dreams intact. Meanwhile, an Armenian taxi driver (Karren Karagulian) encounters all sorts of colorful fares, but seems to be searching for something more.
Director Sean Baker (who went on to make The Florida Project, an equally touching exploration of a different American socioeconomic wilderness) has an eye for authentic faces and a deep — but not humorless — compassion for lives lived on the edge. Crucially, he doesn’t feel the need to wring his characters dry for pathos; he just lets them live their complicated, silly lives. Tangerine is a garrulous, gorgeous, raw slice of life. —OW
Tangerine is streaming on HBO Max.
New on Paramount Plus
10 Cloverfield Lane
Genre: Sci-fi thriller
Run time: 1h 43m
Director: Dan Trachtenberg
Cast: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman, John Gallagher Jr.
No one really knew what the hell to make of Dan Trachtenberg’s 2016 sci-fi horror thriller when it first released in theaters back in 2016 — least of all the people marketing it. To this day, 10 Cloverfield Lane feels like a genuine anomaly in the wide yet narrowly defined landscape of franchise filmmaking: It’s a loose (and boy, do I mean loose) thematic follow-up to Matt Reeves’ 2008 film Cloverfield that makes a hard 90-degree turn from “9/11-coded American kaiju found-footage horror-drama” into “bunker-sized apocalyptic psychological-thriller” territory.
Whether you chalk up 10 Cloverfield Lane’s thematic proximity and relationship to 2008’s Cloverfield to the inscrutable eldritch machinations of Hollywood bookkeeping or a genuine attempt at soft-rebooting the series into an anthology-adjacent sci-fi horror franchise, it’s still a damn good movie in its own right. Between this film and 2022’s Prey, Dan Trachtenberg has already proven himself as one of the most promising directors working within the mold of studio filmmaking, tapping into the core traits of two established sci-fi horror franchises and reconfiguring them in surprising new ways.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead delivers a terrific lead performance here as a woman inadvertently “rescued” and held captive by an aloof and menacing doomsday prepper, and likewise, John Goodman’s portrayal of said doomsday prepper makes for one of the most memorable performances of his late career. All of these strengths amount to a film that is, even apart from its tangential ties to the Cloverfield franchise, an engrossing thriller that is truly more than what it at first appears. —TE
10 Cloverfield Lane is streaming on Paramount Plus.
New on Peacock
Genre: Romantic comedy
Run time: 1h 48m
Director: Phyllida Lloyd
Cast: Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Amanda Seyfried
Like Donna Sheridan, the free-spirited matriarch played by Meryl Streep in the ABBA jukebox musical, Mamma Mia! just can’t be pinned down. It’s a musical where all the actors are drunk and having the time of their lives, and also some of them can’t really sing. But it’s also a reflection on womanhood and what makes a family, a celebration of middle-aged women that we so rarely see in film. Every moment is a joy, even Pierce Brosnan’s painful signing, because everyone involved is just having such a damn good time, you can’t help but smile and sing along. Come for the ABBA, stay for Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) asking her mother to walk her down the aisle. —PR
Mamma Mia! is streaming on Peacock.
How To Train Your Dragon
Run time: 1h 38m
Directors: Dean DeBlois, Chris Sanders
Cast: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
How To Train Your Dragon is about two misfits finding one another, a horse girl story with a fantasy twist — but it’s also so much more. The movie was basically a reset for DreamWorks, harkening back to the studio’s original mission to make more serious animated movies. With the success of Shrek, the studio seemingly decided that making mature films meant making edgy, pop culture references. Hence Shark Tale, Madagascar, and Bee Movie. But How To Train Your Dragon went back to the grand days of The Prince of Egypt to tell a story both epic in scope and personal in nature — with a banging soundtrack to go along with it. —PR
How To Train Your Dragon is streaming on Peacock.
New on Criterion Channel
The Michelle Yeoh collection
Run time: Various
Cast: Michelle Yeoh and friends (including Jackie Chan, Maggie Cheung, Anita Mui, and Chow Yun-fat)
Michelle Yeoh is a once-in-a-lifetime movie star. Thankfully, she’s getting a bit of a renaissance in the West after her Oscar-nominated role in Everything Everywhere All at Once.
The ripple effect of that movie has meant broader availability of the movies from Yeoh’s excellent stint as an action lead in Hong Kong. Eight of these movies are now available on the Criterion Channel, and they are all worth your time. You’re probably already familiar with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (but it’s still worth a rewatch), but I highly recommend Yes, Madam!, Magnificent Warriors, The Heroic Trio, and Police Story 3: Supercop. —PV
The Michelle Yeoh collection is streaming on the Criterion Channel.
In Another Country
Run time: 1h 29m
Director: Hong Sang-soo
Cast: Isabelle Huppert, Yoo Jun-sang, Jung Yu-mi
Hong Sang-soo is one of my favorite filmmakers working today, crafting beautiful images and bringing deep meaning out of moments of quiet and stillness. I was grateful to be able to see many of his movies at a nearby museum before the pandemic — it’s one of the things I miss the most about pre-COVID life — but I caught one of his newest films, In Front of Your Face, at home and can confirm he still blows me away.
In Another Country is the first of his movies I saw, and now it can be the first for you, too. In it, Isabelle Huppert plays three women, all named Anne. All three Annes are charming French women visiting a small seaside town in South Korea. Like all of Hong’s films, it’s gorgeous and quintessentially human, featuring terrific images and performances from start to finish. —PV
In Another Country is streaming on the Criterion Channel.