It’s the end of the month, and you know what that means: a suite of movies leaving streaming services as the calendar flips over to April. There are hundreds of movies for you to choose from, but only some of them are worth your while. That’s where we step in, picking out the best of the best when it comes to good movies leaving streaming services.
This month is a doozy, with a higher quantity and quality of movies leaving streaming platforms at the end of March. There are major franchises like the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy, new classics like Minority Report and The Prestige, all-time great movies like The Apartment and Before Sunrise, multiple Denzel bangers, and so much more.
Let’s get into it.
The Lord of the Rings trilogy
Year: 2001; 2002; 2003
Run time: 2h 58m (The Fellowship of the Ring); 2h 59m (The Two Towers); 3h 21m (The Return of the King)
Director: Peter Jackson
Cast: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler, Viggo Mortensen
Peter Jackson’s game-changing trilogy leaves Netflix at the end of the month — all three movies, for nine and a half hours of your viewing pleasure, with as many intermissions as you want (although time is starting to run out, so get on it). Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Viggo Mortensen, and Ian McKellen (though we could go on) star in the best cinematic adaptation of high fantasy ever created.
The story of Frodo Baggins and the One Ring is of course timeless, and the Lord of the Rings movies have also aged phenomenally well from their 2001-03 debuts, especially for how groundbreaking their special effects were. Beyond blockbusters, Jackson and his crew — including screenwriters Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh — made each film deeply personal. The love for J.R.R. Tolkien’s prose and humanistic themes comes through in every line. We could say more (a year’s worth of more), but we don’t want to take up another nine and a half hours of your time. —Susana Polo
The Lord of the Rings trilogy leaves Netflix April 1.
Genre: Crime thriller
Run time: 1h 34m
Director: Mike Hodges
Cast: Clive Owen, Nick Reding, Nicholas Ball
Clive Owen has made an entire film career out of being dapper, suave, smug, and just a wee bit condescending — basically being a James Bond type without ever actually getting to play Bond. But he’s never been all of the above things better or more intently than in the underseen 1998 gem Croupier, a crime thriller that sees Owen managing a table at a small casino and mentally narrating his own experience as he coldly, politely judges everyone around him. That includes his fellow croupiers, who all seem to be on the take or on the make, breaking the casino’s rules and looking for an edge. Eventually, he’s drawn into a complicated heist scheme that proves he isn’t quite as in control of the world as he imagines, but much of Croupier isn’t about the criminal plot — it’s about all the effort that goes into what seems like effortless cool. —Tasha Robinson
Croupier leaves Netflix March 26.
Genre: Thriller/science fiction
Run time: 2h 25 m
Director: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell, Max von Sydow, Samantha Morton
Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s short story introduced audiences to the idea of hand-gesture-assisted augmented reality and wall-scaling automobiles. Minority Report stars Tom Cruise as John Anderton, leader of a police organization dedicated to apprehending criminals before they’ve even committed a crime using a trio of psychics who invasively pore over the unconscious minds of every hapless American in the future. When Anderton himself is preemptively accused of committing a murder, he must flee from the very system he had dedicated his life to in order to uphold and undercover the dark secret behind its origins. —Toussaint Egan
Minority Report leaves Netflix April 1.
Genre: Biographical drama
Run time: 2h 50m
Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, Kate Beckinsale
Coming off of the massive creative undertaking of his 2002 dream project Gangs of New York, Martin Scorsese teamed up with Leonardo DiCaprio once again for a 2004 biopic chronicling the meteoric rise and subsequent fall of Howard Hughes, the charismatic aviation tycoon behind Trans World Airlines who pivoted to filmmaking with projects like 1930’s Hell’s Angels and 1932’s Scarface.
Scorsese’s film is a monument to the excess and latent corruption of the Roaring ’20s, encapsulated through the story of a man whose glamorous playboy lifestyle and incorrigible ego were dwarfed only by the subsequent tragedies of his later life, irreparably scarred by a horrific plane crash and wracked by the mental strain of a lifelong private battle with obsessive-compulsive disorder.
The Aviator, much like Hughes’ own career, is a dazzling spectacle of dizzying heights and precipitous lows rendered beautifully by Robert Richardson’s extravagant cinematography and the deft editing of longtime Scorsese collaborator Thelma Schoonmaker. At nearly three hours, the film’s run time may appear daunting at first, but The Aviator makes expert use of every minute, bobbing and weaving gracefully from one scene and set piece to the next before landing on a final note whose intimacy, desperation, and unwavering perseverance in the face of adversity is at once disquietingly tragic and profoundly moving. —TE
The Aviator leaves Netflix April 1.
Run time: 2h 10m
Director: Christopher Nolan
Cast: Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, Scarlett Johansson
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 lifelong 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 Hulu March 31.
Genre: Romantic adventure
Run time: 2h 4m
Director: Stephen Sommers
Cast: Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah
Oh, The Mummy, The Mummy — how do I even begin to proclaim my love for The Mummy? The Mummy is delightful. It is a romantic (and romanticized) escapade that starts off as a period piece before turning into a fantastical adventure (much like my other beloved, Pirates of the Caribbean). Brendan Fraser plays dashing rogue Rick O’Connell and Rachel Weisz plays plucky librarian Evelyn Carnahan, with John Hannah as her bumbling brother. It’s just plain fun, even if the historical aspect isn’t super accurate and even if a lot of things don’t really make sense. Fending off a scary mummy with a cat? Classic! Creepy flesh-eating beetles? Amazing! Evelyn’s drunk and passionate “I am a librarian!” ramble? Wonderful! —Petrana Radulovic
The Mummy leaves Hulu March 31.
Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy
Year: 2002; 2004; 2007
Run time: 2h 1m (Spider-Man); 2h 7m (Spider-Man 2); 2h 19m (Spider-Man 3)
Director: Sam Raimi
Cast: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco
Three of the best Marvel movies ever made are leaving Hulu, so catch ’em while you can. Yes, I said three.
With Sam Raimi’s latest Marvel movie out last year and new Spider-Man movies appearing left and right, we’ve talked quite a bit at Polygon about our love of his original trilogy of Spider-Man movies. With excellent use of Raimi’s horror background, a great cast with terrific villainous performances, and a strong moral center, it’s hard to beat.
I’ll happily join the masses in praising the first two movies, which are both excellent, but I’d like to take a moment to praise the third entry. It’s messy, sure, but in a really fascinating way (if you can get past the third act or all the Topher Grace-as-Venom stuff). In Spider-Man 3, the successes of the first two movies get to Peter’s head, leaving him as an inadequate Spidey and, most importantly, a very shitty boyfriend to Mary-Jane. Much of this movie is about what it means to be a present partner, something Peter fails terribly at. If you’re one of the many people who think this movie is simply a blight on the franchise, I encourage you to give it another go. —Pete Volk
Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy leaves Hulu March 31.
Leaving Prime Video
Genre: Heist thriller
Run time: 2h 2m
Director: John Frankenheimer
Cast: Robert De Niro, Jean Reno, Sean Bean
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 want 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 Prime Video March 31.
Genre: Crime thriller
Run time: 2h 9m
Director: Spike Lee
Cast: Denzel Washington, Clive Owen, Jodie Foster
A rare work-for-hire gig for director Spike Lee, 2006’s Inside Man is one of those have-cake-and-eat-it pleasures. It’s a slick, sinuous, puzzle-box thriller in which Clive Owen engineers a bank robbery that is never quite what it seems. Taking hostages, he locks wits with police detective Denzel Washington and high-flying fixer Jodie Foster, and the reversals, twists, and fake-outs topple happily from there. The cast is ludicrously overqualified: Willem Dafoe, Christopher Plummer, and Chiwetel Ejiofor all appear in smaller roles. And Lee doesn’t surrender his playful, needling edge just because he’s on popcorn duty. He builds a memorable, squabbling chorus of post-9/11 New York humanity around the edges of the film, while the plot cuts right into Wall Street’s rotten heart. —Oli Welsh
Inside Man leaves Prime Video March 31.
Devil in a Blue Dress
Genre: Neo-noir mystery/thriller
Run time: 1h 42m
Director: Carl Franklin
Cast: Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals
Carl Franklin’s adaptation of Walter Mosley’s excellent novel has it all: steamy noir Denzel, Don Cheadle in a “you have to see it to believe it” role, and all the necessary pieces for a great LA detective movie. It’s a crying shame we weren’t treated to many more Mosley adaptations with Denzel as Easy Rawlins. —PV
Devil in a Blue Dress leaves Prime Video March 31.
Run time: 2h 28m
Director: Lee Chang-dong
Cast: Yoo Ah-in, Jeon Jong-seo, Steven Yeun
Lee Chang-dong’s Burning easily ranks as one of the most engrossing psychological thrillers of the 2010s. Based on a short story by author Haruki Murakami, the film focuses on the story of Lee Jong-su (Yoo Ah-in), an aspiring writer who reunites with his childhood friend, Hae-mi (Jeon Jong-seo), after years apart … or does he? Soon after, Jong-su meets Ben (Steven Yeun), a “friend” of Hae-mi’s whose extravagant lifestyle, vague occupation, and seemingly ironclad hold over Hae-mi conjures feelings of suspicion and jealousy within Jong-su. When Hae-mi suddenly disappears one day, Jong-su’s desperate search to find her unearths a web of implications that shake him to his core. Burning is a mystery-thriller that thrives on insinuations conveyed through a triumvirate of masterful performances between Yoo, Jeon, and especially Yeun, whose portrayal as Ben is one of the most unsettling on-screen antagonists in recent memory. —TE
Burning leaves Prime Video March 31.
Genre: Romantic dramedy
Run time: 2h 5m
Director: Billy Wilder
Cast: Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray
Billy Wilder’s 1960 rom-com is often considered one of the greatest films ever made. That reputation is well earned.
The movie follows Bud Baxter (Jack Lemmon), a solitary office worker who lets executives at his company use his apartment for their extramarital affairs. He thinks this will help him move up in the massive insurance firm where he works. While he does get some material gains at work, the result is his superiors take more and more advantage of his time and space, leaving Bud unable to sleep in his own bed or access his own home.
When Bud falls for an elevator operator in the building (Shirley MacLaine), his desire to forge a relationship with her gives him the confidence to try to take control of his life back. But when Bud discovers she’s been having an affair in the apartment with his boss (Fred MacMurray), things get even more complicated.
It’s a heartfelt and hilarious romantic comedy, and Wilder deftly balances the combination of corporate fatigue and newfound love with the outstanding comedic abilities of the cast. The Apartment is one of those movies everyone should see at least once. —PV
The Apartment leaves Prime Video March 31.
The Man From Nowhere
Run time: 1h 59m
Director: Lee Jeong-beom
Cast: Won Bin, Kim Sae-ron, Kim Tae-hoon
Lee Jeong-beom’s 2010 action thriller The Man From Nowhere feels like a spiritual precursor to Derek Kolstad’s John Wick series, albeit more subdued and emotionally driven and as such less reliant on extravagant gun-fu theatrics and neo-noir comic book aesthetics. Won Bin plays Cha Tae-sik, a former special agent (now pawnshop keeper) who, despite living in self-imposed seclusion, forms an unlikely bond with So-mi (Kim Sae-ron), a young girl who lives in the same apartment complex. When So-mi mother’s steals a package of heroin from a ruthless gang of human traffickers and she and her daughter are abducted in an attempt to recover it, Cha Tae-sik embarks on a bloody conquest to exact revenge on them and rescue So-ni, all while the South Korean DEA attempts to unravel the mystery of his past and bring both him and the traffickers to justice.
The film is a methodical slow burn that explosively culminates in one of the most breathtaking knife-fight showdowns I’ve ever seen in an action film. Won Bin’s terse, nuanced performance is magnetic in its appeal, drawing the audience in while propelling the action forward. The fact that he has yet to appear in a single film since only adds to the allure and mystique of his presence here. Kim Sae-ron is terrific here as well, delivering a speech toward the tail end of the first act that’s beautiful and devastating in its emotional appeal. From its stirring performances, don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss-it action sequences, and engrossing score courtesy of Oldboy composer Shim Hyun-jung, The Man From Nowhere is a tremendous and gratifying action movie for anyone hungering for a more emotionally driven thrill ride. —TE
The Man From Nowhere leaves Prime Video March 31.
Leaving HBO Max
Before Sunrise and Before Sunset
Year: 1995; 2004
Run time: 1h 41m (Before Sunrise); 1h 20m (Before Sunset)
Director: Richard Linklater
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy
The Before trilogy feels like nothing short of a miracle. Had the story of Céline (Julie Delpy) and Jesse’s (Ethan Hawke) whirlwind Vienna romance simply concluded with Before Sunrise’s bittersweet ending, it alone would have easily endured as one of the greatest romantic dramas of its era. But when joined with 2004’s Before Sunset and 2013’s Before Midnight (not on HBO Max, but rentable and on Mubi), Richard Linklater’s decade-spanning romance culminates into something even more transcendent: a meditation on the peculiar tenacity and tenuousness of love under the strain of time and circumstance. To watch the Before trilogy is to experience something life-changing; I sincerely recommend sharing it with a loved one. —TE
Before Sunrise and Before Sunset leave HBO Max March 31.
Run time: 1h 37m
Director: Duncan Jones
Cast: Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey, Dominique McElligott
One of the all-time greats in the “Watch this movie without reading anything about it first” category, Moon reads like a model for all the small-scale, character-intense science fiction movies that followed it, from Ex Machina to Vesper. Sam Rockwell stars as a contractor working a solitary job overseeing resource-harvesting equipment on the moon. Kevin Spacey voices the robot that’s his only companion. Everything else that happens from there is left for the audience to unpack at their own speed, whether they get there ahead of the characters or not. It’s a tense, emotional, but ruthlessly low-key movie for smart, alert science fiction fans who can handle slow-burn drama. But if the quiet pacing ever feels too slow, spend some time admiring the production design, which gives Moon a grubby, lived-in tactile quality that feels as sterile as 2001: A Space Odyssey and as lived-in as a Star Wars movie at the same time. —TR
Moon leaves HBO Max March 31.
My Cousin Vinny
Run time: 1h 59m
Director: Jonathan Lynn
Cast: Joe Pesci, Ralph Macchio, Marisa Tomei
When two New Yorkers (including the Karate Kid himself, Ralph Macchio) are wrongly arrested for murder in Alabama, one of them calls his cousin (Joe Pesci), who has finally passed the bar exam after many, many attempts. That cousin, Vinny, and his fiancée Mona Lisa Vito (Marisa Tomei) travel to the Deep South to attempt to win a trial with the odds stacked against them.
A culture-clash comedy crossed with a legal drama, My Cousin Vinny works so well because of its central performances. Pesci is terrific as Vinny, at times overconfident, at times without confidence at all, but at all times caring deeply for his loved ones. But the real star of the show, of course, is Tomei, who rightly won an Oscar for this incredibly rich role, with a sharp and hilarious performance. —PV
My Cousin Vinny leaves HBO Max March 31.
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
Run time: 1h 27m
Directors: Jorma Taccone, Akiva Schaffer
Cast: Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, Akiva Schaffer
Pop icon Conner “Conner4Real” Friel steps on stage in a varsity jacket to an adoring crowd. He breaks out into the opening verse of his hit single “I’m So Humble”:
Bar none I am the most humblest/Number one at the top of the humble list/My apple crumble is by far the most crumblest/But I act like it tastes bad out of humbleness/The thing about me that’s so impressive/Is how infrequently I mention all of my successes/I pooh-pooh it when girls say that I should model/My belly’s full from all the pride I swallow
A hologram of Adam Levine pops on stage to sing a refrain. Suddenly, dozens of holograms are on stage, dancing with each other and generally being goofy. And then we cut to The Mariah Carey, reflecting on the importance of this song to her.
“I’m So Humble” — I instantly connected with that, because I’m the most humble person I know.
That’s the opening credits sequence of Lonely Island’s Popstar, one of the funniest movies of the decade and arguably the finest feature-length skit the SNL graduates have ever produced. The reliable trio of Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, and Akiva Schaffer (the latter two directed) play a famous former boy band group who have long since split up, with Samberg’s Conner as the only one to make a real solo career for himself. This movie’s got heart in the same way many of these comedies about adult-sized children do, but the real treat is the nonstop barrage of hilarious gags from start to finish, with pitch-perfect parody songs and a endless array of mind-blowing celebrity cameos. It’s a blast. —PV
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping leaves HBO Max March 31.
Showdown in Little Tokyo
Run time: 1h 19m
Director: Mark L. Lester
Cast: Dolph Lundgren, Brandon Lee, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa
It’s Dolph Lundgren and Brandon Lee doing a buddy-cop action movie — what more is there to say?
OK, I’ll give you a little more. Lundgren plays Chris Kenner, an American cop who was raised in Japan and is deeply tied to Japanese culture. Lee (in his third movie role, three years before The Crow) plays Johnny Murata, an American of mixed Japanese heritage who does not care much at all about Japanese culture. Together, they try to break up a yakuza ring in Little Tokyo in Los Angeles.
With kick-ass fight scenes, a hamming-it-up villain (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), and plenty of nearly nude Dolph Lundgren, Showdown in Little Tokyo is a lean 79 minutes of early-’90s action genre fare. A word of caution for those unfamiliar with the film: It includes a brief scene of sexual violence. —PV
Showdown in Little Tokyo leaves HBO Max March 31.