Last month was eclectic. We got Disney‘s like-it-or-hate-it box-office bomb, a sweet and violent comedy following the goons of hockey, one ass-kicking and nonstop action picture, an 80s TV show adaptation that was better than it originally had any right to be, and a Tarsem kids’ film that defied most expectations based on that horror story of a trailer.

A pretty strong March, and that’s not even counting The Hunger Games.

Before we head into the unpredictable summer movie season, we got 30 days filled with a plenty of excellent and probably not-so-excellent releases coming out. Here are 8 1/2 movies worth seeing this month.

The Hunter

Opens April 6th, and is now available on VOD.

This is essentially The Willem Dafoe show, seeing as he’s present in about every scene and giving the type of performance we expect. Not to say it’s a predictable turn; it’s just assured and commanding, the type we see Dafoe give all the time. The film itself is a thoroughly quiet and engaging character-driven story.

Damsels in Distress

Opens April 6th.

If you’re a Whit Stillman fan, you’re probably prepped and ready to devour Damsels in Distress. And if you’ve been waiting feverishly for his return, don’t expect a disappointment, because Damsels in Distress is about as uncynical, clever, and joyful as a film can get. Like Stillman’s previous works, it’s a great hangout picture: you simply love watching his characters.

The Cabin in the Woods

Opens April 13th.

There wasn’t a soul — at least, one that I know of — who did not adore The Cabin of the Woods at SXSW. I recently heard someone describe the film as “giving me all the goodies I needed,” and that’s a fitting description. Director Drew Goddard‘s long-awaited film is neither a satire or spoof, but a refreshingly original new piece of horror filmmaking. A fantastic comedy and a solid horror movie to boot.

Lockout

Opens April 13th.

Alright, this will more than likely be trash — complete, utter, and possibly bad trash. Why is this a “must-see” then? I don’t know, maybe because it’s got Guy Pearce kicking ass and cracking constant one-liners? That’s reason enough. Guy Pearce, a tremendous actor, has never had a presence that’s screamed “action hero!”; based on the trailers, it looks as though he might prove this misguided sentiment wrong.

The Three Stooges

Opens April 13th.

This doesn’t count as a full entry. It’s only 1/2 since it’ll either end up being a jaw-dropping trainwreck of unfunny — as the first trailer promised — or a worthwhile passion project from the Farrelly brothers, who historically have more hits than misses under their belt.

Girls 

Premieres April 15th.

Yes, yes, this is a big fat cheat — but it’s still worth getting excited about even if it’s on the small screen. Our resident nutcase Kate Erbland nailed the hilarity of Lena Dunham‘s Girls perfectly. It’s a funny, sad, and awkward show, the best kind you’d expect from HBO and something with Judd Apatow‘s name on it.

Sound of My Voice

Opens April 27th.

I saw Zal Batmanglij‘s debut feature (and Sundance darling) over a year ago, and I was floored by it — along with Rob Hunter. The work co-writer/star Brit Marling and Mike Cahill did with Another Earth is impressive, but it doesn’t match Sound of My Voice. This is an intense, smart, and unique film, one that is sure to gain a following befitting of its mysterious lead.

Bernie

Opens April 27th.

Jack Black‘s second collaboration with Richard Linklater is as satisfying as their first (the excellent School of Rock). Linklater takes an absurd, dark true story and makes a heart-warming — though, admittedly, mildly disturbing — story out of it. Bernie chronicles the true events of the nicest murderer you’ll ever see on the big screen, the titular character played by a subdued Jack Black, possibly giving his best performance yet.

The Five-Year Engagement

Opens April 27th.

The idea of pairing Jason Segel and Emily Blunt — two of the most likable screen presences you can find these days — is quite a smart move on Nicholas Stoller‘s part. Stoller has proven himself capable at eliciting big laughs and a surprising amount of heart, and the premise of The Five-Year Engagement certainly lends itself to both of those qualities.

Honorable MentionsHeadhunters, The Pirates! Band of Misfits, Marley


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