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DVD/Blu-ray Release Calendar: April 2016

All movies are 2015/16 releases unless otherwise noted. Availability: DVD | Blu-ray | Both Blu-ray and DVD

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailers

There were a few criticisms about J.J. Abrams' wildly successful first Star Wars film, most notably that the story beats are derivative (of A New Hope, in particular). That merely makes it the best Star Wars film in 32 years, rather than the greatest installment in the entire franchise. After the previous three films, we'll gladly take it. And the fact that some of the film's best moments involve new characters (including new cast additions Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, and Andy Serkis, plus BB-8, who plays himself) bodes well for future sequels. This home video release adds deleted scenes and a table read among numerous extras.

The Lady in the Van Trailers

Director Nicholas Hytner’s big-screen adaptation of Alan Bennett’s play tells the story of the bond Bennett (Alex Jennings) formed with Miss Shepherd, a homeless woman who lived in a van on his property for 15 years. Maggie Smith reprises her Olivier-nominated stage role in a performance that was praised by critics and rewarded with a Golden Globe nomination.

The Revenant Trailers

Director Alejandro González Iñárritu's first film since his best picture winner Birdman, The Revenant collected 12 Academy Award nominations of its own, with Iñárritu taking home the Oscar for best director for the second straight year. Based on Michael Punke's novelization of the story of early 19th century frontiersman Hugh Glass, this bleak, wintry revenge western stars Leonardo DiCaprio (also an Oscar winner) and Tom Hardy, and reunites the director with his Birdman cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, who collected his record-setting third consecutive Oscar win.

Phoenix Trailers

Barbara director Christian Petzold reunites with his frequent star Nina Hoss for this tale of a concentration-camp survivor, Nelly (Hoss), who searches post-war Berlin for her husband (Ronald Zehrfield). The trauma of the Holocaust is expressed both physically (Nelly undergoes reconstructive surgery for a facial wound) and emotionally (her husband doesn’t recognize her) as Nelly is pulled into a scheme by the man who may have betrayed her to the Nazis. With echoes of Hitchcock and a great central performance by Hoss, the film earned exceptional reviews in 2014 and 2015. This Criterion Collection release adds interviews and a documentary.

Son of Saul Trailers

This week's other Holocaust-related release is equally as acclaimed, and won an Academy Award (as best foreign language film) and the Grand Prix at Cannes on top of all that praise. László Nemes’ debut feature follows Saul Ausländer (Géza Röhrig), a Hungarian member of Auschwitz-Birkenau’s Sonderkommando, a group of Jewish prisoners isolated from the camp and forced to assist the Nazis in the machinery of extermination.

View DVD releases from previous months, or take a look at the latest titles just added to stream on Netflix and Amazon Instant Video.

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