May is finally here, and not only does that mean that summer is nearly upon us, it means there’s a whole new slate of movies to watch on Netflix, HBO Max, Hulu, Paramount Plus, and more.
To help you choose what to watch next, we’ve put together a list of the 13 best movies new to streaming in May. Here’s what you should make plans to watch this month.
A Scanner Darkly
2006’s A Scanner Darkly is the only Phillip K. Dick adaptation that feels as disorienting to watch as the actual experience of reading a Philip K. Dick novel. Keanu Reeves stars as an undercover narcotics agent posing as an addict on an assignment to bust the supplier of a highly addictive narcotic known as Substance D. When his own cover identity is implicated as the prime suspect, he’ll have to stay one step ahead of his superiors and unsuspecting stoner cohort in order to nab the true culprit and clear his name — at least, that’s what he thinks is happening.
A film that vacillates between being a dystopian psychological thriller about the nihilistic futility of the war on drugs and an absurdist black comedy about perma-fried goofballs trying to survive (and get high) in a surveillance state, A Scanner Darkly is a bewildering and memorable experience thanks to its inventive use of rotoscope animation and a trio of standout supporting performances courtesy of Winona Ryder, Robert Downey Jr., and Woody Harrelson. —Toussaint Egan
A Scanner Darkly is streaming on Criterion Channel.
“We rub shoulders with each other every day. We may not know each other, but we may become good friends some day ... At the closest point of our intimacy, we were just 0.01 centimeters from each other. Fifty-seven hours later, I fell in love with this woman.”
So begins Wong Kar-wai’s 1994 masterpiece, made on a shoestring budget in just two months while taking a break from his wuxia epic Ashes of Time. Chungking Express tells two stories of love and heartbreak in Hong Kong over the course of its 98-minute running time, bringing to life the chance encounters that can make city life feel special while providing plenty of moments of levity and joy (one character buys a can of pineapples that expire on the same day for an entire month as a breakup coping mechanism).
A beautiful movie about life, love, and loss in a big city, Chungking Express is one of the 20th century’s most remarkable films, deftly balancing moments of romance, comedy, and melancholy. With striking cinematography that alternates between colorful comfort and blurry alienation, a memorable score that makes repeated use of The Mamas & the Papas’ “California Dreamin’,” and layered performances by the gorgeous lead actors, Chungking Express is one of those all-time greats everybody should experience at least once. —PV
Chungking Express is available on HBO Max.
Devil in a Blue Dress
Based on Walter Mosley’s novel of the same name, the 1995 neo-noir mystery Devil in a Blue Dress stars Denzel Washington as Ezekiel “Easy” Rawlins, an African American World War II veteran attempting to earn a living in 1948 Los Angeles. Desperate to earn some cash so he can keep his home, Easy accepts a job offer from an unscrupulous P.I. to track down a missing white woman hiding somewhere in the city’s Black community. However, no sooner does he find her than Easy finds himself ensnared in a deadly conspiracy involving crooked cops, ruthless politicians, and cold-blooded murder.
Devil in a Blue Dress takes the tried and tested tropes of your average Chandler-esque whodunit and turns them on their head, centering the plot on a rich cast of Black characters who never come across as one-note caricatures. With a charismatic lead performance by Washington and a scene-stealing supporting role by Don Cheadle as his unhinged, trigger-happy sidekick, Mouse, Devil in a Blue Dress is an absolute knockout of a film. —TE
Devil in A Blue Dress is available to stream on HBO Max.
A Finnish horror movie that doubles as a satire of online culture, Hatching follows Tinja, a 12-year-old girl who has been the subject of her parents’ video blog for seemingly her entire life. When Tinja comes across a strange egg and brings it home, it quickly grows before ... well, hatching into a creature nicknamed “Alli.”
From our review:
But Alli is a mesmerizing presence that gives the film a cultish shivery center. Bergholm tells Polygon that she literally Googled the world’s best specialist in movie animatronics, then reached out to him about working on the film. That bold choice paid off: Her animatronics supervisor, Gustav Hoegen, came directly to this film from running practical creature-effects teams for Lucasfilm, on Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Solo, The Last Jedi, Rogue One, and The Force Awakens. Her SFX makeup head, Conor O’Sullivan, comes with a similar pedigree, as half of the Oscar-nominated effects duo who gave Heath Ledger his grotesque leer as the Joker in The Dark Knight. Together, they and their teams make Alli hideously visceral, with the familiar weight and conviction of a practical effect instead of a CG effect. And Solalinna’s performance with the puppet is convincing and distressing. Together, they carry the movie past its weaker points to a memorable ending.
Hatching will be available to stream on Hulu May 6.
Mamma mia, mamma mia, how do I begin to extol praises for cinematic masterpiece Mamma Mia!? You may have seen some reviews that shook their heads and called it drunken karaoke, and y’know, they aren’t wrong per se, but that is exactly what makes Mamma Mia! so wonderful. The cast just looks like they are having the time of their lives as they frolic about a picturesque Greek island, belting out ABBA songs. The songs are infectious, and the big musical numbers feel so vibrant. Mamma Mia! is a celebration of womanhood, of friendship, of mothers and daughters — with some hot silver foxes in the mix for flavor. It is impossible to be sad while listening to ABBA, and it is extra impossible to be sad watching Meryl Streep triumphantly dance to “Dancing Queen” and pull in every woman in a 50-mile radius, reminding them that no matter how old they are, they are still Dancing Queens at heart. —Petrana Radulovic
Mamma Mia! is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.
Road to Perdition
Sam Mendes’ Depression-era gangster drama stars Tom Hanks as Mike Sullivan Sr., henchman to Illinois crime boss John Rooney. After Sullivan is captured by the police following a mob hit, Rooney’s son Connor deems him a loose end and puts a hit out on both him and his family. With his entire family murdered, save for his son Michael Jr. (Tyler Hoechlin), the Sullivans take to the road and embark on a quest for revenge and redemption. Road to Perdition is as visually evocative as it is thematically challenging, with cinematographer Conrad Hall’s atmospheric lighting creating a moody tableau of stark silhouettes that would feel right at home in an Edward Hopper painting. —TE
Road to Perdition is available to stream on Netflix.
T2: Judgment Day
If 1984’s classic Terminator is sci-fi with a hint of slasher horror, James Cameron’s 1991 follow-up is sci-fi mixed with big-budget action. After the events of the first movie, Skynet sends an even more advanced Terminator model (Robert Patrick) to kill John Connor. The human resistance sends an older model of Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) back to help him. With astounding special effects that broke ground in the use of computer-generated visuals, T2 still looks amazing and packs a hard punch to this day. —PV
T2: Judgment Day is available to stream on HBO Max.
The Resident Evil Movies
I want to start by saying I recognize, especially writing at a site that covers video games quite extensively, that I’ve lost many of you here. I know these movies are controversial, especially among die-hard fans of the games. But let me speak plainly: I did not play the games, I love the Resident Evil movies, and I hope you’ll give them a chance, too.
Ultimate cinematic wife guy Paul W.S. Anderson directed four of the movies in the original series and wrote all six, imbuing them with a chaotic energy fitting the subject matter and a strong visual language that produces unforgettable locations, images, and set-pieces. The series is an excellent display of his wife Milla Jovovich’s outstanding skills as a lead action star, and while fans of the games may complain about how much the movies stray from the source material, that does not stop them from kicking all sorts of ass.
The series was also an interesting exercise in franchise filmmaking. While the core creative group remained mostly the same and the franchise did not stray away from zombie movies, the movies jump within zombie subgenres, and Milla Jovovich’s Alice is constantly getting restarted and rebooted like a video game protagonist. While the first movie, released in 2002, is mostly straight horror, the sequel Apocalypse starts to lean into action, and the third movie, Extinction (directed by Highlander director Russel Mulcahy), is a zombie Western. It only gets wilder from there, with a trilogy of hard-hitting action movies to finish out the series.
But hey, if you’re more interested in a more faithful adaptation of the games, there’s always the new one. —PV
The Resident Evil movies are available to stream on Hulu.
War of the Worlds
Steven Spielberg’s 2005 adaptation of War of The Worlds reimagines H.G. Wells’ classic sci-fi disaster drama for the post-9/11 world. Starring Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning, Spielberg’s film follows a divorced dock worker who struggles to protect his children in the wake of an alien invasion that precedes to devastate the planet.
Trekking across the country in hopes of reuniting his son and daughter with their mother, the trio witness horrors brought about not only by the inscrutable machinations of this otherworldly threat, but also by the violent desperation of their fellow survivors. 2005’s War of the Worlds is an excellent sci-fi drama and a cultural artifact of a time when our own institutions grappled with the reality of a terror previously thought unimaginable. —TE
War of the Worlds is available to stream on Netflix.
When Harry Met Sally
Rob Reiner’s When Harry Met Sally is an unassailable classic among romantic comedies. Starring Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan, the film follows the story of the title characters’ blossoming friendship and eventual romance through 12 years of chance encounters. More than just a question of “Will they or won’t they,” the drama, humor, and heart of When Harry Met Sally is rooted in the question of whether men and women can ever be friends. In search of that answer, Harry and Sally find both that and so much more; they find each other. —TE
When Harry Met Sally is available to stream on Netflix.