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The 25 Best New Movies to Stream in May 2023

Ben Affleck’s ”Air,“ Jennifer Lopez’s ”The Mother“ and two anticipated Marvel movies hit streaming this month

Summer movie season is heating up, but if you can’t make it out to a theater, there are plenty of great films to stream at home in May. This month sees the streaming debut of Marvel Studios’ “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” which, judging by the box office, many of you skipped seeing in theaters. The sequel hits Disney+ on May 17, a week after the Disney+ streaming debut of the Tom Holland-fronted “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and a couple of days before the Jack Harlow-fronted “White Men Can’t Jump” remake debuts on Hulu.

The well-reviewed drama “Air” — written by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, directed by Affleck and starring both — comes to Prime Video on May 12 after an exclusive theatrical run, and Netflix has an Anna Nicole Smith documentary hitting on May 16.

All that and more, including a bevy of great library titles, make up our list of the best new movies to stream in May 2023.

“Parasite”

parasite-movie
Neon

HBO Max – May 1

The 2020 Oscar winner for Best Picture, Director and Original Screenplay, “Parasite” is a wildly compelling, moving and surprising story of class struggle through the eyes of two very different families. The Korean-language drama follows a low-income family that schemes to get jobs for a rich family without the rich family knowing they’re all related. What begins as a gambit to make more money soon takes a number of shocking twists and turns as director Bong Joon-ho unfurls a complex tale that’s essentially about the myth of socio-economic mobility. – Adam Chitwood

“Paper Moon”

paper-moon
Paramount Pictures

HBO Max – May 1

If you’re in the mood for a classic, 1973’s road trip comedy “Paper Moon” holds up tremendously well. Directed by Peter Bogdanovich, the film takes place during the Great Depression and stars real-life father and daughter Ryan and Tatum O’Neal as a con man and orphan who team up when the con man agrees to take the young girl from Gotham, Kansas to St. Joseph, Missouri. Heartwarming, hilarious and rich in character, “Paper Moon” is a classic for a reason. – Adam Chitwood

“Lord of Illusions: Director’s Cut”

lord-of-illusions
United Artists

HBO Max – May 1

In 1992 one of Clive Barker’s stories, called “The Forbidden,” was excellently adapted into “Candyman” by British filmmaker Bernard Rose. It was a sizable enough hit to spawn a franchise and to make Barker, the writer/director of 1987’s “Hellraiser,” hot again. A few years later, Barker took to adapting one of his own short stories, “The Last Illusion” (from 1985’s “Books of Blood” Volume 6). The resulting film is one of the most criminally overlooked films of the decade. Scott Bakula stars as Harry D’Amour, a hardboiled private eye who specializes in occult crimes and is drawn into an incredibly strange case involving a supernatural death cult and the murder of a prominent stage magician. (Even though its set in modern day, it could have just as easily been staged in a decade long ago; it’s closest cousin is probably the HBO movie “Cast a Deadly Spell” from 1991.) Barker conjures a world both familiar and untethered to our reality and Bakula is wonderful in the lead role, somewhat surprising considering audiences best knew him, at the time, from the squeaky clean sci-fi series “Quantum Leap.” What makes the movie’s arrival on HBO Max even groovier is the fact that it is the restored director’s cut, which gives the movie greater texture and nuance. If you’ve never seen it before, you’ll see it in the best possible way. You’ll be bewitched. – Drew Taylor

“Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow”

sky-captain-and-the-world-of-tomorrow
Paramount Pictures

HBO Max – May 1

If you’ve never seen “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow,” take a look and then remember that it was made back in 2004. The concept behind the movie, of shooting big name actors against a blue screen and adding everything – including sets, vehicles and creatures – in post-production is commonplace now but was downright revolutionary then. And while the movie was initially met with indifference, it has grown in estimation in the nearly two decades since its release, although Kerry Conran, the plucky writer/director behind the project, hasn’t made another movie since. (He has been attached to several high-profile projects.) Set in the late 1930s, Jude Law plays the title character, a fighter pilot hero, who goes up against mechanical monsters, sinister scientists and a plot to take over the world. (Joining him is Gwyneth Paltrow, Giovanni Rabisi, Angelina Jolie and a reanimated Laurence Olivier.) Not all of “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow” works; the performances are occasionally stiff and some of the homemade effects have aged poorly. But it’s also incredibly charming, carrying over the serialized hero phase of the 1990s (“The Rocketeer,” “The Shadow,” “The Phantom”) with newfangled technology and a kind of creative fearlessness. You might even wish there had been subsequent installments made; or at least for Conran to make another movie. – Drew Taylor

“Sorority Row” (2009)

sorority-row
Summit Entertainment

HBO Max – May 1

The early aughts were consumed with the so-called “torture porn” genre; the more extreme the better. Between 2004 and 2010 a new “Saw” movie was released the Friday before Halloween every year. This was the environment that “Sorority Row,” a loose (and extremely effective) remake of 1982’s “The House on Sorority Row,” entered. The movie was ultimately too clever, funny and smart to gain a foothold the way the “Saw” installments did, although it did eek out a small profit and, with any luck, will be crowned a future cult classic. Almost the entire movie takes place during a graduation party, where some sorority sisters are picked off, one by one, as revenge for the death of a sorority sister a year earlier. The cast of “Sorority Row” is a lot of fun, in a particularly time capsule-y way (both Rumer Willis and Audrina Partridge, yes, from “The Hills,” have major roles), with the girls getting to unleash some truly barbed quips in a way that probably wouldn’t be allowed today. They’re also responsible for characterizations fully formed enough that when the bodies start to drop, you’re actually sad to see them go. (The script was by Josh Stolberg and Pete Goldfinger, who have a background in comedy and the following year would be responsible for the script to Alexandre Aja’s brilliant “Piranha 3D.”) This is truly one of the lost horror gems of the period, ripe for rediscovery. Take a look. It might be your new favorite slasher movie. – Drew Taylor

“Attack the Block”

John Boyega Attack the Block
Optimum Releasing

Paramount+ – May 1

Before John Boyega joined the galaxy far, far away, he was just a kid in London battling invading space aliens in “Attack the Block.” Written and directed by Edgar Wright’s longtime friend and collaborator Joe Cornish (Wright has a producer credit on “Attack the Block”), the movie’s logline was cleverly delivered as “Inner city versus outer space.” And that’s pretty accurate – some very mean aliens crash land in a London housing project and a group of ne’er-do-well kids (or are they?) decide to take them out. What could have been a rote “Goonies” refresh is instead clever and insightful, with Cornish commenting on the socioeconomic divide of modern-day London and the marginalization of the country’s inner city youth (on both a micro and macro level). But “Attack the Block” is also one of the most fun movies you’re likely to ever watch, with winning performances (beyond Boyega, there’s the legendary Nick Frost in a supporting role and great turns by Luke Treadaway and future Doctor Who Jodie Whittaker) and a killer score co-composed by British electronic outfit Basement Jaxx (along with future Oscar-winner Steven Price). And at 88 minutes, you can watch and still have your whole night ahead of you. What’s better than that? – Drew Taylor

“Forgetting Sarah Marshall”

forgetting-sarah-marshall-jason-segel
Universal Pictures

Prime Video – May 1

If you’re in the mood for a romantic comedy with a bit of an R-rated edge, check out “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.” Jason Segel wrote and stars in the film as a man who’s just been dumped by his TV star girlfriend (played by Kristen Bell) and decides to go to Hawaii to get away… only to run into her and her new rock star boyfriend (played by Russell Brand) staying at the same hotel. Produced by Judd Apatow, the film is a swell mix of raunchy humor and genuine heart, and also stars Mila Kunis and Jonah Hill. – Adam Chitwood

“Hard Eight”

Samuel Goldwyn Company

Prime Video – May 1

If you’re already a fan of Paul Thomas Anderson because of more recent films like “Phantom Thread” or “Licorice Pizza,” why not watch his very first movie, the barely-released “Hard Eight?” Originally titled “Sydney” (still PTA’s preferred title) and an expansion of Anderson’s 1993 short film “Cigarettes & Coffee,” the movie debuted at the 1996 Cannes Film Festival to a somewhat muted response. But all of Anderson’s stylistic tics and thematic concerns are all there, right from the beginning – his roaming, zooming camera (operated by cinematographer Robert Elswit, who would become one of his regular collaborators in that first stretch), his obsession with doomed sad sacks (John C. Reilly, in his first of many PTA sad sacks) and his nimble control of both tone and texture. (“Hard Eight” is his most openly “crime movie” movie.) Philip Baker Hall, Gwyneth Paltrow and Samuel L. Jackson all turn in outstanding performances, in a story about a young hustler who is brought under the wing of a seasoned vet in dingy Reno, Nevada. It’s rare to see a filmmaking talent as fully formed as Paul Thomas Anderson was with “Hard Eight.” But considering the rest of his career, it’s not in the least bit surprising. He was always one to bet on. – Drew Taylor

“Moonrise Kingdom”

Bruce Willis in Moonrise Kingdom
Niko Tavernise/©Focus Features/Courtesy Everett Collection

Prime Video – May 1

Wes Anderson’s 2012 ode to young love still stands as one of his best films thus far, and is a wonderfully melancholic look at romance. “Moonrise Kingdom” takes place in and around a fictional New England island where an orphan boy escapes from scout camp to run away with a girl with whom he’s in love. The film chronicles their solo adventure with a mix of whimsy and sadness, as their story of unbridled joy is contrasted with the lonely relationships of the adults surrounding them. Anderson brought some of the stop-motion techniques he used on “Fantastic Mr. Fox” to this film, resulting in a delightfully whimsical take on your typical coming-of-age story. – Adam Chitwood

“Pokemon Detective Pikachu”

pokemon-detective-pikachu
Warner Bros.

Hulu – May 1

While “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” is currently all the rage (it just eclipsed the $1 billion mark at the global box office), but real heads know that “Pokémon Detective Pikachu” is the truly great based-on-a-Nintendo-videogame-franchise film. Smartly directed by former animator Rob Letterman and framed as a kind of Pokémon film noir, it stars Justice Smith as an aspiring Pokémon trainer who teams up with Detective Pikachu (voiced by Ryan Reynolds) to help solve a mystery that threatens the peaceful cohabitation of humans and Pokémon in Ryme City. What makes the movie so much fun is how the various Pokémon aren’t treated as fantastical creatures; they’re merely inhabitants of the same city. And cinematographer John Mathieson, perhaps best known for his collaborations with Ridley Scott, shot the movie on Kodak film with beautiful anamorphic lenses, which give the movie an earthy, lived-in texture. Even when the story occasionally falters, it’s always so much fun to watch, with visual effects that are genuinely dazzling and creatures that feel like they’re actually there. – Drew Taylor

“Hulk”

hulk-eric-bana-jennifer-connelly
Universal Pictures

Peacock – May 1

If you’re tired of the humdrum sense of deja-vu that greets most superhero movies (see below), then why not take a trip back to 2003, when an auteur (Ang Lee) was able to take on a beloved property (Marvel’s Hulk) and made the weirdest, artiest movie he possibly could. That is “Hulk,” which starred Eric Bana as Bruce Banner and Jennifer Connelly as Betty Ross. Instead of making a straight action movie, Lee created a literal living comic book, with the frame oftentimes broken up into panels, complete with splash page flourishes and one unforgettable moment where the scene freezes and he actually pulls out of that “panel” and scales down the page (with other moments from the same sequence represented by their own little boxes). It’s a trip. The style of the movie was totally obscured from marketing materials, although a New York Times feature included a quote from someone close to the movie who said “you think this was weird, you should have seen it six months ago,” implying that parent company Universal had tried to tame Lee’s wilder inclinations. The resulting movie is unlike anything seen in superhero cinema – before or since – a wild, psychoanalytical mash-up of daddy issues and fringe science. For those who love it, it’s a sacred pop art object. Come with us. – Drew Taylor

“American Graffiti”

american-graffiti
Lucasfilm

Netflix – May 1

Yes, his “Star Wars” changed the face of culture and still resonates today, clanging through streaming, movies, television and merchandise like an ominous Death Star siren. But we need to acknowledge George Lucas’ earlier film “American Graffiti” as his true masterpiece. It didn’t change the world. But it still had a pretty profound influence on cinema (more on that in a minute). Set in Lucas’ hometown of Modesto, California, “American Graffiti” is the prototypical hangout movie – one set over a single evening in 1962 (just a decade before the film was released) and following various characters as they bumble around trying to get lucky or make their dreams come true. The cast is astonishing (led by Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, Charles Martin Smith and the always underrated Paul Le Mat) and everything feels so real and relatable. It has been dinged for being too saccharine and nostalgic but the movie’s coda is anything but; if anything this is capturing a moment in time of these characters’ lives before it all goes downhill. Without “American Graffiti,” it can be argued that we wouldn’t have “Happy Days” (set in the 1950’s) or the hangout masterpieces by director Richard Linklater like “Dazed and Confused” or even something like Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Licorice Pizza,” which not only borrowed from the movie’s format but it even yanked the font that early Lucasfilm used. Watching this movie is like spending time with an old friend. It’s just the best. – Drew Taylor

“Austin Powers” Trilogy

austin-powers-goldmember
New Line Cinema

Netflix – May 1

How has there not been another “Austin Powers” movie by now? The movies – released in 1997, 1999 and 2002 – were the hottest comedy franchise in the world. And the first movie wasn’t even a huge hit theatrically; it gained popularity on home video. But it’s a movie about a spy (played by series mastermind Mike Myers) who is frozen in the 1960s and woken up in the 1990s. In the two sequels he’s traveling around through time. Couldn’t he be frozen in 2002 and woken up in 2023? Sigh. At least we have the three movies, perfect time capsules each, full of wacky characters (many also portrayed by Myers), double-entendres and gross-out gags. It was a simpler time. A funnier time. And one that would maybe be impossible to replicate if you tried it today. But oh the shagadelic times we had. – Drew Taylor

“This Is the End”

this-is-the-end
Sony Pictures

Netflix – May 1

When Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the screenwriters behind “Superbad,” set out to make their directorial debut, few could have predicted something as meta and outrageously funny as “This Is the End.” The film is an apocalyptic comedy set in Los Angeles that’s anchored by a friendship – oh and the actors are all playing versions of themselves. Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel are the centerpiece as the duo’s strained friendship gets put to the test when the world ends, and they’re trapped at James Franco’s house alongside Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, Danny McBride and more cameos than you can shake a stick at. The finale is aces. – Adam Chitwood

“A Man Called Otto”

Sony Pictures

Netflix – May 6

It’s weird to describe a film with the premise of “A Man Called Otto” as “feel-good,” but that’s where this 2022 Tom Hanks drama goes. Based on the 2012 novel “A Man Called Ove,” the film stars Hanks as a widower who is grieving the recent loss of his wife. After retiring from his job, he prepares for suicide, but his attempts keep getting interrupted by friends and neighbors who care for the curmudgeon. – Adam Chitwood

“Spider-Man: Homecoming”

spider-man-homecoming
Sony Pictures

Disney+ – May 12

At long last, “Spider-Man” is coming to Disney+. The streaming service has long played host to most every Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, but the Tom Holland Spider-Man films have remained elusive – until now. Starting May 12, you’ll be able to stream the delightful Jon Watts-directed 2017 solo film “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” which made audiences fall in love with Holland’s Peter Parker. Inspired by John Hughes’ teen movies of the 1980s, this Spider-Man movie embraces what it’s really like to be a kid with superpowers. And Michael Keaton makes for a delectable villain. – Adam Chitwood

“Crater”

crater
Disney+

Disney+ – May 12

A young boy (Isaiah Russell-Bailey) loses his father (played by Scott Mescudi aka Kid Cudi) and sets off on an adventure with a bunch of his friends (including “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” breakout Mckenna Grace, Billy Barratt, Orson Hong and Thomas Boyce) to a mysterious crater. So basically a moon-set “Goonies?” “Moonies,” if you will? There have been worse pitches. And considering “Stranger Things” producer Shawn Levy and his 21 Laps production company are behind “Crater,” along with director Kyle Patrick Alvarez (“The Stanford Prison Experiment,” the second season of “Homecoming”), we’re in very good hands. This could be a fun sleeper – and one you can watch with the whole family. — Drew Taylor

“The Mother”

the-mother-netflix-jennifer-lopez
Netflix

Netflix – May 12

Because this Mother’s Day, don’t you want to see a mother kicking an unholy amount of ass? Us too! “The Mother” stars Jennifer Lopez as a former assassin who comes out of retirement to save her estranged daughter. If that wasn’t cool enough, the movie comes from “Lovecraft Country” mastermind Misha Green (the final script is credited to Green, Andrea Berloff and “The Batman” writer Peter Craig) and “Whale Rider” and “Mulan” director Niki Caro. Additionally, the movie features a colorful supporting cast (including turns by Joseph Fiennes, Omari Hardwick and Gael Garcia Bernal) and music by “Encanto” composer Germaine Franco. Time to make a reservation with “The Mother.” – Drew Taylor

“Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie”

STILL_ A Michael J. Fox Movie
Courtesy of Apple TV+

Apple TV+ – May 12

An absolutely wonderful documentary. “Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie” follows the “Family Ties” and “Back to the Future” star as he rose to success and then came crashing down, faced with the sobering reality of a Parkinson’s diagnosis. Featuring vintage clips along with new interviews with Fox (and narration by the star, cribbed from his two memoirs), this is the definitive portrait of a performer who helped encapsulate an entire decade and whose struggles in the years since have become an inspiration for us all. And while you might assume that it will make you cry, that is very much true, but the liveliness of the project – the way that it is put together, combining clips of the star on talk shows, moments from his movies, careful reenactments and new footage of the actor attempting basic tasks and spending time with his family – makes it ultimately uplifting. (And if you grew up with the star, seeing all of the old clips is a lot of fun.) The movie, directed by “An Inconvenient Truth” filmmaker Davis Guggenheim (who is married to Fox’s “Back to the Future: Part II” co-star Elisabeth Shue) premiered at Sundance earlier this year to rapturous reviews and should be a big hit on Apple TV+, home to other terrific documentaries like “The Velvet Underground,” “Boys State” and “Beastie Boys Story.” – Drew Taylor

“Air”

ben-affleck-air
Amazon Studios

Prime Video – May 12

Have you ever wondered how Nike secured the rights to Michael Jordan’s likeness and created the unstoppable Air Jordan brand? Well, even if you haven’t, here’s a movie that explains it anyway. Matt Damon stars as Sonny Vaccaro, a plucky employee of upstart Nike (which was on the verge of shutting down its basketball division), who comes across a Freshman player that he thinks has what it takes – Michael Jordan (who is never fully seen, just glimpsed in archival footage and from the neck down). He’s got to convince his boss, Phil Knight (Ben Affleck), his fellow Nike colleagues (including Chris Tucker and Jason Bateman) and, most crucially, Jordan’s parents (played by real-life couple Viola Davis and Julius Tennon). Oddly charming and uplifting for a movie nakedly about the triumph of capitalism, it is smartly directed by Affleck and features a ton of winning performances. Even if you don’t care about the Air Jordan brand and how it was secured by Nike, you’ll still be utterly riveted. – Drew Taylor

“Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves”

Rege-Jean Page plays Xenk and Chris Pine plays Edgin in Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves from Paramount Pictures and eOne.

Paramount+ – May 16

One of 2023’s biggest – and very best – surprises, “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” takes the beloved role-playing game (first published back in 1974) and makes it a big, rich, hilarious fantasy adventure. Chris Pine plays a bard and former spy who teams up with a barbarian (Michelle Rodriguez), a sorcerer (Justice Smith), a shape-shifting druid (Sophia Lillis) and a knight (Regé-Jean Page) to take down a charlatan (Hugh Grant) who is in cahoots with some very dark wizards. Somehow, the movie was able to replicate the anything goes, improvisational spirit of actually playing “Dungeons & Dragons,” without ever getting bogged down in the lore and cumbersome mythology that derails so many of these types of movies. (If you’ve never rolled a six-sided dice in your life, you’ll still have a great time.) Smartly directed by Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley, whose last film was the unimpeachable classic “Game Night,” the filmmakers make sure to fill every frame with color, imagination and very good jokes. Put aside your preconceived notions of what the original role-playing game was (or the awful 2000 movie that saw Jeremy Irons acting opposite a jerkily animated dragon) and just go along for the ride. It’s just the best. – Drew Taylor

“Anna Nicole Smith: You Don’t Know Me”

anna-nicole-smith-image
Netflix

Netflix – May 16

In keeping with Netflix’s trend of compelling documentaries about public figures, “Anna Nicole Smith: You Don’t Know Me” promises an unflinching and revealing look at the life and death of the model and actress. The documentary boasts access to never-before-seen footage, home movies, and interviews with key figures who have not spoken out until now, and was directed by Ursula Macfarlane who also directed the Harvey Weinstein documentary “Untouchable.” – Adam Chitwood

“Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania”

(L-R): Kathryn Newton as Cassandra "Cassie" Lang and Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man in Marvel Studios' ANT-MAN AND THE WASP: QUANTUMANIA.
Marvel Studios

Disney+ – May 17

Phase Five of the Marvel Cinematic Universe slouches to life with “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” which probably isn’t as bad as you’ve probably heard but isn’t some kind of lost classic either. In the third “Ant-Man” movie, Scott Lang aka Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and the extended Ant-family, including his girlfriend Hope aka the Wasp (Evangeline Lilly), his daughter Cassie (Kathryn Newton) and Hope’s parents, the original Ant-Man and the Wasp (Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfeiffer) get sucked into the Quantum Realm, a kind of microscopic universe, where they battle a deadly new foe named Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors). Gone are the low-stakes shenanigans of the previous two “Ant-Man” movies; they have been replaced with “Avengers”-sized action and a ton of nebulous computer-generated imagery that a lot of hardworking visual effects artists toiled on but didn’t come out very well, either because of a lack of artistic vision or overbearing corporate micromanagement. (One of the coolest aspects of Ant-Man, the extreme mixture of different scales, is totally lost when the background is a computerized blur. He’s really big now? How can we tell?) All of that aside, there are a few yuks to be had (Corey Stoll returns as M.O.D.O.K., a bizarre new character and Bill Murray shows up in an extended cameo as a morally compromised goofball) and Rudd and the rest of the gang are as charming and engaging as ever, even if they aren’t given much to do. Majors is also excellent as Kang, a character who Marvel was basing the next couple of years of movies around before he was brought in on domestic violence charges, leaving his fate (and the character’s fate) very much up in the air. If you missed “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” in theaters (judging by the box office, you did) and want to fill this Quantum Realm-sized hole in your MCU knowledge, now is a perfect time to catch up. – Drew Taylor

“White Men Can’t Jump” (2023)

White-Men-Can't-Jump
Hulu

Hulu – May 19

Was anyone asking for a remake of “White Men Can’t Jump,” Ron Shelton’s terrific 1991 sports comedy starring Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson? Well, they made one anyway. This new version (what Disney refers to as a “remix”) stars “Teen Wolf” actor Sinqua Walls and rapper Jack Harlow in the lead roles and rapper Vince Staples, multihyphenate Teyana Taylor and “Spider-Man: Homecoming” breakout Laura Harrier in the supporting cast. The script for this new “White Men Can’t Jump” is co-written by Kenya Barris, the creator of “black-ish” and the director of recent Netflix comedy “You People,” with directorial duties being handled by Calmatic, who was responsible for the underrated “House Party” remake from earlier this year. (Remaking ‘90s comedies is a very specific lane but hey, why not?) And Harlow collaborator DJ Drama provides the score. Will this be a slam dunk or an airball? We’re very close to finding out. – Drew Taylor