The best movies new to streaming this May

May is finally here, and with it comes a slate of some of the year’s most anticipated movie premieres. Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, I Saw The TV Glow, and Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes are this month’s must-see theatrical releases, but if you’re looking for the best movies new to streaming on Netflix, Hulu, Max, and more this May, you’ve come to the right place.

This month, we’ve got Jonathan Demme’s classic concert film Stop Making Sense, Lana Wachowski’s divisive yet exhilarating The Matrix Resurrections, Baz Luhrmann’s maximalist music biopic Elvis, and more.

Here are the movies new to streaming services you should watch this month.


Editor’s pick

Stop Making Sense

David Byrne performs alongside the Talking Heads in Stop Making Sense Image: Vivendi Entertainment

Where to watch: Max
Genre: Concert film
Director: Jonathan Demme

It’s been 40 years since one of the great American rock bands released one of the greatest concert films of all time, and now you can stream it in your beautiful house, with your beautiful wife.

Stop Making Sense is just 88 minutes long, and it isn’t only lean from a run time perspective; the film contains pretty much nothing beyond the performances of 16 songs, assembled from recordings of four shows at Los Angeles’ Pantages Theatre in December 1983. But what’s there is all that’s needed.

Director Jonathan Demme (The Silence of the Lambs) uses very few crowd shots, a marked contrast from most concert films. Along with the spare staging designed by frontman David Byrne, this decision keeps the focus almost entirely on the nine musicians on stage: the Talking Heads foursome of Byrne, Chris Frantz, Tina Weymouth, and Jerry Harrison, plus five others — Lynn Mabry, Edna Holt, Bernie Worrell, Steve Scales, and Alex Weir. If the music alone somehow isn’t enough to get your blood flowing, the band members’ boundless exuberance will fill your heart with joy and appreciation for this thrilling document of artists at their peak.

I have to admit that I came to my Talking Heads fandom relatively late. As such, the very first time I saw Stop Making Sense was actually in a movie theater, thanks to A24’s theatrical rerelease last fall. The documentary was painstakingly restored in 4K resolution with audio newly remixed in Dolby Atmos spatial sound, from source materials (for both video and audio) that were thought to be lost. The film itself has always been timeless; now it looks that way, too. —Samit Sarkar


New on Netflix

The Matrix Resurrections

a silhouetted Neo walks toward a coffee shop called Simulatte in The Matrix Resurrections Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

Genre: Sci-fi action
Director: Lana Wachowski
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II

How many creators can return to their first breakout work decades later and make something fresh — much less with a work as groundbreaking as The Matrix? Lana Wachowski’s 2021 follow up to the Matrix trilogy kicks and screams joyfully against the studio franchise system in which it’s embedded.

The Matrix Resurrections begins bafflingly with Neo (Keanu Reeves) entrapped once again in the Matrix, this time in the guise of the Game Award-winning creator of a globally successful video game franchise called The Matrix. His already tenuous sense of reality warps after a chance meeting with a woman named Tiffany (Carrie-Anne Moss) in a coffee shop, and things get trippy from there.

The Matrix Resurrections ends with love and the power of true connection conquering evil. It’s a fantastic installment of the “I don’t know what’s happening anymore but I don’t care” canon. —Susana Polo

New on Hulu

Elvis

Elvis sings into microphone as fans stretch their arms out toward him Image: Warner Bros.

Genre: Biographical drama
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Cast: Austin Butler, Tom Hanks, Olivia DeJonge

Baz Luhrmann’s typically maximalist take on the life of Elvis Presley can be divisive, often depending on the viewer’s opinions of Presley as a man — or their tolerance for Tom Hanks doing a silly voice in heavy latex as his demonic manager Colonel Tom Parker. It now makes a fascinating (and not entirely contradictory) counterpoint to Sofia Coppola’s much more understated and nuanced woman’s-eye-view, Priscilla.

But Luhrmann’s interest is really in Elvis as a performer, and the movie’s main virtue is a series of transporting, energetic, thrillingly sound-mixed concert scenes that illustrate Presley’s generational genius for rock’n’roll iconography and stagecraft. It also gave us the rare gift of a brand-new, top-tier movie star in Austin Butler — who may have (finally) dropped the accent, but seems to have decided that the wide-eyed Southern gentleman act is a keeper, and it’s really working for him. —Oli Welsh

New on Max

The Lighthouse

Thomas (Willem Dafoe) and Ephraim (Robert Pattinson) in front of the lighthouse. Image: A24

Genre: Period horror
Director: Robert Eggers
Cast: Robert Pattinson, Willem Dafoe, Valeriia Karamän

Robert Eggers is set to return later this year with a remake of the German Expressionist horror classic Nosferatu, starring Bill Skarsgård and Nicholas Hoult. Eggers has always had a penchant for period horror, as any fan of his 2015 debut The Witch can attest, but his 2019 follow-up starring Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson is arguably his most psychologically bracing film to date.

Set in the 1890s — and loosely inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s unfinished short story of the same name — The Lighthouse centers on two lighthouse attendants who are forced to live and work alongside one another on a small island off the short of New England. As the length of their assignment wears on, so too does the patience and sanity of the pair wear thin, as otherworldly visions and brutal confrontations erupt under the ethereal glow of the lighthouse’s beacon. As nightmarish as it is darkly hilarious, The Lighthouse is easily one of stylistically distinct and unnerving horror movies of the 2010s. —Toussaint Egan

New on Prime Video

The Birdcage

Robin Williams look downwards with his arms crossed. He is wearing a backwards white baseball hat, an unbuttoned collared shirt, and a white undershirt with sunglasses hanging off it. Nathan Lane stands next to him in a pink top, with his hands covering his face in shock. Image: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/United Artists

Genre: Comedy
Director: Mike Nichols
Cast: Robin Williams, Gene Hackman, Nathan Lane

In 1996, when the most successful movies to feature the lives of gay men were tragic, AIDS-focused dramas, The Birdcage was like a canary among crows.

Above the titular bustling Miami drag club, lives proprietor Armand (Robin Williams) and his partner Albert (Nathan Lane), aka club headliner Starina. Between them they lovingly raised Armand’s son Val (Dan Futterman), who is now all grown up and bringing his fiancée (Calista Flockhart) home to meet his parents. The only problem? She wants to bring her parents, an arch-conservative senator (Gene Hackman) and wife (Dianne Wiest), and they think Armand is straight. Farce ensues.

Made in the thick of the AIDS crisis (even Lane was still in the closet), The Birdcage stood out for being a gut-busting comedy about low-stakes queer family drama. Nestled inside that comedy, however, is a load of pointed satire of mainstream masculinity, gender roles, and conservative politics that remain relevant today. —SP

New on Criterion Channel

Don’t Look Now

A man screaming in pain while holding the body of a young girl in a red raincoat drenched in water in Don’t Look Now. Image: Paramount Home Entertainment

Genre: Horror thriller
Director: Nicolas Roeg
Cast: Julie Christie, Donald Sutherland, Hilary Mason

Nicolas Roeg’s 1973 masterpiece is one of the most haunting movies ever — a dreamlike ghost story set in a fogbound, off-season Venice that seems to crumble and dissolve before your eyes, suspended above the placid waters of the Venetian Lagoon. This physical location is a perfect match for the movie’s psychological location: the tender but devastated marriage of Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie’s characters. They are grieving the death of their young daughter in an accidental drowning when a medium tells them the little girl is trying to get through to them and warn them of something. The hugely influential non-linear editing flits between moody atmospherics, frightening precognitions, and one of the most intimate and erotic sex scenes ever filmed. One of the great horror films — in fact, one of the great films, period. —OW