The Best Movies and TV Shows Coming to Netflix, Amazon and More in May

The Best Movies and TV Shows Coming to Netflix, Amazon and More in May

The Best Movies and TV Shows Coming to Netflix, Amazon and More in May

The Best Movies and TV Shows Coming to Netflix, Amazon and More in May

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The summer movie season may be delayed this year — or even canceled — but the streaming services still seem to be treating May as the time to start trotting out blockbusters. The accomplished television creators Ryan Murphy, Greg Daniels, Loren Bouchard and Hannah Gadsby all have new projects arriving next month. And popular series like “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” and “Homecoming” are returning. The end of the month will also bring the debut of HBO Max, a new service that will combine HBO’s existing content with original programming and a healthy assortment of titles from the WarnerMedia catalog.

Here are our picks for the best new movies and TV series premiering in May, as well as a roundup of some other notable titles that’ll be available to stream. (Note: Streaming services occasionally change schedules without giving notice.)

‘Hollywood’

Starts streaming: May 1

The writer-producer Ryan Murphy took some flak a few years back for his backstage melodrama “Feud,” which depicted the real-life rivalry between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford in ways both entertaining and factually shaky. For Murphy’s latest Hollywood-focused mini-series (created with Ian Brennan), he defies the accuracy police further by inventing an entire alternate history of the American movie business after World War II. Darren Criss, Patti LuPone, Jim Parsons and Dylan McDermott — all veterans of past Murphy projects — join Samara Weaving, Queen Latifah and Mira Sorvino for a story populated by real big-screen stars of decades past (including Rock Hudson, Hattie McDaniel and Anna May Wong) as well as fictional characters, all interacting in a version of late 1940s Hollywood where women, people of color and openly gay people achieve positions of power. The scenario may not be “true” per se, but with “Hollywood,” Murphy aims to offer an appealing counterfactual.

‘The Eddy’

Starts streaming: May 8

The “La La Land” and “Whiplash” filmmaker Damien Chazelle returns to the world of jazz — and to the daily chaos that always seems to surround musicians — for “The Eddy,” a mini-series for which he serves as a producer and a director. André Holland plays Elliot Udo, a persnickety ex-pianist who runs a struggling Parisian nightclub and demands a lot of its house band, led by the equally strong-willed Maja (played by Joanna Kulig, from the excellent Polish drama “Cold War”). Powered by a diverse ensemble cast, the intricate and episodic story — written by Jack Thorne — deals with themes of passion, loyalty, family and regret. Chazelle’s fans will also appreciate the show’s style, which is kinetic and immersive, using a “you are there” approach to capture the pressures of the music business and the thrills of collaboration.

‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt vs. The Reverend’

Starts streaming: May 12

The delightful Netflix sitcom “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” aired a superb series finale last year, which brought the heroine back to where her story began: the crumbling New York apartment building where she met her first real friends, after spending her young adult years held captive by a religious zealot. You can consider the new special, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt vs. The Reverend,” to be an epilogue, allowing the show’s creators, Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, to pit Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) against her nemesis, Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne (Jon Hamm), for one more cathartic standoff. It also offers another chance for Fey and Carlock to explore their series-long fascination with life-changing choices and roads not taken. An interactive experience, this special lets the viewer decide what Kimmy and her friends do, in a story where her wedding day is complicated by the reverend’s return.

‘Hannah Gadsby: Douglas’

Starts streaming: May 26

Given all the controversy and acclaim generated by Hannah Gadsby’s 2018 stand-up special “Nanette,” the Australian comedian faced a tough challenge in delivering a follow-up — especially since “Nanette” was in part about her realization that telling jokes is an inadequate way to process trauma. According to the warm reviews that greeted Gadsby’s new show “Douglas” when she took the new material on tour last year, the sequel to “Nanette” remains a personal, thoughtful and righteously impassioned piece of comic performance art, with pithy punch lines about patriarchal privilege, the price of success and our enduring obsession with putting labels on people and art.

Also arriving:

May 1

“All Day and a Night”

“The Half of It”

May 5

“Jerry Seinfeld: 23 Hours to Kill”

May 8

“Dead to Me” Season 2

May 11

“Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics”

“Trial by Media”

May 13

“The Wrong Missy”

May 15

“She-Ra and the Princesses of Power” Season 5

“White Lines”

May 19

“Patton Oswalt: I Love Everything”

May 22

“The Lovebirds”

May 30

“Space Force”

‘Spaceship Earth’

Starts streaming: May 8

Our current pandemic crisis has led many of us to think more about the future of the human race, and to wonder whether careful planning and advanced technology could help us survive whatever ecological or epidemiological catastrophes await us in the decades ahead. Matt Wolf’s absorbing documentary “Spaceship Earth” won’t be much of a comfort, alas. The filmmaker behind the fine docs “Wild Combination,” “Teenage” and “Recorder” brings his keen critical eye and his interest in our shared cultural past to the story of Biosphere 2, the experimental terrarium project that was supposed to prove how humans could thrive within a closed system. With “Spaceship Earth,” Wolf considers how admirable idealism is often thwarted by cruel reality.

Also arriving:

May 8

“Into the Dark: Delivered”

“Solar Opposites”

May 15

“The Great”

May 22

“The Painter and the Thief”

May 29

‘Upload’

Starts streaming: May 1

For everyone still missing “The Good Place,” here comes another heartfelt and philosophical afterlife comedy, this time not from Michael Schur, but from Greg Daniels, who was Schur’s writing and producing partner on “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation.” “Upload” is a shade or two darker than “The Good Place,” but it displays an equally sharp and satirical wit. Robbie Amell plays a successful coder who dies young, in a near future where the wealthy store their consciousness in a boutique cloud server, which allows them to experience eternity in a customizable simulation of a resort hotel — with opportunities galore to spend more of their money. As the hero flirts with the friendly customer service representative assigned to his account, he investigates the mysteries surrounding his death, and belatedly laments the ways his society’s techno-utopia relies on the have-nots to support the haves.

‘Homecoming’ Season 2

Starts streaming: May 22

The first season of “Homecoming” adapted a popular fiction podcast into one of 2018’s best TV series: a low-key political thriller about a therapist investigating her own half-forgotten connection to a shadowy military operation. The second season brings back a few characters — including Walter Cruz (played by Stephan James), an ex-soldier still trying to recover his own hazy memories — but introduces a new protagonist, played by Janelle Monáe, and a new story. Monáe plays an amnesiac who wakes up in a boat in the middle of a lake, then gradually discovers her connection to the Geist Group, the organization at the heart of “Homecoming” Season 1. These new episodes lack the first batch’s director, Sam Esmail, but it remains a visually stylish and character-driven drama, using conspiratorial paranoia as the backdrop to a study of loneliness and belonging.

‘The Vast of Night’

Starts streaming: May 29

In this smart and energetic science-fiction drama, two industrious late 1950s New Mexico teens — one a radio DJ, one a telephone operator — spend a wild night using all the resources at their disposal to determine if an unusual audio frequency has an alien origin. The movie’s director, Andrew Patterson, works similar magic with his meager budget, making a film that opens splashily — with a impressively well-choreographed take that moves through an entire small town — and then settles into a series of lower-key scenes that work more like a stage play or a radio drama. Sierra McCormick and Jake Horowitz are captivating in the lead roles, whether they’re chasing E.T.s through the wilderness or sitting still in front of a microphone. “The Vast of Night” is a charmer; and it’s also the rare arty genre picture that film buffs can watch with their children.

Also arriving:

May 8

“Jimmy O. Yang: Good Deal”

May 15

“The Last Narc”

“Seberg”

‘On the Record’

Starts streaming: May 27

Originally slated to run on Apple TV Plus, this eye-opening documentary — spotlighting the testimony of several women who’ve accused the hip-hop pioneer Russell Simmons of sexual assault — was dropped after one of its original producers, Oprah Winfrey, pulled her support. An emotional world premiere at Sundance helped turn “On the Record” into a must-see; and the film ultimately became HBO Max’s first high-profile acquisition. Despite the tough subject matter, this is a remarkable, far-reaching piece of journalism from the co-directors Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering, who use the case against Simmons as an opening onto a larger conversation about how some celebrities can be so entrenched in popular culture that they become almost untouchably powerful.

Also arriving:

May 1

“Betty”

May 5

“Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind”

May 10

“I Know This Much Is True”

May 27

“Craftopia” (HBO Max)

“Legendary” (HBO Max)

“Love Life” (HBO Max)

“The Not Too Late Show with Elmo” (HBO Max)

‘Central Park’

Starts streaming: May 29

Fans of the animated sitcom “Bob’s Burgers” know that some of the show’s funniest and most wondrous moments come when the characters burst into song. Now the creator Loren Bouchard has made what amounts to a cartoon version of a Broadway musical, featuring the voices of Kristen Bell, Tituss Burgess, Josh Gad, Daveed Diggs and Leslie Odom Jr. Set in New York City, “Central Park” has Stanley Tucci playing the ruthless hotel magnate Bitsy Brandenham, who has designs on filling the park with high-rises. Odom plays Owen, a park manager with a crusading reporter wife (Kathryn Hahn) and two adventurous kids (voiced by Bell and Burgess). Like “Bob’s Burgers,” this is a colorful, warmhearted comedy that balances an earthy sense of humor with some lively musical numbers.


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