Netflix never sleeps! A new month brings a new torrent of content on the streaming service, and May 2021 has some particularly promising new Netflix Originals, from a guns-a-blazing zombified action thriller to an intimate dramedy about Black love, and a whole bunch of stuff in between. There are dozens of new titles on Netflix this month, but below you’ll find a narrowed-down list of six top picks.
First, however, attention must be paid to some of the returning Netflix Originals that didn’t make the cut for new recommendations, like the third and final season of the Golden Globe-dominating geezers-in-love dramedy The Kominsky Method and a new chapter of the devilishly entertaining supernatural procedural Lucifer, which both arrive on May 28, and Season 2 of the hit music biographical drama Selena: The Series.
If you’re looking for recommendations for new things to watch on streaming services that aren’t Netflix, we have those, too.
The Sons of Sam: A Descent Into Darkness
May 5 | Trailer
David Berkowitz, aka the “Son of Sam,” is the most notorious serial killer in the history of New York City, terrorizing the city for a year by randomly shooting women before he was caught in 1977. He claimed he didn’t work alone, and there were other members of a supposed Satanic cult who also committed some of the crimes. Journalist Maury Terry believed him, and spent decades investigating the possibility that Berkowitz may not have been the only killer and his accomplices are still out there. The trailer for the four-part docuseries makes it look like a conspiratorial doc exposing a hidden truth, but the official description from Netflix indicates that it will be more about Terry’s obsessive pursuit of his investigation at great personal cost. It kind of sounds like an East Coast, documentary counterpart to Zodiac, David Fincher’s excellent film about the Zodiac Killer.
May 7 | Trailer
Monster has taken a long, long time to get to Netflix. The film premiered at Sundance in 2018, and the National Book Award-winning young adult novel by Walter Dean Myers on which it’s based was published way back in 1999. Rising star Kelvin Harrison Jr. plays Steve Harmon, a 17-year-old honor student and gifted photographer from Harlem who’s in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people and gets charged with felony murder. The film follows him as he tries to hold on to who he is when the justice system wants him to be just another “monster,” a young Black man with no regard for human life. The accomplished supporting cast includes Nasir “Nas” Jones (who also executive produces); John David Washington; and Jennifer Hudson and Jeffrey Wright as Steve’s parents.
Ewan McGregor stars in this five-part limited series about the life of the eponymous, mononymous fashion designer, whose luxurious clothes defined the time and place he lived in: ‘70s and ‘80s New York. He was a regular at Studio 54 and best friends with Liza Minnelli, portrayed on the show by Krysta Rodriguez. McGregor learned new skills for the part; according to The Hollywood Reporter, the show’s costume designer taught him how to sew, and when you see him cutting and pinning dresses on the show, he’s really doing it. Ryan Murphy executive produces, continuing his commitment to making every show or movie he can about the gay life of yesteryear.
The Woman in the Window
May 14 | Trailer
The setup of this thriller is pure Rear Window – a homebound New Yorker witnesses a neighbor being murdered and has to prove to skeptical cops that it really happened—but Hitchock’s main character definitely saw something. Agoraphobic Dr. Anna Fox (Amy Adams) can’t be so sure. She believes she saw her friend Jane Russell (Julianne Moore) get stabbed to death, but everyone is telling her she couldn’t have seen it, because the Jane Russell she knew isn’t real, and the heavy psych meds Anna is taking are making her hallucinate. The real(?) Jane Russell is played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, and her shifty husband is played by Gary Oldman. This is more of a psychological thriller than a murder mystery. The screenplay is by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tracy Letts, who writes psychological deterioration better than almost anyone (see Bug), and is based on the bestselling novel by A.J. Finn.
Army of the Dead
May 21 | Trailer
Fresh off the Snyder Cut, Justice League’s Zach Snyder returns to his zombie-action roots (his debut was the 2004 Dawn of the Dead remake) with this high-octane horror heist thriller. Dave Bautista leads a crew of mercenaries assembled to rob a Las Vegas casino in the midst of a zombie virus outbreak. The remains of the Strip are completely overrun with flesh-hungry undead, some of whom know how to solve simple puzzles and use basic logic. There are also zombie horses and a freakin’ zombie tiger. It’s gonna be a big, dumb spectacle, because big, dumb spectacles are what Zach Snyder does.
Master of None
May 23 | Trailer
For the first season of Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang’s dramedy series since 2017 as well as the first since Ansari was at the center of a Me Too scandal, Ansari will be mostly be off-camera, ceding the spotlight to Lena Waithe, who recurred as Ansari’s character’s friend Denise in the first two seasons and won an Emmy (along with Ansari) for writing Season 2’s Denise-centric standout episode “Thanksgiving.” This short five-episode season is subtitled “Moments in Love” and will follow the ups and downs of Denise’s marriage to a British woman named Alicia (Naomi Ackie). The episodes are shot on film and directed by Ansari and written by Ansari and Waithe. It will be very different from the first two seasons of Master of None, and it would have been a smart choice to shift the focus to Denise (and the ever-more-powerful Waithe) even if Ansari hadn’t become a controversial figure. “Thanksgiving” is the best episode of the show!