Welcome, dear readers, to another amazing month of new original shows and movies starting to stream online! Our Watercooler choice picks for May are once again as eclectic as an assorted dozen at Dunkin’–perfect for all manner of audiences. But as it turned out (completely unintended), a recurring theme of sorts emerged in the final list–well, if a smattering of Colin Firth and teen-focused titles constitute a theme. Don’t be potentially dissuaded, though, because there’s also true crime, romance, a beautifully shot foreign-language film and more.
Now, of course, our streaming choices for this month don’t encapsulate everything that is coming out on the various platforms. For example, we need to give an honorary mention to Netflix’s Stranger Things 4: Vol. 1 (May 27), although the wildly popular series won’t exactly be hurting for exposure. But there are a few other noteworthy picks we think you should consider, such as the Sissy Spacek and J. K. Simmon’s sci-fi series Night Sky coming to Amazon Prime (portals! aging! aliens!?) and the Apple TV+ bilingual drama series Now and Then, co-starring Rosie Perez, about a crime left unreported by a group of teens for decades. (Both coming out on May 20.)
May is not usually the most exciting premiere month when it comes to streaming outlets, but it is tiding us over until the super splashy summer season. And tiding us over with solid stories that undoubtedly need to find the right audience who will adore them for what they are. So, happy streaming!
A Show Everyone Will be Talking About: The Time Traveler’s Wife
May 15 | HBO Max
More than likely, everyone’s going to be talking about HBO’s limited series The Time Traveler’s Wife for two reasons. One, it’s a remake, so naturally, everyone will be buzzing about how it stacks up in comparison to the 2009 film starring Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams. And two, I know I for one am very curious about the appeal of actor Theo James jumping into another romance (albeit a supernatural one) after already turning down a second season of PBS’ Sanditon. He’s known to make the on-screen chemistry pop, regardless, but we’ll see how he and Rose Leslie (of Game of Thrones fame) fare together as the titular time-crossed lovers. Check out the latest creation by former Doctor Who frontman Steven Moffat on May 15!
Watch This, Then That:
It’s not too often that two titles are both incredibly similar in terms of theme and premiering in the same month, making them the perfect storm for a double feature night. But such is the case for HBO Max’s eight-part limited series The Staircase and the Netflix documentary Our Father. So, if you have both subscriptions, you’ll have plenty of true crime content to delve into this May.
The Staircase reenacts the bombshell French docuseries about the Peterson family, which was initially released in the early aughts and later reintroduced to the public on Netflix back in 2018. Colin Firth portrays Michael Peterson, who was famously accused of murdering his wife on the staircase of their North Carolina home in 2001. Meanwhile, Our Father exposes another true story, where a fertility doctor’s controversial donor-sperm scheme spawned dozens of unaware half-siblings in a concentrated location. The former seems to take a more sardonic tonal approach and is obviously a fictionalized recreation of the true events, but other than that, they are both equally as piercing in their depictions of untrustworthiness of even the most “respectable” of men.
A Hidden Gem: Along for the Ride
May 6 | Netflix
If you’re Gen Z or, like me, just love films in the vein of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, then Along for the Ride could be for you. It’s the tale of an 18-year-old girl who goes to live with her estranged father during the summer before college, and it’s riding relatively under the radar at the moment due to the more self-important titles releasing this month. But it has all the markers of promise: the same screenwriter as TATBILB; the sidelines filled by iconic actors like Andie MacDowell, Dermot Mulroney and Kate Bosworth; and a sweet, little teeny-bopper romance as the centerpiece. Not an Oscar contender by a long shot, just something cute and unassuming ahead of the official start of summer.
Date Night: Operation Mincemeat
May 11 | Netflix
For a moment, just imagine saying to your partner that tonight’s date night is going to be something called Operation Mincemeat. Intriguing, no? If not, at least a little comical. The film stars Colin Firth, Succession’s Matthew Macfayden, Harry Potter’s Jason Isaacs, Downton Abbey’s Kelly Macdonald and more. The stacked roster of players are all in on what’s being billed as “the greatest deception in history.” Based on a true story, it follows the British military’s scheme to trick Hitler at the height of World War II–by means of a corpse carrying fake intelligence to the dictator. It’s very much giving us Inglourious Basterds, without the revisionism or scathing Tarantino touch. The film plays in select theaters in May and premieres on Netflix on May 11.
Family Watch: The Quest
May 11 | Disney+
When you say reality series, immersive fantasy competition, and eight real-life teenagers, it doesn’t sound like much of a broad appeal on the face of things. But I encourage everyone to go watch the trailer for Disney+’s The Quest right now because there is no way for me to better convey how stellar its special effects and commitment to this “story world” are. Amazing Race and Lord of the Rings producers worked behind the scenes in conjunction with the buy-in power that is already Disney itself. Kids will probably be enthralled by who comes out on top as the “one true hero” of the Survivor-esque game, while parents/adults will likely, against their will, be hooked in by the magnificent display of world building.
An International Find: Thar
May 6 | Netflix
Set in a village on the outskirts of the Thar Desert, also known as the Great Indian Desert, this neo-Western film tells the story of a mysterious antiques dealer (played by Harshvardhan Kapoor) with a desire for vengeance. He and the local inspector cross paths amidst the onslaught of recent killings to rock the region. But as always in this particular genre, it’s more so about that finnicky, moral grey area when it comes to human nature. Anil Kapoor – one of the most famous Bollywood actors of all time who also starred in the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire film – portrays the inspector and acts as a producer as well. Find the Hindi-language film on Netflix come May 6!