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Photograph: Laurie Sparham

The best new movies and TV shows to stream this month in the UK

The best and most unmissable movies and TV series to watch in May

Written by
Time Out Film
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Cinemas are back, back, back this month. Frankly, we’d go sit in them even if there were no films on. But there is a host of brilliant movies to enjoy, including this year’s Best Picture, a Riz Ahmed Oscar-worthy masterclass, a return of that carrot-rustling, family-pleasing rascal Peter Rabbit, and an attention-grabbing directorial debut from Billie Piper. Of course, not everyone will be ready to return to cinemas. On the streaming side, there’s a few big hitters to look out for, including a Barry Jenkins-led adaptation of ‘The Underground Railroad’ and Zack Snyder’s zombies-in-Vegas action flick ‘Army of the Dead’.

The best new films and series to stream this month

Apples
Photograph: Curzon Home Cinema

Apples

How do you figure out where to go when you have no clue where you’ve come from? That’s the predicament faced by the amnesiac protagonist in debut filmmaker Christos Nikou’s vision of a man (Aris Servetalis) cut adrift in an alternate modern-day Athens. Nikou served as assistant director on Yorgos Lanthimos’s Dogtooth and the influence of his fellow Greek looks like it’s rubbed off. One for the arthouse heads to circle and underline twice in their MoMA diaries.

Curzon Home Cinema May 7.

🎬 Read our review of Apples 

The Underground Railroad
Photograph: Kyle Kaplan

The Underground Railroad

Moonlight’s Barry Jenkins bring his artist’s eye to an era of sustained savagery in this ten-part adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize winner The Underground Railroad.  Big budgets and immaculate production design recreate the cotton fields, plantation houses, apothecaries, salons and dusty towns of the nineteenth-century slave states in uncomfortable but spellbinding detail. Expect an epic that lives somewhere in the space between history and its reimagined photo negative, with newcomer Thuso Mbedu and Londoner Aaron Pierre to the fore. This year’s The Handmaid’s Tale? Very possibly.

On Amazon Prime May 14.

🎬 
Read our review of The Underground Railroad 

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Nomadland
Photograph: Disney

Nomadland

Chinese filmmaker Chloé Zhao has two films out this year and the first one just won three Oscars. They couldn’t be any more different: one has a mighty Marvel budget and a bucketload of CGI; the other has a sixty-something-year-old woman shitting in a bucket. We’re excited about both, but Nomadland’s indigent hero is played by Frances McDormand, its American landscapes are screensaver-worthy and if you see it on the big screen, you’ll be one ahead of all those Oscar voters.

Out May 17.

🎬 Read our review of Nomadland 

Sound of Metal
Photograph: Caviar/Sound of Metal

Sound of Metal

Deafness is an isolating, scary place that cinema doesn’t visit too often, so Riz Ahmed’s new music-orientated drama is worth paying attention to – not least because Riz Ahmed is remarkable in it to the tune of an Oscar nomination. The Londoner is a noise-rock drummer whose hearing difficulties give way to something more permanent, crashing his dreams and overloading his relationship with his partner and bandmate (Olivia Cooke).

Out May 17.

🎬 Read our review of Sound of Metal

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Those Who Wish Me Dead
Photograph: Warner Bros.

Those Who Wish Me Dead

Who remembers Smoke Jumpers in Entourage, Vince Chase’s abortive firefighting star vehicle directed by a maverick German filmmaker? Well, they made it for real. Happily, they actually finished this one, with Taylor Sheridan (of the excellent Hell or High Water) behind the camera and Angelina Jolie, Nicholas Hoult and Jon Bernthal in front of it. It promises to be an old-school thriller as assassins pursue a murder witness (Finn Little) through an American wilderness.

In cinemas May 17.

Peter Rabbit 2
Photograph: Courtesy of Sony Pictures

Peter Rabbit 2

Myxomatosis runs amok in the rabbit hutch in this notably darker fluffcore sequel... Not really! It’s more fluffy, family-orientated high jinks as Peter and his pals, Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail, get into more scrapes involving carrots. Domnhall Gleeson returns as human dupe Mr McGregor to defend his veggie patch, while James Corden, Elizabeth Debicki and Margot Robbie provide the bunny voices.

In cinemas May 17.

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Rare Beasts
Photograph: Republic Film Distribution

Rare Beasts

Billie Piper helped us through part of lockdown with her raw, funny and ferociously candid Sky Atlantic miniseries I Hate Suzie. Her move to the big screen, then, deserves a massive spotlight shined on it. It’s a directing-starring-writing passion project from Piper that plunges back into the storm of modern womanhood with caustic wit and a tornado of energy. David Thewlis, Lily James and Leo Bill are along for the ride.

In cinemas May 21.

Army of the Dead
Photograph: Clay Enos

Army of the Dead

Zack Snyder is back this month, and this being the artist-friendly Netflix, it’s guaranteed to be the Snyder cut this time – before anyone starts getting the hashtags out again. It’s a return to fertile soil for the filmmaker: the zombie apocalypse was the backdrop for his propulsive 2004 debut Dawn of the Dead. The undead are back again in a Vegas-set heist movie that features Dave Bautista, Tig Notaro and Omari Hardwick. Death in Vegas? Yes, please.

On Netflix May 21.

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First Cow
Photograph: Allyson Riggs

First Cow

Unjustly overlooked during awards season, Kelly Reichardt’s (Leave No Trace) pastoral yarn was maybe just a little too hushed, too contemplative to grab voters attention – even for a year that saw the equally sparkling Minari really cut through (and this wouldn’t have been the first cow to hit the Oscars campaign trail). No one captures the state of outsiderdom with quite the perspective of Reichardt, and this nineteenth-century-set frontier tale is another poetic feast of offbeat life. 

In cinemas and on MUBI May 28. 

🎬 Read our review of First Cow

Cruella
Photograph: Laurie Sparham

Cruella

If the trailer is anything to go by, this live-action origin story for Cruella de Vil will paint a nuanced picture of the puppycidal arch-villainous of Disney animation history (seriously: never mind the dogs bit – which is bad enough – have you see her driving?). How did she get so nasty? Emma Stone is our hissable baddie-in-the-making, but look out too for ’70s London, and its burgeoning fashion scene, to chip in with a scene-stealing supporting performance.

In cinemas and on Disney+ premiere access May 28.

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