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Photograph: Marvel StudiosChris Pratt in ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’

The best movies out in US theatres and streaming in May

Pull up a seat for the biggest movies to catch this month

Phil de Semlyen
Written by
Phil de Semlyen

There’s a host of movies, big and small, landing in our multiplexes and arthouse theaters this month. The biggest kahunas – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, Fast X and The Little Mermaid – will be reliable seat-fillers, but look out too for a clutch of compelling indies, sparky romcoms and at least two psychological dramas that will linger in your head for weeks. Oh, and definitely don’t forget that Mother’s Day is coming too. Luckily, Jane Fonda and Diane Keaton are on hand with some mom-friendly fare set in the Eternal City. Molto bene!


📽️ The best movies of 2023 (so far)
🔥 The 100 greatest movies of all time

Best movies in May

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 
Photograph: Marvel Studios

1. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 

The most loose-limbed and fun of the MCU’s sub-franchises delivers its final mixtape this month and for comic-book fans, it will deliver all the feels. Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) leads his band of intergalactic desperadoes on a final, deadly mission when a shady corner of Rocket’s past returns to bite him. Zoe Saldaña, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan provide the alien faces; Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper provide the voices; you just need to provide the Kleenex.

In theaters May 5

  • Movies
  • Romance

Who doesn’t love a London romcom – even one without a harried-but-charming Hugh Grant? In the absence of a new Richard Curtis movie, this inspired-by-real-life, multicultural romance from Elizabeth director Shekhar Kapur should be the next best thing. The plot sees Lily James’s filmmaker turning her childhood friend’s (Shazad Latif) assisted marriage into a documentary, only to discover that her assumptions about, well, everything are wrong. 

In theaters May 5

  • Movies
  • Thriller

This acclaimed French crime procedural feels like something David Fincher might have conjured from one of the darker corners of his imagination. It picks up in an Alpine town in the aftermath of a young woman’s murder and follows a contrasting squad of cops as they try to figure out who did it. But it’s not really a whodunnit, because in the spirit of The Crucible, it’s a misogynist groupthink that this smartly provocative psychological thriller is really putting in the stand. Anything by French filmmaker Dominik Moll is worth watching and this one won’t be an exception. 

In theaters May 12 

Book Club: The Next Chapter
Photograph: Focus Features

4. Book Club: The Next Chapter

Remember that it’s Mother’s Day on May 14 and your mom (probably) won’t want to see Fast X. Queue up, then, to see those golden goddesses – Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen – as four returning BFFs whose long-running book club is merely the gateway to the kind of romantic adventures a quartet of screen legends deserves. This time it’s off to Rome, a city brimming with silver foxes, in a sequel to the 2018 romcom.  

In theaters May 12 

Fast X
Photograph: Peter Mountain/Universal Pictures

5. Fast X

Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto and his ride-or-die buddies, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Ludacris) and Mia (Jordana Brewster), are back and driving without due care and attention again in a tenth outing of this blockbuster cars-and-crime franchise. The bar tends to get raised on the action with every movie, but after the skyscraper jump in Fast 7 and the space car bit in Fast 9, it’s tough to see which bits of gravity it has left to defy. Jason Momoa is the superbad this time, the vengeful son of a drug lord with a flair for very big explosions.

In theaters May 19

Master Gardener 
Photograph: Magnolia Pictures

6. Master Gardener 

Paul Schrader rounds out a loose trilogy of character studies that kicked off with the excoriating man-of-the-cloth drama First Reformed and took in Oscar Isaac crime thriller The Card Counter. God’s lonely man this time is played by reliable Aussie actor Joel Egerton as a horticulturist whose dark past resurfaces in dangerous and unpredictable ways. A one-time ’70s Movie Brat, Schrader still has enough capacity to surprise to make this required viewing for fans of hard-hitting storytelling.

In theaters May 19

The Little Mermaid 
Photograph: Disney

7. The Little Mermaid 

You’ve seen the 1989 animation a hundred times, hummed the songs in your car and felt a pang of remorse every time you’ve ordered flounder in a seafood restaurant. Now it’s time to do it all over again via Disney’s new live-action redo of the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale. The Internet has been grumbling about the murky-looking CGI, but the songs and drama are sure to land, with popstar-turned-actress Halle Bailey providing the lungs and Melissa McCarthy’s Ursula the devilry.

In theaters May 26

The Machine 
Photograph: Aleksandar Letic/Sony Pictures

8. The Machine 

Ignore anyone who tells you that partying your way through college is a fast-track to skid row. Bert Kreischer, the stand-up comedian behind this unlikely action-comedy, is doing just fine since Rolling Stone wrote a story about his time as Florida State’s ’top partyier’ in 1997. The Machine, named after Kreischer’s stand-up show, sees him graduate to Hollywood. There’s more drunkenness, only this time with Mark Hamill playing dad and some vengeful Russian mobsters to up the stakes. It won’t be the best movie of the month, but it’s definitely got the best backstory.

In theaters May 26

You Hurt My Feelings
Photograph: Jeong Park

9. You Hurt My Feelings

Nicole Holofcener continues to fill the Woody Allen gap with smartly observed, sharply funny comedy-dramas set in brownstone Manhattan. Her latest is a welcome reunion with her Enough Said lead, Julia Louis-Dreyfus. The Veep star plays a novelist whose struggles in her marriage with her therapist husband (The Crown’s Tobias Menzies) are dramatically ramped up when she discovers that he hates her new book. A top supporting cast – David Cross, Succession’s Arian Moayed and the ever-formidable Jeannie Berlin – should make it a must-see.

In theaters May 26

Photograph: HBO

10. Reality

Last month’s Jack Teixeira/Pentagon leaks story adds a frisson of nervy topicality to this true-life drama about Reality Winner, a 25-year-old NSA translator who revealed Russia’s interference in the 2016 Presidential elections. The White Lotus’s Sydney Sweeney plays the resilient Winner as she faces a terrifying grilling from the FBI in a claustrophobic drama that director Tina Satter transplants from her own Off-Broadway play Is This a Room.

Streaming on HBO Max, May 29

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