This month's notable theatrical releases
After a brief, two-year, pandemic-related hiatus, our monthly movie preview is back! Below, our editors have selected the most interesting films debuting in North American theaters this month, listed in alphabetical order.
The Bob's Burgers Movie Watch trailer(s)
Animation/Comedy/Musical | May 27 | Directed by Bernard Derriman and Loren Bouchard
The beloved Fox animated series makes its big-screen debut with this musical comedy-mystery-adventure that begins with a giant sinkhole forming right in front of Bob’s Burgers, dashing the Belcher’s plans for a successful summer. As Bob and Linda go to great lengths to keep the business afloat, Tina, Gene and Louise try to solve a mystery that could save the family. Series creator Loren Bouchard directs with series supervising director Bernard Derriman from a script by series writers/executive producers Jim Dauterive and Nora Smith.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Watch trailer(s)
Action/Sci-fi | May 6 | Directed by Sam Raimi
As the sequel to one of the highest-grossing films ever (Spider-Man: No Way Home) and a continuation of Marvel’s jump into multiverse storytelling, Benedict Cumberbatch’s second solo outing as Dr. Strange comes with high expectations. Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson left the project to direct The Black Phone, but Marvel found his replacement in Sam Raimi, the architect of the first Spider-Man trilogy, the original 21st century superhero blockbuster before the MCU ever existed (yes, there was a time). Supposedly darker in tone than previous MCU films, Multiverse of Madness reunites Doctor Strange with Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch and introduces Xochitl Gomez as America Chavez as they battle Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Karl Mordo. Rumors of an appearance by Patrick Stewart as Professor X seem to have been confirmed by a recent trailer, but the true coup will be seeing Bruce Campbell in another Sam Raimi film.
Drama/Comedy | May 20 (theaters) / May 27 (Prime Video) | Directed by Carey Williams
Director Carey Williams (R#J) and screenwriter KD Dávila (winner of the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: U.S. Dramatic at this year’s Sundance Film Festival) expand their 2018 award-winning Sundance short about the crazy night had by college roommates Sean (RJ Cyler), Kunle (Donald Elise Watkins), and Carlos (Sebastian Chacon) when they discover a white girl (Maddie Nichols) passed out on their living room floor. Kunle wants to call the cops but Sean opposes the idea, wondering how it will look when the cops show up and see two Black men, one Latino man with an unconscious white woman. Hoping to take her somewhere safe, they load her into Sean’s van, not knowing that her drunk sister (Sabrina Carpenter) is searching for her. According to critics, the film successfully balances laughs and suspense to keep viewers guessing throughout the characters’ chaotic night.
Happening (L'Evenement) Watch trailer(s)
Foreign/Drama | May 6 (LA/NY) / May 13 (more cities) | Directed by Audrey Diwan
Writer-director Audrey Diwan’s sophomore feature won the Golden Lion as the top film at last year's Venice Film Festival. Adapted (with Marcia Romano) from Annie Ernaux’s autobiographical novel, Happening stars French-Romanian actress Anamaria Vartolomei as Anne, a university student in 1963 France who finds few options when she wants to terminate her pregnancy. “A tough watch, compassionate but brutally honest,” in the words of THR's David Rooney, Happening's ticking-clock, social-realist approach takes cues from two other critically acclaimed films about abortion: Cristian Mungiu’s 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days and Eliza Hittman’s Never Rarely Somtimes Always. While it’s set almost sixty years ago, the film couldn’t be more timely as the battle for legalized abortion still rages in the U.S. and other countries. In addition to this month's theatrical rollout, the film will also come to digital/VOD services beginning June 21st.
Hold Your Fire Watch trailer(s)
Documentary | May 20 (theaters + VOD) | Directed by Stefan Forbes
In 1973 Brooklyn, four young African-American men attempted to steal guns for self-defense. Cornered by the police, the standoff resulted in the longest hostage event in the history of the NYPD as police psychologist Harvey Schlossberg invented hostage negotiation on the spot in an attempt to save lives and avoid another Attica bloodbath. Using archival footage and contemporary interviews with many involved, director Stefan Forbes (Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story) creates a suspenseful narrative and a compelling picture of complex humanity.
In Front of Your Face
Foreign/Drama | May 6 | Directed by Hong Sang-soo
The prolific (nine films in five years) and dependable (all nine films have Metascores of 72 or higher) auteur Hong Sang-soo is the writer, director, editor, cinematographer and composer on his latest. It's a chronicle of a little more than 24 hours in the life of a former actress, Sangok (Lee Hyeyoung), who returns to Seoul after years living abroad to stay with her sister. As they pass their day in a typically casual Hong manner—with a walk and a late breakfast—Sangok seems to be hiding something, but it won’t be revealed until she meets with a celebrated director who wants her to return to acting. Judging from early reviews, Hong has once again found the profound in the simplest of set-ups.
The Innocents Watch trailer(s)
Foreign/Drama/Thriller/Horror | May 13 | Directed by Eskil Vogt
If you’ve heard of Eskil Vogt, it’s probably as the co-writer on all of Joachim Trier’s films (their screenplay for The Worst Person in the World was nominated for an Oscar). But his feature directorial debut, Blind, showed he could earn critical acclaim as a director too. Now comes his sophomore effort, a disturbing look at four children discovering and exploring the limits of their supernatural powers over a Nordic summer, and it has also garnered good reviews from festival screenings. His Blind star, Ellen Dorrit Petersen, plays the mother of two of the girls, in what Jessica Kiang of Variety calls a “superior chiller” that is both “a satisfying genre exercise and a minute observation of the process by which young children acquire morality.”
Men Watch trailer(s)
Horror/Drama/Sci-fi | May 20 | Directed by Alex Garland
The latest from writer-director Alex Garland (Annihilation, Ex Machina) follows Harper (Jessie Buckley) as she retreats to the English countryside to recover after a personal tragedy. If the trailer is any indication, she chose the wrong place to heal. Described by its creator to EW as a “gut-level film” that is “slightly aggressive” and also a “ghost story,” it tackles masculinity even more directly than his previous films and allows Rory Kinnear to play several different parts to disturbing effect. Look for the first full reviews to arrive next week ahead of Men's official world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, but early Twitter buzz suggests a surreal and far-from-straightforward experience.
Montana Story Watch trailer(s)
Drama | May 13 | Directed by David Siegel and Scott McGehee
In the latest from directors Scott McGehee and David Siegel (The Deep End, What Maisie Knew), two estranged siblings (Haley Lu Richardson and Owen Teague) must confront a painful past when they return to care for their ailing father on the ranch where they grew up. When it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2021, this low-key western earned praise for its stunning 35mm cinematography as well as its tender and revealing lead performances.
On the Count of Three Watch trailer(s)
Drama/Comedy | May 13 (theaters + VOD) | Directed by Jerrod Carmichael
At the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, comedian Jerrod Carmichael, working from a script from Ari Katcher and Ryan Welch, made his feature directorial debut with this story about best friends, played by himself and Christopher Abbot, who try to settle some unfinished business before following through on a suicide pact. According to critics, this buddy comedy (with supporting turns by Henry Winkler, Tiffany Haddish, and JB Smoove) is successful in finding humor in a difficult subject, not unlike Carmichael’s recent coming out in the intimate Bo Burnham-directed comedy special, Jerrod Carmichael: Rothaniel.
Pleasure Watch trailer(s)
Drama | May 13 | Directed by Ninja Thyberg
Writer-director Ninja Thyberg expands on her 2013 Cannes-wining short film of the same name with this examination of the Los Angeles porn industry through the experiences of Bella Cherry (née Linnéa), a newly arrived Swedish transplant played by Sofia Kappel (who makes her acting debut in the film). Thyberg spent years investigating the adult industry, conducting interviews, visiting sets, and even living in a model house like her main character. The result of her research is a keen-eyed examination of a unique workplace with a cast of actual adult industry stars, directors, agents, and producers.
This Much I Know to Be True Watch trailer(s)
Documentary/Music | May 11 | Directed by Andrew Dominik
As the wait continues for Blonde, his Ana de Armas-starring, NC-17-rated look at Marilyn Monroe, director Andrew Dominik, whose last narrative feature was 2012’s Killing Them Softly, proves once again to be an adept documentarian when his subject is Nick Cave. A companion piece of sorts to their piercingly intimate 2016 collaboration, One More Time with Feeling, which found Cave reckoning with the loss of his son through his music (specifically the album Skeleton Tree), This Much I Know To Be True is more concert film than its predecessor, but no less personal thanks to the relationship shared by Dominik and Cave. Focusing on songs from Ghosteen and Carnage, the film will play globally the night of May 11th with subsequent screenings in only a few select cities.
Top Gun: Maverick Watch trailer(s)
Action/Drama | May 27 | Directed by Joseph Kosinski
It has been more than 35 years since Tony Scott’s Top Gun ruled the summer box office. Could Maverick take the title again? It’s unlikely considering the Marvel and Jurassic sequels it’s going up against, but judging by the early reactions, it’s got a chance (at the very least it will buzz the tower). The Joseph Kosinski- (Oblivion, Only the Brave) directed sequel, which will screen at Cannes in a few weeks prior to touching down in theaters, finds Tom Cruise’s Pete “Maverick” Mitchell flying into the danger zone as a test pilot when he’s assigned to train a group of Top Gun graduates for a dangerous mission. His past comes back to haunt him in the form of Lt. Bradley Bradshaw (Miles Teller), call sign: “Rooster,” the son of Maverick’s late friend and Radar Intercept Officer Lt. Nick Bradshaw, aka “Goose.” Cue the Harold Faltermeyer and Kenny Loggins.
Bonus pick: Streaming exclusive
Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers Watch trailer(s)
Animation/Comedy/Family | Directed by Akiva Schaffer
Streams May 20 on Disney+
Placing self-aware cartoon characters in a mostly live-action world a la Who Framed Roger Rabbit—and Roger Rabbit himself even comes out of retirement for a cameo—this streaming exclusive finds John Mulaney and Andy Samberg voicing the titular duo, who now (three decades after their Disney Channel series last aired) live in present-day Los Angeles, no longer actively working in show business. But they must reunite when one of their fellow cast members from their old series suddenly disappears. J.K. Simmons, Tim Robinson, Keegan-Michael Key, Eric Bana, Will Arnett, and Seth Rogen also star for director Akiva Schaffer.
More upcoming films
For a complete, updated listing of all upcoming movie releases by date, including films arriving later in 2022 and beyond, visit our Movie Calendar.
Prefer watching at home? Here's our look at the notable TV shows and streaming movies debuting in May.