Thirteen New Movies You Can Watch in May That Have Been Fast-Tracked From Cinemas to Streaming
Get comfy on the couch with the story behind Air Jordans, Paul Mescal's Oscar-nominated performance and Adam Driver fighting dinosaurs.
May 12, 2023
Before the pandemic, when a new-release movie started playing in cinemas, audiences couldn't watch it on streaming, video on demand, DVD or blu-ray for a few months. But with the past few years forcing film industry to make quite a few changes — widespread movie theatre closures and plenty of people staying home in iso will do that — that's no longer always the case.
Maybe you've been under the weather. Perhaps you haven't had time to make it to your local cinema lately. Given the hefty amount of films now releasing each week, maybe you simply missed something. Film distributors have been fast-tracking some of their new releases from cinemas to streaming recently — movies that might still be playing in theatres in some parts of the country, too. In preparation for your next couch session, here are 13 that you can watch right now at home.
Bouncing across the screen with charm, energy and an 80s sheen, Air says one name often: Michael Jordan. This supremely crowd-pleasing and engaging film spins an origin story so closely linked to the NBA all-timer that the true tale simply wouldn't and couldn't have happened without him; however, it isn't actually the six-time championship-winning former Chicago Bulls player's own. Instead, Ben Affleck turns director again for the first time since 2016's Live By Night to recount how Jordan also became an icon in the footwear game. Think shoes, and everyone knows the word that usually follows this flick's title. Think Air Jordans, and Nike also springs to mind. Those sneakers are still being made almost four decades after first hitting stories — in fact, the brand is now notching up $5 billion in annual revenue, $150 million of which is going to its namesake — so Air answers the question no one knew they had until now: how did it initially happen?
Affleck's feature heads back to the 80s, to 1984, when Jordan was a 21-year-old college standout newly in the NBA and facing a life-changing decision. Damian Young (Prom Night Flex) plays the basketball GOAT, but this is a movie about the making of a legend — so the pivotal character gets all the flick's admiration and praise while bounding into the boardroom wheeling and dealing. Crucially, Air doesn't block out Jordan. Rather, it pays tribute to his talent even without staging on-court scenes, and to the shrewd wrangling and negotiating that his no-nonsense mother Deloris (Viola Davis, The Woman King) did on his behalf with Nike's in-house basketball expert Sonny Vaccaro (Damon, The Last Duel) under CEO Phil Knight's (Affleck, Deep Water) watch. The ultimate outcome is clearly well-known, because if there was no agreement, there'd be no Air Jordans and therefore no movie (and the Beaverton, Oregon-based Nike would still be best known for jogging shoes). But the slam dunk this endorsement proved for giving athletes their financial dues when their talents make bank for sponsoring companies is no minor matter, and nor is it treated as such.
The simplest things in life can be the most revealing, whether it's a question asked of a father by a child, an exercise routine obeyed almost mindlessly or a man stopping to smoke someone else's old cigarette while wandering through a holiday town alone at night. The astonishing feature debut by Scottish writer/director Charlotte Wells, Aftersun is about the simple things. Following the about-to-turn-31 Calum (Paul Mescal, The Lost Daughter) and his daughter Sophie (debutant Frankie Corio) on vacation in Turkey in the late 90s, it includes all of the above simple things, plus more. It tracks, then, that this coming-of-age story on three levels — of an 11-year-old flirting with adolescence, a dad struggling with his place in the world, and an adult woman with her own wife and family grappling with a life-changing experience from her childhood — is always a movie of deep, devastating and revealing complexity.
Earning the internet's Normal People-starring boyfriend a Best Actor Oscar nomination, and deservedly so, Aftersun is a reflective, ruminative portrait of heartbreak. It's a quest to find meaning in sorrow and pain, too, and in processing the past. Wells has crafted a chronicle of interrogating, contextualising, reframing and dwelling in memories; an examination of leaving and belonging; and an unpacking of the complicated truths that a kid can't see about a parent until they're old enough to be that parent. Breaking up Calum and Sophie's sun-dappled coastal holiday with the older Sophie (Celia Rowlson-Hall, Vox Lux) watching camcorder footage from the trip, sifting through her recollections and dancing it out under a nightclub's strobing lights in her imagination, this is also a stunning realisation that we'll always read everything we can into a loved one's actions with the benefit of hindsight, but all we ever truly have is the sensation that lingers in our hearts and heads.
Get Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley, Frances McDormand and more exceptional women in a room, point a camera their way, let the talk flow: Sarah Polley's Women Talking does just that, and this year's Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar-winner is phenomenal. The actor-turned-filmmaker's fourth effort behind the lens after 2006's Away From Her, 2011's Take This Waltz and 2012's Stories We Tell does plenty more, but its basic setup is as straightforward as its title states. Adapted from Miriam Toews' 2018 novel of the same name, this isn't a simple or easy film, however. That book and this feature draw on events in a Bolivian Mennonite colony from 2005–9, where a spate of mass druggings and rapes of women and girls were reported at the hands of some of the group's men. In a patriarchal faith and society, women talking about their experiences is a rebellious, revolutionary act anyway — and talking about what comes next is just as charged.
"The elders told us that it was the work of ghosts, or Satan, or that we were lying to get attention, or that it was an act of wild female imagination." That's teenage narrator Autje's (debutant Kate Hallett) explanation for how such assaults could occur and continue, as offered in Women Talking's sombre opening voiceover. Writing and helming, Polley declares her feature "an act of female imagination" as well, as Toews did on the page, but the truth in the movie's words is both lingering and haunting. While the film anchors its dramas in a specific year, 2010, it's purposefully vague on any details that could ground it in one place. Set within a community where modern technology is banned and horse-drawn buggies are the only form of transport, it's a work of fiction inspired by reality, rather than a recreation. Whether you're aware of the true tale behind the book going in or not, this deeply powerful and affecting picture speaks to how women have long been treated in a male-dominated world at large — and what's so often left unsaid, too.
Going into Scream VI, viewers know who the killer definitely isn't: the horror franchise's OG final girl Sidney Prescott. Neve Campbell's (The Lincoln Lawyer) character has been a pivotal part of every Ghostface-stalked flick from 1996's initial Scream through to 2022's fifth entry Scream, but famously isn't in the stab-happy saga's latest chapter due to a pay dispute. That's one big change for returning filmmakers Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett to grapple with in their second slice of the blood-splattering, scary movie-loving action. À la Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan — which gets an early nod, naturally — they also move said action to New York. But even if you take Ghostface and the murderer's targets out of Woodsboro, and shake up who the masked maniac swings a knife at, Scream is going to Scream in a screamingly familiar fashion. It has before in Ohio in Scream 2 and Hollywood in Scream 3, and the series knows it.
New movie, new city, same setup, same gravelly Roger L Jackson voice, same 'Red Right Hand' needle drop, same overall formula: throw in the same winking, nodding, self-referential attitude, plus the same penchant for mentioning horror movies, their tropes and cliches, and general film theory, and that's Scream VI's easy cut. Once again, someone dons Ghostface's ghost face, of course, and uses whichever blade happens to be in the vicinity (and a shotgun) to terrorise teens and long-victimised targets. Murder Mystery's James Vanderbilt and Ready or Not's Guy Busick haven't taxed themselves with the screenplay — their second Scream effort, after the previous flick — but the franchise's pattern keeps making a comeback for a reason. While intrepid reporter Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox, Shining Vale) notes the world's current "true-crime limited series" obsession, whodunnits and murder-mysteries date back further, and that's where every Scream instalment has also carved a niche since the late, great Wes Craven and Dawson's Creek creator Kevin Williamson started things off.
If there's one thing that a film about Adam Driver fighting dinosaurs shouldn't be, it's average. Only ridiculously entertaining or ridiculously terrible will do, and those two outcomes needn't be mutually exclusive. The appeal of 65 is right there in that four-word premise, as it was always going to be, because getting the intense White Noise, House of Gucci, Annette and Star Wars actor (and BlacKkKlansman and Marriage Story Oscar-nominee) battling prehistoric creatures is that roaringly ace an idea. He should brood, and his dino foes should stalk, snap and snarl. That is indeed what happens thanks to writer/directors Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, who penned the first A Quiet Place, plus have horror movies Nightlight and Haunt on their past helming resumes. But for a flick that isn't required to offer anything else and knows it — well, other than laser guns to shoot at said dinosaurs, because not even the man who plays Kylo Ren can confront a Tyrannosaurus rex or pack of raptors barehanded — 65 doesn't possess enough B-movie energy.
Beck and Woods have taken the very B-movie path story-wise, though. As 65's trailer made plain, this is a Frankenstein's monster of a film mashup, stitching together limbs from a stacked pile of other sources to fuel its narrative. The Jurassic Park and Jurassic World franchise, the Predator series, the Alien and Prometheus saga, Logan, The Last of Us, The Man Who Fell to Earth and, yes, A Quiet Place: they each earn more than a few nods, and never with subtlety. So too does Planet of the Apes, but the fact that 65 is set on earth all along isn't a late-picture twist. What else would the title refer to? That said, Beck and Woods begin their movie elsewhere, taking time-travel 65 million years backward out of the equation. Instead, Driver's pilot Mills ends up on our pale blue dot from a civilisation out there in space, and one more advanced during earth's Cretaceous period than humankind is today.
Turning in an Oscar-nominated performance, Bill Nighy (The Man Who Fell to Earth) comes to this sensitive portrayal of a dutiful company man facing life-changing news with a wealth of history; so too does the feature itself. Set in London in 1953, it's an adaptation several times over — of iconic Japanese director Akira Kurosawa's 1952 film Ikiru, and of Leo Tolstoy's 1886 novella The Death of Ivan Ilyich, which the former also takes inspiration from. That's quite the lineage for Living to live up to, but Nighy and director Oliver Hermanus (Moffie) are up to the task. The movie's second Oscar-nominee, Nobel Prize-winning screenwriter Kazuo Ishiguro, unsurprisingly is as well. Also the author of The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go, he's at home penning layered stories with a deep focus on complicated characters not being completely true to themselves. When those two novels were turned into impressive pictures, Ishiguro didn't script their screenplays, but he writes his way through Living's literary and cinematic pedigree like he was born to.
A man of no more words than he has to utter — of no more of anything, including life's pleasures, frivolities, distractions and detours, in fact — Williams (Nighy, Emma.) is a born bureaucrat. Or, that's how he has always appeared to his staff in the Public Works Department in London County Hall, where he's been doing the same job day, week, month and year in and out. He's quiet and stoic as he pushes paper daily, overseeing a department that's newly welcoming in Peter Wakeling (Alex Sharp, The Trial of the Chicago 7). It's through this fresh face's eyes that Living's audience first spies its central figure, adopting his and the wider team's perspective of Williams as a compliant and wooden functionary: a view that the film and its sudden diagnosis then challenges, as Williams does of himself.
Screenlife films such as Missing should be the last thing that moviegoers want. When we're hitting a cinema or escaping into our streaming queues, we're seeking a reprieve from the texts, chats, pics, reels, searches, and work- and study-related tasks that we all stare at on our phones and computers seemingly 24/7. (Well, we should be, unless we're monsters who can't turn off our devices while we watch.) There's a nifty dose of empathy behind thrillers like this, its excellent predecessor Searching, and the similar likes of Unfriended and Profile, however, that relies upon the very fact that everyone spends far too much time living through technology. When an on-screen character such as Missing's June (Storm Reid, The Last of Us) is glued to the gadget on their desk or lap, or in their hand — when they're using the devices that've virtually become our new limbs non-stop to try to solve their problems and fix their messy existence, too — it couldn't be more relatable.
As Missing fills its frames with window upon window of June's digital activities, cycling and cascading through FaceTime calls, Gmail messages, WhatsApp downloads, Google Maps tracking, TikTok videos, TaskRabbit bookings, plain-old websites and more, it witnesses its protagonist do plenty that we've all done. And, everything she's undertaking feels exactly that familiar — like the film could be staring back at each member of its audience rather than at an 18-year-old who starts the movie unhappy that her mother Grace (Nia Long, You People) is jetting off to Colombia with her new boyfriend Kevin (Ken Leung, Old). That sensation remains true even though Missing's viewers have likely never had their mum disappear in another country, and their life forever turned upside down as a result. We've all experienced the mechanics behind what writer/directors Will Merrick and Nick Johnson (who make their feature debut in both roles after editing Searching) are depicting in our own ways, with only the vast power of the internet able to help.
A character drama about a West Texas woman who wins the lottery, but six years later has nothing to show for it except pain, alcoholism and burned bridges, To Leslie is all about English talent Andrea Riseborough's remarkable performance — famously so thanks to her Best Actress Oscar nomination for an indie film widely underseen until that nod of approval. Nothing can take away the power of the Mandy, Possessor and Amsterdam star's stunning portrayal. A spectacular performance is a spectacular performance regardless of what surrounds it. So, Riseborough's work in the debut feature from seasoned TV director Michael Morris (Better Call Saul, 13 Reasons Why, Brothers & Sisters) remains a gut-punch no matter the controversy around the campaign by high-profile names to help get her the Academy's recognition, with Kate Winslet, Edward Norton and Jennifer Aniston among those advocating for accolades.
To Leslie remains Riseborough's movie despite comedian and actor Mark Maron uttering the words that sum it up best, too. In his latest compassionate performance — with a less-gruff edge than he sports in GLOW — he plays Sweeney, the co-proprietor of a roadside motel in Leslie's hometown. That's where she ends up again after the money runs out, plus her luck and everyone she knows' patience with it. As scripted by Ryan Binaco (3022), Sweeney is another of To Leslie's flawed characters. The movie teems with such folks because everyone of us is flawed, and it sees that truth with the clearest of eyes. In a sincere but awkward chat, Sweeney explains how his now ex-wife's drinking helped end his marriage; however, he catches himself afterwards, making a point to say that just because his story turned out like that, that doesn't mean Leslie's will as well, or that he thinks it that'll occur.
DUNGEONS & DRAGONS: HONOUR AMONG THIEVES
More than most games, Dungeons & Dragons thrives or dies based on the people rolling the dice, creating their own characters and casting spells. Whether Stranger Things' demogorgon-slaying teens are hunched over a table imagining up their fantasy dreams, or flesh-and-blood folks who aren't just part of a TV series find themselves pretending that they're fighters and clerics, an adventure or campaign is only as good as the party at its core. Writer/directors Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley understand this. The latter definitely should: the one-season TV great Freaks and Geeks, which gave him his start as an actor when he was just a kid, threw D&D some love, too. As filmmakers, Goldstein and Daley jump from Game Night to Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves with a clear mission: making the swords-and-sorcery flick's cast its biggest strength.
This game-to-screen flick sports a stacked roster, starting with Chris Pine (Don't Worry Darling) as Edgin Darvis, a bard and former member of the Harpers who turned petty thief — complete with a Robin Hood-esque attitude — after his wife passed away. Since his daughter Kira (Chloe Coleman, Avatar: The Way of Water) was a baby, he's been co-parenting with his gruff best friend Holga Kilgore, a stoic exiled barbarian, who is played with exactly the stern look that Michelle Rodriguez (Fast & Furious 9) was always going to bring to the part. They start the film in a dungeon, but Edgin and Holga are soon trying to reunite with Kira after rogue and con artist Forge Fitzwilliam (Hugh Grant, Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre), their former pal, turned nefarious while they were in prison. Cue help from Simon Aumar (Justice Smith, Sharper), a sorcerer with hefty confidence issues; tiefling druid Doric (Sophie Lillis, IT and IT: Chapter Two); and paladin Xenk Yendar (Regé-Jean Page, The Gray Man).
There's no shortage of heartbreak in Till, a shattering drama about the abduction, torture and lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till in Mississippi in 1955. Clemency writer/director Chinonye Chukwu tells of a boy's tragic death, a mother's pain and anger, and a country's shame and trauma — and how all three pushed along America's 20th-century civil rights movement. Heartache lingers in the needless loss of life. Fury swells at the abhorrent racism on display, including in the justifications offered by the unrepentant perpetrators. Despair buzzes in the grief, personal and national alike, that hangs heavy from the second that Emmett is dragged away in the night. Fury seethes, too, because an atrocious murder like this demands justice and change, neither of which was ever going to be easy to secure given the time and place. Indeed, the US-wide Emmett Till Antilynching Act making lynching a federal hate crime only became law in March 2022.
Heartbreak builds in and bursts through Till from the outset — and in sadly everyday situations. Emmett, nicknamed Bo by his family, is played as a lively and joyful teen by the impressive Jalyn Hall (Space Jam: A New Legacy). He's confident and cheery, as his mother Mamie Till-Mobley (Danielle Deadwyler, Station Eleven) has lovingly raised him to be in Chicago. But even department-store shopping for a trip to the Deep South is coloured by the threat of discrimination. So, as his departure to see relatives gets nearer, Mamie utters a few words of advice. She's stern and urgent, trying to impart to him the importance of adhering to Mississippi's unspoken rules. She implores him not to do anything that could be construed as looking at white people the wrong way, to apologise profusely and instantly whenever he has to, and to heed the different set of norms. "Be small down there," she says — and it's one of the movie's many crushing moments.
EMPIRE OF LIGHT
They don't call it movie magic for nothing, as plenty of Hollywood's leading lights have made it their mission to stress. A filmmaker's work should ideally make that statement anyway — seeing any picture and taking any trip to the pictures should, not that either always occurs — but overt odes to cinema still flicker with frequency. Across little more than 12 months, Kenneth Branagh's Belfast has featured a scene where his on-screen childhood alter ego basks in the silver screen's glow, and Damien Chazelle's Babylon made celebrating Hollywood and everything behind it one of its main functions. With The Fabelmans, Steven Spielberg revisited his formative years, following the makings of a movie-obsessed kid who'd become a movie-making titan. Now 1917, Skyfall, Spectre and American Beauty director Sam Mendes adds his own take with Empire of Light, as also steeped in his own youth.
A teenager in the 70s and 80s, Mendes now jumps back to 1980 and 1981. His physical destination: the coastal town of Margate in Kent, where the Dreamland Cinema has stood for exactly 100 years in 2023. In Empire of Light, the gorgeous art deco structure has been rechristened The Empire. It's a place where celluloid dreams such as The Blues Brothers, Stir Crazy, Raging Bull and Being There entertain the masses, and where a small staff under the overbearing Donald Ellis (Colin Firth, Operation Mincemeat) all have different relationships with their own hopes and wishes. As projectionist Norman, Toby Jones (The Wonder) is Mendes' mouthpiece, waxing lyrical about the transporting effect of images running at 24 frames per second and treasuring his work sharing that experience. Empire of Light is that heavy handed, and in a multitude of ways. But duty manager Hilary (Olivia Colman, Heartstopper) and new employee Stephen's (Micheal Ward, Small Axe) stories are thankfully far more complicated than simply adoring cinema.
ANT-MAN AND THE WASP: QUANTUMANIA
In the 31st Marvel Cinematic Universe film's opening beats — and the third Ant-Man movie, after directed OG flick and 2018's Ant-Man and the Wasp — the titular shrinking hero (Paul Rudd, The Shrink Next Door) is indeed Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania's star. As returning filmmaker Peyton Reed initially revels in, he's a celebrity basking in the fame of being among the Avengers and dealing with Thanos, and he's written a memoir about it — a book, Look Out for the Little Guy, that'll genuinely exist IRL come September. But the bliss of Scott's success gets cut down when he learns that his now 18-year-old daughter Cassie (Kathryn Newton, Freaky) has been secretly tinkering with Hope and her ant-obsessed physicist father Hank Pym (Michael Douglas, The Kominsky Method). The trio's project: sending signals down to the quantum realm. Hank's wife and Hope's mother Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer, French Exit) is also unimpressed, given that rescuing her from that microscopic place, where she spent 30 years, was no minor part of the plot of the last Ant-Man entry.
Viewers should savour the precious time outside the quantum realm in Quantumania; there isn't much of it. No sooner are the Lang/van Dyne/Pym swarm talking about Cassie, Hope and Hank's experiments than they're all transported to said subatomic space, with working out how to get home far from their only worry. Janet had led the others to believe that all she found when she was gone was nothing upon nothing, but entire civilisations and species, akin to Star Wars' different planets, people and critters with a dash of Dune's and Mad Max: Fury Road's landscapes and themes, lurk below. So does the banished, trapped and genocidal Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors, The Harder They Fall), the time-hopping, world-destroying new adversary who likes annihilating things just because he can — and he desperately and nefariously wants out as well. Audiences will, too, thanks to a rote threequel that has a key series-building task — kicking off the MCU's phase five — first, foremost and at a giant cost.
WINNIE-THE-POOH: BLOOD AND HONEY
Never meet your heroes. Kill your darlings. A murderous rampage through the Hundred Acre Wood — a slasher take on a childhood favourite, too — Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey sticks its paws in both pots. Based on AA Milne's famed creation, which initially appeared in kids' poetry book When We Were Very Young in 1924, this schlockfest is exactly what a headline-courting low-budget horror flick about a homicidal Pooh and Piglet seemed sight unseen, and in its trailer. Blood and Honey is all about that high-concept idea, and splashing around as many instances of bloody bother as possible, to the point of repetition. It slathers on well-executed gore, but isn't anything approaching good or so-bad-it's-good. That said, it's also a reminder that everything changes, even a cute, cuddly stuffed animal revered by generations — and that carving away cosy notions about comforting things is a fact of life.
Commenting on ditching one's safety blankets and inevitably being disappointed by one's idols is an unexpected — and perhaps unintended — bonus here. With so little plot and character development to writer/director/producer Rhys Frake-Waterfield's (The Killing Tree) script, making a statement is hardly Blood and Honey's main meal. This is a film of opportunity. Milne's loveable bear of very little brain entered the public domain at the beginning of 2022, which is what gave rise to this gruesome spin on figures seen on the page, in plenty of cartoons, and also examined in recent movies such as Goodbye Christopher Robin and Christopher Robin. As sure as the titular teddy's historical love for ditching pants and palling around with Piglet, Tigger, Eeyore, Owl, Kanga and Roo, this Texas Chainsaw Massacre-style Pooh twist primarily exists because the premise was too irresistible thanks to copyright laws.
Looking for more at-home viewing options? Take a look at our monthly streaming recommendations across new straight-to-digital films and TV shows — and fast-tracked highlights from January, February, March and April, too. You can also peruse our best new films, new TV shows, returning TV shows and straight-to-streaming movies, plus movies you might've missed and television standouts of 2022 you mightn't have gotten to.
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