Ten Films and TV Shows You Need to Stream in May

Spend your couch time watching a documentary about Jim Henson and an Elisabeth Moss-led spy thriller.
Sarah Ward
Published on May 31, 2024

Not all that long ago, the idea of getting cosy on your couch, clicking a few buttons, and having thousands of films and television shows at your fingertips seemed like something out of science fiction. Now, it's just an ordinary night — whether you're virtually gathering the gang to text along, cuddling up to your significant other or shutting the world out for some much needed me-time.

Of course, given the wealth of options to choose from, there's nothing ordinary about making a date with your chosen streaming platform. The question isn't "should I watch something?" — it's "what on earth should I choose?".

Hundreds of titles are added to Aotearoa's online viewing services each and every month, all vying for a spot on your must-see list. And, so you don't spend 45 minutes scrolling and then being too tired to actually commit to anything, we're here to help. We've spent plenty of couch time watching our way through this month's latest batch — and, from the latest and greatest through to old and recent  favourites, here are our picks for your streaming queue from May's haul.


Brand-New Stuff You Can Watch From Start to Finish Now


Sometimes you need to wait for the things you love. In Hacks, that's true off- and on-screen. It's been two years since the HBO comedy last dropped new episodes, after its first season was one of the best new shows of 2021 and its second one of the best returning series of 2022 — a delay first sparked by star Jean Smart (Babylon) requiring heart surgery, and then by 2023's Hollywood strikes. But this Emmy- and Golden Globe-winner returns better than ever in season three as it charts Smart's Deborah Vance finally getting a shot at a job that she's been waiting her entire career for. After scoring a huge hit with her recent comedy special, which was a product of hiring twentysomething writer Ava Daniels (Hannah Einbinder, Julia), the Las Vegas mainstay has a new chance at nabbing a late-night hosting gig. (Yes, fictional takes on after-dark talk shows are having a moment, thanks to Late Night with the Devil and now this.)

At times, some in Deborah's orbit might be tempted to borrow the Australian horror movie's title to describe to assisting her pitch for a post-primetime chair. That'd be a harsh comment, but savage humour has always been part of this showbiz comedy about people who tell jokes for a living. While Deborah gets roasted in this season, spikiness is Hacks' long-established baseline — and also the armour with which its behind-the-mic lead protects herself from life's and the industry's pain, disappointments and unfairness. Barbs can also be Deborah's love language, as seen in her banter with Ava. When season two ended, their tumultuous professional relationship had come to an end again via Deborah, who let her writer go to find bigger opportunities. A year has now passed when season three kicks off. Ava is a staff writer on a Last Week Tonight with John Oliver-type series in Los Angeles and thriving, but she's also not over being fired. Back in Vanceland , everything is gleaming  — but Deborah isn't prepared for being a phenomenon. She wants it. She's worked for years for it. It's taken until her 70s to get it. But her presence alone being cause for frenzy, rather than the scrapping she's done to stay in the spotlight, isn't an easy adjustment.

Hacks streams via TVNZ+. Read our full review.



When podcasting grasped onto IRL mysteries and the world listened, it started a 21st-century circle of true crime obsessions. First, the audio format dived into the genre. Next, screens big and small gave it renewed attention, not that either ever shirked reality's bleakest details. Now, movies and TV shows are known to spin stories around folks investigating such cases to make podcasts, turning detective as they press record. And, as Only Murders in the Building did, sometimes there's also a podcast venturing behind the scenes of a fictional affair about podcasters sleuthing a case. While Bodkin mightn't come with an accompanying digital audio series stepping into its minutiae, it does take its fellow murder-mystery comedy's lead otherwise. Swaps are made — West Cork is in, New York is out; deaths pile up in an Irish village, not an apartment building; three chalk-and-cheese neighbours give way to a trio of mismatched journalists — but the shared format is as plain to see as blood splatter. Call that part of the 21st-century circle of true crime obsessions, too, as one hit inspires more. Bodkin is easy to get hooked on as well, even if it's not as guaranteed to return for additional seasons.

Siobhán Cullen (The Dry), Will Forte (Strays) and Robyn Cara (Mixtape) give this seven-part series its investigating threesome: Irishwoman-in-London Dove Maloney, a hard-nosed reporter who just lost a source on a big story; American Gilbert Power, who capitalised upon his wife's cancer for his first podcast hit; and enthusiastic researcher Emmy Sizergh, who wants to be Dove and, much to her idol's dismay, is fine with following Gilbert's lead to get there. They're thrown together in the show's titular town not by Dove's choice, but because she's bundled off by her editor. Gilbert and Emmy are well-aware that she's not there willingly — Dove isn't the type to hide her disdain for anything, be it her latest assignment, Gilbert's medium of choice and his approach, and Emmy's eagerness. Bodkin beckons courtesy of a cold case from a quarter-century back when the village gathered for its then-annual Samhain festival (an influence upon Halloween). Three people disappeared, which Gilbert is certain is a killer hook for the next big hit he desperately needs for the sake of both his reputation and his finances; however, Dove is adamant that there's much more going on than the narrative that Gilbert has already decided to tell.

Bodkin streams via Netflix. Read our full review.


Outer Range

It was true of season one of Outer Range and it doesn't stop proving the case in season two: thinking about Twin Peaks, Yellowstone, Lost, The X-Files, The Twilight Zone and primetime melodramas while you're watching this sci-fi western series is unavoidable. In its second go-around, throw in Dark, too, and also True Detective. Here, an eerie void on a Wyoming cattle ranch sends people hurtling through time, rather than a cave beneath a nuclear power plant — and that concept, time, is dubbed a river instead of a flat circle. The idea behind Outer Range, as conjured up creator Brian Watkins for its debut season in 2022, has always been intriguing: what if a tunnel of blackness topped by a mist of floating energy suddenly opened up in the earth? Also, where would this otherworldly chasm lead? What would be the consequences of taking a tumble into its inky expanse? What does it mean? It isn't literally a mystery box Dark Matter-style, but it also still is in everything but shape — while contemplating what effect such a phenomena has on a rancher family that's worked the land that the ethereal cavern appears on for generations, as well as upon the broader small-town community of Wabang.

Getting trippy came with the territory in season one, in an entrancing blend of the out-there and the earthy. Season two doubles down, dives in deeper and gallops across its chosen soil — a mix of the surreal and the soapy as well — with even more gusto. Just like with a vacuum that materialises on an otherwise ordinary-seeming paddock, no one should be leaping into Outer Range's second season unprepared. This isn't a series to jump into with no prior knowledge, or to just pick up along the way. It isn't simply the premise that Outer Range takes its time to reveal in all of its intricacy, a process that remains ongoing in season two; the characters, including Abbott patriarch Royal (Josh Brolin, Dune: Part Two), his wife Cecilia (Lili Taylor, Manhunt), their sons Perry (Tom Pelphrey, Love & Death) and Rhett (Lewis Pullman, Lessons in Chemistry), and stranger-in-their-midst Autumn (Imogen Poots, The Teacher), receive the same treatment.

Outer Range streams via Prime Video. Read our full review.


Jim Henson Idea Man

Making a documentary about Jim Henson can't be a difficult task. He's the man who created The Muppets, co-created Sesame Street, co-helmed The Dark Crystal and directed Labyrinth — and stepping through all four, complete with footage from them and behind-the-scenes clips as well, could fuel several portraits of the iconic puppeteer. Jim Henson Idea Man features plenty from that key Henson quartet, all teeming with insights. When viewers aren't getting a peek at The Muppet Show being made, they're exploring the technical trickery behind Kermit singing 'Rainbow Connection' in the swamp in The Muppet Movie. Or, if you're not hearing about how the Bert and Ernie dynamic was fuelled by Henson and Frank Oz's real-life personalities, you're being taken through the first version of The Dark Crystal where little was in any known language, then hearing from Jennifer Connelly (Dark Matter) about the picture that made "dance, magic dance" one of the most-famous lines from a movie song. Ron Howard (Thirteen Lives) has a dream job, then. He also makes the most of everything that a tribute to Henson needs. But, affectionate as it was always going to be — Henson is that rightly beloved, and always will be — his doco also dives deeper.

Talking heads, including Oz (Star Wars: Episode IX — The Rise of Skywalker), other colleagues and Henson's four surviving children, are on hand to chat through the man behind the on-screen magic amid the treasure trove of material. Again, this Cannes-premiering documentary is a tribute and an authorised one, but it also examines the impact of its subject's devotion to his work on his marriage, as well as on his wife and fellow puppeteer Jane's career. Howard and screenwriter Mark Monroe (The Beach Boys) are loving but clear-eyed in their approach — and wide-spanning in their range for anyone who hasn't delved into much of Henson's work beyond The Muppets, Sesame Street, The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth. As it hops through a birth-to-death timeline, the attention given to Henson's experimental films is essential and a delight. For 1965's Time Piece, he was nominated for an Academy Award, with the short held up here as a key to understanding the inner Henson beyond his public persona. Getting viewers discovering or rediscovering that piece, and what it conveys about its creator, is high among Jim Henson Idea Man's many gifts.

Jim Henson Idea Man streams via Disney+.



In the space of a mere two days to close out May, two tales of two puppeteers have popped up on streaming. Eric is pure fiction, but it's impossible not to think about Jim Henson while watching it, regardless of whether you also have a small-screen date with Jim Henson Idea Man. Creator and writer Abi Morgan — who has previously penned the likes of Shame, The Iron Lady, The Invisible Woman, Suffragette, River and The Split — puts a Henson-esque figure with his own hit TV show for kids at the core of her six-part miniseries. Played by Benedict Cumberbatch (The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar) in a performance that's bound to receive awards attention, Vincent Anderson even physically resembles the man behind The Muppets and Sesame Street, but he definitely isn't Henson. Firstly, Anderson is an abusive alcoholic. Secondly, his nine-year-old son Edgar (debutant Ivan Morris Howe) goes missing one morning on his walk to school. And thirdly, the eponymous Eric is a seven-foot-tall monster muppet who his boy scribbled to life on the page and then starts following Vincent as his mental health struggles after Edgar disappears.

As a series, the 1985-set Eric is ambitious — and, as well as exceptionally acted, also instantly involving and deeply layered as it ponders how a sunny world can turn unkind, cruel and corrupt. It's an ordinary day when Edgar trundles out his New York City door alone, and routine even in the fact that Vincent and his wife Cassie (Gaby Hoffmann, C'mon C'mon) have been fighting. But soon the Anderson family is plunged into crisis. As he frays visibly, Vincent still can't tear himself away from work, becoming obsessed with turning Eric into his show's newest character. Cassie is certain that reward money from her husband's rich parents, who he's estranged from, will help rustle up information on her son's whereabouts. At the NYPD, detective Michael Ledroit (McKinley Belcher III, One Piece) is working the case while handling his own baggage. He's still trying to find another missing kid from 11 months ago, too, but with far less support because that child is Black. Ledroit is also a closeted gay Black man in a workplace and at a time that's hardly welcoming, with a dying partner at home.

Eric streams via Netflix. Read our full review.


The Veil

It's simple to glean how and why Elisabeth Moss (Next Goal Wins) was cast as The Veil's Imogen Salter, the MI6 agent whose speciality is complex undercover gigs, even if the part in this six-episode miniseries initially seems like the opposite of her recent work. In The Handmaid's TaleShining Girls and The Invisible Man, trauma and abuse came her characters' ways — but the flipside, of course, is persisting, enduring and fighting back. The inner steeliness that it takes to survive dystopian subjugation, domestic violence and an assault isn't far removed from the outward resolve that Imogen wears like a second skin. The more that The Veil goes on, the more that the show and Moss unpack why its key intelligence agent sports such armour, plus the emotional underpinning that's definitely familiar territory for the actor. The role by the end of the series screams her name, in fact, but the cool, calm, collected and ass-kicking Imogen does as well. Watching Moss as a top-of-her-game spy who puts everyone in their place is the kind of idea that should always get an immediate green light.

The Veil is gripping from start to finish, and also a better show because it has Moss at its centre. Imogen isn't her character's real name, a detail that's par for the course in espionage antics and also symbolic of someone trying to construct a new facade atop pain that won't fade. Her latest gig puts Adilah El Idrissi (Yumna Marwan, The Stranger's Case) in her sights, a woman who similarly mightn't be who she says she is. At a snowy refugee camp (Australian Wakefield actor Dan Wyllie plays its man in charge) on the border of Turkey and Syria, the latter is attacked for her purported ties to ISIS — not just as an operative but as a mastermind, which she denies. Working with French DGES agent Malik Amar (Dali Benssalah, Street Flow 2) and American CIA agent Max Peterson (Josh Charles, The Power), Imogen's task is to obtain the truth out of Adilah, who says that she just wants to get back to her young daughter. It's also plain to see why creator and writer Steven Knight (Peaky Blinders, SAS Rogue Heroes), plus directors Daina Reid (a Shining Girls and The Handmaid's Tale alum) and Damon Thomas (The Big Cigar), put Moss and the also-excellent Marwan together for much of the series.

The Veil streams via Disney+.


The Idea of You

He's just a boy, standing in front of a girl, asking her to love him. The Idea of You doesn't use specific those words, aka a gender-flipped version of the Notting Hill quote that became entrenched in popular consciousness a quarter century ago, but it follows the same broad tale and conveys that exact sentiment. He is Hayes Campbell (Nicholas Galitzine, Mary & George), the twentysomething pop idol who fronts British boy band August Moon. She is divorcee Solène Marchand (Anne Hathaway, Armageddon Time), an art dealer hitting her 40s who's a mother to teenage Izzy (Ella Rubin, Masters of the Air). And as they meet-cute — not at a bookstore but at Coachella, where Solène is escorting her daughter and her friends to see August Moon, including a VIP meet-and-greet with Hayes and his bandmates backstage — there's no avoiding thinking about Hugh Grant (Unfrosted) and Julia Roberts (Leave the World Behind). Thanks to the internet, although author Robinne Lee has rebuffed the idea that she wrote the novel The Idea of You as fan fiction, there's no escaping Harry Styles popping into your head, either.

Actor-turned-writer Lee (Kaleidoscope) knows a thing or two about fanfic: she featured in the movie adaptations of the Fifty Shades books. But the potential Styles of it all doesn't matter when the style of the tale, especially on-screen, is a rom-com about a woman being seen at a time in her life when traditionally the opposite happens. There shouldn't be an air of wish fulfilment to this story in a perfect world, or a race to join the dots to connect it to a celebrity and make that the crux of the narrative's importance. Writer/director Michael Showalter (Spoiler Alert) and co-screenwriter Jennifer Westfeldt (The First Lady), both of whom are actors themselves, thankfully don't opt for that path. Instead, while the movie's characters could've used more flesh in the script and cliches remain apparent, The Idea of You gets layered performances out of Hathaway and Galitzine to make its setup feel emotionally authentic. The details: that cute meeting, her reluctance, his perseverance, chasing their hearts on August Moon's tour of Europe, then navigating the reality behind the fantasy.

The Idea of You streams via Prime Video.


The Tattooist of Auschwitz

How do you bring a tale of the holocaust's horrors and the human spirit's tenacity to the screen when it's as complicated as The Tattooist of Auschwitz? Many of complexities surrounding Heather Morris' book aren't on the page, but rather in the story's dialogue between truth and fiction — with the narrative based on a real-life concentration camp survivor's recollections, but questions raised about inaccuracies in the text's account. As a six-part miniseries, The Tattooist of Auschwitz confronts the queries surrounding its contents, which reached shelves in 2018, by constantly noting how unreliable that memories can be. Each episode opens with "based on the memories of holocaust survivor Lali Sokolov" before sections of the phrase fades, leaving just "the memories of Lali Sokolov" lingering. Backtracking as the elderly Lali (Harvey Keitel, Paradox Effect) recounts his time at Auschwitz to probe how true the specifics are, offer different versions, revise the minutiae and sway the perspective is also an element of the show, as are other figures — such as Stefan Baretzki (Jonas Nay, Concordia), an SS officer overseeing the younger Lali (Jonah Hauer-King, The Little Mermaid) — appearing like ghosts to put forward another viewpoint.

Screenwriters Jacquelin Perske (Fires), Gabbie Asher (Sanctuary) and Evan Placey (Soulmates) — and also director Tali Shalom-Ezer (The Psychologist), who helms the entire miniseries — frame The Tattooist of Auschwitz as a portrait of a man looking back at his life and an examination of the fact that every recounting is always guided by storytelling choices. It's a canny move, recognising that Lali's experiences as a Slovakian Jewish prisoner during World War II can only be filtered through his eyes, especially as gutwrenching horror surrounds him but love still springs. Being enlisted with the titular job, which brings a sliver of benefits and freedoms within the camp; falling for fellow detainee Gita (Anna Próchniak, Unmoored) while he's inking; the fraught nature of their fight to be together in such grim circumstances; the reality of death everywhere around them; his relationship with the volatile Baretzki: as Lali at age 87 chats through it with aspiring writer Morris (Melanie Lynskey, Yellowjackets), that this is his journey and that his recounting isn't infallible remain constantly in mind. Keitel is particularly excellent, but the most haunting element of the compelling series, unsurprisingly, is the moments that it spends with the dead — moments where there's no possibility of different perceptions — who stare straight to camera when they pass.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz streams via Neon.


A New Show to Check Out Week by Week

Dark Matter

When an Australian actor makes it big, it can feel as if there's more than one of them. Joel Edgerton, who has been on local screens for almost three decades and made the leap to Hollywood with the Australian-shot Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones, is such a talent. He's usually everywhere and in almost everything (such as The Stranger, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Thirteen Lives, Master Gardener, I'm a Virgo, The Boys in the Boat and Bluey in just the past two years), and viewers would follow him anywhere. Dark Matter wasn't written to capitalise upon that idea. Rather, it hails from the page of Blake Crouch's 2016 novel, with the author also creating the new nine-part sci-fi series that it's based on. But the show's lead casting leans into the notion that you can never have too much Edgerton by multiplying him in the multiverse. For the characters in Dark Matter, however, the fact that there's more than a single Jason Dessen causes considerable issues.

The series' protagonist is a former experimental physics genius-turned-professor in Chicago. He's married to artist-turned-gallerist Daniela (Jennifer Connelly, Bad Behaviour), a father to teenager Charlie (Oakes Fegley, The Fabelmans) and the best friend of award-winning college pal Ryan Holder (Jimmi Simpson, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia). And, he's been happy living the quiet family life, although pangs of envy quietly arise when he's celebrating Ryan's prestigious new accolade. Then, when another Jason pops up to pull off a kidnapping and doppelgänger plot, he's soon navigating a cross between Sliding Doors and Everything Everywhere All At Once. Everything is a multiverse tale of late, but Dark Matter is also a soul-searching "what if?" drama, exploring the human need to wonder what might've been if just one choice — sometimes big, sometimes small — had veered in a different direction. While a box is pivotal mode of transport like this is Doctor Who, as are all manner of worlds to visit, this is high-concept sci-fi at its most grounded. Neither version of Jason wants to hop through parallel worlds in the name of adventure or exploration — they're simply chasing their idea of everyday perfection.

Dark Matter streams via Apple TV+. Read our full review.


An Excellent Recent Film You Might've Missed on the Big Screen

Anatomy of a Fall

A calypso instrumental cover of 50 Cent's 'P.I.M.P.' isn't the only thing that Anatomy of a Fall's audience won't be able to dislodge from their heads after watching 2023's deserving Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or-winner. A film that's thorny, knotty and defiantly unwilling to give any easy answers, this legal, psychological and emotional thriller about a woman on trial for her husband's death is unshakeable in as many ways as someone can have doubts about another person: so, a myriad. The scenario conjured up by writer/director Justine Triet (Sibyl) is haunting, asking not only if her protagonist committed murder, as the on-screen investigation and courtroom proceedings interrogate, but digging into what it means to be forced to choose between whether someone did the worst or is innocent — or if either matters. While the Gallic legal system provides the backdrop for much of the movie, the real person doing the real picking isn't there in a professional capacity, or on a jury. Rather, it's the 11-year-old boy who loved his dad, finds him lying in the snow with a head injury outside their French Alps home on an otherwise ordinary day, then becomes the key witness in his mum's case.

Also impossible to forget: the performances that are so crucial in telling this tale of marital and parental bonds, especially from one of German's current best actors and the up-and-coming French talent playing her son. With her similarly astonishing portrayal in The Zone of Interest, Toni Erdmann and I'm Your Man's Sandra Hüller is two for two in movies that initially debuted globally in 2023; here, she steps into the icy and complicated Sandra Voyter's shoes with the same kind of surgical precision that Triet applies to unpacking the character's home life. As Daniel, who couldn't be more conflicted about the nightmare situation he's been thrust into, Milo Machado Graner (Alex Hugo) is a revelation — frequently via his expressive face and posture alone. If Scenes From a Marriage met Kramer vs Kramer, plus 1959's Anatomy of a Murder that patently influences Anatomy of a Fall's name, this would be the gripping end result — as fittingly written by Triet with her IRL partner Arthur Harari (Onoda: 10,000 Nights in the Jungle).

Anatomy of a Fall streams via TVNZ+. Read our full review.


Need a few more streaming recommendations? Check out our picks from January, February, March and April this year, and also from January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November and December 2023.

You can also check out our running list of standout must-stream shows from 2023 as well — and our best 15 new shows of 2023, 15 newcomers you might've missed, top 15 returning shows of the year, 15 best films, 15 top movies you likely didn't see, 15 best straight-to-streaming flicks and 30 movies worth catching up on over the summer.

Top image: Christine Tamalet / FX.

Published on May 31, 2024 by Sarah Ward
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