This month's key theatrical releases:
Below, our editors have selected the 10 most notable films debuting this month (including limited releases), listed in alphabetical order.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Action | May 2 | Directed by Marc Webb
For some fans, 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Manfelt too familiar, a retelling of Spider-Man’s origin story just ten years after Sam Raimi’s similarSpider-Man. But enough critics and moviegoers embraced the film, leading to healthy box office numbers and Sony’s commitment to not just a sequel, but also a third film (due June 10, 2016), a fourth film (currently set for May 4, 2018), and upcoming spin-offs The Sinister Six and Venom. Disappointingly mixed early reviewsfor Marc Webb’s sequel (in theaters this week) will not slow down the Spider-Man juggernaut, but some critics have pointed out that the new film feels less like a movie than an overstuffed set-up for future installments as Peter Parker discovers a conspiracy at Oscorp and battles Dane DeHaan as Harry Osborn/The Green Goblin, Jaime Fox as Electro, and Paul Giamatti as Rhino. One bright spot that critics seem to agree on is the winning chemistry between stars Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone.
Drama | May 9 | Directed by Richard Ayoade
Jessie Eisenberg stars as Simon James and his doppelgänger James Simon in this sophomore effort from actor-turned-director Richard Ayoade. Simon James is a timid, lonely office worker whose life is thrown out of balance when James Simon, a confident, charismatic new hire—and Simon’s physical double—is able to catch the eye of Simon’s boss (Wallace Shawn) and dream girl (Mia Wasikowska). Ayoade adapted Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novella with Avi Korine (brother of director Harmony Korine) and directs an impressive ensemble that includes Noah Taylor, Sally Hawkins, Yasmin Page, James Fox, and Chris O’Dowd (Ayoade’s costar in British TV comedy The IT Crowd).
Action/Sci-fi | May 16 | Directed by Gareth Edwards
The most famous of movie monsters is back. Of course, anyone who remembers 1998’s Godzillaor the slightly less awful Godzilla 2000 knows that the return of Godzilla can be bad news for viewers as well as the residents of whatever metropolis he's terrorizing. Making the leap from his low-budget debut Monsters, director Gareth Edwards decided to take a serious approach to a story that will balance familial drama with $160 million worth of epic destruction. The family at the center of the film consists of Joe and Sandra Brody, mom and dad nuclear physicists played by Bryan Cranston and Juliette Binoche, and their children Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Elle (Elizabeth Olsen). Helping to explain the origins of Godzilla, while hoping to find a way to contain the beast, are Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins and David Strathairn. Industry experts are already predicting a $60-$70 million opening weekend, while Metacritic users forecast a Metascore of 68.
Drama | May 16 | Directed by James Gray
France has always been kind to James Gray (four of the director’s five films have played in competition at Cannes), but the U.S. has been a tougher sell. His latest drama examines his own family’s past (as well as America’s) by following the plight of Ewa, a Polish immigrant played by Marion Cotillard, and her sister, Magda (Angela Sarafyan). When Magda is denied entry into the United States due to illness, Ewa falls into the hands of Bruno, a low-level opportunist played by Joaquin Phoenix. Jeremy Renner plays Bruno’s cousin and rival, Orlando the Magician. The film has received generally favorable early reviews, with plenty of praise being given to the performances (especially Cotillard's) and the cinematography by Darius Khondji (Se7en,Amour).
Fantasy/Family | May 30 | Directed by Robert Stromberg
Angelina Jolie returns to the big screen for the first time since 2010’s The Tourist as Maleficent in this darker, live-action re-imagining of Disney’s 1959 animated classic Sleeping Beauty. Working from a script by Linda Woolverton (Alice in Wonderland) and John Lee Hancock (Snow White and the Huntsman), veteran production designer and visual effects supervisor Robert Stromberg makes his directorial debut, bringing plenty of visual flair to a story that finds Elle Fanning’s Princess Aurora in the middle of a battle between her father (Sharlto Copley) and Maleficent, a fairy who once had wings. Sam Riley, Brenton Thwaites, Miranda Richardson, and Juno Temple have supporting roles.
A Million Ways to Die in the West
Comedy/Western | May 30 | Directed by Seth MacFarlane
In this follow-up to his successful debut featureTed, Seth MacFarlane writes, directs, and stars as Albert, a cowardly farmer who loses his girlfriend (Amanda Seyfried) to a mustachioed slickster played by Neil Patrick Harris. Luckily for Albert, he befriends the new-to-town Anna (Charlize Theron). Unluckily for Albert, Anna's husband (Liam Neeson) is an outlaw looking for a gunfight. Joining MacFarlane in the comically dangerous Old West are Giovanni Ribisi, Sarah Silverman, Wes Studi, and Doc Brown himself, Christopher Lloyd.
Comedy | May 9 | Directed by Nicholas Stoller
Buzz has been building for Neighbors since the comedy received excellent reviews at the SXSW Film Festival this spring. Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne star as a young couple with a newborn baby whose lives are suddenly turned upside down when a fraternity moves in next door. Zac Efron plays the leader of the fraternity while Dave Franco, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Hannibal Buress, Jake Johnson, Craig Roberts, Ike Barinholtz and Jason Mantzoukas all have supporting roles. Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The Five-Year Engagement) directs from a script by Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O’Brien.
Drama | May 9 | Directed by Gia Coppola
The latest member of the Coppola family to enter the family business (filmmaking) is 27-year-old Gia Coppola, granddaughter of Francis Ford Coppola, and niece of Sofia and Roman. Gia makes her directorial debut with Palo Alto, an adaptation of James Franco’s collection of short stories set in the titular California town. In the drama, Emma Roberts's April has a dangerous flirtation with her single-dad soccer coach, Mr. B (James Franco). Teddy (Jack Kilmer, son of Val, who also has a small role) is into April, but he’s serving community service for a DUI while his best friend Fred (Nat Wolff) becomes more reckless and unpredictable with each passing night. The film’s Hollywood pedigree, good early reviews, an original score from Dev Hynes of Blood Orange, and the constant controversy surrounding Mr. Franco makes this one to look for as it opens in select cities throughout the month.
Drama | May 23 | Directed by John Curran
In 1977, Robyn Davidson set off on a 1,700-mile trek with four camels and a dog, traveling from Alice Springs across the deserts of Western Australia to the Indian Ocean. Working from Marion Nelson’s adaptation of Davidson’s 1980 memoir, director John Curran brings this journey to life with Mia Wasikowska as Davidson and Adam Driver as National Geographic photographer Rick Smolan, who documented her trip for the magazine. After being in development for three decades, the finally completed film received strong reviews when it premiered on the festival circuit last fall, with special notice given to Wasikowska’s performance.
X-Men: Days of Future Past
Action | May 23 | Directed by Bryan Singer
While Bryan Singer’s recent troubles will keep him off the publicity tour, there is no doubting his impact on the X-Men movie franchise. After directing X-Men and X2: X-Men United, he stepped aside for 2006’s inferior X-Men: The Last Stand. But when Matthew Vaughn, director of 2011’s X-Men: First Class, decided to move on, Singer jumped back in to helm this time-traveling story, based on one of the most belovedX-Men comics. Days of Future Past brings together the original cast (Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Ellen Page, Anna Paquin, Shawn Ashmore, and Daniel Cudmore) with the cast from First Class (James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, and Lucas Till) to fight Peter Dinklage’s Bolivar Trask as he tries to wipe out the mutants with his deadly invention, the Sentinels. In an already crowded film, there are some new faces as well, including Omar Sy as Bishop, Fan Bingbing as Blink, Booboo Stewart as Warpath, Evan Peters as Quicksilver, and Adan Canto as Sunspot. A sequel, X-Men: Apocalypse, is already set for May 27, 2016.
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