Welcome to our monthly movie preview. Here, we will count down our top choices for films opening in the month of May. It’s a big month at the movies too. Some of the year’s most eagerly anticipated titles are approaching, kicking off the summer movie season. 2015 is a major year for tentpoles and several of the biggest, loudest, and in some cases, riskiest are set to debut in the month of May. Join us as we cut through all the noise – be it in the form of earthquakes, post-apocalyptic sparring, a cappella rehearsals, or wreckage from the Hulk – that well dominate the cinematic conversation next month as well as point out some of the quieter options opening at the art house that might be worth keeping an eye on. It’s a busy month at the movies, so let’s get started.
10) THE D TRAIN
Buzzometer: 3/10 – The D Train gained notoriety at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival (where the film had its world premiere) for a particular sequence involving Black and Marsden that might just turn the “bromance” comedy sub-genre on its head for good. No spoilers here, but while “gay panic” has been a common punchline in everything from the Judd Apatow films to The Hangover series, The D Train may be the genre’s headiest deconstruction yet. Curiosity alone may be able to help IFC Films turn a small mint here as may Marsden’s performance, which many critics out of Sundance have said is the film’s saving grace.
Release Date: May 8th (limited)
Buzzometer: 4/10 – For a while, it seemed a treat when Crowe, who won an Oscar for penning the semi-autobiographical Almost Famous, came out with a new film. Jerry Maguire, Say Anything and Almost Famous all deftly matched observant dialogue with emotionally nuanced performances and great soundtracks. Then, well, came Vanilla Sky (2001) and Elizabethtown (2005) and We Bought a Zoo (2011), all of which were met with less-than-favorable reviews and audience apathy. Aloha hopes to change the recent course in Crowe’s filmography. While the film has already faced a few challenged along the way (including a never encouraging release date delay), it sure has a terrific ensemble and might serve as a frothy bit of counter-programming to the bigger guns of the summer movie season.
Release Date: May 29th
8) FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
Buzzometer: 4/10 – With its Tony pedigree and revered source material, Far From the Madding Crowd is the classy, literary choice for the month of May. Even if it seemingly may only excite the grandmothers and English lit majors the world, don’t be surprised if this period romantic drama has unexpectedly strong summer legs at the box office. Early reviews have been fairly strong and distributor Fox Searchlight has a decent track record at opening smart, polished counter-programming for grown-ups during the summer (last year, the racial period drama Belle opened at the same time and made a pretty penny).
Release Date: May 1st (limited)
7) WELCOME TO ME
Buzzometer: 5/10 – Since making her mark on Saturday Night Live and being the driving force behind Bridesmaids, Wiig has been making incredibly interesting career choices. Moving back and forth between the indie world (The Skeleton Twins) and the more mainstream (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty), and between broad comedy (Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues) and more dramatic work (Hateship Loveship), as a performer it feels like we’ve only the very surface of her talents. Welcome to Me seems like a dose of Wiig the Clown meeting Wiig the Actress. Early reviews seem to suggest the actress elevates the nutty premise.
Release Date: May 1st (limited)
6) SAN ANDREAS
Buzzometer: 6/10 – The dialogue in the trailers sounds terrible (“The Earth will literally crack and you will feel it on the East Coast”), but finely crafted writing is not the main attraction for San Andreas; that would be the visual effects running amok destroying the fine state of California. San Andreas might be the kind of dumb fun to settle all of us for the very noisy, effects-driven summer ahead of us. Plus, having The Rock in your movie has been pretty valuable lately.
Release Date: May 29th
5) PITCH PERFECT 2
Buzzometer: 6/10 – Kendrick (a former Oscar nominee for her work in the 2009 drama Up in the Air) has seemingly been keeping the musical genre afloat on her shoulders the last few years (Pitch Perfect, Into the Woods, The Last Five Years) and her beguiling presence elevated the original film into a serious moneymaker. That’s terrific, and it’s a wonderful thing for the industry to try and tackle more franchises catered around talented woman (in front of and behind the camera); still, Pitch Perfect, with its slim premise and heavy re-watch-ability, may not the worthiest entry of an expanded cinematic universe. If the sequel is sub-par, will it shrink the frothy pleasures of the first outing? Even the television show Glee, an obvious comp, fairly quickly wore out its welcome.
Release Date: May 15th
4) WHEN MARNIE WAS THERE (OMOIDE NO MANI)
Buzzometer: 7/10 – Perhaps overselling the buzz just slightly, but its for the good, I promise. And without question, a Studio Ghibli offering is high on the list of many a cinephile (considering there’s the very real possibility they will close up shop with Marnie, it might be an even higher priority to some). While shrugged off in its native Japan when released last summer, glowing reviews and a push from Gkids, distributing the title in the United States, might make When Marnie Was There a surprise on the specialty circuit.
Release Date: May 22nd (limited)
3) MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
Buzzometer: 8/10 – No one will question Miller’s almost otherworldly talent. Aside from the three previous Mad Max installments, the filmmaker’s decidedly quirky filmography includes Babe: Pig in the City (1998), the camp classic The Witches of Eastwick (1987), the poignant family melodrama Lorenzo’s Oil (1992) and the two Happy Feet films (this first of which won Miller an Oscar for Best Animated Feature). With all of that said, it’s sure that Mad Max: Fury Road will be a treat for the senses (even if it includes many scenes that are positively revolting), yet there’s a deeper question on the playability of a franchise whose last entry was released thirty years ago.
Release Date: May 15th
Buzzometer: 9/10 – The confidently composed trailers have certainly raised awareness to Tomorrowland, a property that was eagerly anticipated since the moment it was announced. Yet, with that promise comes a certain degree of nitpicking – Robertson’s character, a budding scientific thinker by the name of Casey Newton seems designated “the one,” which reads as a retread of seemingly thousands of origin stories. Yet truthfully, there’s enough trust in the visionary powers of Bird at the helm – the two-time Oscar winning animation titan behind The Incredibles and Ratatouille (not to mention the 1999 cult film The Iron Giant) previously revamped the Mission: Impossible franchise with 2011’s Ghost Protocol, his live action debut.
Release Date: May 22nd
1) AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON
Buzzometer: 10/10 – Many have already purchased their tickets for opening weekend which renders any sort of thoughtful analysis here completely unnecessary. When The Avengers opened in May 2012, box office records were broken and Marvel’s stake in the movie business was solidified. Three years later, the films’ after effects charged massive sales and (mostly) positive audience response to Thor: The Dark World (2013), Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) and spurred on a quirky underdog sensation with last summer’s outlier Guardians of the Galaxy. In short, this is Marvel’s time and their (seemingly never-ending) supply will only begin to fall when audiences start to shrug them off. While Avengers: Age of Ultron will make a killing a half (outside of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it’s the biggest film of the year), history dictates that all franchises must come to an end at some point. Could fatigue set in now?
Release Date: May 1st
ALSO OPENING IN MAY:
- FIVE FLIGHTS UP- Drama starring Oscar winners Diane Keaton and Morgan Freeman as a longtime married couple overwhelmed by New York real estate. (May 8th – limited)
- ALOFT- Oscar winner Jennifer Connelly stars in this drama about a woman encountering the child she abandoned twenty years earlier. (May 22nd – limited)
- THE CONNECTION- Oscar winner Jean Dujardin plays a French detective on the hunt of a powerful drug ring. (May 15th- limited)
- EVERY SECRET THING- Mystery starring Diane Lane, Elizabeth Banks and Dakota Fanning from Oscar nominated documentarian Amy Berg (West of Memphis). (May 15th – limited)
- GOOD KILL- Ethan Hawke plays a man questioning the morals of drone warfare. (May 15th – limited)
- HOT PURSUIT- Police woman Reese Witherspoon is assigned to protect charge Sofia Vergara in this new comedy. (May 8th)
- I’LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS- Blythe Danner earned raves at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival in this comedy-drama about a 70-something widow confronting her past. (May 15th – limited)
- MAGGIE- New zombie thriller starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Abigal Breslin. (May 8th – limited)
- POLTERGEIST- Update of the ’80s classic with Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie Dewitt. (May 8th)
- RESULTS- Guy Pearce and Cobie Smulders headline gym-based romantic comedy. (May 29th- limited)
- SAINT LAURENT- Provocative bio of designer Yves Saint Laurent from auteur Bertrand Bonello. (May 8th – limited)