Decisions, decisions. Have you finished Netflix during isolation? Maybe you’ve binge-watched all of Seinfeld, Frasier, or Friends on Stan? Relived your childhood on Disney Plus or gone on a Scandi-noir rampage on SBS On Demand. Thankfully these streaming platforms have dropped some excellent content this May. Here’s some new streaming releases proudly endorsed by CW arts editor Denholm Samaras.
A benchmark for the neo-noir genre, Chinatown floors viewers on their first watch. Masterfully working with pacing, tension, intrigue, mystery, and even elements of horror, Chinatown tops all that off with an all-time performance from Jack Nicholson.
Another one like it – Marshland was determined to be one of the best Spanish films of 2014, and was defined by critics as a suffocating cop thriller with a subtle sociopolitical subplot.
Frances Ha (2012)
A character-driven, black-and-white film capturing a portrait of the unpredictable life led by its main character, 27-year-old New York dancer Frances. Frances Ha was co-written by director Noah Baumbach and his partner Greta Gerwig, who also stars as the eponymous Frances.
Frances Ha is also available on Stan.
Another one like it – A number of Baumbach’s films are available on Netflix, including the critically acclaimed exclusive releases Marriage Story and The Meyerowitz Stories.
A gentle, quiet, simple yet extraordinary slice-of-life movie, Paterson sees Adam Driver rather ironically play a bus driver and a poet. It spends one week with Driver’s Paterson, who lives in Paterson, New Jersey with his wife Laura (Golshifteh Farahani) and their English bulldog, Marvin.
Another one like it – Lost in Translation similarly presents a slice-of-life narrative, albeit with a completely different set of circumstances under the bright lights of early-2000s Tokyo.
Netflix is one business that has certainly done very well out of this pandemic. After Tiger King dominated headlines from late March through to early April, this new Chris Hemsworth vehicle has opened with all guns blazing. It apparently enjoyed the most-watched premiere in Netflix’s history. This action-thriller has everything you expect: jaw-dropping stunts, huge set pieces, explosions, guns, excessive violence, and apparently a strong performance from Hemsworth.
Another one like it – Given the immediate comparisons, if you liked Extraction you’ll love the entire John Wick trilogy, and vice versa. All 3 Wick movies are available on Netflix.
Jonah Hill’s directorial debut is a semi-autobiographical story of a summer he spent growing up skating the streets of Los Angeles in the, you guessed it, mid-1990s. A heavily stylised period piece, Mid90s shines due to strong performances from its youthful cast and the way it transports you back to those care-free adolescent summer days.
Another one like it – For a totally different perspective on the timeless coming-of-age story, check out Mud on Stan.
A deserved Best Movie Oscar winner, Parasite is a breathtaking cinematic achievement that was clearly so meticulously planned and perfectly executed. Parasite has rightly received universal acclaim and has won wide appeal due to there being so much to like, I can’t fault it. Put it at the top of your list if you haven’t already seen it.
Another one like it – Writer-director Bong Jun Ho’s exhilarating English-language Snowpiercer is available on both Stan and Netflix.
School of Rock (2003)
An incredibly fun, family-friendly musical comedy that serves as both great entertainment and a musical education for young viewers. Star Jack Black is in his element bringing his rambunctious, OTT schtick to a role, and musical chops to a movie that is a perfect vehicle for his many talents.
Another one like it – 1990s kids will fondly remember A Goofy Movie, available on Disney Plus, which, like School of Rock, is a musical comedy. Hands up if you’re still hanging out for Powerline’s long awaited I 2 I follow up.
The latest outing from the masters of animation, Pixar, tells the story of two elf brothers in a magical universe who set forth on a quest to bring their late father back for a single day. While perhaps not putting itself in the top echelon of Pixar movies, Onward is an entertaining adventure filled with enough emotional and heart-warming moments to keep you invested.
Another one like it – With a similar modern spin on old-timey mythical storytelling, How to Train Your Dragon is available on Netflix and Stan, and How to Train Your Dragon 2 is available on Stan.
Edward Scissorhands (1990)
A magical, modern fairytale with gothic overtones, Edward Scissorhands is a pure yet bittersweet movie dealing with themes like alienation and small town, mob mentalities. This film was famously the beginning of a beautiful friendship between long-time collaborators, director Tim Burton and his leading man Johnny Depp.
Another one like it – See another excellent performance from a young Johnny Depp in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape on SBS on Demand. Like Edward Scissorhands, it examines small town politics by way of eccentric storytelling.