Wondering what to watch on Amazon and tired of scrolling through the algorithm-approved selection on your homepage? Not to worry, we’ve combed through all the new movies arriving on Amazon Prime Video this month and put together a hand-picked selection of highlights.
May is pretty low on new Amazon Original Films, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a whole bunch of must-watch movies and hidden gems hitting the streaming library this month. For sci-fi enthusiasts, you can’t do much better than Aliens or if you’re looking for something a little more lowkey, the slept-on gem Robot & Frank. If you’re in the mood for a feel-good movie, Almost Famous always hits the mark, and if you want some straight-up psychological horror, don’t miss A24’s latest horror highlight Saint Maud.
Get the details on all our picks for the best new movies on Amazon below, and if you want to see a complete list of all the new movies and shows arriving this month, click through the following link.
Available: May 1
Director/Writer: James Cameron
Cast: Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, Paul Reiser, Lance Henriksen, Carrie Henn, Bill Paxton, Jenette Goldstein, Mark Rolston
Look, it’s freakin’ Aliens. We all know this movie rules. It’s one of the best sci-fi films, one of the best action films, a definitive James Cameron movie, and considered by many the best film in the Alien franchise – which is really saying something when you consider how perfect Ridley Scott’s original movie is. We all know all that, and yet I still can’t help but be blown away by the film’s impeccable construction and execution every dang time I watch it. Sigourney Weaver is phenomenal, cementing herself an iconic figure of cinema as a wiser, more hard-edged, but still achingly human version of Ellen Ripley, who once again has to face down the Queen Bitch of Space, H.R. Giger’s inimitable Xenomorph. But this time, there’s more of those pesky Aliens, everything bigger and more explosive, and she’s accompanied by a team of hard-ass marines to unleash all-out battle.
But Cameron’s real magic here is how he manages to expand the scope and scale of the franchise, without losing the signature ingredients that made it so special (something every subsequent sequel, most of which I genuinely like, failed to do). Cameron makes time for white-knuckle tension and breathless moments of horror amidst his stunning action set-pieces, he maintains the themes of corporate indifference and bodily violation, and similarly, his script amplifies everything we loved about Ripley while evolving the character. It’s a flawless chef’s kiss of a film you can never watch too many times.
The Towering Inferno
Available: May 1
Director: John Guillermin
Writer: Stirling Silliphant
Cast: Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, William Holden, Faye Dunaway, Fred Astaire, Susan Blakely, Richard Chamberlain, Jennifer Jones, O. J. Simpson, Robert Vaughn, Robert Wagner
A star-studded event film of its era, The Towering Inferno is a wildly A-list, sprawling disaster movie that holds up as one of the greats of the genre. With a cast that includes Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, Faye Dunaway, and Fred Astaire (a late-career performance earned him his sole Oscar nomination, hard as that is to believe), The Towering Inferno scatters its stars throughout a massive skyscraper and watches them scramble to survive after a fire starts raging through the floors.
With a near-three-hour runtime it doesn’t really need, The Towering Inferno suffers from occasional dragging moments, but the spectacle is truly spectacular, and every time the film pivots back to its next explosive set-piece, you can’t help but get swept back into the scorching survival nightmare, no small thanks to the masterful special effects and stuntwork, which are still stunning all these decades later. And even if that runtime is over-the-top, it also ensures that you get to spend time with all the legendary stars and get invested in their characters – a time investment that makes some of the film’s most surprising deaths all the more heartbreaking. It’s, ahem, a towering figure in the disaster genre for good reason, a film that helped establish the playbook that so many successors follow to this day, and honestly, does it better than most of them; a wholly cinematic experience that’s overwhelming and colossal in every possible way.
Available: May 1
Directors/Writers: Lana and Lilly Wachowski
Cast: Jennifer Tilly, Gina Gershon, Joe Pantoliano, Christopher Meloni
Do you like your thrillers super sexy and stylish as hell? Well, friends, then you really can’t do much better than Bound. The feature debut from Lana and Lilly Wachowski premiered three years before they would change action cinema forever with The Matrix, and while it may not have the pioneering set-pieces or mult-reality existential scale of their subsequent works, it’s a knockout showcase for their command of frame, inspired use of aesthetic, and investigation of identity, presented in the packaging of a puzzle box neo-noir. And its just declious in every way; seductive, sensual, funny, relentless, and full of twists that pay off with one bloody turn after the next. It even has Christopher Meloni going full ham as a sadistic mafioso. What more could you want? Well, how about a great love story?
Jennifer Tilly stars as Violet, a subversion of the mob doll femme fatale, alongside Gina Gershon as Corky, a hardened ex-con. The two lock eyes in an elevator and it’s immediately electric, leading to a steamy love affair, and eventually, a plan to steal $1 million of mob money from Violet’s money-laundering boyfriend Caesar (Joe Pantoliano) and make a clean break. Tilly and Gershon have all-timer chemistry and their yearning is palpable, giving the audience an immediate emotional hook into all the hyperviolent hijinks that are about to unfold. Ultimately, Bound is one of the best films ever made about desire. Desire for your lover, sure, but also the desire for more, the desire for a better life, and the desire to be your truest self, out in the open, without fear.
Reign of Fire
Available: May 1
Director: Rob Bowman
Writers: Matt Greenberg, Gregg Chabot, Kevin Peterka
Cast: Christian Bale, Matthew McConaughey, Izabella Scorupco, Gerard Butler, Alexander Siddig
Another scorching survival movie to light up your screens this month, the underrated 2000s dragon movie Reign of Fire is well worth a watch. Starring Christian Bale and Matthew McConaughey before they went and got all prestigious, Reign of Fire takes place in the apocalyptic waste of Earth that remains after swarms of dragons overtake the planet. Fully ditching the fantasy flavor that usually comes part and parcel with the mythical beasts, the film frames them as the ultimate invasion of nightmare pests, leaving only scattered survivors to fight for the future of the human race.
It’s not a perfect film. There’s an egregious voiceover prologue that threatens to halt the film in its tracks immediately, and sometimes the self-serious approach harms more than it helps. But that seriousness also makes Reign of Fire a very unique dragon movie, with some great action and world-building. Look, McConaughey is playing a greasy dragon-hunter will all the intensity that would come to define the McConaissance and Gerard Butler seems like he’s having a blast, so I was always gonna be a fan of this one – but it doesn’t hurt that it actually holds up fast-paced, action-packed fantasy film that’s still pretty much unlike any other film in the genre, nearly 20 years later.
Available: May 1
Director/Writer: Cameron Crowe
Cast: Patrick Fugit, Kate Hudson, Billy Crudup, Frances McDormand, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jason Lee, and Anna PaquinQuite simply one of the best films ever made,
Cameron Crowe’s masterpiece Almost Famous is a must-see full-stop. A profoundly human piece of work, Crowe’s love letter to youth, music, and passion is deeply felt and unforgettable. Loosely based on his own experiences as a young journalist for Rolling Stone, the film takes place in 1975 and follows 15-year-old William Miller as he travels the road with the hot new band Stillwater, taking in all the ups and downs that come with young love and burgeoning celebrity while living life with a rock band. The soundtrack is an all-timer, and Crowe’s characters leap off the screen as he really gets into the effects of celebrity and pressure, no doubt drawing from past experience. And in his brief screentime, Philip Seymour Hoffman makes a profound impression as the legendary Lester Bangs. Wildly quotable, endlessly watchable, Almost Famous is terrific from start to finish. – Adam Chitwood
Robot & Frank
Available: May 9
Director: Jake Schreier
Writer: Christopher D. Ford
Cast: Frank Langella, Susan Sarandon, Peter Sarsgaard, James Marsden, Rachael Ma, Liv Tyler, Jeremy Strong, Jeremy Sisto
There’s a niche subgenre of sci-fi I absolutely adore: indie films that side-step fantastical narrative and big-budget spectacle in favor of grounded character drama that would work without the science fiction, but is all the more engaging and inventive because of it. The underseen 2012 gem Robot & Frank is one of the best examples in recent memory, using the idea of caretaking robots as the kernel of a story about a retired thief who takes his shot at one last big score. Frank Langella stars Frank, a curmudgeonly former jewel thief who’s bored, bitter, and unwilling to admit the onset of dementia. When his son (James Marsden, and yes, this cast is pretty incredible across the board) buys him a robotic caretaker (voiced by Peter Sarsgaard), Frank is none to happy about it, until he realizes his helpful new friend might just be what he needs to pull off his final job.
Langella is magnetic as the mercurial central character, alternately ornery and endearing, a real pain in the ass and proud of it. But Frank isn’t just a compelling character from a commanding actor, Christopher D. Ford’s smart script implements that fickle temperament to underscore Frank’s fraught relationships and the powerful vulnerability he finds with his unlikely robot accomplice, tying it all together in the difficult choices he has to make as his health continues to fail him and his crimes threaten to catch up with him once again. Robot & Frank is worth watching for Langella’s performance alone, but it’s also a standout example of how much you can play with genre when you’ve got a great cast, smart writing, and sharp filmmaking.
Available: May 13
Director/Writer: Rose Glass
Cast: Morfydd Clark and Jennifer Ehle
A24 is known for a lot of things; phenomenal marketing, atmospheric horror movies we’re apparently gonna argue about forever, outrageously priced merch you can’t help but want – but for me, their most impressive emerging hallmark is their directorial debuts. From newcomers like Ari Aster and Robert Eggers to familiar names like Greta Gerwig and Bo Burnham, A24 has become a home for first-time filmmakers with striking vision. Rose Glass is the latest filmmaker to enter the ranks, with her striking, disquieting horror debut Saint Maud.
Morfydd Clark stars as Maud, a devout young caretaker in the throes of an unknown trauma that sparked her newfound piousness and passionate devotion to god. When she’s assigned to a dying woman (a stunning Jennifer Ehle) who wants nothing to do with religion, Maud becomes determined to save her soul whether she wants it or not, sparking a contentious camaraderie and mutual fascination that plays out in toxic, visceral games of will. Both actresses are outstanding, and Glass delivers a brutal descent into grief, mortality, and the dangers of all-consuming evangelism. Coming off of steady festival buzz and a great marketing campaign, Saint Maud should have been A24’s next big, buzzy horror breakout, but unfortunately got tangled up in the chaos of pandemic reshuffling. So be sure to do yourself a favor and watch it now that it’s on streaming.
From ‘Gladiator’ to ‘Nomadland’.
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