10 Must-See Movies in May 2023 (Theatres): As we reach the one-third mark of 2023, the movie industry has already produced highly entertaining films that have garnered worldwide attention. In particular, the month of April was dominated by The Super Mario Bros. Movie, expected to hit the $1 billion milestone at the box office in the first week of May. This, along with the release of 15 wide releases, most of which went on to gain quite the traction, has made movie-watching intriguing, to say the least.

Now that May is on the horizon, the summer blockbuster season is here to bless us with some big-screen bonanza. The month will, of course, be headlined by Marvel, which brings the conclusion to one of their most beloved trilogies. Some of the other hotly anticipated titles include the controversial live-action remake of a beloved Disney classic – The Little Mermaid, and the latest installment in The Fast Saga – Fast X. However, in this list of 10 Must-see movies to see in May 2023, I’ll be looking at those titles that often slip through the crack and never see the light of the day or simply movies that feel truly interesting to me. Please note that the titles are based on their US Theatrical/Streaming Release, so their schedule may vary from where you live.

1. Chili ’76

Chile-76 - Movies May 2023 Theatres

Carmen’s life is about to take a dramatic turn in this thriller set in ’70s Chile. The woman heads to her beach house to oversee renovations, where she is expecting a peaceful winter vacation with her husband, children, and grandchildren. However, when the family priest asks her to care for a wounded rebel in secret, Carmen’s life takes a dangerous and thrilling turn.

For years, Carmen has lived a quiet life as a bourgeois housewife, following the rules and expectations of her privileged life. But now, she finds herself thrust into uncharted territory as she nurses the rebel back to health, risking everything in the process. 

As Carmen navigates this treacherous new world, she must confront her deepest fears and make decisions that could have dire consequences for her and her family. With tension and suspense building throughout, this unforgettable thriller will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end. 

Directed by Manuela Martelli, who is making her directorial debut, the movie is headlined by Chilean actress Aline Kuppenheim and was first premiered in the Director’s Fortnight section at Cannes 2022.

Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Runtime: 1hour 35 Minutes
Release Date: May 5th, 2023 in Limited Theatres 

2. Blackberry

Step into the fascinating world of tech pioneers with BlackBerry, directed by Matt Johnson (Operation Avalanche). The movie delves into the brilliant minds behind the world’s first smartphone and chronicles the chaotic yet captivating rise of the Canadian company, Research in Motion to market dominance.

In the year 1996, Mike Lazaridis (played by Jay Baruchel) and his best friend and business partner Douglas Fregin (portrayed by Johnson himself) are working tirelessly to bring their revolutionary idea to life. But, as tech geniuses, they struggle to keep their company afloat in the competitive business world. That is until the cunning businessman Jim Balsillie (played by Glenn Howerton) joins the team, bringing with him the expertise and funds needed to create and sell their groundbreaking invention.

Soon, the trio’s innovation transforms the way people communicate, work, and connect. Celebrities, politicians, and businessmen all over the world become addicted to their BlackBerrys, and the company’s value skyrockets. But as their success grows, so do the threats. Personal grievances, shady business dealings, and the rise of the iPhone all pose a danger to the company’s hard-won success.

In a darkly comedic yet tragic look, BlackBerry sets out to see what made the Canadian company that changed the world plummet into obsolescence. 

Genre: Comedy, Drama, History
Runtime: 2 hours 4 Minutes
Release Date: May 12th, 2023 in Limited Theatres

Movies to Watch in May 2023 (Theatres) – ‘BlackBerry’ Trailer: Jay Baruchel and Glenn Howerton headline the story of the rise and fall of the world’s first smartphone

3. The Starling Girl

Premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, The Starling Girl stars Eliza Scanlen as Jem Starling, a seventeen-year-old struggling to define her place within a fundamentalist Christian community in rural Kentucky. Despite her love for dance and participation in the church dance group, Jem is constantly plagued by worries that her passion may be sinful.

As she embarks on a journey of self-discovery, Jem finds herself caught in a web of conflicting emotions and desires. Complicating matters further is her mother’s insistence that she find a suitable partner. However, Jem finds solace in the support and guidance of her youth pastor, Owen, who is also drawn to her blossoming personality and talent.

Writer and directed by Laurel Parmet, who navigates the complexities of Jem’s coming-of-age story by exploring the intoxicating and inappropriate nature of her relationship with Owen. With sensitivity and nuance, Parmet brings to life a morally complex tale that’s best witnessed. 

Genre: Drama
Runtime: 1 hour, 56 Minutes
Release Date: May 12th, 2023 in Limited Theatres

4. Monica

First premiered at the 79th Venice Film Festival before IFC Films bought the US rights for release, Monica is an intimate portrait of a woman who embarks on a journey of self-discovery as she returns home to the Midwest after 20 years to care for her ailing mother. 

Through the exploration of universal themes such as abandonment, aging, rejection, acceptance, and forgiveness, director Andrea Pallaro takes us on a poignant journey into Monica’s world of pain, fear, and, ultimately, courage.

Through her protagonist’s psyche, Pallaoro wishes to investigate the complexities of the human condition, where Monica is seen grappling with her own needs and desires as she confronts the challenges of familial duty and responsibility. 

The first responses to the film have all been great, with critics lauding it as a bar-raiser for trans stories onscreen. 

Genre: Drama
Runtime: 1 hour, 53 Minutes
Release Date: May 12th, 2023 in Limited Theatres 

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5. Past Lives

Movies May 2023 to Watch in Theatres - Past Lives

The biggest takeaway from Sundance this year was A24’s Past Lives. The film was unanimously praised – both by critics and audiences for offering a sensitive take on the human condition. 

Director Celine Song, in what is her directorial debut, follows the story of Nora and Hae Sung, two classmates in a primary school in Seoul whose undying romance comes to an abrupt end when Nora’s family emigrates to Canada. After twelve years, Nora, now a play-writing student in New York, notices that Hae Sung has been searching for her on social media. They reconnect online, talk frequently, and even imagine a reunion. However, it takes another twelve years before they finally meet during his visit to New York, where they are confronted with the dramatic changes in their lives. Despite this, they remain bound by a wistful connection.

Exploring love, identity, and the Korean notion of “In Yun,” which stems from the idea that two people are connected in a past life, the movie is anticipated by everyone who knows of good cinema and is eager to devour it. 

Genre: Drama, Romance
Runtime: 1 hour, 46 Minutes
Release Date: May 19th, 2023, in Limited Theatres (Expands Wide in June)

6. Sanctuary

May 2023 Movies - Sanctuary

Premiered at last year’s TIFF before Neon picked it up, Sanctuary follows Hal Porterfield (Christopher Abbott), who is preparing to take over his late father’s hotel empire. He arranges one last session with Rebecca (Margaret Qualley), a seductive and talented dominatrix who has often helped him unlock his deepest desires, overcoming his inhibitions. However, Hal has decided that it’s time to end their relationship and move on with his life, leaving Rebecca feeling hurt, angry, and determined to assert her worth.

Directed by Zachary Wigon, who brings a deft touch of complexity to the tale, Sanctuary turns into a tense and provocative battle of wills as the two of them are confined to a hotel room and forced to confront their conflicting desires and expectations.

The film is both erotic and intellectual, as the two characters debate the merits of power, money, and gender all the way, introducing and learning about the co-dependency humans form with each other. 

Genre: Mystery, Drama, Thriller
Runtime: 1 hour, 36 Minutes
Release Date: May 19th, 2023, in Limited Theatres (Expands 25th May)

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7. Master Gardener

Magnolia Pictures nabbed the latest film by master screenwriter and director Paul Schrader out of its Venice premiere last year. The film is now all set to hit theatres and follows Narvel Roth (Joel Edgerton) – a meticulous horticulturist who has dedicated his life to the care and preservation of Gracewood Gardens. He takes great pride in his work, and his meticulous attention to detail has made the estate one of the most beautiful and renowned in the region. However, his orderly and solitary existence is disrupted when his employer, the wealthy dowager Mrs. Norma Haverhill (Sigourney Weaver), demands that he take on her wayward great-niece Maya (Quintessa Swindell), as a new apprentice.

Maya is troubled and restless, and her presence disrupts Narvel’s carefully curated routine. As he struggles to teach her the art of horticulture, he finds himself drawn into her turbulent world and begins to question his own priorities and values. As Maya’s behavior becomes increasingly erratic, Narvel must confront the limits of his own compassion and the true nature of his relationship with Mrs. Haverhill.

Genre: Mystery, Drama, Thriller
Runtime: 1 hour, 47 Minutes
Release Date: May 19th, 2023, in Limited Theatres

8. The Cow Who Sang a Song into the Future

The Cow Who Sang a Song into the Future

A whole year after its initial premiere at Sundance, the Spanish film The Cow Who Sang a Song into the Future is set to hit theatres, all thanks to Kino Lorber. 

The story sucks you into the aftermath of a catastrophic pollution event that kills thousands of fish in a river in southern Chile, and a stunning and surreal occurrence takes place. Magdalena, a woman believed to have died years ago, emerges from the water amongst the lifeless bodies of the fish. Her sudden reappearance sends shock waves through her family, including her widowed husband and estranged daughter, Cecilia.

Magdalena’s return to her family’s dairy farm is met with both wonder and fear, as her husband Enrique suffers a heart attack upon seeing her, and her daughter Cecilia returns home to care for him. But as Magdalena tries to adjust to her new reality, she discovers that all is not as it seems.

Her presence seems to affect electrical appliances, and the behavior of those around her becomes increasingly strange. As she delves deeper into the mystery of her return, she realizes that there may be forces at work beyond her understanding.

Genre: Drama
Runtime: 1 hour, 33 Minutes
Release Date: May 19th, 2023, in Limited Theatres (on VOD July 18th)

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9. You Hurt My Feelings

Another one of the Sundance premieres this year that is finally about to see the light of day is Nicole Holofcener’s You Hurt My Feelings. The A24-backed project follows Beth (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), a New York-based novelist, who has been struggling to finish her second book, which is a follow-up to her moderately successful memoir. She has been sharing countless drafts with her loving and supportive husband, Don, who has supported her throughout her writing career. However, Beth’s world is turned upside down when she overhears Don telling her brother-in-law, Mark, that he doesn’t really like her new book.

Feeling betrayed and hurt, Beth confides in her sister, Sara, about her disappointment and betrayal after decades of a committed and loving marriage. Meanwhile, Don, who is also a therapist, is facing his own professional problems as he finds himself unable to empathize or even remember the issues of his unhappy patients, who have started to notice his disinterest.

As Beth and Don struggle to navigate their personal and professional challenges, they begin to realize that their once solid marriage is not as stable as it once seemed. With their relationship on the line, they must confront their issues head-on and find a way to reignite their love and connection before it’s too late.

Genre: Drama
Runtime: 1 hour, 33 Minutes
Release Date: May 26th, 2023, in Limited Theatres

10. The Wrath of Becky

Movies May 2023 Theatres

The only horror movie to feature in the list is Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote’s The Wrath of Becky. A sequel to the well-received 2020 film Becky, the new film features the return of Lulu Wilson as the eponymous Becky. Premiered at the 2023 SXSW Film Festival, the film takes place two years after the incident of the first film. 

Becky is trying to move on from the trauma of a violent attack on her family, which left her physically and emotionally scarred. She seeks refuge with an older woman named Elena, who becomes a source of comfort and stability for her. But Becky’s newfound peace is shattered when a group of dangerous criminals known as the “Noble Men” break into their home, violently attack them, and steal her beloved dog, Diego.

With no one else to turn to, Becky is forced to tap into her past skills as a skilled fighter and survivor to protect herself and Elena. As she sets out on a dangerous mission to get Diego back and take revenge on the Noble Men, Becky must confront her inner demons and come to terms with the trauma that still haunts her. Along the way, she discovers an inner strength she never knew she had and realizes that she is capable of more than she ever thought possible.

Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller, Action
Runtime: 1 hour, 24 Minutes
Release Date: May 26th, 2023, in Limited Theatres

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