The 10 Must See Movies Of May 2014

By  · Published on May 1st, 2014

Magnolia Pictures

Don’t let the bland, bloated, and messy The Amazing Spider-Man 2 fool you, this May is chock full of quality releases to start the summer off right with. While one would be better off seeing Captain America: The Winter Soldier again this weekend for a comic book sequel done right, there’s plenty of movies following The Amazing Spider-Man 2’s release that promise a good season for movie-going.

One of those movies may or may not be A Million Ways to Die in the West. That film likely won’t change anyone’s mind, for better or worse, on Seth MacFarlane. It will be interesting to see if his fans have any interest seeing him in his live-action work, though. He’s a talented vocal actor, but does he have the chops for a live-action performance? The trailers indicate not, but maybe this super expensive comedy will surprise us skeptics.

Before we see those 2 hours of “isn’t the old west crazy?!” joke play out, there are 10 releases not to miss this May before MacFarlane’s film arrives at the end of the month. Here are the must see movies of May 2014:

Neighbors

Opens in theaters May 9th

What Neighbors lacks in momentum it makes up for in near-nonstop laughs. This is Nicholas Stoller’s funniest movie since Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

Neighbors doesn’t have the heart found in his past work, but it definitely has the humor. What could’ve been a total boys movie instead has the spotlight stolen by Rose Byrne. It’s a rare role in comedy where it’s the woman acting unapologetically immature and goofy. Seth Rogen and Zac Efron – playing the head of a rowdy frathouse who goes to war with the married couple – are good, but this is Byrne’s movie.

Chef

Opens in theaters May 9th

Jon Favreau bounces back after a brief slump. After churning out two unsuccessful products, Cowboys & Aliens and Iron Man 2, a personal back-to-basics movie is exactly what the Elf director needed to get his creative juices flowing again. Chef follows an artistically unsatisfied Chef – or filmmaker, if you want to look at it that way – who goes back to square one to do what he originally set out to do: make original food.

Read Our Review

The Double

Opens in theaters May 9th

More people need to see The Double than the number of people who turned up for Submarine because Richard Ayoade is an insanely talented director who needs to keep working. The IT Crowd star’s followup to Submarine is a wonderfully crafted, chilly, and dread ridden world packed with memorable faces, including Jesse Eisenberg’s fantastic performance as an introverted young man and his ferociously arrogant doppleganger. Eisenberg is unfairly criticized for only playing one character – the manic, awkward kid – but The Double should silence those people. He plays two entirely different and equally exciting characters here.

Godzilla

Opens in theaters May 16th

Gareth Edwards couldn’t have made a bigger jump from the indie world to summer blockbusters. The sheer scale promised in the trailers for Godzilla, at the very least, should cover price of admission alone. Monsters showed Edwards understands tension, and maybe he’ll bring that much needed character-driven suspense to Godzilla.

Everything with the titular monster should be a blast, but let’s hope the human characters, played by Bryan Cranston and Aaron Taylor-Johnson, match the classic monster’s screen presence. That’s the real question mark with this movie.

The Immigrant

Opens in theaters May 16th

It’s been five years since James Gray’s The Two Lovers, but thankfully his newest film, The Immigrant, was worth the wait. Gray’s often moving, surprisingly funny, and smartly structured drama tells the story of an immigrant, played by Marion Cottillard, hoping to make it in America with her sister. Her dream doesn’t go as planned, which is where a low-rent pimp (Joaquin Phoenix), comes into her life. Phoenix and Gray continue to make for an ideal pairing, bringing out the best in each other. This layered performance stands amongst Phoenix’s best work.

Read Our Review

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Opens in theaters May 23rd

X-Men: First Class breathed a whole new life into the X-Men series. Director Matthew Vaughn got rid of the bad taste left in our mouths from X-Men 3: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. He made this series more fun that it ever was, so it’s a shame he didn’t comeback for X-Men: Days of Future Past.

After the disastrous Jack the Giant Slayer director Bryan Singer returns to a world he’s clearly comfortable in. Not only that, he has the new cast members Vaughn smartly assembled. Seeing Michael Fassbender’s Magneto share the screen with Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) should be a real treat.

Palo Alto

Opens in theaters May 23rd

Sometimes there aren’t any major life lessons learned in high school. Some teenagers don’t come of age or grow in any meaningful way in that part of their life. Gia Coppola’s directorial debut, Palo Alto, is about those kids.

Coppola’s film, based on James Franco’s “Palo Alto: Stories”, is one of the most honest depictions of high school life in recent memory. These kids are all familiar, but never caricatures. Expect big things from this Coppola.

Read Our Review

Tracks

Opens in theaters May 23rd

John Curran is an under-the-radar filmmaker who’s been making solid films for years now. The director behind Stone and The Painted Veil has a knack for old-fashioned stories. Stone is a morally complicated drama from the 1970s, while The Painted Veil is the kind of romantic epic you’d expect from the ‘50s.

His latest film, Tracks, stars Mia Wasikowska as woman who goes on a 2,000-mile journey across the deserts of West Australia, and that sounds about as old-fashioned as you can get. Wasikowska’s performance earned raves around the festival circuit, as did Adam Driver. This is a great year for Wasikowska, who’s also turned in two very fun performances in The Double and Only Lovers Left Alive.

Cold in July

Opens in theaters Mary 23rd

Director Jim Mickle’s ’80s throwback is a charismatic John Carpenter-esque picture with its fair share of thrills. This story of a man (Michael C. Hall) who shoots an unarmed intruder is more than its routine set up promises. When Sam Shepard and Don Johnson arrive, that’s when Cold in July kicks into high gear and goes in a more exciting direction.

Shepard and Johnson are a terrific pairing that make up for some of Cold in July’s shortcomings. This is the kind of movie you need to see at midnight with the right kind of crowd.

Filth

Opens in theaters May 30th

A performance from James McAvoy on a whole other level. McAvoy has always been a reliable actor, and an often great one, but his performance as the foulmouthed, Scottish Detective Bruce Robertson is his most accomplished performance to date. He takes a grotesque monster of a character and makes him painfully human in this Irvine Welsh (Trainspotting) adaptation.

Director Jon S. Baird’s film is a full of unrelenting humor and grotesqueness, a potent combination in this empathetic portrait of addiction, regret, and self-destruction.

Honorable Mentions: Maleficent, Whitewash, and Night Moves

What are you most looking forward to this May?

Longtime FSR contributor Jack Giroux likes movies. He thinks they're swell.