Brow Beat

The Best Movies and TV Shows Coming to Amazon Prime in May

The Aviator, Big Trouble in Little China, and The Professional are just three of the great movies coming to Amazon Prime in May.

Photo illustration by Slate. Film still via Miramax, Sony Pictures, 20th Century Fox

Every month, Amazon Instant Video adds a number of movies and TV series for Amazon Prime subscribers to stream. Starting this month, Slate will get you up to speed on the new arrivals. Below, we’ve chosen the best of the bunch coming to Amazon Instant in May 2015. Plan your weekend marathons accordingly.

The Professional
Arriving: May 1

The best movie from action filmmaker Luc Besson, The Professional might have divided critics upon its release, but there’s a reason the users of the IMDb consider it to be the 27th greatest movie of all time. Starring French star Jean Reno as a professional hitman, and then-12-year-old actress Natalie Portman (in her breakout role) as the orphaned young girl he puts up at his spartan apartment, The Professional is an unusual mixture of touching drama and highly stylized shootouts. But the best part of all is Gary Oldman as legendary villain Norman Stansfield, delivering one of cinema’s finest achievements in overacting. Who should see it? As Stansfield says, in an Oldman line reading so famous it became its own meme, “EVVERRYYYOOOONE.” —Forrest Wickman, senior editor

The Puffy Chair
May 1

Over the past several years, Mark and Jay Duplass have enjoyed increasingly well-funded success as writers, directors, producers, and actors, culminating with their very own HBO show, Togetherness. But 10 years ago, when they made The Puffy Chair, they were just a couple of guys with a few thousand bucks and a story to tell. Like most mumblecore films, The Puffy Chair is light on plot and heavy on character development, with naturalistic, largely improvised dialogue. The film follows a trio taking a road trip to pick up and deliver an armchair with sentimental value, and while the stakes are very low, The Puffy Chair displays the sure, steady directorial hand we’ve come to expect from the Duplasses. —Laura Anderson, associate editor

The People vs. George Lucas
May 1

The key lessons of The People vs. George Lucas couldn’t be clearer: Fandom leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to blog rants. A story of passion and disappointment, Alexandre O. Philippe’s documentary explores the vexed relationship between Star Wars fans and the franchise’s creator. As one interviewee puts it, “Star Wars just didn’t take care of the people who loved it so much.” Never condescending, it revels in the creativity of its subjects, showing the many ways the series has shaped their lives. In the process, it makes a compelling case that George Lucas understands his films worse than the movies’ admirers. —Jacob Brogan, Future Tense research associate

Grizzly Man
May 1

Werner Herzog’s 2005 documentary tells the story of Timothy Treadwell, a bear enthusiast who spent his summers living happily among Alaskan grizzlies until he and his girlfriend were attacked and killed by them in 2003. Treadwell’s sunny disposition makes a great counterpoint to Herzog’s bleak view of survival in the natural world. (And this is Herzog in grand form—the movie is a perfect introduction to his work.) Grizzly Man manages to evoke horror, too: in one unsurpassable scene we watch (but can’t hear) as Herzog listens to the recording of Treadwell being mauled and eaten alive. The movie is equal parts charming, absurd, and horrifying, all of which give it enormous re-watch value. —Jay Deshpande, editorial intern

Big Trouble in Little China
May 1

The team of Kurt Russell and John Carpenter is among cinema’s greatest actor-director pairings, right there beside Scorsese and De Niro, Scorsese and DiCaprio, and Herzog and Kinski. Big Trouble in Little China is their weirdest collaboration, which is saying something. An answer to the question What would happen if you put John Wayne in a kung fu movie?Big Trouble, unsurprisingly, baffled many unsuspecting viewers upon its 1986 release, turning into a box-office flop. But what detractors missed (and what the movie’s many devoted fans now realize) is that this feeling of bafflement is the point. With its one-of-a-kind mix of wuxia, screwball comedy, and Lewis Carroll nonsense poetry, the movie makes for an unforgettable experience, one where part of the fun is trying to figure out (along with Russell’s fish-out-of-water protagonist) just what in the hell is going on. “You know what this is?” one character realizes halfway through the movie. “This is like some radical Alice In Wonderland. That’s what this is.”—Forrest Wickman, senior editor

The Aviator
Arriving: May 18

There are plenty of reasons not to miss The Aviator. Martin Scorsese’s directing, as usual, is masterful. Leonardo DiCaprio gives a brilliant performance as the fascinating, tragic Howard Hughes. And oh, those lush, nostalgic colors! But the real draw here is Cate Blanchett, fully embodying the fierce Katharine Hepburn—thick, haughty mid-Atlantic accent and all. —Aisha Harris, staff writer

Also arriving:

May 1

Ghoulies: Ghoulies Go to College
Liberty Stands Still
Men in Black II
The Big Empty
The Real Blonde
What’s the Worst That Could Happen
The Words

May 8

Tyler Perry’s a Madea Christmas

May 9

Slugterra: Slug Fu Showdown

May 13

Defiance: Season 2

May 20


May 21

Struck By Lightning

May 23

The Prince

May 25

Suits: Season 4

May 29

Low Down