The Nerd's Watch: The Best Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Horror Streaming in May

The Iron Giant will be streaming this month.
The Iron Giant will be streaming this month.
Image: Warner Bros.

Though movie theaters are starting to allow patrons these days, the safer option remains streaming. Those who choose to stay home and stream are constantly rewarded with so much new content it’s mind-boggling. At the start of each month, most streamers—Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Disney+, and HBO Max—do a little shuffle, adding new movies and taking some away. io9 is here to help you narrow down your decision-making.

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Welcome to the Nerd’s Watch, our monthly column where we curate the most interesting sci-fi, fantasy, and horror movies (and shows) coming to the biggest streaming services. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Disney+, and HBO Max all have new content for May 2021, so let’s get to it.


Netflix

Jacob Lattimore in Sleight, an awesome superhero-meets-science film that you should see.
Jacob Lattimore in Sleight, an awesome superhero-meets-science film that you should see.
Photo: Blumhouse

Available May 1

Back to the Future, Back to the Future Part II, Back to the Future Part III - One of the best trilogies of all time was on Netflix, then left, and now it’s back. Back! To the Netflix.

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra - The G.I. Joe franchise is getting a reboot starting this summer but these earlier films aren’t that bad. They’re not that great either but they’re absolutely live-action, big-budget G.J. Joe movies.

Stargate - Kurt Russell, James Spader, a huge gate to a mysterious desert planet, and a multimedia franchise is born.

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The Land Before Time and The Land Before Time II: The Great Valley Adventure - The original film was a 1980s staple and created a whole franchise based on its animated dinosaurs. Now, you can watch the first two and see if you want to search out the other dozen or so.

The Lovely Bones - Saoirse Ronan and Mark Wahlberg lead Peter Jackson’s adaptation of an Alice Sebold novel about a young woman who is raped and murdered, then tries to help the crime get solved from the afterlife.

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Zombieland - One of the best zombie comedies ever made stars Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Jesse Eisenberg, and Abigail Breslin as four unlikely people working together to survive a post-apocalyptic world. Highly rewatchable and truly entertaining.

Available May 5

Framing John DeLorean - We’re putting this not sci-fi at all documentary on this list just because with Back to the Future coming back to Netflix, this would make a nice addition to a marathon.

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Available May 7

Jupiter’s Legacy - Based on the Mark Millar, Frank Quitely, and Peter Doherty comic book series, this new Netflix original follows the first generation of superheroes, the kids of the originals, and all that that entails.

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Available May 12

Oxygen - From Alexandre Aja, the director of Horns and Crawl, comes this small, tense, sci-fi film about a woman (Mélanie Laurent) who wakes up in a pod with no memory and limited oxygen.

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Available May 14

Love, Death & Robots: Volume 2 - The weird yet popular anthology animated series returns. Here’s the trailer.

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Available May 16

Sleight - A young magician uses his skills to keep his family safe in this excellent feature debut from director J.D. Dillard; it’s been described as Chronicle meets Iron Man. We interviewed him at the time, which you can read here, and this is a film you should absolutely seek out.

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Available May 20

Spy Kids: All the Time in the World - The fourth and final film in the Spy Kids series brings back most of the original cast and adds the likes of Ricky Gervais.

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Available May 21

Army of the Dead - One of the summer’s biggest films is this Netflix original directed by Zack Snyder. It follows a group of soldiers who have to rob a Las Vegas casino that has been overrun by zombies. The first trailer looked awesome so we have high hopes for this one.

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Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous: Season 3 - There’s still a year to wait until the Jurassic World franchise comes to a conclusion on the big screen, but on the small screen, the story is still going and going.


Amazon

One of the best superhero movies ever comes to streaming.
One of the best superhero movies ever comes to streaming.
Photo: Touchstone
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Available May 1

Aliens, Alien 3, Alien: Resurrection - Hopefully you have the first Alien on Blu-ray because if you do, you can then watch the next three films in the series here on Amazon. Though be warned, the returns on these moves dive exponentially.

Bound - Bound isn’t a sci-fi film but on the off chance you haven’t seen it, we figured it was worth featuring. It’s the first film from the Wachowskis, made a few years before The Matrix, and it’s a taut, stylish erotic thriller. Excellent stuff. (Also on Hulu)

Dinosaur 13 - A fascinating documentary about the most complete T-rex fossils ever found and the battle surrounding them. (Also on Hulu)

Knowing - A young girl in the past correctly predicts the dates and numbers of deaths of several tragedies in the decades to come, which kicks off a wild sci-fi film starring Nicolas Cage and directed by Alex Proyas. (Also on Hulu)

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Nanny McPhee and Nanny McPhee Returns - A pair of Emma Thompson family fantasy films that are sort of like a darker Mary Poppins, with a caretaker who magically appears and shakes things up.

Reign Of Fire - Matthew McConaughey and Christian Bale star in this down and dirty dragon film which we just so happen to have an excellent retrospective of.

Resident Evil and Resident Evil: Apocalypse - The first two films in the hugely successful horror franchise based on the video game series. Apocalypse is also on Hulu (though not the original), along with the next two films as well.

The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons - Ron Howard’s two adaptations of Dan Brown novels both star Tom Hanks and feature enough wild, historical stuff that they absolutely feel like fantasy, even if they’re “loosely” based on history.

The Green Hornet - You may have forgotten that Michel Gondry, director of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, directed this Seth Rogen adaptation with a supporting cast of Jay Chou, Christoph Waltz, Cameron Diaz, and others. Oh, and it’s actually pretty good too. But no one talks about it.

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The Indian in the Cupboard - I don’t know about you but this is one of those movies based on a book I had to read when I was young. It follows a boy who finds a magic cupboard that turns toys real, so he puts a Native American toy in there and he comes to life. Not sure if it holds up but, it certainly has some nostalgia. (Also on Hulu)

The Sixth Sense - Here’s the question. Does 20+ years of knowing the ending to this M. Night Shyamalan mega-blockbuster take away from its impact at all? Well, now you can stream it and find out.

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The Towering Inferno - One of those 1970s disaster films that everyone just kind of has to see.

Unbreakable - For our money, one of the best superhero movies ever made. Also, the setup for one of the best film experiences I’ve ever had.

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Available May 5

Skyfall - Maybe it’s just me but I can’t see the title “Skyfall” without hearing Adele singing it in my head. And that’s just in the opening credits of this excellent James Bond film from Oscar winner Sam Mendes. (Also on Hulu)

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Available May 9

Robot & Frank - An absolutely delightful, underrated sci-fi film about a man whose son buys him a robot to keep an eye on him, which the man then gets to help him return to a life of crime. Frank Langella stars and you can read our 2012 Sundance review here. (Also on Hulu)

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Available May 13

Saint Maud - Without theaters to watch them in, movie releases in 2020 either hit it really big or got completely looked over. One that sort of fell into that latter category is this witchy thriller which actually got very solid reviews. Watch the trailer here. (Also on Hulu)

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Hulu

The One I Love is so good. You gotta see it.
The One I Love is so good. You gotta see it.
Photo: TWC
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Available May 1

(500) Days of Summer - Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel star in this unconventionally told love story that’s filled with fantastic whimsy, and even a brief Han Solo cameo.

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The A-Team - Joe Carnahan’s 2010 reimagining of the classic 1980s show is... pretty damned awesome if we remember correctly. Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Sharlto Copley, Rampage Jackson. It’s definitely time for a revisit.

Blast From the Past - With the online thirst of Brendan Fraser rising, it seemed of note to mention this 1999 comedy which stars The Mummy actor as a man who grew up in a fallout shelter, which makes him basically a real-life WandaVision come to life. Alicia Silverstone co-stars.

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Goodnight Mommy - A truly creepy, weird Austrian film about a mom who gets surgery on her face, comes home almost fully bandaged, and then her kids begin to believe the woman beneath isn’t their mom at all.

The Haunting in Connecticut and Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia - If I’m being honest, I don’t think I’ve seen The Haunting in Connecticut and I’ve definitely never seen the awkwardly titled part two. But that a part two even exists makes it seem like maybe it’s worth watching, and that you can marathon them both on one service, seemed notable. Part two is also on Amazon.

I Am Legend - Will Smith is the last man on Earth, living in New York City, along with a bunch of deadly creatures in this big-budget Richard Matheson adaptation that’s definitely worth watching, but not as great as you want it to be.

The Iron Giant - The Iron Giant is also worth watching and is so far beyond what you want it to be, you’ll never forget it. This story of a boy and a robot he befriends is an absolute stunner of an animated film. If you’ve never seen it, watch it. If you’ve seen it before, watch it again.

Machete - Danny Trejo is the ultimate badass in this action-packed, tongue-in-cheek revenge film from co-director Robert Rodriguez.

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Predator and Predator 2 - You’ve heard the Predator quote “If it bleeds, we can kill it.” Well, now it’s “If it streams, you can watch it.” The two original Predator films come to Hulu and with them, one of the best bad guys of all times in two very different but equally entertaining sci-fi films.

Resident Evil: Apocalypse, Resident Evil: Extinction, Resident Evil: Afterlife - Over on Amazon, you can see the first two Resident Evil films. Here on Hulu, you can’t see the first, but you can see the second and also the next two. Oh, and over on Netflix, you can see Extinction and Afterlife only. Basically, you can start the whole series, if you have a few streamers. (Also Hulu, Netflix, Netflix, respectively)

Train to Busan - Train to Busan is one of those foreign genre movies maybe you’ve heard of, but don’t watch until it gets a U.S. remake. Well now you can, and should, watch the original which is about a train of people trying to escape a rising zombie invasion. An incredible, influential work.

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True Lies - In the careers of both star Arnold Schwarzenegger and director James Cameron, True Lies often gets overlooked. It should not. It’s a hugely sprawling, hilarious, genre mixup that co-stars Jamie Lee Curtis, Bill Paxton, and Tom Arnold, and is one of the best action films of the 1990s.

Vampire in Brooklyn - Not one of the best films of the ‘90s? This Eddie Murphy vehicle that’s noteworthy only because it’s Eddie doing genre, which we love to see, even if the movie is mostly crap.

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Available May 5

Shadow in the Cloud - Here’s another 2020 movie you may have missed but can now stream. It’s about a woman (Chloë Grace Moretz) stuck on an airplane with a dangerous alien, and even more dangerous men. It’s not without its controversies but when it’s good, it’s really good. Read our full review here.

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Available May 21

Marvel’s MODOK- Most non-Disney+ Marvel Studios TV shows are dead but one that has survived finally debuts in May. Patton Oswalt voices the iconic villain who tries balancing taking over the world with his family life in this uniquely animated show. This should be a good one.

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Available May 31

The One I Love - Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss star in one of the best sci-fi films in recent memory. What makes it sci-fi? Even though it’s almost a decade later, if you haven’t seen it, you should just seek it out and watch it blind. It’ll work better. But it’s subtle, shocking, and fascinating.

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Disney+

Cruella is coming to Disney+
Cruella is coming to Disney+
Photo: Disney
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Available May 7

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer - Until Jon Watts makes his Fantastic Four movie set in the MCU, you’ll have to go with this original team, which does include Chris Evans and, in this sequel, the always popular and cool Silver Surfer.

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Available May 14

X-Men: The Last Stand - Not a great X-Men movie for a bunch of reasons but the cast is still excellent, so it’s worth mentioning that it’s coming to the service.

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Available May 28

Cruella - Emma Stone stars in this villainess origin story that looks like Disney’s own take on Joker. It’ll open in theaters but will also be available at home for a $30 Premier Access fee. Emma Thompson, Joel Fry, Paul Walter Hauser, Emily Beecham, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, and Mark Strong also star.

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HBO Max

Tenet. Finally.
Tenet. Finally.
Photo: Warner Bros.
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Available May 1

17 Again - Matthew Perry becomes his younger self, Zac Efron, in this delightful, underappreciated body-swap comedy. It’ll charm you. Trust me.

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Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter - Reviews on this one weren’t great so most people didn’t see it but, let’s be frank here: no matter what the pedigree, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter feels destined to be watched on a streaming service.

Anaconda - The same can be said for Anaconda.

Happy Feet and Happy Feet Two - The long wait between Mad Max movies got you down? Well, why not watch these animated films, both of which are directed by George Miller. Yes, that George Miller.

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Mortal Kombat - It seems like a miss that the new Mortal Kombat will have already been on Max for a week before the 1995 original arrives to sit beside it, but that’s what’s happening.

Tenet - I didn’t care for Tenet but that doesn’t mean I’m not willing to give it another shot. And now that it’s coming to HBO Max, it’s the perfect time to do so. Let’s see how Christopher Nolan’s latest—which the director didn’t want to go to streaming—plays on streaming.

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The Tuxedo - Jackie Chan stars in this ridiculous but kind of clever action film about a man who gets a tuxedo that makes him very good at fighting.

The Witches Of Eastwick - More George Miller! This time, it’s a dark comedy fantasy about three witches (Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer, Susan Sarandon) who spar with a mysterious man played by Jack Nicholson. It’s good, 1980s fun.

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Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory - This beloved classic is celebrating 50 years of brilliance this year. Forget about that prequel in the works and rewatch this.

Available May 3

300: Rise of an Empire - Zack Snyder’s 300 was such a big hit, it spawned a sequel. We forget about it—but it’s not too bad, and is coming to HBO Max this month.

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Available May 8

Greenland - What that aforementioned 300 sequel doesn’t have, and the original did, is Gerard Butler. Thankfully his new disaster movie Greenland is also coming to Max—and oddly, this one actually got a rather positive response. Seems like a good film to check out.

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Available May 13

Wonder Woman 1984 - We were one of the few sites that actually liked this highly anticipated sequel but, it is weird. And messy.

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For more, make sure you’re following us on our Instagram @io9dotcom.

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Entertainment Reporter. NYU Cinema Studies Alum. Formerly Premiere, EW, Us Weekly, and /Film. AP Award-Winning Film Critic & CCA member. Loves Star Wars, posters, Legos, and often all three at once.

DISCUSSION

ethelred
ethelred

I do this almost every month, so why stop now? Throwing in a plug for Criterion Channel, which is my favorite streaming service and has lots of great options the major services don’t.

Criterion is still featuring their stellar Afrofuturism collection, which includes some really cool and original science fiction films like Space is the Place, Welcome II the Terrordome, Born in Flames, etc.

They’re also currently featuring a collection of films and shorts by animation pioneer Lotte Reiniger, which is a must for fantasy fans. It includes The Adventures of Prince Achmed, an Arabian Nights adaptation that was the third animated feature film ever created and is the oldest one surviving. Also includes some great shorts like Papageno. Like I said, if you like fantasy, this stuff is awesome.

That’s aside from plenty of other great stuff like Fantastic Planet, The Crazies, Bacurau, Solaris, Stalker, Face of Another, etc.