The month of May kept Film Twitter entertained thanks to the instant classic Everything Everywhere All at Once, while the general populace was enthralled by the long-awaited Top Gun: Maverick. However, neither of these two films—brilliant in every way as they might be—can be featured on this list.
The goal here, as always, is to highlight gems that might have slipped through the broadening cracks of streaming, unfairly overlooked despite being exactly the sort of thing that audiences might appreciate. This month, we have a recent Oscar-winner’s breathtakingly original new animated short film, a contemporary American auteur’s first attempt at big-budget filmmaking, a young comic’s unique directorial debut, and one of the best late-period films from perhaps the country’s biggest male star.
Emergency — Amazon Prime Video
Best of Express Premium
Emergency lures viewers in with the promise of a Superbad-style raunchy comedy, but subverts all expectations when it turns into one of the most resounding genre commentaries on race this side of a Jordan Peele film.
Jibaro — Netflix
Director Alberto Mielgo was featured on this list previously for his labour of love The Windshield Wiper (which eventually went on to win an Oscar), and his follow-up is just as jaw-droppingly original. A part of the latest batch of Love, Death & Robots episodes—this one features a film directed by one of the show’s exec producers David Fincher himself—Jibaro is a feminist fable about a deaf conquistador who comes across a banshee-like woman deep in the Peruvian rainforest.
Other directors hope that indie success can perhaps translate to a Marvel gig, but Robert Eggers took every last drop of the goodwill that he had earned with The VVitch and The Lighthouse and threatened to burn it all with his nearly $100 million Viking revenge epic The Northman. Starring Alexander Skarsgard in a role that he was born to play, The Northman boasts some truly remarkable fight choreography, hallucinogenic visuals, and gives Nicole Kidman a character so delicious, it’s no wonder that she ate it up.
On the Count of Three — Available to rent and purchase in the US on Apple TV, Google Play, YouTube, Amazon
A pitch-black comedy about two suicidal best friends who decide to go out on a bang, On the Count of Three is a remarkable directorial debut by comedian Jerrod Carmichael. He also featured on this list last month, for his stand-up special Rothaniel. Starring himself and Christopher Abbott, On the Count of Three premiered in competition at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, alongside eventual Best Picture Oscar winner CODA.
Jhund — ZEE5
Exuberant, inspiring, and featuring some of Amitabh Bachchan’s best late-period work, director Nagraj Manjule’s sports drama about a group of slum kids who are trained to represent India in football understandably bombed at the box office, but it was more shocking to see it open to radio silence on streaming. This is the best film of its kind since Slumdog Millionaire, and features a transcendent post-interval scene that has the power to reduce even the most cold-hearted of viewers to a slobbering mess.
The Outfit — Available to stream in the US on Peacock Premium, and also available to rent and purchase on Apple TV, Google Play, YouTube, Amazon
Among the better examples of what filmmakers have been able to achieve despite pandemic-imposed restrictions, The Outfit is a devilishly plotted yarn about a British tailor who gets embroiled in a gang scuffle in post-war Chicago. Starring a magnificent Mark Rylance, the single-location thriller piles twist upon twist as it crafts world-building on the level of John Wick and and a lead character that could easily spawn a franchise.