May 6: Captain America: Civil War
What it is: The latest installment in Marvel's sprawling Cinematic Universe pits Captain America (Chris Evans) against Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), with their various superheroic allies forced to take sides.
Why you should care: Captain America: Civil War is Marvel's biggest-ever blockbuster without the word "Avengers" in the title. Directed by the Russo Brothers — who helmed Winter Soldier, the previous Captain America movie — the film promises a deeper and more nuanced take on the superhero blockbuster, building on characters we've gotten to know over a dozen movies. In addition to all the returning favorites, Civil War introduces a few new fan-favorite superheroes, including Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Spider-Man (Tom Holland), making his MCU debut following the collapse of the Amazing Spider-Man franchise. And Captain America: Civil War has already opened in a number of countries overseas, to across-the-board positive reviews — so if Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice made you wary about superheroes pummeling each other on the big screen, you can breathe easy.
What else is coming out: Mothers & Daughters, an ensemble dramedy starring a slew of talented actresses, including Susan Sarandon, Selma Blair, and Sharon Stone; Pele, a biopic chronicling the life and career of the Brazilian soccer star of the same name; Elstree 1976, a documentary interviewing the various bit players from Star Wars about their memories of the set of the original film; Being Charlie, a Rob Reiner-directed dramedy following the junkie son of a wealthy politician (Nick Robinson) as he tries to go clean; Bite, a nasty little horror movie about a bride-to-be who gains some disturbing, insect-like tendencies after a bug bites her.
May 13: The Lobster
What it is: A romantic fable about a dystopian future in which all single people are taken to a hotel and given 45 days to fall in love. If they don't, they'll be transformed into animals and released into the wild.
Why you should care: Did you read that synopsis? At the very least,The Lobster will be unlike anything you've seen before. But The Lobster also brings more to the table than a high-concept premise — like writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos, best known for his Oscar-nominated 2009 drama Dogtooth, and the top-notch ensemble cast, which includes Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, John C. Reilly, and Olivia Colman. The Lobster played at a slew of film festivals around the world leading up to its theatrical release and earned wide acclaim — so if it turns up at your local repertory theater, get in line!
What else is coming out: Money Monster, a thriller about a Jim Cramer-esque TV personality (George Clooney) held hostage by a viewer (Jack O'Connell) after giving a bad stock tip; The Darkness, a horror flick about a family whose young son is haunted by a supernatural presence after a trip to the Grand Canyon; Love & Friendship, a loose comic adaptation of Jane Austen's novella Lady Susan, about a young widow (Kate Beckinsale) attempting to lock down a rich new husband in 18th-century English society; A Bigger Splash, an erotic thriller about a rock star (Tilda Swinton) vacationing with a small group of friends on a remote Italian island; High-Rise, a sci-fi thriller about a a massive apartment block and the class-stratified struggle between the higher and lowers floors; Last Days in the Desert, a biblical movie following Jesus Christ (Ewan McGregor) as he spends 40 days fasting in the desert; The Curse of Sleeping Beauty, a horror-fantasy about a man (Ethan Peck) who inherits a strange curse through his ancestral line; Search Party, a long-delayed, Hangover-esque comedy about a group of groomsmen attempting to rescue their kidnapped friend (Thomas Middleditch) after messing up his wedding; Queen Mimi, a documentary about an eccentric 88-year-old woman who lives in a Santa Monica laundromat; Dheepan, a crime drama about a Tamil freedom fighter (Jesuthasan Antonythasan) making a new life in Paris; Sunset Song, a period drama about a young Scottish woman (Agyness Deyn) whose life is shaped by the events of World War I; Sundown, a raunchy comedy about a couple of unlikable bros (Devon Werkheiser and Sean Marquette) sexing and boozing their way through spring break in Mexico.
May 20: The Nice Guys
What it is: In 1970s Los Angeles, a low-rent P.I. (Ryan Gosling) pairs up with a brutish enforcer (Russell Crowe) to investigate the murder of a porn star.
Why you should care: The Nice Guys was written and directed by Shane Black, whose previous films include the franchise-launching Lethal Weapon and the supremely underappreciated Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, which marked the key turning point in Robert Downey Jr.'s remarkable career comeback. In short: No one in Hollywood is better at writing witty, twisty buddy comedies, and no one is better at populating them with top-tier actors. The Nice Guys packs a doozy of a pairing in Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe — two tremendously likable actors who are each overdue for lead roles that show off their breezy charisma.
What else is coming out: Angry Birds, an animated film based on the plotless cell phone time-waster of the same name; Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, a sequel to the 2014 hit comedy positing that sorority girls are just as awful as fratboys; Weiner, a documentary about Anthony Weiner's disastrous attempt to relaunch his political career following a widely publicized sexting scandal; Maggie's Plan, a comedy about a woman (Greta Gerwig) who successfully woos a married man (Ethan Hawke), then gets cold feet and attempts to unload him back on his wife (Julianne Moore); Manhattan Night, a noirish thriller about a sketchy tabloid writer (Adrian Brody) who digs into an unsolved murder at the behest of a widowed femme fatale (Yvonne Strahovski); Almost Holy, a documentary about a Ukrainian priest who abducts and rehabilitates drug-addicted children; Back in the Day, a generic boxing movie with a weirdly overqualified supporting cast that includes Danny Glover, Michael Madsen, and Alex Baldwin.
May 27: X-Men: Apocalypse
What it is: The latest X-Men movie pits the gang of superheroes against Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac), a fearsome mutant who wakes from thousands of years of hibernation and decides to reshape the world in his own image.
Why you should care: X-Men isn't Hollywood's most consistent superhero franchise, but 2014's Days of Future Past was arguably the highlight of the whole series, and there are hopeful signs that Apocalypse is following its example, including the 1983 setting and the emphasis on a younger team of heroes. Apocalypse is wisely bringing some new blood into the franchise, with Game of Thrones' Sophie Turner and Mud's Tye Sheridan starring as the younger versions of Jean Grey and Cyclops (originated on screen by Famke Janssen and James Marsden), respectively. And after his scene-stealing turn in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Oscar Isaac could hardly be hotter right now. (Let's just hope his performance doesn't get lost under all the purple Apocalypse makeup.)
What else is coming out: Alice Through the Looking Glass, a sequel to Tim Burton's garish, inexplicably popular live-action riff on Alice in Wonderland; Presenting Princess Shaw, a documentary about a singer attempting to mount a performing career after one of her videos goes viral; The Ones Below, a psychological thriller about a pair of new parents who become convinced that their downstairs neighbors harbor a sinister plot against their family.