The 10 Best Movies In Theaters Right Now (May 2016)

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The 10 Best Movies In Theaters Right Now (May 2016)

For all the options of watching movies in your home that are now available to us, nothing quite compares to the communal experience of actually going to the theater, buying an overpriced tub of popcorn and watching a movie on the big screen. Paste has long provided you with guides to Netflix, HBO, Amazon, Showtime, Redbox and movies on demand, but today, we wanted to recommend some movies that are currently playing in theaters right now. They range from small indie films at your local art house to blockbusters playing on multiple screens at your megaplex, so some may be easier to find in your city than others. Here are 10 movies worth actually dragging your bum off the couch, purchasing a ticket and remembering that some things are worth the effort.

10. The Nice Guys

Release Date: May 20
Director: Shane Black
Good performances can polish average movies with just enough elbow grease they end up looking like gems. Think Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook, or Alan Rickman in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Every advance that Shane Black’s The Nice Guys takes toward quality is made on the strengths of Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling. Black is as quick with action scenes as with punchlines. The Nice Guys is funny. It’s exciting. If you find yourself growing tired of wordplay, Black will turn things around and slide in some Three Stooges slapstick. If you get tired of that, he’ll set off a gun or throw a few punches, though it is impossible to imagine anybody finding the clownish sight of Gosling tumbling off of balconies or crashing through plate glass tiresome. Gosling and Crowe are a great pair, so great that their team-up should justify funding for a buddy picture series where Holland and Jackson undertake jobs that spiral out of hand and above their pay grades. Crowe plays it straight and grumpy, and you half expect him to declare that he’s too old for this shit at any given moment. Gosling, on the other hand, shapes Holland through boozy tomfoolery and pratfalls. They’re a standout odd couple, but Black’s films are defined by great odd couples as much as they are by great scripting. In The Nice Guys, he leaves it up to Gosling and Crowe to use the former to fill in the gaps left behind by the lack of the latter.—Andy Crump / Full review

9. High-Rise

Release Date: May 13
Director: Ben Wheatley
High-Rise begins with the past tense of Wheatley’s traditional mayhem, settling on tranquil scenes of extensive carnage and brutal violence inflicted before the picture’s start. Dashing Dr. Robert Laing (Tom Hiddleston) wanders waste-strewn halls. He goes to have a drink with his neighbor, Nathan Steele (Reece Shearsmith), who has enshrined a dead man’s head within a television set. Seems about right. But the film’s displays of squalor and viscera are a ruse. Spoken in the tongue of Wheatley, High-Rise is a tamer tale than Kill List or Sightseers. That isn’t a bad thing, of course, but if you go into Wheatley films anticipating unhinged barbarity, you may feel as though the film and its creator are trolling you here. High-Rise is based on English novelist’s J.G. Ballard’s 1975 novel of the same name, a soft sci-fi dystopian yarn fastened to a through line of social examination. In context with its decade, the book’s setting could be roughly described as “near future England,” and Wheatley, a director with a keen sense of time and place across all of his films, has kept the period of the text’s publication intact, fleshing it out with alternately lush and dreggy mise en scène. If you didn’t know any better, you might assume that High-Rise is a lost relic of 1970s American cinema.—Andy Crump / Full review

8. Jungle Book

Release Date: April 15
Directors: Jon Favreau
Jon Favreau’s new real-world re-imagining of the classic Disney animated film melds two cornerstones of the diretor’s career: venturing into the digital frontier, and having the courage to be warm. The curtain rises on the computer-generated animal kingdom as the camera pans across one of The Jungle Book’s many breathtaking virtual sets, which were built after recording the raw footage in an empty Los Angeles warehouse. Essentially, on set, actors in motion-capture suits ran around with Neel Sethi, who makes his movie debut as Mowgli, in front of blue and green screens. Where the level of technology in The Jungle Book has historically been used for maximizing the wow factor in Michael Bay explosion-packed action flicks, Favreau makes the case for special effects that actually affect. The Jungle Book hits the ground running as Mowgli darts through the grass and up trees, sharpening his survival skills through various flight techniques (fighting obviously not available to him). Sethi, 12, is the only truly live-action element of the movie, and carries the physically demanding role with both childlike charisma and the saucy attitude of an adolescent.—Melissa Weller / Full review

7. Men & Chicken

Release Date: April 22
Director: Anders Thomas Jensen
Men & Chicken’s restrained weirdness and dolorous tone make an unexpectedly potent stage for courting laughs. Those laughs are the kind that are liable to catch in a person’s throat—you may feel an urgent need to take a shower when it’s all over. Gabriel (David Dencik) and Elias (Mads Mikkelsen) are a sibling duo who discover, after the death of their elderly father, that they are adopted. Shocking. More shocking still: They have the same dad, but different mothers. Gabriel determines to seek out their sire, a geneticist who dedicated his career to stem cell research, and begrudgingly brings along the unruly and forcible Elias. Their journey takes them to a sparsely populated island forgotten by time, whereupon they find that they have three half brothers who share dominion of the crumbling manse they call home with free-range livestock. To call them uncivilized would be an understatement. After Men & Chicken makes its rowdy family reunion, the film turns into an existential tragedy marked by gallows humor. It’s funny but also achingly sad. There is a merry, revolting spirit at play here, but that spirit is trumped by Anders Thomas Jensen’s tale of fractured heritage. At the center of Men & Chicken’s domestic gloom and squirm-inducing indelicacy stands Mikkelsen—a veteran screen talent long past the point of having to prove himself, and yet his performance as Elias is damn near revelatory all the same. Elias is the glue that holds the film’s wistfulness and crassness together, a stubborn boor whose obstinacy is surpassed only by his love for Gabriel. Mikkelsen captures the man’s coarse, goofy soul perfectly, but his natural command as an actor gives his performance an authoritative underpinning. Funny business is nothing new to Mikkelsen, but his work here is enough to make you buy into the hyperbole: Maybe we really haven’t seem him like this.— / Full review

Andy Crump

6. Captain America: Civil War

Release Date: May 6
Directors: Joe & Anthony Russo
In my review of the first Avengers movie, I said Joss Whedon’s blockbuster represented “the most complete manifestation of the superhero team aesthetic yet seen on film.” Four years later, we have a new champion in the category of “best team film.” The way in which Captain America: Civil War brings together a dozen or so heroes, sorts them into not one but two teams and then flings them at each other is its own special delight for comic book fans long accustomed to such things on the printed or digital page. Civil War maintains the same balance of action and significant (if brief) character development/interaction that made Winter Soldier so enjoyable. The fight and chase scenes are frenetic without being confusing, while the comic relief, mostly supplied by our bug-themed heroes, provides a Whedon-flavored lightening of the otherwise dark proceedings. If one thinks of the each MCU film as a juggling act—and each hero’s origin, “flavor” and power set as its own subset of items that must be kept in motion and in proper relation with each other—then as a series both Avengers films and Captain America: Civil War can be seen as an escalation of the routine that’s as impressive as it is necessary. After all, with each additional hero added, with each additional demand placed on the script in both action and dialogue, Kevin Feige and company are building toward Infinity.—Michael Burgin / Full review

5. Zootopia

Release Date: March 4
Directors: Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush
It says a lot about the state of America’s cultural dialogues on acceptance and discrimination that a Disney movie feels this urgent, but maybe a movie about animals living under the impression of harmony is a long-term solution for our short-term failures. Then again, we’re talking about a cartoon where TV’s Snow White teams up with Michael Bluth in a sort-of riff on 48 Hours that expands to include references to The Godfather and Breaking Bad. Zootopia is smart in the way it approaches race relations, if unsophisticated and childish. But there are worse things a children’s movie can be than childish, and in Zootopia that word sheds its pejorative implications and instead feels befitting in its innocence. The story takes place in the sprawling zoological metropolis of the title, a place where beasts of all makes and models—large and small, meek and ferocious—somehow manage to coexist in an approximation of civilized society. This is a movie that’s all about big, heartfelt honesty between its principals and its audience. Simple though its politics may be, the film is effective—and coming from a mainstream studio, it is even just daring enough to make a difference.—Andy Crump / Full review

4. Weiner

Release Date: May 20
Directors: Josh Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg
“Why did you let me film this?” This simple question, posed at the end of Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg’s Weiner, is as baffling to the movie’s subject as it is to everyone else. Anthony Weiner gave a documentary crew incredible behind-the-scenes access to his 2013 New York mayoral campaign while his political career crumbled and his personal life turned to a shambles. He campaigned on (and the crew filmed on), refusing to acknowledge that he sunk himself by making the exact same mistake that sunk his career years earlier—maybe because he’s an egotist and couldn’t bear being out of the spotlight, or maybe because he’s an idealist, believing that people would see past his online indiscretions and vote based on his ideas. Or maybe he’s nothing more than a self-destructive glutton for punishment. Whatever the truth, the public will remember Weiner for his scandals, which fell from the sky like a host of divine gifts to late-night comedy. Directors Kriegman and Steinberg so superbly convey the sweeping excitement Weiner could generate that it makes things all the more depressing when he can’t even get five percent of the vote. The movie shifts from energetic editing, showing people’s love for the candidate, to a claustrophobic, drawn-out humiliation. If the filmmakers had an agenda besides studying Weiner’s character, they did a great job of hiding it. Weiner shows many facets of his personality: He can be charming and funny, but he can also be a petulant, entitled jerk. The veneer wears off as the stress mounts, making things increasingly uncomfortable—it’s excruciating to watch this man try to salvage respect from certain humiliation, but it makes for a devilishly intimate look into the madness of modern politics.—Jeremy Mathews / Full review

3. The Lobster

Release Date: May 13
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
The Lobster presents a baffling vision of the future, where baffling people do baffling things and obey baffling laws. But through all the movie’s idiosyncrasies shines a beautiful and devastating examination of the human condition. Co-writer-director Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth) creates a vivid reality and trusts the audience to put the pieces together and deduce the rules of this strange society. Colin Farrell plays a newly single man who checks into a resort hotel/prison where he must find a mate within 45 days or be turned into an animal. In this future, conversation has become mechanical and stilted, but that doesn’t stop the cast—especially Farrell and Rachel Weisz—from communicating a great deal of emotions through their mannered performances.—Tim Grierson / Full review

2. Sing Street

Release Date: March 17
Director: John Carney
John Carney’s 2007 film Once was a surprising hit. Filmed for less than $200,000, the film grossed nearly $10 million in the U.S. alone thanks to the charm oozing from the story, its two unnamed lead characters and the music they perform. Carney’s latest—which follows a young Irishman in the 1980s trying to start a band and win the heart of a girl—delivers the same level of charm and much more humor. Newcomer Ferdia Walsh-Peelo plays Cosmo, a student at the grim and oppressive Synge Street School, who’s struggling to find his identity while his parents (played by Aidan Gillen and Maria Doyle Kennedy) argue continuously. Jack Reynor is hilarious as his older stoner brother Brendan, Lucy Boynton gives Raphina a depth in a role that could easily have just been stock ’80s heartthrob, and Walsh-Peelo’s bandmates provide another top-notch soundtrack. Sing Street is a sweet, heart-on-its-sleeve coming-of-age movie with just enough edge not to drift into overly sentimental territory.—Josh Jackson / Full review

1. Love & Friendship

Release Date: May 13
Director: Whit Stillman
Whit Stillman has captured Jane Austen at her most gleefully wicked. The writer-director distills the acidic wit of Austen’s novel Lady Susan into a string of endless delights. (Stillman said the author was channeling Oscar Wilde before Wilde was born.) Kate Beckinsale absolutely nails the part of Susan, who is scheming and manipulative yet possesses a bold ingenuity that makes her difficult to dislike. Unabashed narcissism goes well with a sharp tongue, so long as you’re watching from a distance. If Beckinsale weren’t so good, Tom Bennett would steal the show as a mentally vacant suitor who is “a bit of a rattle.”—Jeremy Mathews / Full review