Special Report

Best R-Rated Movies to Stream on Netflix This Month

The best R-rated movies to stream on Netflix in May include a number of American films, some of which broke new ground in storytelling.

To determine the best R-rated movies to stream on Netflix this May, 24/7 Tempo developed an index using average ratings on IMDb, an online movie database owned by Amazon, and a combination of audience scores and Tomatometer scores on Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie and TV review aggregator, as of early May 2023, weighting all ratings equally. We considered only movies with at least 5,000 audience votes on either IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes, and ruled out documentaries. Data on streaming availability, also current as of early May, comes from the streaming guide Reelgood. Directorial credits are from IMDb.

Among the highest-rated films with an R rating on Netflix right now are “Heat” and “Psycho” – the latter of which, rated No. 1 here, is the oldest movie on the list (its release predated the Motion Picture Association rating system, but it was retroactively given an “R”). Michael Mann’s “Heat” helped redefine the narrative possibilities of an action film, while Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” explored new areas of terror and made millions think twice about taking a shower alone. (The Hitchcock masterpiece is also one of the best R-rated movies of all time.)

Click here to see the best R-rated movies to stream on Netflix this month

Organized crime films are represented by “The Departed,” one of nine Oscar-winning movies on the list, and “American Gangster,” starring Denzel Washington – who also headlined another entry, “Flight.” Two other actors starring in two movies on the list are Jake Gyllenhaal and Timothée Chalamet. Directors Spike Lee and Quentin Tarantino each landed two movies on the list as well.

If your tastes run to more historical-themed or biographical offerings, that genre is represented by “The King,” “Outlaw King,” “Colette,” and “Born on the Fourth of July.”

Eighteen of the movies on our list hold Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer scores of 90% or higher. Seven films scored 90% or above among Rotten Tomatoes audiences. (And here’s a list of R-rated movies with a perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes.)

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