This month, Warner Bros. Discovery is rebranding its streaming service, HBO Max, to simply Max – a move which has left some observers scratching their heads, considering the presumed value of the HBO name. Regardless of the name change, though, if you’re seeking cinematic excellence, you could do a lot worse than this streaming service in the month of May.
To determine the best movies to stream on Max 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.
All but one of the HBO Max films on our list holds a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score of at least 90%. Six have a perfect 100% tally – including two that are part of the canon of the legendary Charlie Chaplin (who has a total of seven films on the list, by far the most of any filmmaker). In addition, 23 films listed here are Oscar winners, including Peter Jackson’s celebrated Lord of the Rings trilogy, which captured 16 gold statues. (Here’s a list of Charlie Chaplin’s best and worst movies.)
Click here to see the best movies to stream on Max this month
Every motion picture era is represented by at least one distinguished film. “Safety Last!” starring Harold Lloyd, is among the oldest on the list, dating from 1923. Max also offers “The Wizard of Oz” (1939) as well as the 1942 drama “Now, Voyager,” starring Bette Davis.
“A Streetcar Named Desire” (1951) and “The Searchers” (1956) featured some of the career-best performances from Marlon Brando and John Wayne, respectively.
Much of the cinema from the 1960s and 1970s depicted people challenging authority and flouting conventions. That’s evident in films such as “Cool Hand Luke,” “The Taking of Pelham One Two Three,” “All the President’s Men,” “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” and “Network.” (These were the most successful movies of the 1970s.)
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