Special Report

The Best Movies to Stream on HBO Max Right Now

Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

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.)

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

50. Argo (2012)
> IMDb user rating: 7.7/10 (617,860 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 90% (208,987 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 96% (359 reviews)
> Directed by: Ben Affleck

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

49. Airplane! (1980)
> IMDb user rating: 7.7/10 (224,550 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 89% (292,094 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 97% (69 reviews)
> Directed by: Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

48. The Searchers (1956)
> IMDb user rating: 7.9/10 (85,281 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 88% (40,865 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 96% (49 reviews)
> Directed by: John Ford

Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

47. Casino Royale (2006)
> IMDb user rating: 8.0/10 (601,654 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 89% (703,961 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 94% (259 reviews)
> Directed by: Martin Campbell

Source: Courtesy of Faces International

46. A Woman Under the Influence (1974)
> IMDb user rating: 8.2/10 (23,726 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 91% (8,243 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 90% (31 reviews)
> Directed by: John Cassavetes

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

45. Judas and the Black Messiah (2021)
> IMDb user rating: 7.4/10 (81,784 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 95% (495 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 96% (339 reviews)
> Directed by: Shaka King

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

44. The Right Stuff (1983)
> IMDb user rating: 7.8/10 (62,253 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 90% (22,982 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 96% (51 reviews)
> Directed by: Philip Kaufman

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

43. Now, Voyager (1942)
> IMDb user rating: 7.9/10 (16,219 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 91% (7,474 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 94% (32 reviews)
> Directed by: Irving Rapper

Source: Courtesy of United Artists

42. Monsieur Verdoux (1947)
> IMDb user rating: 7.9/10 (16,795 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 88% (5,490 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 97% (35 reviews)
> Directed by: Charles Chaplin

Source: Courtesy of United Artists

41. The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974)
> IMDb user rating: 7.7/10 (28,840 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 88% (9,478 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 100% (42 reviews)
> Directed by: Joseph Sargent

Source: Courtesy of Fathom Events

40. Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)
> IMDb user rating: 7.9/10 (133,169 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 88% (16,920 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 98% (41 reviews)
> Directed by: Hayao Miyazaki

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

39. All the President’s Men (1976)
> IMDb user rating: 7.9/10 (117,562 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 92% (50,360 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 94% (65 reviews)
> Directed by: Alan J. Pakula

Source: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

38. The Wrestler (2008)
> IMDb user rating: 7.9/10 (296,807 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 88% (140,629 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 98% (233 reviews)
> Directed by: Darren Aronofsky

Source: Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

37. Network (1976)
> IMDb user rating: 8.1/10 (152,343 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 93% (36,416 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 91% (70 reviews)
> Directed by: Sidney Lumet

Source: Courtesy of United Artists

36. The Miracle Worker (1962)
> IMDb user rating: 8.1/10 (19,187 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 88% (8,844 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 96% (25 reviews)
> Directed by: Arthur Penn

Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

35. Young Frankenstein (1974)
> IMDb user rating: 8.0/10 (149,974 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 92% (209,397 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 94% (68 reviews)
> Directed by: Mel Brooks

Source: Courtesy of DreamWorks Distribution

34. Catch Me If You Can (2002)
> IMDb user rating: 8.1/10 (989,753 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 89% (749,469 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 96% (203 reviews)
> Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

33. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
> IMDb user rating: 8.3/10 (296,218 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 93% (50,000 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 94% (132 reviews)
> Directed by: David Lean

Source: Courtesy of A24

32. Room (2015)
> IMDb user rating: 8.1/10 (392,959 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 93% (49,823 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 93% (317 reviews)
> Directed by: Lenny Abrahamson

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

31. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
> IMDb user rating: 8.0/10 (104,091 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 90% (55,195 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 98% (60 reviews)
> Directed by: Elia Kazan

Source: Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

30. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
> IMDb user rating: 8.0/10 (379,622 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 89% (876,535 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 99% (145 reviews)
> Directed by: Victor Fleming

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

29. Inception (2010)
> IMDb user rating: 8.8/10 (2,171,143 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 91% (571,783 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 87% (361 reviews)
> Directed by: Christopher Nolan

Source: Courtesy of United Artists

28. Limelight (1952)
> IMDb user rating: 8.1/10 (19,395 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 90% (7,303 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 97% (35 reviews)
> Directed by: Charles Chaplin

Source: Courtesy of Orion Pictures

27. The Terminator (1984)
> IMDb user rating: 8.0/10 (820,969 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 89% (776,923 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 100% (65 reviews)
> Directed by: James Cameron

Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

26. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
> IMDb user rating: 8.1/10 (211,273 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 93% (54,763 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 95% (61 reviews)
> Directed by: David Lean

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

25. Full Metal Jacket (1987)
> IMDb user rating: 8.3/10 (746,294 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 94% (324,778 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 92% (83 reviews)
> Directed by: Stanley Kubrick

Source: Courtesy of Bir Film

24. The Tale of The Princess Kaguya (2013)
> IMDb user rating: 8.0/10 (42,434 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 90% (14,047 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 100% (96 reviews)
> Directed by: Isao Takahata

Source: Courtesy of New Line Cinema

23. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
> IMDb user rating: 8.9/10 (1,710,236 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 86% (34,679,773 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 93% (275 reviews)
> Directed by: Peter Jackson

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

22. The Departed (2006)
> IMDb user rating: 8.5/10 (1,241,061 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 94% (738,191 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 90% (283 reviews)
> Directed by: Martin Scorsese

Source: Courtesy of Pathé Exchange

21. Safety Last! (1923)
> IMDb user rating: 8.1/10 (19,650 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 93% (3,761 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 97% (35 reviews)
> Directed by: Fred C. Newmeyer & Sam Taylor

Source: Courtesy of United Artists

20. The Circus (1928)
> IMDb user rating: 8.1/10 (32,235 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 94% (6,739 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 96% (28 reviews)
> Directed by: Charles Chaplin

Source: Courtesy of United Artists

19. Some Like It Hot (1959)
> IMDb user rating: 8.2/10 (254,537 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 94% (82,393 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 95% (65 reviews)
> Directed by: Billy Wilder

Source: Courtesy of United Artists

18. To Be or Not to Be (1942)
> IMDb user rating: 8.2/10 (33,747 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 93% (6,029 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 96% (47 reviews)
> Directed by: Ernst Lubitsch

Source: Courtesy of United Artists

17. The Great Escape (1963)
> IMDb user rating: 8.2/10 (246,586 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 95% (103,579 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 94% (49 reviews)
> Directed by: John Sturges

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

16. Unforgiven (1992)
> IMDb user rating: 8.2/10 (391,927 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 93% (122,861 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 96% (106 reviews)
> Directed by: Clint Eastwood

Source: Courtesy of Fathom Events

15. Princess Mononoke (1997)
> IMDb user rating: 8.4/10 (364,905 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 94% (222,309 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 93% (112 reviews)
> Directed by: Hayao Miyazaki

Source: Courtesy of Newmarket Films

14. Memento (2000)
> IMDb user rating: 8.4/10 (1,169,429 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 94% (381,352 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 93% (181 reviews)
> Directed by: Christopher Nolan

Source: Courtesy of United Artists

13. The Great Dictator (1940)
> IMDb user rating: 8.4/10 (213,266 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 95% (43,757 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 93% (45 reviews)
> Directed by: Charles Chaplin

Source: Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

12. North by Northwest (1959)
> IMDb user rating: 8.3/10 (312,200 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 94% (79,896 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 97% (109 reviews)
> Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock

Source: Courtesy of Neon

11. Parasite (2019)
> IMDb user rating: 8.5/10 (810,722 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 90% (5,000 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 99% (475 reviews)
> Directed by: Bong Joon Ho

Source: Courtesy of United Artists

10. The Gold Rush (1925)
> IMDb user rating: 8.2/10 (106,473 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 93% (20,591 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 100% (50 reviews)
> Directed by: Charles Chaplin

Source: Courtesy of New Line Cinema

9. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
> IMDb user rating: 8.8/10 (1,731,527 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 95% (1,355,751 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 91% (235 reviews)
> Directed by: Peter Jackson

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros./Seven Arts

8. Cool Hand Luke (1967)
> IMDb user rating: 8.1/10 (170,093 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 95% (63,767 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 100% (53 reviews)
> Directed by: Stuart Rosenberg

Source: Courtesy of United Artists

7. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
> IMDb user rating: 8.7/10 (954,220 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 96% (279,963 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 94% (83 reviews)
> Directed by: Miloš Forman

Source: Courtesy of First National Pictures

6. The Kid (1921)
> IMDb user rating: 8.3/10 (120,168 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 95% (15,470 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 100% (48 reviews)
> Directed by: Charles Chaplin

Source: Courtesy of New Line Cinema

5. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
> IMDb user rating: 8.7/10 (1,546,188 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 95% (1,341,428 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 95% (255 reviews)
> Directed by: Peter Jackson

Source: Courtesy of United Artists

4. Modern Times (1936)
> IMDb user rating: 8.5/10 (228,754 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 95% (40,314 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 98% (108 reviews)
> Directed by: Charles Chaplin

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

3. The Dark Knight (2008)
> IMDb user rating: 9.0/10 (2,419,864 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 94% (1,831,566 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 94% (345 reviews)
> Directed by: Christopher Nolan

Source: Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures

2. Spirited Away (2001)
> IMDb user rating: 8.6/10 (693,872 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 96% (337,321 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 97% (191 reviews)
> Directed by: Hayao Miyazaki

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

1. Goodfellas (1990)
> IMDb user rating: 8.7/10 (1,165,874 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 97% (430,048 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 96% (103 reviews)
> Directed by: Martin Scorsese

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