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The best movies on Max you can stream in May

New to Max? Here are the top movies to start with

The Ring, The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit.
Paxillop / Pixabay

Now that HBO Max has rebranded as Max, it’s the right time to get acquainted with all of the great movies to watch on the streaming service. In addition to large portions of the Warner Bros. catalog, it also has tons of seminal, classic films, as well as plenty of foreign releases. Because the catalog is so big and rich, there are about 250 titles that could go on this list. There’s a wealth of options to choose from whether you’re into action movies or comedies, and you shouldn’t feel limited by the selection below.

Instead, you should treat it as a jumping-off point of HBO Max movies, one that will hopefully allow you to explore many of the titles that didn’t quite make the cut. Max has great movies in every genre and from every period of film history. This is just a sampling of the best movies on Max. And if you’re looking for more Max content, we’ve rounded up the best shows on Max to watch right now.

The Dark Knight (2008)

The Dark Knight
Drama, Action, Crime, Thriller
Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Michael Caine
Directed by
Christopher Nolan
Watch on max
Even after more than a decade of superhero dominance, The Dark Knight still feels like the single best piece of comic book entertainment available. The movie was an enormous phenomenon when it premiered in 2008, thanks in no small part to Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning performance as the Joker. The Dark Knight is a crime thriller, but it also has some of the most electrifying set pieces in any superhero film. Christopher Nolan has made plenty of great films in and out of the superhero genre, but The Dark Knight is still one of his crowning achievements.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Adventure, Fantasy, Action
Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen
Directed by
Peter Jackson
Watch on max
The entire Lord of the Rings trilogy is available on Max, and it’s worth taking a day to watch all three films. They’re three of the best movies on Max. With every passing day, the trilogy feels more and more like a miracle. Adapted from J.R. Tolkien’s work of the same name, the trilogy tells the story of a band of warriors from a variety of fantastical races who come together to defeat a great evil. It’s a work of high fantasy that is both dorky and incredibly cool. There is no one too smart or sophisticated for Lord of the Rings, even if it’s one of the nerdiest things in the world. A great movie can make even niche material hugely popular, and that’s exactly what these films did.

Casablanca (1942)

Drama, Romance
Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid
Directed by
Michael Curtiz
Watch on max
What really needs to be said about Casablanca? It’s widely regarded as one of the best films of all time, and it lives up to that billing. The movie follows Rick (Humphrey Bogart) and Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman), former lovers who run into each other after Ilsa has become linked to a hero of the French resistance during World War II. Casablanca is a tragic love story, but it’s also a story about hope set during a time when there wasn’t much reason for it. Rick does the right thing for the world, and it comes at great personal cost to him, and it’s his sacrifice that makes the movie transcendent.

Tokyo Story (1953)

Tokyo Story
Chishū Ryū, Chieko Higashiyama, Setsuko Hara
Directed by
Yasujirō Ozu
Watch on max
Tokyo Story is as quiet and reflective as movies get, but it’s also one of the most beautiful films ever made. The film is one of the defining works of Japanese director Yasujirō Ozu, and tells the story of a mother and father who come to visit their children in Tokyo but find that their children no longer have time for them. It’s a still movie, but one that ultimately depicts the tragedy of a generation of children who don’t feel that they owe their parents anything. Tokyo Story is a movie about the profound loneliness of growing old and watching the world leave you behind. The movie is widely regarded as one of the best ever made, and with good reason. It’s basically perfect.

Deadwood: The Movie (2019)

Deadwood: The Movie
TV Movie, Western
Timothy Olyphant, Ian McShane, Molly Parker
Directed by
Daniel Minahan
Watch on max
Deadwood remains on the Mount Rushmore of many HBO show rankings, and for good reason. The Western series was a dense and well-acted saga of a small town and the sacrifices it took to create respect in the 1800s in the U.S. The series was canceled after only three seasons, so this movie is a must-watch apology to the diehards of the series who never got to see where the characters ended up. All of the main ones are back, such as Al Swearengen and Seth Bullock.

Moonlight (2016)

Trevante Rhodes, André Holland, Janelle Monáe
Directed by
Barry Jenkins
Watch on max
Telling the story of a young, queer boy living in Florida across three distinct time periods, Moonlight was a hugely influential and important movie told on an almost shockingly intimate scale. The movie’s clear three-act structure allowed a variety of different actors to inhabit these roles, and also gave breathing room for standout supporting performances from actors like Mahershala Ali and Janelle Monae. When it won Best Picture in 2017, many were shocked, but not because the movie didn’t wholeheartedly deserve to be named the best film of the year.
Moonlight | Official Trailer HD | A24

Barbie (2023)

Comedy, Adventure, Fantasy
Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, America Ferrera
Directed by
Greta Gerwig
Watch on max
A genuine phenomenon upon its release in the summer of 2023, Barbie more than earned all the love it got then. The movie, which could have been an empty corporate exercise in brand extension, is instead a thoughtful meditation on the role these dolls have played in American womanhood, and on what it means to be a woman more generally. Featuring stunning production design, a brilliant supporting performance from Ryan Gosling, and a sharp script from Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach, Barbie is probably four times better than it has any right to be.
Barbie | Main Trailer

Parasite (2019)

Comedy, Thriller, Drama
Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-jeong
Directed by
Bong Joon-ho
Watch on max
The first foreign language movie to win the Oscar for Best Picture, Parasite richly deserved its victory. Telling the story of a lower-class family in South Korea who slowly ingratiates themselves into the lives of a wealthy family living nearby, the movie is ultimately a class fable about the ways that capitalism is the rot at the center of everything. Filled with memorable, captivating, and frequently hilarious performances, also with the kinds of twists and turns that most movies would never even attempt, Parasite is a masterpiece of the highest order and a great way to dip your toed into the world of foreign language cinema.
Parasite Trailer #1 (2019) | Movieclips Indie

Priscilla (2023)

Drama, Romance
Cailee Spaeny, Jacob Elordi, Ari Cohen
Directed by
Sofia Coppola
Watch on max
One of the most underrated movies of 2023, Priscilla focuses in on Elvis Presley’s wife, telling a compelling and horrifying tale about the way she was robbed of any agency in their marriage. Directed by Sofia Coppola, who has made a career out of telling these kinds of stories, Priscilla centers on the ways in which Priscilla Presley found herself, at a very young age, totally imprisoned by her husband and his incredible fame. It’s a dark, fascinating portrait of the woman behind the man everyone knows and one that gives leads Cailee Spaney and Jacob Elordi ample opportunity to show what they’re capable of.
Priscilla | Official Trailer HD | A24

The Zone of Interest (2023)

The Zone of Interest
History, Drama, War
Christian Friedel, Sandra Hüller, Johann Karthaus
Directed by
Jonathan Glazer
Watch on HBO Max
One of the more disturbing movies to hit American theaters in recent years, The Zone of Interest is set just outside the Auschwitz concentration camp, and is a stark reminder that the man who ran that camp had a family and a loving wife. The movie never shows us the brutality of what goes on inside the camp, but its sound design ensures that that horror is ever-present, even as this Nazi family argues about mundane things like whether they should move for a promotion. It may not be easy to watch, but The Zone of Interest is a reminder of evil’s human face, one we so often want to ignore.
The Zone of Interest | Official Trailer HD | A24

What movies are coming to Max in May?

May 1

  • All About My Mother (1999)
  • Black Christmas (2019)
  • Crank (2006)
  • Crank: High Voltage (2009)
  • The Dead Don’t Die (2019)
  • Don Jon (2013)
  • Eddie the Eagle (2016)
  • The Edge (1997)
  • The Florida Project (2017)
  • Genius (2016)
  • Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)
  • Jack and the Beanstalk (1952)
  • Jersey Boys (2014)
  • The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017)
  • The Lighthouse (2019)
  • Mad Max (1979)
  • Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981)
  • Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)
  • Poltergeist (2015)
  • Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986)
  • Poltergeist III (1988)
  • Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
  • Sisters (2015)
  • The Upside of Anger (2005)
  • Wild Mountain Thyme (2020)
  • Wonderland (2003)

May 2

  • Turtles All the Way Down (Max Original)

May 9

  • Pretty Little Liars: Summer School (Max Original)

May 10

  • The Iron Claw (2023) (A24)

May 11

  • Nikki Glaser: Someday You’ll Die (HBO Original)

May 15

  • Home Sweet Rome (2023) (Max Original)
  • Sleepless (2017)

May 20

  • STAX: Soulsville U.S.A (HBO Original)

May 21

  • Hell on Earth: The Verónica Case (La Mano En El Fuego) (Max Original)

May 23

  • Thirst with Shay Mitchell (Max Original)

May 26

  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

May 29

  • MoviePass, MovieCrash (HBO Original)
  • Traces of Love (Evidências Do Amor) (Max Original)

Editors' Recommendations

Movie images and data from:
Joe Allen
Joe Allen is a freelance culture writer based in upstate New York. His work has been published in The Washington Post, The…
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