7 best new to Max movies with 90% or higher on Rotten Tomatoes for August 2023

The Max logo appears on a TV in a darkened living room
(Image credit: Shutterstock/Max)

Max (the rebooted HBO Max) is still in its infancy, but it continues its predecessor's tradition of delivering fantastic movies. And by maintaining its position as the home box office, it helps ensure its ranking as the best streaming service

August's big new batch of movies gives us a lot of options for what to add to the best Max movies list, which often sees titles come and go as contracts expire. To help clarify this chaos, and thus fight decision paralysis (a problem we all share), we're refining the massive list of new-to-Max movies with two filters. 

These movies all have a score of 90% or more on Rotten Tomatoes, which is basically an A-grade. Then, we curate the list down to give something for everyone. This month offers excellent action, a classic dark comedy crime film, one of the best horror movies of all time, and superb documentaries.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

The second chapter (which does not require seeing any of its predecessors) of the 2010's Planet of the Apes reboot is a fantastic edition. Humanity is reeling after the 'Rise' of the apes, as only 1 in 500 humans are genetically immune to the Simian Flu pandemic.

Malcolm (Jason Clarke) may be humanity's only hope at peace, as he leads a group into the ape community. There, he builds a bond with Caesar (Andy Serkis), their leader. Of course, since someone named 'Caesar' is involved, the odds of peace are truly small. 

A fantastic popcorn flick that you might have easily missed, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a blast that's as thoughtful as it is action-packed.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 91%
Genre: Action
Stream it on Max starting tomorrow (Tuesday, August 1)

A Royal Affair (2012)

Amazingly, A Royal Affair delivers a true story of historical non-fiction that most wouldn't believe. And it's a romance at that, all told through the point of view of Queen Caroline (Alicia Vikander), from her youth to the courtship with the unstable and unfaithful King Christian VII (Mikkel Boe Folsgaard). 

There, she meets doctor Johann Friedrich Struensee (Mads Mikkelsen), an intellectual who she blonds with almost instantly, creating a royally complicated love triangle. Mikkelsen and Vikander won praise for their performances, and A Royal Affair is well-regarded for its mix of history, passion and philosophy.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 90%
Genre: Historic drama
Stream it on Max starting tomorrow (Tuesday, August 1)

Fargo (1996)

If you've never seen the Coen Brothers classic that's remembered for its iconic — yet bloody — violence, I hope you're ready for it right now. Fargo all starts with a bad idea: Jerry (William H. Macy) is in deep debt, and hires two criminals (Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare) to kidnap his wife so her father can pay a ransom that he will split with his hired help. Everything, of course, goes wrong.

While the above trio help make this movie great, it's Frances McDormand's performance as police chief Marge Gunderson that makes this film practically perfect. With a casual oh-gosh demeanor, Marge unpacks the plot at hand, ruining everyone's already bad day.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 94%
Genre: Comedy/crime
Stream it on Max starting tomorrow (Tuesday, August 1)

Before Midnight (2013)

The third chapter of Richard Linklater's 'Before' series, starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, is just as good as its predecessors. Neither of which is coming to Max, but both are worth renting digitally to watch prior. 

Here, we see Jesse (Hawke) and Celine (Delpy) on vacation in Greece, which isn't ending as perfectly as one might hope. Celebrated for challenging the "happily ever after" ending, some critics say that 'Midnight' is the best of the trilogy.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 95%
Genre: Action/adventure
Stream it on Max starting tomorrow (Tuesday, August 1)

Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer (2010)

After all of the media circus died down, director Alex Gibney (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room) provided this amazing autopsy of the career of former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer. Shortly after getting elected, Spitzer — who challenged major corporations for their bad practices — resigned after being outed in a scandal involving a glitzy escort service.

Here, Spitzer (as well as the politicians and friends who know him) explain how they saw his career tumble. Gibney is credited for turning a well-publicized story into a gripping and revealing documentary. 

Rotten Tomatoes score: 90%
Genre: Documentary
Stream it on Max starting tomorrow (Tuesday, August 1)

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

The thing about classic movies — especially in horror — is that the industry chases that success forever, often mudding the original fertile grounds. Fortunately, Freddy Krueger's original romp is too good to be muted by mediocre sequels.

This chapter sees Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) and boyfriend Glen (Johnny Depp) attempt to survive the leather-faced creep who kills teens in their dreams. The novel twist that a killer could exist in the dream world, where all laws can be defied, gave Wes Craven ample opportunity to surprise and shock.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 95%
Genre: Horror
Stream it on Max starting tomorrow (Tuesday, August 1)

I Am Not Your Negro (2016)

I Am Not Your Negro is based on James Baldwin's unfinished manuscript Remember This House, which he left behind at the time of his passing in 1987. The tome focused on the lives of Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X and Medgar Evers, civil rights leaders who were also Baldwin's friends. 

Director Raoul Peck uses that document, and other Baldwin pieces to create this film, a powerful meditation on both the Civil Rights era and our own. Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 99%
Genre: Documentary
Stream it on Max starting tomorrow (Tuesday, August 1)

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Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.