Best Max movies in April 2024

Max logo on TV with popcorn and remote control on table
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The best Max movies deliver theatrical-quality films right into the comfort of your home. Max, formerly known as HBO Max, is our top choice among the best streaming services because it pulls classic films from the century-old WarnerMedia library as well as new releases. 

The movies on Max include some of the biggest franchises in the movie industry like the DC superhero smashes and the "Lord of the Rings" epics. We would be remiss if we didn't point out the excellent TV shows on the service, so check out our guide to the best Max shows. OK, now without further ado, here are our picks for the best Max movies.

Best movies on Max right now

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'The Zone of Interest'

Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höss (Christian Fridel) and wife Hedwig (Sandra Hüller) live in an idyllic home with their five children immediately adjacent to the camp. The family lives a seemingly normal life as horrific sounds from innocent people being put to death become the soundtrack of their existence. This gut-wrenching look at life within the Höss family is as unsettling as it sounds and has been praised by filmmakers from Steven Spielberg to Alfonso Cuarón for its intent to raise awareness about the Holocaust and the atrocities committed within it. - BV

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'Dream Scenario'

Paul Matthews (Nicolas Cage) is a biology professor with a seemingly normal life. One day, he learns that he's been appearing in the dreams of random people, those who know him and those who don't. Though at first his appearances are benign and find him doing little or nothing in others' dreams, he decides to try and spice things up to change their perception of him. Soon the phenomenon reaches the media and ends up blowing up into something bizarre and nightmarish despite Paul's attempts to reinvent himself and become a source of hope for others. - BV

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This prequel to the classic tale of Willy Wonka and his chocolate factory finds Timothée Chalamet taking up the top hat and cane as a younger version of the chocolatier. It follows him on his journey to open his own chocolate shop. From being coerced into a predatory contract at a boarding house to helping an orphan named Noodle (Calah Lane) escape her tenure there, this musical romp through Wonka's early days is a fun and colorful take on Roald Dahl's iconic character. - BV

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Shakespeare in Love

Romantic comedies don’t tend to get a lot of love at the Oscars, but this period piece was an exception thanks to the use of historical figures, lavish costumes, sumptuous production design and star-studded cast. 

A young William Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) is suffering from writer’s block, but the theatre owner decides to move forward with his unfinished play. Viola de Lesseps (Gwyneth Paltrow), the daughter of a wealthy merchant, attends the auditions — dressed as a man. Shakespeare’s experiences with Viola and her alter ego lead him to pen one of his greatest works, Romeo and Juliet.

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Avatar: The Way of Water

James Cameron took his sweet time making a sequel to his top-grossing hit Avatar, but it was worth it. The Way of Water is a stunning spectacle that not only charted as the third biggest movie of all time, but earned four Oscar nominations (including Best Picture).

Most of the voice cast reprise their roles. Set more than a decade after the events of the first film, the story focuses on the Sully family: Jake (Sam Worthington), Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña) and their children. The Na’Vi are dismayed when the RDA returns to colonize Pandora. Under threat again, Jake and Neytiri seek refuge with the aquatic Metkayina clan and learn their ways.

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The surprise Best Picture Oscar winner — to everyone's delight — comes from genius Korean director Bong Joon-Ho (now an Oscar winner himself). The film defies categorization; it's a mix of thriller, horror, comedy and melodrama. It is a taut, intricately-plotted tale full of twists and turns, and on top of that, is an affecting allegory about the rich and the poor and how we're all connected as human beings in the end. 

Parasite's excellent cast didn't get the Oscar love they should've but they did get both a standing ovation and the Best Ensemble prize at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. The appreciation for this movie runs wide and deep, and if you haven't seen it yet, now's your chance.

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Tess (Georgina Campbell) is in a bad neighborhood on a rainy night, but at least she found her way to the porch of the Airbnb she's staying at. There's only one problem: someone else is already staying here. And he (Bill Skarsgård) is both awkward and nice. He can't be a bad guy, right? Well, I'd tell you more, but I actually saw Barbarian and know I really should keep the details of what happens in that house at a bare minimum. Other than to say Barbarian is a horror movie with a big twist.

One of my absolute favorite movies of 2022, Barbarian is a whole lot of horror. And to see HBO Max get it relatively soon after its theatrical release? What a Halloween miracle. - Henry T. Casey

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I'm as shocked as anyone that I'm writing this. I wrote Elvis off as just Baz Lurhman's latest bit of exhausting maximalist spectacle. And while it is definitely that kind of movie, it's so much more thanks to the performance of one Austin Butler, who plays The King himself, Elvis Pressley. While Butler is far from a new face on the scene — he's been acting since 2005 — Elvis is truly a star-making role for him. As someone far too young to have seen the Elvis phenomenon when it happened, the film Elvis is the first time where I understood what had happened. Once Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks) sees an electric performance from Elvis on stage, he sees all the money in the world in this kid, and so will you. Butler's on-screen charisma and electricity as he plays Elvis' hits is unlike anything I've witnessed in ages. — Henry T. Casey

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King Richard

Will Smith as Richard Williams in King Richard, with Saniyya Sidney as Venus Williams in background

(Image credit: Chiabella James / Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)

Venus and Serena Williams are two of the greatest tennis players of all time. Sorry, that’s kind of a spoiler (kidding) for this biopic, which focuses on their father and coach, Richard Williams. Will Smith puts the full force of his charisma into playing the mercurial, demanding dad who has a vision for his two talented daughters (Yes, this is the role that earned him an Oscar handed to him before he delivered The Slap heard 'round the world to Chris Rock). 

Williams was and remains a controversial lightning rod to the public and press, but the movie is more of a rousing ode to extremely dedicated parenthood. Williams' single-minded focus and unconventional methods helped him shepherd his daughters from the streets of Compton to hallowed grass courts of Wimbledon. - KW

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The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl 

Junior (voiced by Gen Hoshino and Kellen Goff) holding a wine glass that's being filled by four bottles in The Night Is Short, Walk on Girl

(Image credit: GKids)

The Night Is Short, Walk on Girl fits so much into its 93-minute runtime that it almost feels like it should be called a farce. In it, we follow an unnamed protagonist (dubbed Junior, for her school level) as she meets all the weirdest people in Kyoto. All the while her fellow student "Senpai" — a confused romantic — longs to confess his feelings to her. But their paths keep diverging, as she meets increasingly odder folks, such as the guy at the bar who is collecting adult woodprint drawings. Oh and then there's that encounter with the supernatural Rihaku. Thankfully, Junior's incredible talent for holding her liquor keeps her never-ending night going, as she finds more twists and turns among her peers than she could have expected – HTC

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The Suicide Squad

Best HBO Max movies: The Suicide SquadTom's Guide Awards 2022 logo

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The 2016 Suicide Squad movie cleaned up at the box office, but later became reviled for failing to deliver on the promise of the premise — a team-up of super villains. DC and Warner Bros. clearly didn’t want to let this IP languish, hence this quasi-sequel, quasi-reboot. They turned to Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn to do an extreme movie makeover — and he’s done it. The Suicide Squad 2021 is earning positive reviews from critics and fans alike for its chaotic energy, gory violence and satirical irreverence. Plus, the general consensus is that it’s fun, which is not a label put on most DC movies. Stick around for the Suicide Squad post-credits scenes. - HTC

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The Lord of the Rings trilogy

Lord of the Rings

(Image credit: New Line)

Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings films were a massive gamble that paid off in billions of dollars and multiple Oscars. The trilogy kicks off with The Fellowship of the Ring, which introduces the hobbit Frodo Baggins and his friends Sam, Merry and Pippin. When Frodo inherits the extremely dangerous One Ring, the wizard Gandalf urges him to leave the peaceful Shire. Frodo and his friends end up banding together with the ranger Aragorn, the steward-prince Boromir, elf Legolas and dwarf Gimli on a quest to destroy the ring in the fires of Mount Doom. But they must face the forces of the dark lord Sauron to free Middle-Earth of the terrible evil. - KW

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Birds of Prey

Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn in Birds of Prey

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Margot Robbie's performance as Harley Quinn in the original Suicide Squad was very clearly the best part of the film, so it was only natural that she got her own spin-off film. While Birds of Prey wasn't a hit at the box office, it's still an excellent piece of comedic anti-heroics that everyone should see. Harley's on her own, post-Joker, and trying to make a name for herself isn't easy when Black Mask (Ewan McGregor) is terrorizing Gotham. Robbie is supported by a fantastic cast, with Mary Elizabeth Winstead turning in a phenomenally awkward performance as Huntress and Rosie Perez playing a frustrated cop who can't catch a break. Worth it for the instantly memorable breakfast sandwich scene that will instantly give you a case of the munchies. – HTC

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My Neighbor Totoro

Totoro, Satsuki and Mei eat watermelon in My Neighbor Totoro

(Image credit: Studio Ghibli)

Moving to a new city is always rough for kids, but the classic animated film My Neighbor Totoro takes this premise and turns it into a beautiful and trippy delight for the whole family. Siblings Satsuki and Meg find life in the countryside too different for their tastes, but soon a fantastic cast of creatures flip the script. While the gigantic forest spirit Totoro might look intimidating at first, with its giant flaws, its emotive eyes and lovable yawns make fast friends out of these kids and their new ally. 

Parents can play a game of spot the voice actor, with the likes of Tim Daly (Wings) and Dakota and Elle Fanning. Everyone in the whole household, however, will likely fall in love with the Studio Ghibli film's hand-drawn aesthetic and lush colors. And then there's the Cat Bus, which should inspire folks everywhere. — HTC 

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2001: A Space Odyssey

Stanley Kubrick's 1968 film isn't just one of the best HBO Max movies. It's one of the greatest films ever made, period. The ambitious story tracks the evolution of mankind from apes to spacefarers, all while exploring themes around artificial intelligence, technological advancement, extraterrestrial life and humanity's place in the universe. From the monoliths to the computer HAL, there are so many signature elements that provoke thought and discussion.

2001: A Space Odyssey is also hugely influential, within the movie industry and in pop culture overall. The film is celebrated for its painstaking scientific realism, pioneering visual effects and iconic soundtrack. Almost every modern sci-fi movie you've ever seen owes a debt to Kubrick's vision. — KW 

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Kelly Woo
Streaming Editor

Kelly is the streaming channel editor for Tom’s Guide, so basically, she watches TV for a living. Previously, she was a freelance entertainment writer for Yahoo, Vulture, TV Guide and other outlets. When she’s not watching TV and movies for work, she’s watching them for fun, seeing live music, writing songs, knitting and gardening.

With contributions from