In 2012, A24 began as an NYC-based company founded by three friends with a shared love of film. Now, nearly a decade on, the moviemaking company is responsible for some of the most exciting titles in recent years. It looks like their streak of exceptional indies will be continuing; most recently, Janicza Bravo’s
Zola, a firecracker of a film based on a tweet thread and starring Riley Keough and newcomer Taylour Paige, is a dazzling and uproarious A24 title. Also, coming soon is David Lowery’s The Green Knight, starring the wonderful Dev Patel, an epic fantasy quest putting a fresh spin on the classic tale of the Arthurian legend.
The A24 film collection is not united by a director, star, or genre, but instead, a shared belonging under the holographic logo of A24, an image that has become synonymous in cinephile circles with whimsical narratives and enchanting visuals. The consistent championing of debut independent filmmakers has also led to the ‘A24 film’ achieving cult status, garnering its own dedicated and loyal following. So much so, A24 has their own line of merchandise, from classic t-shirts that sell out on every drop to branded
dog collars and movie memorabilia.
From a solid foundation of aesthetic indie films to some of the award circuit’s most stylistic contenders, A24’s back catalogue is full of cinematic gems to feast your eyes on. Here are 24 of the best A24 movies that are well worth searching out and enjoying.
Acclaimed filmmaker Mike Mills’
20th Century Women is an ode to nurturing in all its forms. Centered around a didactic trio of women — Annette Benning, Greta Gerwig, and Elle Fanning - helping Dorothea (Benning), a single mother in her 50s, to raise her adolescent son (Lucas Jade Zumann), this film is a testament to the women that make us and the fragile but instrumental necessity of connection. In an illustrative scene, Gerwig’s character derails a dinner party when she instructs the men around the table to repeat “menstruation” until they aren’t uncomfortable. The lowkey humor of this title is lovably chaotic.
A Ghost Story is a test of patience, but utterly rewarding. The film revolves around a recently deceased man (Casey Affleck) stuck in time watching his widowed wife (Rooney Mara) continue without him. An existential drama, this meditation on loss is lightened by the ghost costume which is Affleck draped in a white sheet. The film makes no apologies for its slow pace and, in its defining shot, joins Mara on the kitchen floor as she impressively scoffs an entire pie. ( Netflix) American Honey explores what ‘being on the road’ means for a young woman escaping her turbulent home. Star (the phenomenal Sasha Lane) joins a bunch of misfits road-tripping across the American Midwest. With the blazing sun above and a long road ahead, Lane’s glowing performance drives this unique tale of adolescence beautifully. (Hulu)
You might know Sofia Coppola from her classics
Lost in Translation and Marie Antoinette, but The Bling Ring, which came a few years after, confirms her legendary director status. A satirical heist centered on a bunch of narcissistic high-schoolers (including Emma Watson) robbing celebs, it’s instantly quotable, so much fun, and has a soundtrack you’ll want to blast on repeat. (Netflix)
A modern masterpiece, Bo Burnham’s remarkable directorial debut
Eighth Grade is a portrait of anxious young womanhood in the contemporary digital age. Not knowing life without her phone, Kayla (newcomer Elsie Fisher, in a breakout performance) is heading into high school with pockets full of anxiety and Snapchat permanently open. A touching and authentic portrayal of social media and modern youth, Eighth Grade is one of A24’s best. (Amazon)
The first A24 film to win an Academy Award,
Ex Machina focuses on a young programmer (Domhnall Gleeson) who gets more than he bargained for when joining an experiment with an extremely realistic woman robot (Alicia Vikander). What begins as a highly stylised sci-fi becomes an intense psychological thriller as Alex Garland’s film’s twists and turns are copious. Gorgeously composed and intelligently written, the secluded interaction between humans and artificial intelligence makes for a beguiling story. (Hulu)
A semi-autobiographical film from writer-director Lulu Wang,
The Farewell is a heartfelt drama that celebrates the bittersweet loyalty of family. Faced with her grandmother having little time to live, Billi (Awkwafina) hesitantly returns to Changchun, promising to lie to the family matriarch about the purpose of the visit so as to not worry her. Balancing a cultural specificity with universal thematics, The Farewell is a poignant, melancholic but moving movie. (Netflix)
Kelly Reichardt is a distinctive voice of American cinema.
First Cow embodies a simple premise but is told with suspenseful vigor. Through Reichardt’s assured lens, a skilled cook (John Magaro) and aspiring entrepreneur (Orion Lee) collaborate on a wishful venture: stealing milk from a rare cow to keep their baking business afloat. Finding solace in one another when the world seems against them, this gentle and compassionate tale of male companionship, nature and survival in rural America is crucially tactile. Somehow, the tale of two men and a cow redefines the scope of the western genre with an artistic quietude. (Hulu)
Six-year-old Moonee (charming Brooklyn Prince) lives close to Florida’s Disney World, but ask Moonee and her friends and they’ll tell you the magic is in their motel. Against the background of working-class America, Sean Baker’s playful and empathetic portrait of childhood on the fringes is contemplatively heartfelt. The camera stays low at child’s eye level to capture Moonee and her mischievous crew exploring this colorful world brimming with energy through their uninhibited gaze.
If nothing else, watch
Gloria Bell to witness Julianne Moore yell-singing along to ‘Love Is In The Air’ in her car and dancing all night long beneath the strobe lights of LA nightclubs. A heart-stirring character study that charts Gloria’s return to the dating scene as a mid-50s divorcee with two adult children, Gloria Bell explores the exhilaration of new love. It is the dynamism of Moore’s performance — combing apprehension and exhilaration with independence and yearning — that brings a fresh angle to the representation of a free-spirited middle-aged woman on-screen. (Amazon)
Redefining his career after
Twilight, Robert Pattison proves he’s one of the most versatile actors working today in the film embodiment of an anxiety attack: Good Time. When a bank robbery goes wrong, Pattison’s character must do everything in his power to save his brother (Benny Safdie) from a fate in prison. The unfettered crime thriller odyssey changes pace like surges of adrenaline and will have you on the edge of your seat for the full 140 minutes. (Netflix)
Ari Aster’s bone-chilling debut is a frightful tale of a family tragedy that becomes disturbingly dark, nightmarish material.
Hereditary feels as though it belongs to its own genre of horror entirely. Abiding by its own definition of frightening, Aster’s debut drags you down into an ominous atmosphere that only becomes more haunting over time. Also, you’ll never want to be in Toni Collette’s bad books after witnessing her ferocious scream. (Hulu)
Shining a new light onto the sci-fi genre of space travel, Claire Denis’ inimitable
High Life is a meditative but morbid look at the isolated human condition. A group of convicted criminals are on a one-way mission to a black hole. Their conclusion is oblivion and they are doomed from the start, yet Denis’ multilayered handling spotlights nihilism and optimism simultaneously. Demonstrating that the highly sophisticated human feat of space travel doesn’t detract from primal instinct and innate morals, High Life is an erotic, grim and remarkable film. (Netflix) The Killing of a Sacred Deer
An engrossing tour de force psycho-thriller,
The Killing of a Sacred Deer is writer-director Yorgos Lanthimos’ bonafide mythic story of depravity. A brutal but riveting watch, The Killing of a Sacred Deer peers behind the smokescreen of domestic bliss to find a lurking and sinister sense of idiosyncratic dread. This unsettling story of a family torn apart is brought to life by tremendous acting talent from Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman and Barry Keoghan. (Netflix)
Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut,
Lady Bird, immediately solidified her as a filmmaking voice that is both fresh and instantly familiar. At its heart, Lady Bird is an affecting love letter to the precious relationship between mother and daughter, where bickering is their love language. The coming-of-age film was also the beginning of the delightful pairing of Timothée Chalamet and Saoirse Ronan, this generation’s DiCaprio and Winslet. (Netflix) The Last Black Man in San Francisco
What is a home? A central question to one of A24’s most underappreciated films,
The Last Black Man in San Francisco. Every shot in this gem of a film is stunningly composed with the most ethereal and stylistic colour grade, like a nostalgic memory being re-lived. Led by two exceptional performances from Jimmie Fails and Jonathan Majors, Joe Talbot’s film is a sincerely powerful journey of two best friends reclaiming a house after their San Francisco neighbourhood faces pervading gentrification and conflicts of masculinity and race. Building a home together, this earnest depiction of companionship and legacy is an enchanting watch. (Amazon)
Lean on Pete, you’ll be enamored by the remarkable talent that is Charlie Plummer. The phenomenal young actor takes the reins (literally) in Andrew Haig’s sensitive and modern western about a young teenager stealing an aging racehorse from slaughter. The precious connection between a young man and his horse, traveling the new American frontier and healing each other with time and loyalty, is at the heart of this striking film. An unsentimental and devastating coming-of-age drama. (Hulu)
This offbeat, Yorgos Lanthimos extravaganza is an unconventional romance to its core. The dystopian and absurdist, satirical film is set in the near future where single people are taken to The Hotel; upon arrival, they have 45 days to fall in love or they are exiled to the woods. It’s a bizarre premise that’ll have you engrossed in a surreal world where the very concept of romance is framed through an entirely new lens.
Another one from Ari Aster, but, unlike
Hereditary, Midsommar plays out in daylight. The brilliant Florence Pugh leads this folk horror; already under strain, Dani (Pugh) and her boyfriend’s arrival at Swedish ancestral commune during midsummer celebrations puts a whole new pressure on their relationship. With maypole dancing, flowers and smiles, Midsommar grapples with trauma and self-preservation with a balance of dark humor and memorable visuals. (Netflix)
The bond between father and son is at the core of Lee Isaac Chung’s heartfelt portrait of a Korean-American family in search of their own American Dream. Dreamy cinematography and a sublime score plots the challenges of this family’s new life, taking them from the West coast to an Arkansas trailer home on Ozark farmland. “I’ll take care of us,” is the tender promise of parental protection, which comes up against so many obstacles but persists with utmost resilience.
Oscar winner, Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight is a decade-defining film. Jenkins’ transfixing portrait of a young Black man and his journey of self-love is nothing short of masterful. Charting Chiron (Alex Hibbert, then Ashton Sanders, then Trevante Rhodes) in three chapters of his life as he grows and is shaped by the Miami community around him, Moonlight is a profound film that is transcendent in its poignant emotion and raw sincerity. Flawlessly constructed, Jenkins’ film is exquisite from start to finish. (Hulu)
Captain Marvel, Brie Larson found her footing with dramatic indies, including Lenny Abrahamson’s powerful adaptation of Emma Donoghue’s best-selling novel. In Room, Larson plays Joy, a woman living in a tiny room with her son, Jack (Jacob Tremblay), held captive by their abusive abductor. Confined to this claustrophobic space, Joy attempts to shelter her son from the horrific reality of their situation. This sensitive and eloquent contemplation features breath-stealing sequences that may be quiet but are vividly intense. (Hulu)
Uncut Gems may be more of a wild ride than Good Time. If there were any doubts left, the Safdie brothers secure themselves as contemporary auteurs of the most stressful films with this nail-biting experience. Stakes are high and there’s a star-studded cast, but it is Adam Sandler who flexes his expert acting muscles in a brazen turn which may be one of the most accomplished roles of his career. (Netflix)
Uncut Gems, the appeal of Under the Silver Lake rests in its outlandishness. Bound for cult status, David Robert Mitchell’s extravagant film follows Sam’s (Andrew Garfield) surreal quest across Los Angeles and into the murky depths of the city in search of his missing neighbor. Messy and repeatedly reckless, sometimes to the point of nothing making sense, Under the Silver Lake is an unpredictable and enthralling viewing experience. (Hulu) Style + Culture, delivered straight to your inbox.