12 of the Best A24 Movies So Far
You smarty-pants, you.
Film studio A24 has a reputation for showcasing more avant-garde fare than the typical film studio. As a result, some moviegoers tend to poke fun at the studio for its seemingly pretentious fanbase. Still, it cannot be denied that A24 has released some of the most thought-provoking and intriguing films of late.
The best part is, A24’s slate represents a wide array of genres and themes, from mind-gutting horror films to evocative indies that make viewers stare pensively at a wall for two hours after. With that being said, here are some of the best films that A24 has released so far.
Everything Everywhere All at Once
I gotta be real: I still have to watch this movie all the way through, and I don’t normally rank things without seeing them myself. But I think the reviews speak for themselves, and even if I end up not liking it, everything I’m hearing about this movie tells me that’d be more of a “me” problem.
Honestly, the only reason I’m not sitting my ass down and watching it is because it sounds like it’ll hit too close to home. An Asian woman confronts her traumatic relationship with her mom? No thanks, I need the salt in my eyes today.
Where to watch Everything Everywhere All at Once: Showtime
Bodies Bodies Bodies
A lot of people thought the ending of Bodies Bodies Bodies was cheap and excessive, but I thought it was pretty fun and matched the tonal theme of the movie: that this generation (my generation, really) is very, very good at blowing things out of proportion.
At the same time, the film had a very knowing way of going about this, instead of doing the “Maher” approach of “All kids are dumb.” I mean, yeah, these guys are kinda dumb, but there’s a lot to be said within this movie if you’re not dumb enough to take the time to think about it.
Where to watch Bodies Bodies Bodies: Prime Video
Stories featuring Asian immigrants in America are few and far between these days, and even rarer are those which are able to depict immigrant families with love, authenticity, and engagement. Minari does all of this and then some.
At times heart-wrenching, and sometimes gut-busting, this film follows the story of a family of Korean immigrants who hope to make a living as farmers in the midwest. The film’s leads, Steven Yeun and Han Ye-ri (of American and Korean fame, respectively), share a powerful dynamic that only enhances the joy and charm of the cast as an ensemble.
The Green Knight
Although much of this film’s point and plot were lost on those without a prior knowledge of the Arthurian canon, The Green Knight still prevailed as one of the most gripping movies of 2021. Bringing modern twists regarding masculinity and sexuality to a classic tale of chivalry and despair, this retelling is not only faithful—it’s innovative, and wondrously so.
This is in no small part thanks to Dev Patel’s sincere performance as Sir Gawain. He manages to embody the spirit of this literary hero so well, one can’t help but pity him (as well as grumble in frustration) as he scrapes through his harrowing quest.
There’s a reason everyone spoke so highly of this movie, and why it won so many accolades. Moonlight is nothing short of a masterpiece, and everything about it is utterly artful and genuine. Sometimes, this means it’s difficult to watch, but like all good art, this was the intention. It’s a film that’s meant to make viewers feel. And feel they did: Moonlight won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2017, as well as Best Supporting Actor for Mahershala Ali.
Moonlight follows the story of sweet-natured Chiron from childhood to adulthood, watching him as he relies on various people to help him deal with strife, both at home and in his community at large. Touching on themes of masculinity, sexuality, and innocence challenged by grief, Chiron’s story is one of the most compelling narratives in modern film.
Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut is nothing short of a game-changer in the world of coming-of-age stories. While the narrative itself is nothing new—that of a bored, unstimulated suburban girl finding her place in the world—it’s told in a way that’s refreshing, authentic, hilarious, and painstakingly relatable.
Christine “Lady Bird” MacPherson is an incredibly real protagonist, in that she’s both understandable and quite frustrating to watch, particularly when interacting with her mother. All the same, her growth into an independent young woman is handled with a great deal of empathy and objectivity, which is sorely needed.
Hold onto your sea caps, this one’s a doozy—in the best way possible. The Lighthouse (which we called “dark, disgusting, and wonderful“) hearkens back to days spent sick in bed, feeling as though you’re losing your mind. It’s a claustrophobic, neurotic, anxiety-inducing tale of two men who need each other so much that they start to hate one another, and it’s fantastic.
Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe clearly had a good time in their roles as salty seamen, as they truly give their all in their portrayals of cantankerous men slowly going mad. Although the film will have you feeling your muscles uneasily clench all the way to the end, it will also have you burst out laughing during the many moments of sheer, unbridled antagonism shown by Wake and Winslow.
As the most underrated film on this list, Waves deserves quite a bit more attention than it has received. Similar to HBO’s Euphoria, it tackles heavy subjects such as addiction, assault, and familial strife, yet it does so with quite a bit more grace, feeling, and respect for its teenage subjects.
Following a horrific tragedy within one family, Waves chronicles the experiences that forever changed the lives of the two children: wrestling star Tyler and his sensitive little sister, Emily. It very much feels like a snapshot of the modern teenage experience, with an excellent soundtrack to highlight this point (featuring the likes of Frank Ocean and Animal Collective).
For Asian Americans such as myself, the gap between one’s American-ness and Asian-ness can sometimes feel impossible to bridge. But there are times when the two coalesce naturally and poignantly, and no other film exemplifies this experience better than The Farewell.
Signaling Awkwafina’s transition from comedies into dramas, this tear-jerking film follows a family attempting to bring light and joy to their grandmother’s final days as she succumbs to her sickness. Although Awkwafina’s Billi struggles to feel like a part of it all, ultimately she’s one of the anchors of the whole situation, and the moments of happiness and connection created by the family are utterly tangible to viewers.
As Ari Aster’s sophomore horror title, many fans of his previous movie Hereditary had high expectations for Midsommar. And in nearly every single way, Midsommar ultimately rose above its predecessor as one of A24’s best horror films to date.
It has everything: psychological manipulation, cult stuff, gruesome deaths, and even the added caveat of desexualized expressions of feminine suffering (problematic though they still may be). It’s a deeply unsettling and horrific movie that will leave viewers feeling nauseous and awful the day after, but in a way that makes them think, and in a way that sends a message—the message being, if you live your life with no regard for others, you may just end up in a Swedish cult.
The best sort of sci-fi is the sci-fi that deals with psychology, instead of just focusing on how cool technology could be. Advancements in technology can sometimes be more harmful than productive, and in the case of Ex Machina, they can be downright unraveling.
Following the story of a man falling in love with an android (beautifully and disturbingly portrayed by Domnhall Gleeson and Alicia Vikander, respectively), Ex Machina asks a lot of questions about our relationship to artificial intelligence. The answers it provides are less about AI itself, and more about us, in ways that will stick with us for a long time after our initial viewing.
The Last Black Man in San Francisco
Of all the films on this list, The Last Black Man in San Francisco has the most heart, by far. This is in large part because it’s based on the life of its lead actor, Jimmie Fails, who co-wrote the story with his childhood best friend, director Joe Talbot.
This movie will strike a chord with anyone who knows anything about San Francisco, as it reckons with the realities of gentrification and familial roots. In addition, Fails and his eccentric friend Mont (played by the impeccable Jonathan Majors) have a truly affectionate and memorable relationship, which helps to make Fail’s grandfather’s house feel like a character in and of itself throughout the movie.
(featured image: A24)
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