The Best and Brightest Movies to Come From A24—And The Worst
The best (and worst) of a studio that frequently raises the bar.
2022 was an incredible year in film, especially for A24. From fun horror like Bodies Bodies Bodies to groundbreaking cinema like Everything Everywhere All At Once, there was something for just about everyone. But what was the best of the best? Here are our picks for the best A24 films of the year.
15. Stars at Noon
A political romance thriller that manages to fail in all three genres, the decent performances don’t manage to save this film.
14. The Whale
This movie had incredible performances from Brendan Fraser and Sadie Sink, but the film was ultimately muddied by its handling of obesity. The attempt at empathy feels false and the film often plays into the same tired tropes about obesity that we’ve seen before, rather than genuinely trying to change the narrative.
Sometimes, a film can be a little too on the nose. While some people will always deny otherwise, the horror of strange men following women is a horror that is all too familiar and yet the movie fails to do much unique with the premise. That being said, the scenery is gorgeous, and the setting does emphasize how this happens everywhere.
Another incredible use of double casting, Tilda Swinton shines as a mother and daughter visiting their former family home. However, the movie is hindered by its slow pace, the somewhat predictable twist, and the fact that this is technically the third movie in the Souvenir trilogy, meaning some context may be missing.
11. Funny Pages
A coming-of-age dark comedy about a young cartoonist trying to break into the industry/meet his heroes, this movie encapsulates the feeling of knowing where you want to go but not knowing how to get there.
10. God’s Creatures
This movie feels more like what Men was attempting to do: trying to tell a story about how hostile the world can be for women. However, this one adds the complexity of small-town dynamics and of a mother reuniting with an estranged son and the lengths she’ll go to keep him around.
9. After Yang
After Yang follows a family as they try to repair the robot they adopted. It’s an interesting intersection between human reliance on technology and how interracial adoptions redefine family. The film’s abrupt ending puts a point on the fact that grief is a never-ending process and not one that is not always narratively satisfying.
First female action hero Jennifer Lawrence returns to claim her crown! No but in all honesty, it is nice to see the star of Winter’s Bone return to her roots with a character-driven piece about military trauma and the cycle disenfranchised people can fall into trying to escape their circumstances. It doesn’t have a ton of new things to say, but it’s still a solid movie.
A fantastic twist on the ‘ten little victims murder mystery plot, Bodies Bodies Bodies takes a stab at Gen Z much in the vein of horror comedies like Scream and Jennifer’s Body did for millennials, portraying the anxieties of the generation and the dangers of short-sighted self-involvement.
X (2022) might seem like your typical slasher at first glance, but there are some pretty profound statements on aging, sexual liberation, and the American Dream underneath all the sex and gore. Featuring an absolutely phenomenal use of double casting in the characters of Maxxine and Pearl, X (2022) and its prequel Pearl (2022) have gotten Mia Goth Oscar nods, which is almost unheard of for horror.
Deciding the superior movie between Pearl and X can come down to personal preferences but honestly, this is one of those times when a prequel might be better than the original. Pearl is a fascinating character, and the setting of Texas during the Spanish Influenza epidemic allows for a lot of interesting and highly relevant discussions on freedom vs responsibility and caregiver burnout.
Another story about family and parenthood, and another one with an ambiguous ending for the viewer to interpret, Aftersun is about a father/daughter relationship and the complexities of children and adults trying to understand their parents.
Sadly did not do very well at the box office but it’s a powerful story about what happens when everyone thinks the worst of you and expects you to fail. Following a black queer young man as he strives to join the Marines, it’s a brutal portrayal of the harsh reality of existing in hypermasculine places as a queer person and about breaking the cycle. It’s also interesting to see this film in conversation with Causeway.
Based on a series of short films from 2010, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is a beautiful film about loss and family. While there was some question about whether or not it should be considered an animated film due to the combination of animation and live-action, many critics consider it the best animated film of the year.
Is it really a surprise to anyone that this is the best A24 film this year, if not the best film of the year, period? Everything Everywhere All at Once manages to be everything (kung-fu film, sci-fi film, family drama, a romance movie, a story of a mother and daughter reconnecting) and does it all so well. It was a much better multiverse movie than Multiverse of Madness, was a wonderful ode to Michelle Yeoh’s extensive career, as well as a triumphant return for Ke Huy.
(featured image: A24)
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