Since its foundation nine years ago, A24 has risen from a minor indie film distribution company to a mainstream giant releasing some of the most critically acclaimed movies in recent memory.
In the studio’s early days, A24 became known for releasing highly entertaining independent films that usually saw limited releases in arthouse theaters. Over the years, the studio would begin working with celebrated indie filmmakers and more seasoned, award-winning directors, helping create a name for themselves as a studio where talented directors, young and old, could produce the movies they wanted to make, free of heavy studio interference.
Beginning with A24’s more groundbreaking releases—Room, Moonlight, and Uncut Gems—A24 would gain further media attention from moviegoers and critics alike, blurring the lines between the independent film industry and mainstream movie releases. A24’s success is evident based on the overwhelmingly positive reception of their 2021 films—Minari, The Green Knight, The Souvenir Part II, C'mon C'mon and The Tragedy of Macbeth—with many wondering what the studio has in store for audiences with 2022.
With several highly anticipated A24 movies in the works (Men, The Eternal Daughter, and Disappointment Blvd., among them), we decided to take a look back at some of the best movies ever released by A24, as well as providing information about where they’re currently streaming.
As mentioned above, A24 has made a name for itself as a production company able to release indie films and mainstream movies by more famous directors (Joanna Hogg, Sofia Coppola, Kelly Reichardt, Kevin Smith, Paul Schrader, and Noah Baumbach). Additionally, the company has also earned a much-deserved reputation for cultivating a new generation of filmmakers as well.
This list of talented young directors includes the likes of Robert Eggers, the Safdie brothers, Trey Edward Shults, and Ari Aster, all of whom have crafted some of A24’s most positively received movies to date. Hereditary is one such movie.
A horror film (horror is A24’s bread and butter, with practically half of their releases being classified as horror), the movie follows a midwestern family whose lives are uprooted after a personal tragedy, and who find themselves haunted by a mysterious presence in their household.
Ari Aster’s later horror film, Midsommar, was another highly acclaimed film, but Hereditary’s success is what earns it a distinguished spot on this list. As of right now, it's A24’s highest-grossing movie, and the film that elevated Ari Aster to the top of the independent film industry.
The movie itself would go on to win several notable awards, with Aster and star Toni Colette earning heaps of praise for their roles in the movie.
In 2016, A24 officially became a production studio in addition to a film distribution company, financing its first movie—Moonlight—with Plan B Entertainment.
Directed by influential director Barry Jenkins, Moonlight tells the story of a young Black gay man (Trevante Rhodes, Ashton Sanders, and Alex Hibbert) in three key stages of his life: childhood, his teenage years, and his early adulthood. Moonlight explores issues of identity and sexuality in hostile settings, depicting an individual learning to accept who they are amid constant outside interference, mainly from abusive, homophobic friends and family members.
Considered one of the best films of the 21st century so far, Moonlight won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali, the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar), and Best Adapted Screenplay. Interestingly, it was the first LGBTQ film and the first movie with an all-Black cast to win for Best Picture.
The Safdie brothers established themselves as skilled crime directors with their debut film, Good Time, for A24. While Good Time itself is a fantastic crime thriller certainly worth seeing, it's Safdie's later movie, Uncut Gems, that is arguably the brothers’ best so far.
Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler) is a gambling-addicted New York City jeweler who owes money to some very dangerous people. To pay off his debt, he tries locating a rare, uncut opal of immense value as his personal life spirals around him, triggered by his obsessive gambling and greedy personality.
An acting tour de force by Sandler—with many critics citing it as the best performance of his career so far—Uncut Gems was universally praised upon release, particularly for its tense atmosphere, fast-paced script, and wonderful direction by the Safdies.
A24 has seen various film releases go on to achieve significant critical acclaim, but few have won the same amount of attention as Lee Isaac Chung’s Minari. Loosely based on Chung’s childhood upbringing, Minari centers on a family of Korean immigrants trying to integrate into 1980s rural Arkansas.
Featuring stellar performances from stars Steven Yeun and Youn Yuh-Jung, Minari was praised for its fairly minimalist yet affecting story about the complexities of childhood and familial relationships, as well as the struggles of retaining one’s roots in the face of cultural assimilation.
Hailed as one of the best movies of 2021, Minari would be nominated for six Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Score, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Actor (Yeun), with Youn winning the award for Best Supporting Actress (making her the first Korean actor to win an Oscar).
Additionally, Minari also won the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film and earned several BAFTA nominations, including Best Film Not in the English Language.
Hypothetically, this list could’ve just easily been composed of A24’s best horror movies, given how many fantastic horror films the studio has released so far. Most likely, it’s movies like Ari Aster’s Hereditary and Robert Eggers’ The Witch that made A24 so popular among horror fans, delivering fantastic, eerily atmospheric indie movies that larger mainstream audiences found entertaining.
As great as The Witch is, Eggers’ following movie, The Lighthouse, is likely his most popular A24 movie to date. Set off the coast of New England around the turn of the century, two men (Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson) are hired to man a lighthouse on a remote island, gradually descending into madness as their stay on the island draws on.
As had been the case with The Witch, The Lighthouse was a wonderfully-crafted movie that built a tense, hypnotic, and authentic atmosphere, seeming like a cross between ‘30s era Universal horror movies, nautical tales by Melville, and the stranger, cosmic horror of HP Lovecraft.
Like every film on this list, The Lighthouse would earn significant acclaim and would go on to win and earn nominations from numerous award ceremonies, including BAFTA and Oscar nominations for Best Cinematography.
Filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos spent his early career experimenting with cinematic surrealism and absurdism, as well as working on Greek films that would go on to achieve significant worldwide acclaim. After the international success of his 2009 film, Dogtooth, Lanthimos produced the similarly surreal, dystopian, dark comedy The Lobster, which eventually found a welcome home at A24.
In the near future, anyone who is single has 45 days to find a significant other. If they fail to find one, they are turned into an animal of their choosing. It’s hard to describe The Lobster in a straightforward, simple way. Its deadpan, absurdist style of comedy may be an acquired taste, but there’s no denying Lanthimos was given free rein to create his own unique, one-of-a-kind vision for a bizarre future.
Nominated for the Best Original Screenplay at the Academy Awards and a BAFTA for Outstanding British Film, it’s a delightfully strange dystopian movie that is sure to make you uncomfortable as often as it makes you laugh.
The Florida Project
Like Yorgos Lanthimos, Sean Baker is another immensely talented director who established himself as a skilled independent director before making his way to A24.
Baker’s first film for the studio, The Florida Project is a non-plot-driven slice of life story following a young six-year-old girl (Brooklynn Prince) and her unemployed mother (Bria Vinaite) struggling to make ends meet in Kissimmee, a poverty-stricken area of Florida just outside Walt Disney World property.
In the movie, Baker is able to do so much with unbelievably little, utilizing a tight script and a largely unknown yet incredibly talented cast, combining traditionally shot footage and Baker’s signature style of guerilla filmmaking (footage shot on a bunch of iPhone 5 cameras).
One of A24’s most critically acclaimed films to date, The Florida Project would earn award nominations from nearly every film organization there is, including Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for Best Supporting Actor (Willem Dafoe).
When comedian Bo Burnham announced his intent to write and direct a movie, fans waited with anticipation to see the kind of film Burnham would deliver. Would it be lighthearted, parodic, and full of Burnham’s famous comedic songs? Would it be more serious, tackling real-world issues such as mental health as his later Netflix special, Inside, managed to do so well?
In the end, it turned out to be something that more closely aligned with the latter category, a coming-of-age drama that explored anxiety, a signature theme of Burnham’s specials, in an unexpectedly effective way. Kayla (Elsie Fisher) is an eighth-grade student who suffers from intense anxiety. Struggling to make friends, Kayla sets out to gain acceptance among her peers in any way she can, even at the cost of her relationship with her protective, caring father (Josh Hamilton).
One of the most celebrated movies about childhood in years, Burnham was praised for his touching portrayal of modern adolescents (especially for depicting how technology has shaped their current generation), with Eighth Grade being named by the American Film Institute as the 2018’s Best Directorial Debut.
Burnham would also win the Writers Guild Award for Best Original Screenplay and the Director Guild of America Award for First-Time Feature Film. Teenaged star Elsie Fisher would also go on to earn a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress.
Along with Lady Bird, it’s the highest-rated A24 film on Rotten Tomatoes at a whopping approval rating of 99%.
A movie somewhat in a similar vein to Eighth Grade, Greta Gerwig’s incredibly popular debut film, Lady Bird, depicts many of the same themes Burnham explored in his first directorial effort.
Christine McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) is a fiercely rebellious high school senior who wants to obtain some sort of independence from her family, especially her mother, Marion (Laurie Metcalf).
Trying to make a name for herself in school, Christine gives herself the nickname “Lady Bird,” navigating through the last year of her childhood and inadvertently alienating her family and close friends through her actions.
Praised for its realistic dialogue and wonderful performances (especially Ronan’s and Metcalf’s), Lady Bird would earn nominations for five Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Actress (for Ronan), Best Supporting Actress (for Metcalf), Best Original Screenplay, and Best Director (Gerwig).
The film also won Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy) and Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy (Ronan), garnering nominations for Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress (Metcalf).
Director Alex Garland is to science fiction what Ari Aster and Robert Eggers are to horror—a brilliant filmmaker who is able to craft sci-fi stories that explore modern advancements in technology.
A science fiction film that borders on psychological horror, Ex Machina follows a programmer (Domhnall Gleeson) invited by his reclusive, eccentric CEO (Oscar Isaac) to his remote forest home. While there, the programmer joins his employer in performing a series of Turing tests (experiments to see how closely machines’ behavior resembles that of humans) on a state-of-the-art android (Alicia Vikander).
An incredibly tense sci-fi thriller, Garland capitalizes on the limited setting of the movie to create a paranoid, uneasy tone where the characters—and audience, by extension—gradually begin to question everything they see, as well as the characters’ own sanity. Ex Machina was very warmly received by critics, winning an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects (it was the first A24 to win an Oscar).
Additionally, Garland’s script earned an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay, with Vikander’s performance earning her Golden Globe, BAFTA, Empire, and Saturn nominations for Best Supporting Actress.
This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.
Richard Chachowski is a freelance writer based in New Jersey. He loves reading, his dog Tootsie, and pretty much every movie to ever exist (especially Star Wars).