Since its start in 2012, New York-based indie studio A24 has built up an impressive slate of movies. Over the past few years, the studio has disrupted what an independent film can mean. It also gave voice to great up-and-coming filmmakers like Barry Jenkins, Greta Gerwig, Bo Burnham, Yorgos Lanthimos, Lulu Wang, and the Safdie brothers. Now, as soon as you see that it's an A24 production, you'll know you're in for a quality ride.
A24 boasts something for every genre lover. There are horror gems like "The Witch," "Hereditary," or "A Ghost Story." Smart sci-fi dramas like "High Life," "Under the Skin," and "Creative Control." Award-winning dramas, thrillers, and documentaries like "The Bling Ring," "The Farewell," "Spring Breakers," and "Amy." And everything in between.
In the past year, A24 produced the multi-award-winning films "First Cow" and "Minari." And last month, they delivered a road-trip flick unlike any other with "Zola." Next up for the studio is this weekend's anticipated medieval fantasy "The Green Knight," and later this year their twisted Cannes darling "Lamb." We recognize making a list of the studio's great films does a disservice to the other 100+ titles they've produced and/or distributed. But, we did our best. As you plan your weekend ahead, here are some more great A24 movies to watch after "The Green Knight" and "Zola."
1A Most Violent Year
The trailer for Paul Schrader's latest drama, "The Card Counter," dropped this week, with Oscar Isaac as the titular lead. By the looks of it, the film should be a gripping thriller. And for those looking for more of Oscar Isaac acting intensely, this one's for you. J. C. Chandor's 1980s New York-set crime thriller is an immigrant story like most mob movies. But unlike many in that genre, "A Most Violent Year" gives equal weight to its female lead, Jessica Chastain. Chandor doesn't hit you over the head with the era, but he does pack in some hard-hitting emotional punches. It almost feels like this could have been a Schrader/Scorsese collaboration from that era.
In 2019 the Safdie brothers shocked everyone with a film featuring an intense Adam Sandler. This was A24's diamond-in-the-rough thriller "Uncut Gems." But it wasn't the first time the Safdies took us on a crazed journey through the streets of New York. "Good Time" is just as fast-paced, if not more so. And the brothers deliver what the title says...if your idea of a good time is being in a constant state of paranoia. Robert Pattinson excels, not just as a lead, but also in convincing us to forget his days as brooding vampire Edward Cullen.
The "Twilight" movies on Netflix are giving Zoomers a strong dose of nostalgia, but as we mentioned, there's more to Pattinson than his desire for Bella and blood. Loosely based on Edgar Allen Poe's final work, "The Lighthouse" delivers more paranoid Pattinson. It also adds a grizzled Willem Dafoe before descending into madness. Director Robert Eggers, whose debut feature "The Witch" is another fantastic A24 movie from the studio's prestige horror arm, presents a gripping, gothic thriller that's perfectly matched with Jarin Blaschke's stark, Oscar-nominated cinematography.
Before she was saving the world as MCU's Captain Marvel, Brie Larson swept the major awards with a powerful performance in Lenny Abrahamson's 2015 drama simply called "Room" (but don't confuse it with that other "Room"). Written by Emma Donoghue, who also wrote the book, "Room" tells the story of a mother (Larson) and her child (Jacob Tremblay) who was born into captivity. The "room" in question is the shack in which they're held captive -- the only world the boy knows until they escape. "Room" landed Larson her first Academy Award, and A24's first acting Oscar.
5The Last Black Man in San Francisco
Larson is fantastic in "Room," but if you really want to see a rising MCU star knock a performance out of the park, check out Jonathan Majors in this underrated Sundance gem from 2019. "The Last Black Man in San Francisco" is an intimate and artistic debut. It's also based partly on the life of writer/director Joe Talbot's friend, lead actor Jimmy Fails. The story revolves around two men who watch as their community becomes more and more marginalized from urban gentrification. Fails (playing a version of himself) and his friend Mont (Majors) try to find meaning in their lives, even if they tell each other lies to get through the day. Talbot's direction and Adam Newport-Berra's camera work enhance the story, showing how every cinematic shot can be a living painting.
6The Florida Project
Sean Baker's ode to childhood also has a tinge of urban decay. "The Florida Project" takes us to the rundown sections of Kissimmee, Florida, in the shadows of one of the happiest places on Earth, Walt Disney World. It also is another A24 movie featuring a fantastic performance from Willem Dafoe. Interestingly, the film's title comes from the park's codename, back when it was being specced out. Baker's raw and moving drama shows poverty through the eyes of a child. Young Florida native Brooklynn Prince carries this home with a breakout performance. Baker drew inspiration from old "Our Gang" serials and images of Orlando kids playing in empty motel parking lots. Look for another raw drama from Baker this year, with his Cannes hit "Red Rocket."
Comedian and YouTuber Bo Burnham is all about getting raw and real, as evident with his Netflix special "Inside." With "Eighth Grade" he touches on the pressures he knows all too well -- that of social media, growing up, and anxiety. Though "Eighth Grade" is a personal story, Burnham tells it through the eyes of Kayla (Elsie Fisher). Burnham aimed for complete realism and cast actual eighth-graders, including lead Fisher. This helped ground the story. Through their eyes, we are able to understand how their generation copes with the pressures of an ever-connected world. It's an honest coming-of-age story that does not pander to its audience.
Oscar Isaac returns to our list of A24 movies, along with Domhnall Gleeson and Alicia Vikander. The same year both Isaac and Gleeson were heading to a galaxy far away in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," fans got treated to them in this more grounded and eerily prescient sci-fi thriller. Alex Garland's "Ex Machina" tests what it means to be human. In a world where we're now overcome with chatbots and fake social media accounts, one can only imagine where things might end up. In 2015, Garland presented a dark proposal. "Ex Machina" might not have been as flashy as "Star Wars," but its impressive effects did give it the edge at the Oscars that year, where it nabbed the win for Best Visual Effects.
Speaking of Oscar wins, none was more shocking, though a little disheartening, but all together deserving than that of A24's Best Picture winner, "Moonlight." Even if the infamous Oscar ceremony gaffe deflated the moment, "Moonlight" still is a landmark, being the first LGBTQ film, and the first film with an all-Black cast, to win Best Picture. Based on Tarell Alvin McCraney's semi-autobiographical play, Barry Jenkins' drama presents the story of young Chiron during three stages of his life, as a boy (Alex Hibbert), a teen (Ashton Sanders), and an adult (Trevante Rhodes). "Moonlight" is a powerful and personal journey as a man struggles with identity and emotional abuse. Lessons that still ring true today, just as they did back in 2016.
Drama / 2016 / R
About the Author
Matt Lissauer is a writer & data manager for Noovie. When he is not busy writing listicles, Matt is enjoying life in New Jersey with his lovely wife and three kids.