New from Kevin Wozniak on Kevflix: Ranking: Top 10 A24 Movies

I wouldn’t usually rank the movies of a production company. Thinking about ranking the movies from the likes of Paramount or Universal or Disney just seems like a daunting task because of how long they have been around and how many movies they have in their catalog. But the production studio A24 has been around for only a decade and within that decade, they have established themselves as one of the most singular and best production studios currently making content. From their auteur-driven spirit to their vast array of genres to their numerous awards and accolades, A24 movies and TV shows are in a class of their own.

For this list, I will be picking my ten favorite A24 movies. This was incredibly tough to pick, as I like a good amount of A24’s 115 movies, but the ten I listed are some truly great pieces of cinema and some of the best movies made in the last ten years.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

  • American Honey (Andrea Arnold, 2016)

  • The Disaster Artist (James Franco, 2017)

  • Good Time (Josh and Benny Safdie, 2017)

  • Under the Skin (Jonathan Glazer, 2014)

  • The VVitch (Robert Eggers, 2015)

 

10. FIRST REFORMED (Paul Schrader, 2018)

Ethan Hawke in First Reformed (A24)
Ethan Hawke in First Reformed

Ethan Hawke is one of the more fascinating actors working in Hollywood and the best performance of his career came in Paul Schrader’s First Reformed. He plays a small-town minister who grapples with past tragedies and impending despair. First Reformed finds writer/director Schrader in peak form, with a dense, meticulous screenplay filled with powerful themes of crises of faith and environmental collapse. Hawke and Schrader are a match made in cinematic heaven and First Reformed is an absolute knockout.

9. THE FLORIDA PROJECT (Sean Baker, 2017)

Christopher Rivera (left), Brooklynn Prince (center), and Valeria Cotto (right in The Florida Project (A24)
Christopher Rivera (left), Brooklynn Prince (center), and Valeria Cotto (right) in The Florida Project

The Florida Project is a movie seen through the eyes of Moonee (an authentic and gifted Brooklynn Prince), a precocious six-year-old who lives with her troublesome mother (a firey Bria Vinaite) in a run-down motel that’s placed in the shadow of Disney World. To Moonee, the motel is the best place on Earth, but Baker layers in the troubles with the motel that are handled by the motel manager (Oscar-nominee Willem Dafoe) and the spiraling of Moonee’s mom and the messes she continuously gets into. The bright, colorful look of the film juxtaposes the darkness and sadness that is really going on around Moonee’s life. The Florida Project is a great piece of directing from Baker.

8. MIDSOMMAR (Ari Aster, 2019)

Florence Pugh in Midsommar (A24)
Florence Pugh in Midsommar

Ari Aster’s sophomore effort following Hereditary (more on that one later on) showed that Aster was no fluke as a director. Midsommar is exhausting and shocking. Florence Pugh stars in the film as Dani, a girl stuck in a bad relationship whose family tragedy brings her to a mid-summer festival in a seemingly nice Swedish village, where things quickly get dark and weird. The stunning costumes, production design, and cinematography play a great contrast to the horrifying and grisly events that take place. Midsommar is one of the most haunting break-up movies ever made.

7. THE FAREWELL (Lulu Wang, 2019)

Shuzhen Zhao (middle left) and Awkwafina (middle right) in The Farewell
Shuzhen Zhao (middle left) and Awkwafina (middle right) in The Farewell

The Farewell is a movie that will warm and break your heart in equal parts. It tells the story of a Chinese family who discovers that their matriarchal grandmother only has a short while left to live and rather than tell her that she is dying, they instead throw a wedding to gather the family together for one last celebration. Writer/director Lulu Wang takes us deep into Chinese culture, showing us how Chinese culture views death versus how American culture does. It’s a movie about family, love, and celebrating life.

6. THE LOBSTER (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2016)

Collin Ferrell (left) and Rachel Weisz (right in The Lobster (A24)
Colin Ferrell (left) and Rachel Weisz (right) in The Lobster

Though Yorgos Lanthimos received universal praise for his 2018 historical dramedy The Favourite, his best film to date is 2016’s The Lobster. Taking place in a dystopian future, The Lobster looks at a group of people staying at The Hotel, a place where you are forced to find love in 45 days and if you don’t, you will be turned into an animal of your choosing. Collin Farrell gives one of his best performances and it features a top-notch supporting cast. This is a darkly funny and subtly heartbreaking film.

5. UNCUT GEMS (Josh and Bennie Safdie, 2019)

Adam Sandler in Uncut Gems (A24)
Adam Sandler in Uncut Gems

Uncut Gems is 135 minutes of non-stop tension and stress. Josh and Bennie Safdie’s relentless look at a gambling addict (Adam Sandler) and his constant digging himself into a deeper hole will have your heart racing and palms sweating. Uncut Gems is a masterclass in tone, as the Safdie’s never let up for one second the entire movie and only ratcheted up the intensity the longer the movie goes. 

Sandler’s performance is unbelievable and he was robbed of an Oscar nomination for it. Giving his first dramatic turn since 2002’s Punch Drunk Love, Sandler carries the movie on his back, being in almost every scene by heightening his bottled-up intensity and using his low-level movie star charisma to make his despicable Howard Ratner compelling.

4. MOONLIGHT (Barry Jenkins, 2016)

Alex R. Hibbert in Moonlight (A24)
Alex R. Hibbert in Moonlight

Many would have Moonlight as A24’s best film and rightly so. Barry Jenkins’s sophomore effort is a powerful and devastating look at masculinity in the modern world as we watch a young black man named Chiron trying to grapple with his identity and sexuality through childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and Trevante Rhodes are all perfect as Chiron, each giving their own performance while also keeping a fluidity with the character. The film also features a towering, Oscar-winning performance from Mahershala Ali as a drug dealer who becomes a father figure to a young Chiron.

Moonlight is arguably A24’s greatest success, winning Best Picture at the 2017 Academy Awards in one of the most memorable moments in awards show history. Though there are some who will always associate the film with that moment, Moonlight is remarkable in every way and will go down as one of the defining films of the 2010s.

3. MINARI (Lee Isaac Chung, 2020)

Alan Kim (left) and Steven Yeun (right) in Minari (A24)
Alan Kim (left) and Steven Yeun (right) in Minari

Lee Isaac Chung’s Minari is a tender, heart-wrenching look at the immigrant experience from the perspective of a Korean family in the 1980s. Steven Yeun gives a terrific performance as the father of the Korean family trying to raise his family and start a farm in Arkansas while his wife’s mother (Oscar-winner Yuh-jung Youn) comes in to visit.

Based on Chung’s own personal experience, Minari is an intimate portrait of the immigrant experience and the identity struggle of wanting to be a part of your new culture while also trying to stay true to your roots. Chung’s delicate, passionate direction is coupled with stunning cinematography making Minari a truly beautiful experience.

2. SPRING BREAKERS (Harmony Korine, 2013)

Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine, and James Franco in Spring Breakers (A24)
Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine, and James Franco in Spring Breakers

There aren’t many movies like Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers. It’s a vibe-centric neon decent into a spring break from hell and an insane experience you won’t forget. Korine’s erratic editing and free-flowing camera make you feel like you’re right in the thick of the spring break madness and crime spree that our crew of hard-partying college students (Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine, and Selena Gomez) are living through. James Franco also gives the best performance of his career as the weird, drug-dealing crime lord who takes a shine to the girls. 

Spring Breakers is something you have to experience. It’s a wild, kinetic film filled with images and scenes that will sear into your brain. You won’t see another movie like it.

1. HEREDITARY (Ari Aster, 2018)

Gabrielle Byrne (left) and Toni Collette (right) in Hereditary (A24)
Gabrielle Byrne (left) and Toni Collette (right) in Hereditary

I will always remember the first time I saw Ari Aster’s Hereditary. It was the world premiere screening at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. It was screening in the Midnight category at that film festival, a category usually reserved for films loaded with jump scares and gallons of blood, and the film started at around midnight. What would take place is one of the great screening experiences of my life.

I never could have predicted what took place in Hereditary. Aster’s smart, meticulous direction is perfect for this family drama that also happens to be one of the scariest movies I have ever seen. Toni Collette gives a masterful performance as a woman who learns more about her family’s lineage as she suffers through several losses. Collette is accompanied by excellent supporting work from Alex Wolff, Gabriel Byrne, and Anne Dowd.

What makes Hereditary the best A24 movie and one of the best movies of the last decade is its staying power and the layers to the film. Every viewing offers something new and new layers are peeled back. I appreciate something new every time and the scares are just as effective. Hereditary is a masterpiece.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

  • American Honey (Andrea Arnold, 2016)

  • The Disaster Artist (James Franco, 2017)

  • Good Time (Josh and Benny Safdie, 2017)

  • Under the Skin (Jonathan Glazer, 2014)

  • The VVitch (Robert Eggers, 2015)

 

 

 

 

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