The 50 Greatest A24 Films (20-11)

There’s no denying the magic cinema holds (one of its pioneers was a magician after all) but one of the seldom discussed spells it weaves on an audience is that of the logo. it’s the first thing an audience sees and depending on the quality of the films that the studio releases, the happier they are every time they see them. Children of all ages respond to Disney and Pixar, old-school horror fans love Hammer and Universal and everyone recognizes the famous lion roar of MGM. Miramax conjures images of ’90s indie films, New Line Cinema is closely associated with The Nightmare on Elm Street series and few things are as nostalgic for some moviegoers as Orion and Cannon. A logo is that studio’s seal of quality. As long as they produce quality films, seeing that logo pop up should tell the audience that they’re in good hands. Since its inception in 2012, A24 set out to be the ultimate seal of quality. Whether it’s producing or distributing, It has become a frequent destination for some of the biggest names in the business. It’s no exaggeration to say that in the eleven years, they’ve been around, they’ve consistently proven themselves to be every bit the equal of their competitors. Seeing the A24 logo pop up in front of a movie is the surest sign that movie will be great.

These are the 50 Greatest A24 Films.

20. The Souvenir Part II (2021)

Building upon the foundation laid in the first film, The Souvenir: Part II transports us back to the 1980s where we follow the protagonist Julie (Honor Swinton Byrne) as she navigates the aftermath of her turbulent relationship with Anthony (Tom Burke), a charming but manipulative older man who also happens to be a heroin addict. Hogg’s directorial style is minimalist and understated, which allows the performances and the relationships in the film to take center stage. The cinematography, by Hélène Louvart, is equally restrained, with muted colors and a focus on close-ups that capture the characters’ emotions and inner thoughts. Swinton Byrne delivers a stunning performance as Julie, capturing both the vulnerability and strength of a young woman trying to find her way in the world. She is a talented filmmaker but struggles with self-doubt as she tries to balance her artistic ambitions with a tumultuous personal life. Burke shines as Anthony, perfectly capturing his charisma and manipulative tendencies. The dynamic between Julie and Anthony is complicated, and Hogg does an excellent job of exploring the power dynamics that exist within relationships. The Souvenir: Part II is not an easy watch. It’s a slow-burn drama that explores themes of love, betrayal, addiction, and the cost of artistic ambition. But Hogg’s masterful storytelling keeps the audience engaged, and the film’s emotional impact lingers long after the credits roll.

Sailor Monsoon

19. Green Room (2015)

A white knuckle nail biter, Green Room escalates tension as effectively as pulling back a rubber band on your wrist or slowly cranking a jack in the box. You know something terrible is going to happen but no amount of mental preparation can save you from the inevitable shock. One of the best siege films in recent memory, Green Room is about a punk band that plays a gig at a Nazi club, then witness a murder and then must fight their way out of the deadly lockdown. Taking place in a single location for most of its run time, the film is a claustrophobic nightmare filled with blood and broken bones and vicious violence. It’s a harrowing experience made all the more suspenseful due to the likability of the leads. The punk rockers (which include the late, great Anton Yelchin, the always fantastic Imogen Poots and the underrated Alia Shawcat) have amazing chemistry together and feel like a real band. On the flip side, the Nazis (lead by Patrick Stewart in arguably his greatest screen role) are all believably evil. It’s a relentless thriller that gets under your skin and stays there.

Sailor Monsoon

18. The Lighthouse (2019)

The Lighthouse is a uniquely crazy experience. It’s a film that you really have to watch yourself, just so you can take it in personally. The cinematography is spellbinding, the score is eccentrically brilliant, and the two leads are both at the absolute top of their game. Halfway through my first watch, I remember thinking Willem Dafoe’s portrayal of an aged Lighthouse keeper was so good and unlike anything I’d seen before. By the end, I thought Pattinson was even better. It’s probably not for everyone, but just like Robert Eggers’s previous film The Witch, it deserves its cult following 

Lee McCutcheon

17. The Lobster (2015)

Newly single David is told that he has 45 days to find a new partner or he will be transformed into an animal of his choice. Should he fail, David decides he will become a lobster. He attempts to find a new mate, all based on superficial traits that he and other women have in common. When he meets a woman that he connects with through their mutual short-sightedness, David finds he is willing to go to extreme lengths to stay with her. Visually stunning and offbeat, this Yorgos Lanthimos dark comedy is not for everyone. But if you can get past the absurdity of it, you’ll find The Lobster is a sharp, disturbing, and wildly funny satire on society’s fixation on coupledom.

Romona Comet

16. Enemy (2013)

Although loosely based on the novel The Double by José Saramago, Villeneuve takes a decidedly more abstract approach, crafting a surrealistic narrative that is equal parts fascinating and unnerving. I haven’t read the novel but from what I glimpsed from its Wikipedia page, it doesn’t use spiders as metaphors for women, so it’s automatically less weird and unnerving. But buried under all the bizarre imagery and sepia filters is a character study with an incredible performance by Jake Gyllenhaal, who plays both lead characters, Adam Bell and Anthony St. Claire, with a stunning range and intensity. Gyllenhaal’s ability to embody two distinct personalities is astounding, and he imbues the film with an eerie and unsettling quality that lingers long after the final credits.

The film’s cinematography is equally impressive, with Villeneuve creating a stark and bleak visual style that perfectly captures the sense of unease that permeates the entire story. The use of color and light is particularly striking, as is the film’s use of symbolic imagery that adds layers of meaning to the enigmatic plot. Despite its many strengths, Enemy is not a film that will appeal to everyone. The deliberately obscure storyline can be frustrating at times, and the film’s disturbing imagery may be too much for some viewers. Seriously, that last image literally took my breath away. However, for those willing to engage with Villeneuve’s challenging and thought-provoking vision, Enemy is a masterpiece that will leave an indelible mark on the mind.

Sailor Monsoon

15. Minari (2020)

Minari took a while for me to appreciate. It’s the type of film that ticks along but before you know it, it’s completely worked its way under your skin. The plot follows a Korean immigrant family in 80’s America and it’s a story about the importance of family. But also the problems that families can bring and why we need to overcome those hardships. The beautiful direction from Lee Isaac Chung really adds to the atmosphere. It all has a melancholic feel to it but at the same time, you feel like there is a ray of sunshine just waiting to burst through. Steven Yeun is terrific in the lead role and you really can’t help but root for his character, even as his ambitions get the better of him. It’s a superb film and one that stayed with me for weeks after I’d watched it.

Lee McCutcheon

14. Swiss Army Man (2016)

The directorial debut of Oscar winners Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan, Swiss Army Man is… a strange movie. Surreal, even. It’s the ultimate fart-joke movie, and yet it’s surprisingly deep. I’ve said that Daniel Radcliffe has had an impressively eclectic career, and playing a farting corpse is certainly a reason behind that thought. Paul Dano is once again, brilliant as Hank, a man whose anxieties and depression prompt him to turn to a corpse for acceptance. The two of them together are a match made in… I’m not really sure, but I’m here for it. Swiss Army Man is the kind of movie you could watch multiple times and still pick up something new with every rewatch. The Daniels’ definitely go full throttle with mixing fantastical with ick, but it really works. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the movie about a farting corpse is really a beautiful one and it’s not at all a surprise to me now that the Daniels’ are Oscar winners.

Romona Comet

Jian Yongbo, Kmamura Aio, Chen Han, Tzi Ma, Awkwafina, Li Ziang, Tzi Ma, Lu Hong and Zhao Shuzhen appear in a still from <i>The Farewell<i></i>by Lulu Wang, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Courtsey of Sundance Institute | photo by Big Beach<br /> All photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or 'Courtesy of Sundance Institute.' Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.</i>

13. The Farewell (2019)

Originally told on a podcast, Lulu Wang’s autobiographical story works far better as a narrative feature. The story is so compelling that it would be great in any medium but film has something an essay or a podcast doesn’t, which is the visual component. Hearing or reading about a family that decides to hide a cancer diagnosis from their own grandmother, makes for a fascinating and enthralling experience but actually getting to see the family and their lovable grandmother, is more powerful than any author or talented voice actor could convey.

In order for the story to have real dramatic weight, you need to see the toll the secrets are taking on everyone involved. You need to see the guilt everyone feels for the deception. You need to feel the ticking clock that makes every interaction almost unbearable and you need to see the grandmother, who’s completely oblivious to the whole thing. She’s the sweetest person in the world, which makes their lie, as complicated as it is, a truly unselfish act. Why ruin her happiness with a little bit of truth? The Farewell is a marvelous feel good movie that will pummel you with emotions, both heartwarming and heartbreaking.

Sailor Monsoon

12. First Reformed (2017)

Ethan Hawke is one of the most consistently great actors there is out there regardless of how good the movie is. In First Reformed, he turns in arguably his best performance (my favorite of his) as a conflicted priest dealing with his own demons while trying to help congregants of his parish. Writer/director Paul Schrader, who wrote Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, delivers a character study with some stinging commentary on politics, religion and society without it feeling preachy. Simply a man’s struggles with these issues and letting Hawke do incredible work.

Vincent Kane

11. The Florida Project (2017)

Orlando, Florida is best known for the fairy tale wonder of Walt Disney World, but just outside the park there are plenty of people living on the fringe of society, and The Florida Project portrays one such experience in a powerful way. Director Sean Baker got his own breakout with his debut film Tangerine, shot completely on an iPhone, but really solidified his spot as one of the great indie directors working today, bringing such humanity and grit to these people living outside of the mainstream.

Brooklynn Prince in particular delivers an unbelievable performance as Moonee, arguably one of the best performances ever by a child actor, that is responsible for much of the movie’s magic. Credit must also be given to Bria Vinaite, who Baker brought in despite having no acting experience prior to this film. She has great chemistry with Prince and is simultaneously a very loving and extremely irresponsible mother. Meanwhile, Willem Dafoe gives an understated performance as the landlord of the motel where Moonee and her mother live, with so much nuance of compassion and frustration for the people who live there.

Jacob Holmes

30-21 | 10-1

What are some of your favorite films released by A24? Maybe they’ll show up later in the list!