January 23, 2023
WRITTEN BY: PAIGE
With several films in play this awards season, independent film studio A24 has established itself as one of the hottest production companies in Hollywood. Founded in 2012 by Daniel Katz, David Fenkel, and John Hodges, the company has since grown exponentially, branching out from film to produce award-winning television series like HBO’s Euphoria and Hulu’s Ramy, as well as stand-up comedy specials for Jerrod Carmichael and Ali Wong.
With prominent hits and diverse films like Ex Machina, Hereditary, and Uncut Gems in recent years, the company has shown that it isn’t afraid to take risks and think outside the box. From its first film, the Charlie Sheen-starring A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III in 2013, to 2016’s Moonlight, which won Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actor for Mahershala Ali, A24 has shown that it is a powerhouse distributor that should be considered one of the best in the business.
As an A24 admirer, I can honestly say that I have loved most everything I have seen from the studio, from its horror films to its indie dramas. Some of my favorites include Room, Green Room, Spring Breakers, Swiss Army Man, Lady Bird, and Locke. With releasing such unique, small-budget films, it has shown that it isn't afraid to be different, and that is what makes the studio stand out to me so much. In allowing itself and the people it works with the freedom to be creative, A24 has been able to attract some of the best directors, actors, and actresses working today. Alas, while I could ramble on all day about why I’ve become such a fan of the studio, we’re here to look at its 2022 release calendar and discuss why it may have been the company’s best year yet.
Although A24 released particularly impressive slates in both 2017 and 2019, in my mind, 2022 has been, without question, its best year so far. With 20 total releases, I’ve decided to list the five that I believe to be must watches. Of note, you’ll notice that critical hits such as The Whale, Causeway, The Inspection, White Noise, and After Yang didn’t make the cut. That just goes to show you just how strong, deep, and varied A24’s slate was in 2022.
I may not be a parent, but I’ve battled depression, and this film shines an honest light on that inner turmoil by portraying a depressed father attempting to put on a brave face for his daughter even though he can feel it all melting away. As such, this film really hit me emotionally. Yeah, it may not be the most entertaining film of the year, but it doesn’t need to be because it’s much more than that. It has deep layers that explore the desire to preserve shared memories. Aftersun is a beautifully heartfelt film with charming performances from Paul Mescal and Frankie Corio, and it’s the type of film that will make you rethink every interaction you've ever had with your parents.
MARCEL THE SHELL WITH SHOES ON
I still can’t believe A24 actually got this film made, and it’s honestly everything I’d hoped it would be. Creators Dean Fleischer-Camp and Jenny Slate turning their early 2000s short film into a feature was something I didn’t know I needed until I got it. We all need a feel-good, heartwarming film to watch from time to time, and Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is just that flick. It’s beautiful from the inside out, and one of the sweetest, most endearing movies of the year. It will remind you to appreciate all the little things in life, to smile more, and give you all the feels. I promise you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll smile from ear-to-ear throughout the entire film.
BODIES BODIES BODIES
You ever feel like a movie was made especially for you? That’s Bodies Bodies Bodies for me. It’s pretty much an Agatha Christie-inspired episode of Euphoria, which, y’all know, I love that show. It’s phenomenally written and directed, featuring a spectacular cast that nails each stereotype perfectly, especially Rachel Sennott, who is pure gold in this flick. This film will have you laughing your ass off at all the one-liners, its color palette is dope AF, and the soundtrack is bloody rad. I’m calling it now: this is an immediate cult classic that will be watched at every sleepover.
Yes, I’m cheating a little bit here, but you can’t have one without the other. It’s rare that we get two films from a franchise released in the same calendar year, let alone with both featuring a killer performance from the underrated Mia Goth. We start off with X, a classic slasher focusing on a group of 1970s porn stars being murdered. Right off the bat, I knew I would love this film because the slasher genre is my jam. Then, we get thrown back to the early 1900s with the prequel Pearl, a character-driven, psychological horror movie that features a performance from Mia Goth deserving of all the awards. All in all, director Ti West gave us something special that you can’t deny, and this horror franchise is one that should be on your radar!
EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE
I don’t even know where to start when talking about this gem of a film, besides pointing out the obvious: it’s one of the best films of the year! Directing duo Daniels delivers one of the most bizarre and imaginative movies I’ve ever seen. It kicks ass while also being a heartwarming film with a powerful story. Everything Everywhere All at Once is packed with creative ideas, and the outstanding ensemble cast, led by Michelle Yeoh, executes each one so flipping well. If you haven’t seen this film yet, I don’t know what the hell you are doing with your life because you’re missing out on something brilliant.
Overall, A24 blew me away in 2022! All these films rocked my socks off, and the five (okay, I cheated, six) films I recommended display just how diverse this film production company truly is. The list above includes a moving drama, heartfelt animation, a horror comedy, the start of an instant classic franchise, and an adrenaline-fueled sci-fi comedy. It really highlights just how impressive 2022 was for A24 when potential Best Picture nominee The Whale didn't even crack the Top FiveSix. And now that 2023 is here, I can’t wait to watch what’s coming next! Director Ti West will finish his Pearl trilogy with MaXXXine, starring modern-day scream queen Mia Goth; Ari Aster directs Oscar winner Joaquin Phoenix in the surrealist comedy-horror Beau is Afraid; and Jesse Eisenberg makes his directorial debut with the coming-of-age dramedy When You Finish Saving the World, starring Julianne Moore and Finn Wolfhard.
A24 isn't slowing down and, given the growth we’ve seen in the last decade, I’m very excited to see what 2023 and beyond bring for the studio!
Photo Credits: A24