A24 is the most talked-about independent entertainment company in Hollywood these days. Film production and acquisition are not exactly the stuff of water cooler talk, right?
Actors, Marvel, specific scenes and occasionally, directors. Those tend to come up. IFC Films and Roadside Attractions? Yeah, not so much.
So, what if I told you that A24 has over 750,000 followers on Instagram. The company’s merchandise sells out the second it hits its online shop. And it’s my only reason for logging into Facebook every now and then (shoutout to “A24 Film Group”).
For the uninitiated, let’s catch you up.
In 2013, Harmony Korine’s “Spring Breakers” put A24 on the map. As the story goes, it bombed at the Manhattan test screenings. It killed at South by Southwest.
The next year, the company capitalized on its momentum and released 11 films from top-notch, world-class filmmakers. The production and distribution company kept growing, then boom. At the 2017 Academy Awards, “Moonlight” wins Best Picture.
Overnight, A24 was legitimized by the mainstream press as a competitor and innovator, not just “those people that make weird stuff.” Many claim to know the company’s formula. And sure, you could easily combine a few A24 films together and create some excellent double or triple features, but in my opinion … they get the times. They’re aware of the zeitgeist and cater their marketing to such.
A24 takes the movies that other studios would easily dismiss and champions them until the end. Here’s the definitive guide to their world or um … Hollywood domination.
“Spring Breakers” (Harmony Korine, 2012)
Viewer discretion advised. As previously mentioned, eclectic filmmaker Harmony Korine’s 2012 crime film was instrumental in A24’s claim to distribution fame, embodying a trademark of A24’s brand: impalpable coolness and panache. Starring James Franco and Selena Gomez, “Spring Breakers” follows four female college students’ epic journey in funding their trip to Florida and milking their time there. Viewer’s note: don’t try to understand the plot. Feel it. And enjoy one of the best 21st century film scores from Cliff Martinez and Skrillex. The film is a satirical take on the importance of education outside the classroom whilst tackling the double-edged sword of desire. While the protagonists attempt to satisfy their yearning for something more, they find themselves at a crossroads in their lives: pull back or pull the trigger (figuratively and literally).
“Room” (Lenny Abrahamson, 2015)
One word to describe my viewing experience: teary-eyed. While I would normally provide a brief synopsis, I saw this film with zero background knowledge, which greatly contributed to an unforgettable cinematic experience. I want to extend the courtesy to you all. Filmmakers, take note. “Room” has one of the best central dramatic questions in motion picture history: will Joy and her 5-year-old son escape the squalid shed? For audiences, screenwriter Emma Donoghue makes that question impossible (yet thrilling) to answer.
“Moonlight” (Barry Jenkins, 2016)
There’s a reason why the 2017 Best Picture winner makes every single “Best Films of the 21st Century So Far” list. Actually, there’s a lot of reasons. For starters, “Moonlight” is a movie about Blackness. There are zero stereotypical Black clichés and zero white characters. Spanning over three critical life chapters, Barry Jenkins’ magnum opus follows a young African American man named Chiron, who simultaneously tends to his emotional scars while exploring how he got them in the first place. The drama is both a meditation on and celebration of human connection.
Greta Gerwig’s solo directorial debut is “very baller … very anarchist.” And it’s also the very best. In the slice-of-life film’s opening scene, high school senior Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson asks her mother, Marion, if she thinks she looks like she’s from Sacramento. Marion’s response? “You are from Sacramento.” This tense back-and-forth sets the stage for our titular character’s conflicts: her mother and Sacramento (in her opinion, synonymous with lack of culture and boredom). And the heart of the Academy Award-nominated film: being OK with yourself and your roots. “Lady Bird” drastically strays from the stereotypical teen film model by actually being grounded in reality. Every single line feels like it could actually be said by either my friends or their parents. The story beats masterfully oscillate between humor and tragedy (the teenage version). And the relationships are by no means contrived. They are all too realistic. Who doesn’t go for the outsider-type guy or girl who we know deep down is a poser?
“Midsommar” (Ari Aster, 2019)
Prime Video, Kanopy
Bear with me: I’m still reeling from the nightmares. And no, “bear” wasn’t a typo.
“False Positive” (John Lee, 2021)
“Broad City’s” Ilana Glazer in a thriller? I’m all in. In A24’s latest film, a couple is thrilled to land their ideal fertility doctor: the charming Dr. Hindle. However, Lucy stops buying into his affability and is convinced that her pregnancy might be in jeopardy. I’m still processing that ending … and Adrian’s Peloton obsession. And Justin Theroux. That’s all.
Miranda Montenegro a Mexican-American filmmaker. She is an El Centro resident, a graduate of Southwest High School, and a March 2020 graduate of University of California Los Angeles with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and concentration in Film, Television and Digital Media. Montenegro has interned at Sony Pictures Entertainment, Montecito Picture Company/Ghost Corps Inc., and Focus TV Network.