From its funding in 2012, A24 has helped revive the American independent cinema and has been the distributor and producer of many of this decade’s most acclaimed films.
From Academy Award favorites (“Moonlight”, “Lady Bird”) to staples of modern horror cinema (“The Witch”, “Hereditary”) and career redefining movies for actors such as Robert Pattinson (“Good Time”) or Adam Sandler (“Uncut Gems”), A24 has become equivalent with high-quality cinema and this year they continued to give us some great films.
On this list, we ranked all the 20 movies produced by A24 in 2019 from worst to best. And as a testament of A24’s high standards, while there are a couple of duds, more than half of the films on this list are great ones. Let us know in the comments which A24 movies you’ve seen this year and how would you rank them.
“Outlaws” (also known as “1%”) was directed by Stephen McCallum and follows an Australian motorcycle gang leader who, after getting released from prison, comes into conflict with the gang’s temporary president who wants to make a risky alliance with a rival gang.
Despite some good performances and a promising start, “Outlaws” is ultimately a clichéd and pretty much forgettable film. If you want a better biker gang drama, you’d better go watch “Sons of Anarchy”.
19. Native Son
Based on the 1940 novel of the same name by Richard Wright, “Native Son” follows Bigger “Big” Thomas (Ashton Sanders), a young African American man from a poor neighborhood who accepts a job for a wealthy businessman named Henry Dalton (Bill Camp). Bigger starts working as a chauffeur for Mary (Margaret Qualley), Dalton’s spoiled young daughter which he is reluctant to befriend. Unfortunately, after an unexpected accident, things go horribly wrong for him.
While Ashton Sanders gives a strong lead performance and the film is very well-shot, “Native Son” is ultimately a messy film. Despite its promising start, the movie suffers from a problematic third act, mostly because of an out-of-nowhere tonal shift that nearly ruins the whole buildup.
18. The Hole In The Ground
After leaving her husband, a mother moves to an isolated near-the-woods house in the Irish countryside and tries to start a new life along with her young son. One night, her son disappears into the forest, and when he returns he starts acting increasingly stranger. Soon, his mother links his unusual behavior with a mysterious sinkhole in the forest.
This horror film has its share of creepy moments, some beautiful cinematography, a great soundtrack and pretty solid performances from its cast. However, its pacing problems and undeveloped story turn it into a middling experience. Still, this is better than the average horror movie and you should check it out if you’re a fan of the genre.
17. Low Tide
This straight-to-the-point, simple coming-of-age thriller follows a group of teenage boys who break into vacation homes and steal valuables in order to fund their lunches at the burger stand and their evening boardwalk parties. When they decide to break into an isolated log whose wealthy owner recently passed away, the discovery of a buried treasure escalates tension between the four boys and puts their friendship to the test.
Entertaining, but far from ground-breaking, “Low Tide” suffers from lack of character development and a too predictable plot. However, the atmospheric story, surprisingly good cinematography and fine performances from its cast make it a decent effort, even more considering this is director Kevin McMullin’s debut film.
16. The Kill Team
Based on real events, “The Kill Team” follows a young soldier who faces a moral dilemma after he witnesses his teammates killing innocent civilians in another country under the commands of the ruthless Sergeant. At the risk of his own life, he wants to take action and report what he saw to higher authorities.
While it benefits of great performances from Skarsgård and Wolff, an interesting story and a powerful message, in the end, “The Kill Team” is pretty formulaic and overall inferior to the 2013 documentary of the same name, yet still a decent enough war film to be worth checking out.
Based on the 2018 Oscar-winning short film of the same name, “Skin” stars Jamie Bell as Bryon Widner, a young white supremacist who turns his back to hatred and violence, undergoes treatment to remove the racist tattoos that cover his body and face and, with the help of his girlfriend and a black activist, tries to change his life.
While it has its moments, “Skin” is nowhere as good as “American History X”. However, fans of the aforementioned film will most likely enjoy this, especially Jamie Bell’s awards-worthy performance which made us put this movie so much higher on this list than it would have been otherwise.
“Share” was directed by Pippa Bianco and stars Rhianne Barreto as Mandy, a 16-year-old girl who, after discovering a disturbing viral video of her being taken advantage of by boys from her high school on a night she does not remember, has to find out what happened and how to deal with the consequences.
In terms of filmmaking, this is not a groundbreaking movie, but we were really impressed with its strong message about a highly topical subject and the great performances, especially Rhianne Barreto’s, who managed to make her character feel very real.
13. The Death Of Dick Long
Imperfect, yet funny and filled with quirky characters and situations reminiscent of a Coen Brothers comedy-thriller, Daniel Scheinert’s film follows a group of friends who, after a night of partying, loud rock music and lighting fireworks, get into deep trouble. Without showing the audience what exactly happened, the movie throws us in the middle of an emergency: one of the three friends, Dick Long, is heavily wounded and ends up in the small town’s hospital, where he eventually dies. For the rest of the film, the remaining two friends try to keep a low profile as the police discover more and more evidence that can link them to Dick Long’s death.
It sounds like a thriller, but “The Death of Dick Long” is much funnier than its premise suggests. The characters in this movie are not very smart and, as a result, they get themselves in all kinds of laughable situations. This is a very entertaining film which, if it were to be a little more polished, would have unquestionably been one of the best black comedies in recent memory. Unfortunately, a questionable reveal and a pretty lackluster ending make it fall short of greatness, but you will still get enough enjoyment out of this to make it worth watching.
12. In Fabric
Directed by Peter Strickland (“Berberian Sound Studio”, “The Duke Of Burgundy”) is a Giallo-inspired horror-comedy about a cursed dress and the devastating consequences it has on two of its unlucky owners.
The reason why this isn’t higher up on this list is the film’s second part that felt like a repetition of the much more compelling first act and thus a little anticlimactic. While the first hour of “In Fabric” is very captivating and builds up a couple of interesting characters, Strickland chooses to split the narrative into two nearly separate stories and most of the characters from the film’s first half become nearly nonexistent in its second one.
Nevertheless, aside from its somewhat disjointed narrative, this is another highly stylized, surrealistic and very original entry in Strickland’s catalogue and, while it certainly isn’t a film for everyone, if you are into Giallo or you’ve enjoyed the director’s previous work, you will surely find many things to like about “In Fabric”.
11. High Life
Claire Denis’ ambitious science-fiction film features Robert Pattinson as Monte, a troubled man who has been sentenced with a death trip to space.
When he was young, Pattinson’s character was sentenced to prison after killing one of his friends over a dog. In the present day, along with a bunch of other prisoners, he is part of a deadly space mission whose purpose is to find a black hole and extract an alternate form of energy from it.
On the ship with them there is also Dr. Dibs (Juliette Binoche), an older woman who we later find out is guilty of some very nasty deeds and who has another mission of her own: she is obsessed with artificial insemination experiments and demands the males on-board to donate their semen.
The ship is also equipped with an unusual room called “The Fuckbox” where crew members go to masturbate and which is the setting of a very erotic scene featuring Binoche. As you might have already noticed, Claire Denis has merged together some oddly interesting ideas for this film. Surprisingly, they work together very well and the result is a dreamlike movie that differentiates itself from every other sci-fi we’ve seen in recent years.
“High Life” is a strange movie and its non-linear, somewhat confusing narrative and slow-burn atmosphere might not appeal to everyone. However, Pattinson’s magnificent performance as the complex protagonist proves him to be one of the best actors of his generation and makes Denis’ film a must-watch.