Since its beginning, A24, an independent film company founded in 2012, has been nominated for countless Academy Awards. While most of their films don’t make it into big theaters, they still manage to win many of these awards. Many actors have risen to fame from their roles in A24 movies and multiple directors have gained acclaim for their work.
Since partnering with Amazon Video in 2013, almost all of their catalogue can be found there, and I highly recommend setting aside some time to watch the following films:
The Farewell takes place in both North America and China and follows the true story of a traditional Chinese grandmother as she fights cancer. Throughout, the rebel granddaughter, Billi, played by Awkwafina, revisits her roots in China. The twist: the entire family promises to not tell the grandmother of her mere months left alive. Since Billi is accustomed to American culture, she is reluctant to keep the secret from her “NaiNai.” However, the act of keeping it bring her, NaiNai, and the entire family closer.
Now to the good stuff: the production. To be clear, I watched this movie with only subtitles, with no sound, on an airplane, and I cried. The subtitles worked out well though, as half of the movie is spoken in Mandarin.
The movie was written and directed by a woman, which gives even more of a reason to love it. The camera work and creativity put into each shot is insane. Each is from a different perspective and you’re never looking at nothing, every shot has a meaning and is integral to the plot. It lacks tracking shots, but the still shots are so powerful that it makes up for it.
I was hesitant to watch this movie. I only knew Awkwafina as a rapper and was worried that her acting wouldn’t be up to par, but I was wrong. Her emotions were so raw and strong that I could feel everything she felt. The entire cast acted as if they were really a family, and the hard scenes didn’t seem forced because of the chemistry between the cast.
Midsommar takes place at a midsummer festival in Sweden. A group of seven adults, one originally from Sweden, are working on their college masters theses when they decide the culture at this festival would be a great thesis topic. As soon as they arrive they are given hallucinogenic drugs that cause the main character, Dani, played by Florence Pugh, to have a bad reaction. The rest of the trip is filled with blood, satanic like rituals, and death. The whole movie has viewers thinking “what the hell is even going on?”
The director, Ari Aster, is famous for making creepy movies that mess with your mind and the way you think. His attention to detail in Midsommar deserves praise. While each person is tripping on acid, the screen effects made me feel like I was tripping on acid—the background was blurred out and the sound slowed down and sped up at times. Fun Fact: During the May Queen ceremony, you can see the flashback of Dani’s sister dying in the trees; so subtle but so powerful.
The only downfall to this film, I’d say, is that it is super confusing. You have to make so many connections within the movie, pay attention to not only the foreground but the background as well, and if you miss absolutely anything, the whole movie won’t make sense.
Florence Pugh, seemingly A24’s golden actress, had to play a very emotional role in this film. She had to deal with the death of her family and the disloyalty of her boyfriend, who was also on the trip with her. Some familiar faces were also in this film: Will Poulter from We’re the Millers, and William Jackson Harper from The Good Place.
Lady Bird is the story of a girl who doesn’t like her hometown, her parents, or her life. Christine, played by A24’s other golden girl, Saoirse Ronan, refuses to be called anything other than Lady Bird. While most high school coming-of-age movies are cliché, Lady Bird is not. She navigates relationships with her friends (losing and gaining some in the process), her father, and most importantly her mother, someone she refuses to like but is exactly the same as her—strong-willed, passionate, and loving.
Also directed by a woman (Greta Gerwig), Lady Bird received Golden Globe nominations for Best Supporting Actress and won in the categories of Comedy Motion Picture and Actress in Comedy Motion Picture. There is a great balance of emotion and humor, once a scene gets to a point that pulls on the heart strings, it switches up and goes back into humor. The movie is bright and colorful, which is a huge contrast to Christine, as she wants to come off as a sad girl.