As A24 Films celebrates it’s tenth anniversary this year, every cinephile has to admit that this company has quickly risen to one of the most impressive studios releasing movies today. Their films are commercially successful, critically acclaimed, and adored by film geeks all over the universe. As an exercise, we gathered a group we loving call the Fancy Boys Film Society (Matt Drufke, Rick Copper, Kate Peterson, Riki Adams, Waleed Ismail, David Sitko and Joshua Chuboff) and while sports nerds were doing their fantasy football drafts, we had them create a fantasy A24 roster. For six rounds, each picked their favorite films from the acclaimed studio. Here is that draft.
#15. Green Room (2015) | Dir: Jeremy Saulnier | Drafted by Kate Peterson
[Kate’s previous picks: The Blackcoat’s Daughter (#1), Obvious Child (#14)]
Green Room isn’t a transcendent masterpiece that transcends its genre roots. It doesn’t change the conversation in ways anyone will likely be waxing poetic about for decades to come. Saulnier’s third feature behind the camera is just damn fine cinema, nothing more, and certainly nothing less, its go-for-broke horror aesthetic a real world cavalcade of terror that had me noticeably shaking long after the film itself had come to an end.
-Sara Michelle Fetters, MovieFreak
#16. Laggies (2014) | Dir: Lynn Shelton | Drafted by: Riki Adams
[Riki’s previous picks: Lady Bird (#2), Climax (#13)]
Mumblecore director Lynn Shelton’s 2014 mid budget romantic dramady stars Keira Knightly in the midst of a quarter-life crisis struggling against the expectation to transition into traditional adulthood. Sam Rockwell and Chloe Grace Moretz costar as a father and daughter who come into Knightly’s life through a chance encounter following a 2 major shakeups at an old friend’s wedding. Plus there’s Kaitlyn Deven 5 years before she co-leads in Booksmart (with Beanie Feldstein who came up earlier in my blurb about my first draft pick Lady Bird). There’s enough charm between Knightly and Rockwell alone that I could suggest it just based off that, however we also get some coming of age story stuff with Moretz’s character, the conflict between her character and Rockwell’s, as well as an estranged mom played ably by Gretchen Mol. Mark Webber and Ellie Kemper play ties to the life Knightly finds herself increasingly dissatisfied with. It’s admittedly a little 2014, so there is an optimism for the future/present that feels perhaps a bit dated for younger adults in the present, but all that said, it was a cute date movie that I enjoyed in the theater when it was released.
Potential Trigger Warnings- Honestly can’t think of anything in this one, it’s pretty light
#17. First Reformed (2017) | Dir: Paul Schrader | Drafted by: Matt Drufke
[Matt’s previous picks: Ex Machina (#3), The Lobster (#12)]
Paul Schrader is a little different from some of the other auteurs on this list. Unlike people like Garland, Gerwig or Lanthimos, he was a well established name in Hollywood. Dude fucking wrote Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, but had never stepped into the world of directing. But, with his A24 debut film, he absolutely crushes it and somehow steps up his game to another level.
Ethan Hawke has never been better (which is saying A LOT) as a pastor struggling with a dwindling congregation, the loss of his son, alcoholism, and even his faith. And Schrader doesn’t give Hawke an easy second in this whole film. Besides dealing with all of this, he has to deal with environmental terrorism and abortion and an attractive (and married) parishoner. Trying to find God in the world when things are going well is tough; trying to find Him under these circumstances is damn near impossible. And that’s what makes this film gripping and engaging and something you cannot tear away from.
#18. Spring Breakers (2012) | Dir: Harmony Korine | Drafted by: David Sitko
[David’s previous picks: The Farewell (#4), The VVitch (#11)]
I almost picked this movie as my first overall pick. Because I wanted to make a statement. A24 wouldn’t be where it is today, if it wasn’t for this movie. A polarizing film, and I, of course, am all the way on the side of the spectrum that loves it. Visually – stunning. Bright vivid colors. Beautiful backgrounds. Thematically – a roller coaster ride. Is it supposed to be another raunchy spring break teen comedy? No. Is it about James Franco being some shit bag and doing crazy shit? No. Its about the American dream, baby. To some, a world of drugs, crime, and violence is the final level, a cumulative end point of a series of decisions leading up to a finality of a lifestyle. To others, it’s a vacation. And like so many great films, the music is on point. I fucking dressed up as Alien for Halloween after I saw this movie. As a tribute to Harmony Korine. There is something special about A24 films, and Spring Breakers really captures it.
#19. The Last Black Man In San Francisco (2019) | Dir: Joe Talbot | Drafted by: Josh Chuboff
[Josh’s previous picks: Moonlight (#5), Eighth Grade (#10)]
What makes The Last Black Man in San Francisco so authentic, absorbing, and satisfying is how it explores family, love, and traditions that have fallen by the wayside. In one beautifully shot scene, Jimmie explains to a tour guide the time, effort, and craftsmanship it took his grandfather to build the brownstone that was inspired by his service overseas in World War II. In another that I am certain will stick with me for some time, Monty is lovingly sitting next to his blind grandfather (the invaluable Danny Glover), arms locked in a loving grandfather-grandchild embrace as adults explaining to him what is happening on the program they are watching together, while smiles never leave their faces.
-M.N. Miller, Ready Steady Cut
#20. The Green Knight (2021) | Dir: David Lowrey | Drafted by: Waleed Ismail
[Waleed’s previous picks: Everything Everywhere All At Once (#6), Uncut Gems (#9)]
The classic 14th century poem Sir Gawain And The Green Knight is the motivation for this film. As a huge fan of Arthurian lore, I don’t think I’ve ever seen such an honest and enthralling adaptation.
The story starts on Christmas day, when a stranger enters King Arthur’s court and challenges them to a game. One knight gets a single strike and in a year, that knight will meet him at his chapel and he will return the blow. Gawyn accepts the challenge and lops the Green Knights head off, thinking the challenge done. The knight then picks up his head and tells Gawyn he will see him in a year.
Davis Lowery turns this classic tale into a journey of discovery for a very flawed and tortured Gawyn, who battles the expectations of others and his own personal demons. It has such beautiful imagery against a fantastical backdrop of Celtic mythology, while still adding a level of grime that makes everything feel more real.
It also does a great job of letting the story breath without cluttering it with needless dialogue. Dev Patel’s lead of a man conflicted about who he wants to be is perfectly portrayed. As a man who loves classical stories of tragic heroes, I cannot speak highly enough about The Green Knight.
#21. The Disaster Artist (2017) | Dir: James Franco | Drafted by: Rick Copper
[Rick’s previous picks: The Florida Project (#7), Room (#8)]
Can’t shit on Matt for his pick this round as First Reformed was on my list. Dave picked a film known for its sloppiness; Josh has an admirably brave pick and Waleed picked a movie he thought was about a knight who got food poisoning.
“It’s bullshit. I did not hit her. I did notttttt. Oh hi, Mark!”
That my friends, is a non sequitur and a perfect example of what made The Room, created by the infamous Tommy Wiseau, a nightmare of a film. It’s the craziest and dumbest flick to ever be shown on the big screen. The Room is such a bad film it is fun bad. The Disaster Artist is based upon the non-fiction book co-authored by Greg Sestero, one of the actors in The Room and Tommy Wiseau’s friend, about the experience of filming The Room as well as his bizarre friendship with Tommy.
James Franco plays Tommy and is fantastic in all of Tommy’s deluded self-indulgent glory. James’ brother Dave plays Greg, the disillusioned young actor who agrees to play Tommy’s co-star in The Room. Seth Rogan playing the script supervisor Sandy Schklair. His role encapsulates the entire film crew as they are there merely to get paid and that’s it, trying their best not to get caught up in the slow rolling snowball of insanity that is Franco’s Tommy Wiseau. There are a lot of bit parts and cameos in the film that work very well, but I loved Judd Apatow’s the best.
Question becomes if you need to see The Room to appreciate The Disaster Artist. I don’t think so. I saw The Room first, but The Disaster Artist certainly stands out on its own. However, if I were you, I would certainly invest the time to see them both.
“I DID NOT… Oh hi Mark.”
Tune in next week for Round 4!