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.
For round 1, head over here. Find round 2 right here. Round 3 is here.
22. First Cow (2020) | Dir: Kelly Reichardt | Drafted by: Rick Copper
[Rick’s previous picks: The Florida Project (#7), Room (#8), The Disaster Artist (#21)]
How in the hell do people survive out in the Alaskan wilderness? By simultaneously relying on, and yet screwing over, each other. Otis “Cookie” Figowitz is a camp cook who can make a damn fine oil cake. Lu is a Chinese immigrant on the lam for killing a Russian. They befriend one another, Lu convinces Otis to make his scrumptious oil cakes for the market but they have to have milk and thus steal it from the village’s first cow owned by the wealthy English trader, Chief Factor.
Do I have a beef? Yeah, that’s a play on cow, so what. Chief Factor is an imbecile. First, he must know these oil cakes have HIS COW’S MILK in them. There’s only one cow in the village! Second, EVERYONE LOVES THE OIL CAKES. As such, you could have made money on the damn slick little biscuits and taken a large cut. They would have stayed as they had little choice. But no, they decide to chase after the pair of delightfully dumb thieves. First Cow is one of those films giving up the end by showing it in the beginning. You spend the time watching to learn how it happens. I found the end not very moooving and udderly dull.
“Would you look at that sweet-ass cow. Mmm… mmm!”
23. Mid 90s (2018) | Dir: Jonah Hill | Drafted by: Waleed Ismail
[Waleed’s previous picks: Everything Everywhere All At Once (#6), Uncut Gems (#9), The Green Knight (#20)]
Jonah Hill’s directorial debut is an homage to the rise of skateboarding culture in the 90s. The story centers around Stevie, a kid whose brother is constantly beating the shit out of him and a single mother who Is trying her best. All to the backdrop of an incredible score and soundtrack.
Sunny Suljic is just a delight in the main role. We can all relate to his craving for acceptance. He finds a group of skaters and the ensemble is really fantastic. He is incapable of playing it cool while trying to fit in, which only makes him more endearing.
What makes this movie special is that it is just a story. It’s just people trying to live their lives and find their way in the world. It is not always easy and it definitely gets ugly, but in the end it is just people trying to get by the best way they can.
24. The Tragedy Of MacBeth (2021) | Dir: Joel Coen | Drafted by: Josh Chuboff
[Josh’s previous picks: Moonlight (#5), Eighth Grade (#10), The Last Black Man In San Francisco (#19)]
Joel Coen sticks fairly close to the Bard’s text, paring it down and shifting some of it around slightly without making major alterations. It wouldn’t be fair to categorize an all-time genius playwright as a mere obstruction, a formal challenge for the filmmaker to hurdle over. Yet considering his repeatedly demonstrated love of inventive verbosity, brushing up on his Shakespeare does, in a sense, tie one arm behind Coen’s back, and in many ways his Macbeth resembles a palate-cleaning experiment.
-Jesse Hassenger, AV Club
25. A Most Violent Year (2014) | Dir: J.C. Chandor | Drafted by: David Sitko
[David’s previous picks: The Farewell (#4), The VVitch (#11), Spring Breakers (#18)]
There is something to be said about calling a movie “A Most Violent Year”, and barely having any violence in it. But that’s the thing. The build up is what makes the ending so dramatic. Also, there are different kinds of violence. Violence itself comes from a position of power. Whether that power comes from a person physically, or power given to them by society. Along with the excellent dive into the films themes, the acting is amazing in this movie. Oscar Isaac really sells it, and Jessica Chastain just continues to amaze. The movie really exemplifies what makes A24 movies stick out.
26. Lean On Pete (2018) | Dir: Andrew Haigh | Drafted by: Matt Drufke
[Matt’s previous picks: Ex Machina (#3), The Lobster (#12), First Reformed (#17)]
When you’re finished with a movie like Lean On Pete, it feels like your insides have just been pummeled by a sledge hammer; you’re just emotionally fucking spent. My other picks have been about great technical craft or some impressive screenwriting and character developmental, but Lean On Pete does one thing better than so many of the other picks in this draft: it knows how to reach in, grab you, and not let go while manipulating your emotions.
The story of a young man named Charley (Charley Plummer) and his quest to take an aging racehorse to find his only known relative isn’t an easy watch. I haven’t seen it since my first watch, and I don’t know I ever want to watch it again. As we watch Charley deal with everything life can possibly throw at a person, it’s impossible to not root for this kid with all your heart while also knowing that things probably aren’t gonna work out the way anyone could possibly hope for. Writer/director Andrew Haigh masterfully shows us a road movie, with two companions who want to be anywhere but the road… they want to be home.They just don’t know where that is.
27. 20th Century Women (2016) | Dir: Mike Mills | Drafted by: Riki Adams
[Riki’s previous picks: Lady Bird (#2), Climax (#13), Laggies (#16)]
Another one I enjoyed on a very personal level, remembering the women who were part of my formative years, my mom who was “the cool mom” which for a time distanced us, my youngest aunt who would take me and my friends to concerts, the older neighbor girl who taught me dances and introduced me to music, and of course those first crushes and loves. That’s what this movie is about- a kid and his relationships with the women in his life and how they shaped him. But that’s also in this case an oversimplification, because writer/director Mike Mills gives more time to the women themselves than he does his admitted analogue in the film. Annette Bening as the mother is warm but reserved, and a little twitchy in the way that she plays so well, just a bubbling sea of panic under a construction of poise and “okayness” with things. Greta Gerwig makes her second appearance in my draft, this time in an acting capacity as younger adult artist, photographer, and punk aficionado renting a room from the family and tasked with helping the son become a good man. Elle Fanning makes her first (but not last) appearance in my draft as the best friend/crush. Billy Crudup, whom I have adored in everything from Almost Famous to Jesus’ Son to Big Fish, plays another renter/handyman drifts through the flick having his own dynamic relationships with Bening and Gerwig. And Lucas Jade Zumann plays the son. It would be easy to write off his role as he’s largely either a sponge absorbing the scene around him, or a reactionary element to it, but he handles the role of audience (and author) surrogate in a very natural performance.
Potential Trigger Warnings- Frank portrayals/discussions of cancer, miscarriage, abortion, and alcohol abuse are all present, as well as a scene of consensual non-consent role play that alludes to possible past trauma
28. The Hole In The Ground (2019) | Dir: Lee Cronin | Drafted by: Kate Peterson
[Kate’s previous picks: The Blackcoat’s Daughter (#1), Obvious Child (#14), Green Room (#15)]
With some genuinely terrifying imagery and set design and moments that definitely speak to our mental fragility and awareness of who we think we know best, The Hole in the Ground strikes a nerve. It’s a hidden gem.
-Kristy Strous, Film Inquiry
What will round 5 bring us? Tune in next week!
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