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.
29. Share (2019) | Dir: Pippa Bianco | Drafted by: Kate Peterson
[Kate’s previous picks: The Blackcoat’s Daughter (#1), Obvious Child (#14), Green Room (#15), The Hole In The Ground (#28)]
The most striking thing about Share, the debut feature from Pippa Bianco airing on HBO tonight, is how it subverts the logic of viral videos. The medium tends to dehumanize, taking people—complicated mulches of flesh and foibles and desires—and reducing them to the essence of a single moment. Share does the opposite. It fixes on Mandy as she realizes that something terrible has happened to her, and that videos of the event are circulating among virtually everyone she knows. It offers up her interiority, but also her experience. Viewers hear the frantic pings of her cellphone, sense how rooms get quiet when she enters them, feel the eyes on her at all times. Bianco forces audiences into an intimacy with Mandy that suffuses the film. Everything she sees, everything she feels, is everything that happens.
-Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic
30. How To Talk To Girls At Parties (2017) | Dir: John Cameron Mitchell | Drafted by: Riki Adams
[Riki’s previous picks: Lady Bird (#2), Climax (#13), Laggies (#16), 20th Century Women (#27)]
When I first heard that John Cameron Mitchell of Hedwig and the Angry Inch was directing a movie based on a short story by Neil Gaiman (writer of The Sandman graphic novel series, which was recently adapted for Netflix, and also features the aforementioned Mitchell as Desire) I was stoked. What a wild pairing. Then I saw that Nicole Kidman was in it playing a sort of punk rock art collective den mother. Double stoked. Set in 1970s UK the film stars Alex Sharp as one of 3 friends trying to find their way into the in-crowd of their local punk scene (the second time the theme of punk rock has appeared in my draft). Through various misadventures the friends wind up party to an alien invasion instead, making this the most fantastic flick in my draft. Elle Fanning makes her second appearance on the list as the alien taken in by the group and shown life outside of the alien invasion force, and she plays it with a perfect rebellious curiousness. Kidman swallows scenes whole as the elder punk rock queen, and in an admittedly busy, cluttered narrative it’s the performances and the sheer bold weirdness of the flick that make it a delightful watch.
Potential Trigger Warnings- Alien sexuality? Some crass sexist/sexual language
31. A Ghost Story (2017) | Dir: David Lowery | Drafted by: Matt Drufke
[Matt’s previous picks: Ex Machina (#3), The Lobster (#12), First Reformed (#17), Lean On Pete (#26)]
David Lowery is A24’s resident philosopher. Almost all of his films are rich and beautiful stories, but underneath, there are just so many basic questions he’s asking about what life is and what it means. And while I love The Green Knight, which Waleed grabbed in the third round, I think his best film and the film that demonstrates best what I’m talking about is A Ghost Story.
For starters, there is nothing scary about Lowery’s A Ghost Story at all. While among the living, he’s played by Casey Affleck, but as a ghost, the character is a voiceless being under a bedsheet like Charlie Brown dressing up for Halloween. This is a spirit destined to live in the house he inhabited with his wife, first watching her grieve and try and move on, then watching the other occupants who would be in the house in every manner of time.
This is a film which asks questions about time and space and life and the nature of grief. In the most memorable scene, Rooney Mara (playing the wife of the man who has become the titular ghost) sits on a floor and eats a pie until she vomits. It honestly feels wrong to be watching someone experiencing pain and loss so deeply, which is exactly why we cannot turn away.
A Ghost Story isn’t scary. Rather, it’s haunting.
32. The Lighthouse (2019) | Dir: Robert Eggers | Drafted by: David Sitko
The Lighthouse – Another Robert Eggers film on my list. What this movie does well, is that it shows, and doesn’t tell. Whether or not you like how it did it, is another story. But I loved it. The black and white, and aspect ratio, do a lot to set the mood, and the acting is second to none. Yeah, Pattinson is great. But this is literally Willem Dafoe’s greatest role. As the main character questions his own sanity, the viewer may find themselves questioning their own. Just don’t go around spilling the beans, you hear?
33. Midsommar (2019) | Dir: Ari Aster | Drafted by: Josh Chuboff
[Josh’s previous picks: Moonlight (#5), Eighth Grade (#10), The Last Black Man In San Francisco (#19), The Tragedy Of MacBeth (#24)]
Aster is clearly a talented filmmaker interested in themes of emotional distress, which are thus reflected and symbolized by an environment of horror. Both of his features have used cultism, ritualism, family, and community to create feelings of isolation and terror, leading to a natural blend of the psychological and physical. But if there’s any minor problem with Midsommar, the protracted runtime of nearly two-and-a-half-hours proceeds at a measured pace, occasionally allowing the viewer to drift off and think about what we’re watching, as opposed to complete and total immersion for the duration of the film—especially in the last act, when outside influences have subdued the characters and the audience has less to engage with. But these moments are rare, and the lasting effect of Midsommar is a feeling of awe toward the witnessed horror and the curious sense of connectivity and liberation achieved through the film. It’s a feeling wonderfully captured as Dani screams an awful, guttural wail in a moment of betrayal, and around her, the Hårga women match her cries to achieve a sublime harmony.
-Brian Eggert, Deep Focus
34. Hereditary (2018) | Dir: Ari Aster | Drafted by: Waleed Ismail
[Waleed’s previous picks: Everything Everywhere All At Once (#6), Uncut Gems (#9), The Green Knight (#20), Mid 90s (#23)]
While I loved my first four movies, this is where my reviews get off the tracks. When I saw Hereditary in the theaters, I was entertained. But I couldn’t help but feel it was lacking something.
I understand that there will always be a need to suspend disbelief in a horror movie. I can accept that there are demonic forces at work trying to bring about the end of days. I can accept that there is a secret cult in the world working towards orchestrating said awakening. The part I just can’t get past is that the vessel for this demon has a fatal peanut allergy. Seriously?
This is an incredibly well directed film with fantastic camera work, a solid score, and great acting performances. I just can’t get past how dumb the overall plot is. I love a good demonic takeover as much as the next guy, but you have to meet me halfway.
35. Gloria Bell (2018) | Dir: Sebastian Lelio | Drafted by: Rick Copper
[Rick’s previous picks: The Florida Project (#7), Room (#8), The Disaster Artist (#21), First Cow (#22)]
Let’s call this my safe pick and thank you very much Dave for picking The Lighthouse so I didn’t have to shit all over it. Gloria Bell is a Sebastián Lelio English remake of his 2013 Spanish film Gloria. Gloria Bell is a divorced woman (Julianne Moore), who loves dancing, and searches to find a partner in life. Moore is fascinating in this role as she navigates loneliness with economic uncertainty plus gets naked, a lot.
If you’re looking for a film exhibiting some character growth, this is a good one. Gloria goes through a lot with her son Peter (Michael Cera) and her daughter Anne (Caren Pistorius), Peter is effectively raising his child on his own as his wife is always gone finding her fucking self or whatever, and Anne gets pregnant by a professional Swedish surfer (is this a thing?) and moves to Sweden.
The airport scene where Anne leaves is pivotal. It’s a shocking change to Gloria’s life propelling her to stand up for herself and not take the ridiculous amount of stupid shit heaped on her by her on-again off-again lover Arnold (John Turturro). Arnold, plain and simple, is a weird schmuck who owns a paintball “arena” (AKA trash heap) in the desert.
Do I like it? Sure. Do I hate the fact they used Laura Branigan’s song “Gloria” in it? Yes. I’ll simply call Gloria Bell an I-am-going-to-feel-good-and-fuck-you-for-daring-to-get-in-my-way movie great for every divorced person to see. Ergo, great for 50% of the population.
Oh and she drinks… socially heavy. She’s not a drunk but looks damn good as she imbibes.
We’ve got one round left! Check out next week to see the end of the A24 Draft!