A24 (formerly A24 Films) is still pretty much the new kid on the block as far as movie production companies are concerned.
Founded by Daniel Katz in 2012, the studio is an infant compared to big players like Universal Pictures, a world-renowned company that's been around since 1912. Even so, A24 has already made a mark so potent that audiences will check out a film simply because it's by A24.
The independent American company is known for their cutting-edge and gorgeously shot works of art that combine avant-garde elements with Hollywood foundations. Movies by A24 tend to be darker, more daring—neon-lit, erotic, hazy, horrifying—while still being approachable.
You'll also see recurring directors (e.g., Ari Aster, Robert Eggers, Yorgos Lanthimos, Sean Baker, the Daniels, the Safdies), who have almost turned A24 into a genre unto itself these days.
With over 100 movies already made since the company formed, choosing my absolute favorites isn't easy. But here we go! Here are my picks for the best A24 movies of all time.
25. Spring Breakers (2012)
Directed by Harmony Korine
Starring James Franco, Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens
Crime, Drama, Thriller (1h 34m)
As one of A24's first movies, Spring Breakers established its trademark use of "sensory" filmmaking as it explored an illicit urban underworld with visceral imagery. James Franco plays cult figure and eccentric drug dealer Alien, who makes a statement with his silver teeth and braids!
Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, and Rachel Korine star as four party-loving rebel teens who are bailed out of jail by Alien—but at a price. Spring break isn't all palm trees and drinking games for these girls as they go through the criminal underbelly of Florida.
Spring Breakers isn't an Oscar-winning, critically acclaimed example of A24, but it was an important early film (literally their second release) for cultivating the company's taste for sexually liberated tones, anti-heroes, cityscapes, and fuzzy cinematography.
24. The Witch (2015)
Directed by Robert Eggers
Starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie
Drama, Fantasy, Horror (1h 32m)
Here's a great example of horror films done in A24 style! Robert Eggers is the perfect director for an A24 flick, and this won't be the only time you see his name on this list. With his knack for the creepy, old-fashioned, and artsy, Eggers brings us this haunting period horror.
Set in the 17th century, a Puritan family decides to hitch up in a remote forest where there are no other villagers around. They probably should have taken the emptiness as a sign...
A visually compelling and extremely unsettling supernatural thriller, The Witch stars Anya Taylor-Joy as Thomasin. While playing peekaboo with her baby brother, he suddenly vanishes into thin air and Thomasin is blamed for it by her own family.
23. The Tragedy of Macbeth (2021)
Directed by Joel Coen
Starring Denzel Washington, Frances McDormand, Alex Hassell
Drama, Mystery, Thriller (1h 45m)
The first solo project by renowned Joel Coen of the Coen brothers (known for Fargo, No Country for Old Men, The Big Lebowski) is based on that infamous Shakespeare play that we were all forced to read in school!
The Tragedy of Macbeth follows an 11th century Scottish lord who's prophesized to become king by three witches. Denzel Washington stars as the overly ambitious Macbeth, alongside Frances McDormand as his famously scheming wife.
Shot in black and white with that iconic Coen polish, this is one of the more aesthetically pleasing adaptations of the play. A supernatural melodrama of the finest caliber, I definitely recommend watching this on the biggest screen you have access to!
22. The Last Black Man in San Francisco (2019)
Directed by Joe Talbot
Starring Jimmie Fails, Jonathan Majors, Rob Morgan
Drama (2h 1m)
The Last Black Man in San Francisco definitely deserves more attention, especially given that it was a directorial debut. Joe Talbot launched his filmmaking career to a stunning start with this A24 drama.
The architecture is as beautiful as the crisp cinematography, once again proving that A24 is an expert in the cinematic, the aesthetic, and the tonal. Contrasting bold and muted colors pay homage to the city, clearly the vision of a native director.
Prepare for chills down your spine when covers of Scott McKenzie's "San Francisco" ring out... even the instrumental versions! But what's actually happening in San Francisco, you ask?
It's not as literal as the title makes it out to be. Jimmie (played by Jimmie Fails as a fictionalized version of himself) is the last black man in San Francisco who won't leave because if he does, it won't be the same city to Mont (played by Jonathan Majors), his best friend left behind.
The Last Black Man in San Francisco is a deeply personal journey (semi-autobiographical of Fails's life, who grew up with Joe Talbot) that explores the meanings of home, culture, identity, and goodbyes.
21. Ex Machina (2014)
Directed by Alex Garland
Starring Alicia Vikander, Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac
Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller (1h 48m)
A feminist sci-fi thriller full of plot twists, Ex Machina shows us the dark side of artificial intelligence—a progressively real threat in recent years.
When Caleb (played by Domhnall Gleeson) is given the golden opportunity to help out with an AI experiment, he quickly discovers that the investigation is not what he thought it'd be.
Alicia Vikander plays the strangely beautiful robot who's held prisoner by an alcoholic CEO, and she's far more self-aware than he imagined.
Filmed with a sort of glossy mechanical luster, Ex Machina is a slick piece of indie filmmaking from Alex Garland, who also directed another sci-fi standout in Annihilation as well as A24's Men.
20. Minari (2020)
Directed by Lee Isaac Chung
Starring Steven Yeun, Yeri Han, Alan Kim
Drama (1h 55m)
Minari is a personal drama that's semi-autobiographical of the filmmaker. Lee Isaac Chung and his family moved from South Korea to Atlanta to rural Arkansas in the 1970s—exactly where the Yi family end up in this film, who plan to live off the land.
Steven Yeun plays the optimistic father with a simple dream to sell Korean produce in Dallas. But there are bills, nature, and culture shock to deal with, which Jacob hasn't properly considered. Plus, their young son has a serious and potentially fatal heart condition.
Minari is a tale about the complexities of family dynamics, conflicting mindsets, chasing dreams, and assimilating into a different country.
The sparing simplicity of the film awards it that deeper quality that many other family portraits lack, and this helped Minari to bag six Oscar nominations. A24 is nothing if not intimate!
19. The Lobster (2015)
Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos
Starring Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Léa Seydoux
Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi (1h 59m)
If you've seen any of Yorgos Lanthimos's films—like Dogtooth or the 2018 Oscar-winning period piece The Favourite—then you'll recognize his style right off the bat in The Lobster.
The auteur director's bizarre black comedy starring Colin Farrell is partly what propelled him into the limelight. Surreal and dreary, The Lobster takes place in a dystopian future where single people are given 45 days to find a romantic partner or else be turned into animals. Permanently.
And as you can probably guess from the title, the protagonist chooses a lobster as his reincarnation sentence. Suffice it to say, The Lobster is offbeat, artsy, and filmed with stylish precision. What more could you ask for from an A24 movie?
18. American Honey (2016)
Directed by Andrea Arnold
Starring Sasha Lane, Shia LaBeouf, Riley Keough
Adventure, Drama, Romance (2h 43m)
Pack your bags, we're going on a road trip! And I'm not talking about a family getaway to Disney World. In American Honey, Andrea Arnold takes us through the American Midwest, where teen runaway Star (played by Sasha Lane) joins a band of sketchy magazine salesmen.
Most of the cast didn't audition. Instead, Arnold searched streets and beaches for drunk teenagers who would fit their parts, and that includes Sasha Lane herself. Shia LaBeouf also appears as the unstable crew co-leader Jake, who invites young Star to join them for Kansas City.
Gorgeously filmed in a Super-8-style square ratio, American Honey was a hit at the Cannes Film Festival in 2016.
17. Room (2015)
Directed by Lenny Abrahamson
Starring Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Sean Bridgers
Drama, Thriller (1h 58m)
Imagine being trapped in one room for your entire life. Now imagine being a child growing up in that room, thinking it was the whole entire world. Well, that's five-year-old Jack (played by Jacob Tremblay), who's held captive with his mother by the mysterious "Old Nick."
After years of isolation, the two make a daring escape that brings Jack into the real world. Brie Larson stars as Jack's mother, who won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 2016.
Based on Emma Donoghue's 2010 novel, Room is sure to break your heart and inspire it back together again. It's not just about breaking free and finding liberation, but the trauma that comes in the aftermath.
16. The Florida Project (2017)
Directed by Sean Baker
Starring Brooklynn Prince, Bria Vinaite, Willem Dafoe
Drama (1h 51m)
Sean Baker's coming-of-age drama The Florida Project is mainly filmed from the point-of-view of six-year-old Moonee, using low-angle shots and restricted narration to great effect.
Inspired by the Our Gang films (from 1922 to 1944), Baker wanted to make a film about the joy and freedom that can come from hardships, but without ignoring the relevant pressing social issues.
Brilliantly played by Brooklynn Prince, Moonee lives in a run-down motel with her single mother—a motel that's, to her, the Magic Castle.
The brightly painted walls and the ability to run wild in the parks help ease the pain of Moonee's poverty-stricken childhood, which comes under fire from the Florida DCF. Shot on opulent 35mm film, The Florida Project is a sympathetic piece of independent cinema.
15. Hereditary (2018)
Directed by Ari Aster
Starring Toni Collette, Milly Shapiro, Gabriel Byrne
Drama, Horror, Mystery (2h 7m)
It's increasingly difficult for horror films to stand out in the saturated, predictable genre, but Hereditary makes it look easy!
Whereas other filmmakers try too hard to shock with jump scares and supernatural twists, Ari Aster knocks the God-fearing socks off you quicker than a telephone pole through the window of a passing car.
Annie Graham (played by Toni Collette in a perfect portrayal of grief and anger) is conflicted about her mother's death, with whom she's always had a troubled relationship. Following her funeral, weird and tragic things begin happening to the Graham family.
Critics loved Hereditary (90% Tomatometer score) while moviegoers hated it (D+ on CinemaScore), which is sort of the trend with Ari Aster's films. But who are you going to trust? Experts on moving images? Or some guy with a free afternoon and nothing else to watch?
14. High Life (2018)
Directed by Claire Denis
Starring Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, André 3000
Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller (1h 53m)
Artsy ambient lighting meets sci-fi storytelling in Claire Denis's avant-garde horror film High Life. Not "high" as in happy and euphoric, but "high" as in floating around in space.
Told in nonlinear order, High Life takes us on a space mission gone wrong, in which a bunch of criminals are sent to serve their death sentence by extracting energy from a black hole.
Monte (played by Robert Pattinson) ends up being the only surviving crew member, who cares for his unexpected daughter while trying to find a way back home. Claire Denis's English-language film debut is as dazzling as it is dark... and I love it!
13. Waves (2019)
Directed by Trey Edward Shults
Starring Taylor Russell, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Alexa Demie
Drama, Romance, Sport (2h 15m)
Tyler is an incredible wrestler, mainly due to the immense pressure his father puts on him, which all comes crashing down after an injury. The distraught Tyler turns to drug abuse and ends up splitting his world apart, serving time for second-degree murder.
Waves is told in two distinct parts, each as jarring and tender as the other. The second half passes the baton to Tyler's sister Emily, who learns the ropes of having a boyfriend for the first time.
Kelvin Harrison Jr., Lucas Hedges, Taylor Russell, Alexa Demie, Renée Elise Goldsberry, and Sterling K. Brown make up the ensemble cast, filling the screen with tense drama and blissful moments of joy.
12. Uncut Gems (2019)
Directed by Benny Safdie and Josh Safdie
Starring Adam Sandler, LaKeith Stanfield, Julia Fox
Crime, Drama, Thriller (2h 15m)
Seeing Adam Sandler in a serious role came as a shock to many viewers. Although he had technically dipped his toes into the waters of melodrama before, he never dove in to quite this degree. And the most shocking thing about it? Just how good he is!
Howard Ratner is a gambling addict who runs an expensive jewelry store in New York. When a rare black opal is uncovered in Ethiopia, Howard believes it could be his ticket out of debt.
The Safdie brothers direct this frantic film that has us running around NYC with fast-talking businessmen and slimy gangsters. The handheld camera approach perfectly matches the pace of this gritty crime-drama, which critics praised as Sandler's best-ever performance.
11. The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017)
Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos
Starring Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Barry Keoghan
Drama, Horror, Mystery (2h 1m)
Yorgos Lanthimos and Colin Farrell are back at it again, this time in a creepy psychological drama. When a surgeon befriends a troubled teenage boy, his family is put in the path of unforeseen danger.
The idiosyncratic director gifts us with his usual weird imagery and awkward silences, held together by vivid monochromatic cinematography.
Nicole Kidman and Barry Keoghan also star in this eerie horror, which sticks out like a sore thumb against Hollywood's usual stuff.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer certainly isn't everyone's cup of tea, but it's an excellent movie worth watching if you're up for it.
10. Mid90s (2018)
Directed by Jonah Hill
Starring Sunny Suljic, Katherine Waterston, Lucas Hedges
Comedy, Drama (1h 25m)
Jonah Hill's directorial debut was a stunning success that perfectly encapsulated the vibe of the 90s skater scene.
Set in the skating capital of Los Angeles, 12-year-old Stevie (played by Sunny Suljic) buys a skateboard and joins a gang of older kids who introduce him to the rebellious world of adolescence.
Mid90s could easily pass for a film from the VHS era given all the texture it achieves. You can almost feel the sweat and sun shining off the open rooftops. A nostalgic coming-of-age tale tinged with darker themes, Jonah Hill knocked it out the skatepark with this one.
9. The Green Knight (2021)
Directed by David Lowery
Starring Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander, Joel Edgerton
Adventure, Drama, Fantasy (2h 10m)
Filmmakers love to experiment with Arthurian folklore, which we saw with Guy Ritchie's King Arthur: Legend of the Sword in 2017. More recently, David Lowery gave us his bold and poppy reimagining of Camelot, in which King Arthur's nephew is challenged to duel the Green Knight.
Here's the catch: any blow that Gawain (played by Dev Patel) delivers, he will receive back on himself one month later. So, probably not a good idea to chop his head off, then...
Dev Patel gives a miraculous performance as the young knight on a quest for fate, showing off how far he's come as an actor since his days on the UK teen series Skins in 2007.
8. Good Time (2017)
Directed by Benny Safdie and Josh Safdie
Starring Robert Pattinson, Benny Safdie, Jennifer Jason Leigh
Crime, Drama, Thriller (1h 42m)
Robert Pattinson is known from his interviews as one of the quirkier celebrities... which means he's perfectly suited for A24 roles. The Safdie brothers wow us yet again with another A24 collaboration, this one saturating the urban darkness with red neon lights.
When Connie (played by Robert Pattinson) persuades his mentally handicapped brother to rob a bank, a dye pack gets them into trouble. Determined to get him out of jail, Connie navigates a multitude of high-rises, drug dens, and theme parks for the $10,000 bail.
A frenzied visual treat that definitely wasn't a "good time" for either brother, Good Time is worlds above most crime thrillers.
7. Aftersun (2022)
Directed by Charlotte Wells
Starring Paul Mescal, Frankie Corio, Celia Rowlson-Hall
Drama (1h 42m)
A24 films tend to fall into one of three categories: achingly sad and nostalgic; disturbing and scary; or wrapped up in seedy criminal nightlife. All with a touch of the experimental.
Aftersun definitely falls into that first category, as you can probably infer from the grainy, disposable camera snapshot that is the poster.
Charlotte Wells's directorial debut splices in clips from the father-daughter holiday shared by Sophie (played by Frankie Corio) and Calum (played by Paul Mescal), recorded on Sophie's MiniDV.
This glitchy footage, alongside cryptic shots of Calum dancing in a strobed nightclub, interrupt the narrative of their wholesome but bumpy vacation in Turkey.
Reflections—mirrors, windows, screens—are interwoven as metaphors for self-reflection, as an older Sophie (semi-autobiographical of Charlotte Wells herself) meditates on the events of Aftersun.
The still shot of a hotel TV reflection and the self-help books stacked beside it are particularly impactful, as is the heart-wrenching conclusion that has a similar, sadly ambiguous vibe to Paul Mescal's other movie All of Us Strangers.
6. The Souvenir (2019)
Directed by Joanna Hogg
Starring Honor Swinton Byrne, Tom Burke, Tilda Swinton
Drama, Romance (2h)
The second installment of Joanna Hogg's dreamy romance drama didn't make much noise, but it's still worth checking out! Before you do, though, make sure you catch up on the first one.
A hazy and picturesque melodrama that floods us with blurred lights and painting-like still shots, The Souvenir is a must-watch for art students. After all, Julie (played by Honor Swinton Byrne) is a film student who's struggling to make a movie about her life in Sunderland. (In fact, this film is modelled on Hogg's own life.)
After meeting a very wealthy businessman, Julie develops a volatile relationship because they're from very different classes and social circles. The Souvenir is a nuanced piece of carefully crafted cinema that reached worldwide critical acclaim upon release.
5. Midsommar (2019)
Directed by Ari Aster
Starring Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, Vilhelm Blomgren
Drama, Horror, Mystery (2h 28m)
If there's one thing A24 knows how to do right, it's horror. The notoriously predictable genre has a hard time producing original stories, but Ari Aster found success with Midsommar.
Originally intended to be a standard slasher film, the cult-centric horror film takes a unique turn when it ends up taking place in the Swedish hills during midsummer celebrations.
Florence Pugh stars as the innocent outsider, who joins the creepy folk commune for the benefit of her boyfriend (who studies cultural anthropology). Big mistake! A couple of magic mushrooms and public suicides later, Dani quickly comes to regret her visit.
4. Lady Bird (2017)
Directed by Greta Gerwig
Starring Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts
Comedy, Drama (1h 34m)
Greta Gerwig was already doing pretty well for herself before the release of Lady Bird, but this film made her a hailed feminist filmmaker with a calling for all things womanhood and coming-of-age.
There seems to be a pattern in A24 of directors creating odes to their childhood towns, and this one transports us to Sacramento, California in the early 00s. Although none of these events actually happened to Gerwig, she was inspired by her upbringing in Sacramento.
Lady Bird isn't just a perfect example of the teen misfit character study (with an endlessly likable Saoirse Ronan at its core, who dreams of New York and demands to be called Lady Bird instead of Christine) but also a great mother-daughter movie with lots of wit, nostalgia, and energy.
3. The Lighthouse (2019)
Directed by Robert Eggers
Starring Robert Pattinson, Willem Dafoe, Valeriia Karaman
Drama, Fantasy, Mystery (1h 49m)
Robert Pattinson shows his A24 face again, this time with co-star Willem Dafoe. Shot on startling black-and-white 35mm film, The Lighthouse is a period piece like no other.
In the 1890s, young Ephraim Winslow (played by Robert Pattinson) arrives at an isolated lighthouse to serve as a temporary "wickie." His only companion is the eccentric ye-olde-sailor-speaking lighthouse keeper, who drinks too much and leaves all the bad jobs to Ephraim.
Ephraim is forbidden from accessing the lantern room, and the building begins to creak and tremble with omniscient forces, all while mythological beings wash up on the shore.
Robert Eggers's indie horror is a take on Edgar Allan Poe's unfinished poem "The Light-House," and it's truly a wonder to behold.
2. Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022)
Directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert
Starring Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu, Jamie Lee Curtis
Action, Adventure, Comedy (2h 19m)
Everything Everywhere All at Once didn't just win Best Picture, but also Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Film Editing. Not to mention four more nominations... Jeez!
With a list of accolades longer than the credits—well, not literally, but the team was remarkably small compared to its grandiose vision—A24 has no problem making sure everyone knows they were the ones who distributed Everything Everywhere All at Once.
Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert mix together topics like existentialism, absurdism, nihilism, and dadaism with some generational trauma and sexual liberation in this mind-bending epic about a laundromat owner who jumps across parallel universes to save the world.
1. Moonlight (2016)
Directed by Barry Jenkins
Starring Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, Trevante Rhodes
Drama (1h 51m)
I'm not just putting Moonlight in the number one spot because it won Best Picture. It's genuinely one of the best films to come out since the turn of the millennium.
Inspired by Tarell Alvin McCraney's unpublished play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, this semi-autobiographical movie has been hailed a masterpiece. Filmed in a triptych structure, Moonlight shows us a sliver of one man's life in three parts: childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.
Being a gay black man in Miami during the crack epidemic isn't exactly a walk in the park, and that's portrayed with elegance here. Trevante Rhodes, Ashton Sanders, and Alex Hibbert star as the three versions of Chiron, who uses his past and his identity to carve a life for himself.
A24 Honorable Mentions
After the success of Priscilla and All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt, everyone is now excited for A24's upcoming The Iron Claw, Love Lies Bleeding, MaXXXine, Civil War, The Zone of Interest, Problemista, and Sing Sing. (Some have already been released in the US.)
Still looking for more films? Here are several other A24 honorable mentions worth checking out:
- Enemy (2013)
- Locke (2013)
- Under the Skin (2013)
- Swiss Army Man (2016)
- Eighth Grade (2018)
- Saint Maud (2019)
- Beau Is Afraid (2023)
- Past Lives (2023)