A24 has had a knack for turning fresh new directors onto audiences. The New York-based production company, established in 2012, has since compiled critical and audience acclaim for its unique brand of arthouse filmmaking. Every A24 movie provides filmmakers with creative freedom that results in cutting-edge stories that test the boundaries of cinema.
A24 has seen some tremendous directors come and go, like Denis Villeneuve‘s first English language film, Enemy (2014), or comedian-turned-director Bo Burnham in Eight Grade (2018), and finally Barry Jenkin‘s Academy Award winner for Best Picture, Moonlight (2016). The list goes on and on, but what seems to trend is A24 bringing directors back for more, further giving the opportunity for these innovative filmmakers to tell their stories.
Updated on March 15, 2023, by Hannah Saab:
A24 movies were a big hit during the 95th Academy Awards, with nods and wins going to films like Aftersun and The Whale. It was undoubtedly Everything Everywhere All at Once that stole the show, though, with its whopping seven Oscars after (out of eleven nominations) cementing the A24 film’s place as the studio’s best movie so far. Among its numerous awards is one for A24’s frequent collaborators, the Daniels, who received the Oscar for Best Director before giving moving speeches that praised the cast and crew for the film’s massive success.
10 Joanna Hogg
Joanna Hogg‘s most recognizable trait to common viewers is her numerous films starring Loki himself, Tom Hiddleston. However, MCU fans will find that Hogg’s films are much more practical, depicting stripped-down, and raw human interactions often played out in real-time. The British filmmaker gained a wider audience with A24’s The Souvenir (2019) and The Souvenir Part II (2021) a semi-autobiographical story dealing with toxic relationships.
The Souvenir was met with critical acclaim on its film festival circuit, with audiences praising its realism. Hogg’s films often let a scene play out through improvisation, creating candid reactions that grounds the audience. Hogg’s authentic style unsurprisingly carried over into her most recent film under the A24 banner, The Eternal Daughter (2022).
9 Yorgos Lanthimos
A24 has produced two films from the unique mind of the ‘Greek Weird Wave’, Yorgos Lanthimos, The Lobster (2015) and The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017). Both of Lanthimos films star Colin Farrell, who delivers a similar style of deadpan dialogue that’s bluntly depressing, but darkly humorous.
The Lobster finds Farrell’s character in a retreat for singles trying to find love, faced with becoming animals if they fail, while The Killing of a Sacred Deer follows Farrell who much choose which of his children to sacrifice by an obsessive young man, brilliantly portrayed by Barry Keoghan. Both of Lanthimos’ A24 films find little concern in crafting a logical plot, but instead rely on haunting storytelling and matter-of-fact dialogue to deliver its unique brand of dark comedy.
8 David Lowery
David Lowery has made a career hopping around productions, including A24 and Disney. Lowery’s A24 projects, A Ghost Story (2017) and The Green Night (2021) are bookended by the Disney live-action adaptations of Pete’s Dragon (2016) and Lowery’s upcoming passion project Peter Pan & Wendy (April 28, 2023). Despite working with vastly different production companies Lowery continues to deliver his own brand of existential drama spliced with fantasy realism.
Lowery’s A24 projects follow discussions surrounding death, memory, and legacy. A Ghost Story follows a lonely spirit idly watching time pass by, and The Green Knight (2017) sets a wannabe hero on a grave quest to be remembered. Both films can seem grim at first glance, but given Lowery’s visually poetic optimism, both films are life-affirming.
7 Rose Glass
Rose Glass turned heads with the psychological horror film Saint Maud (2019). The film stars Morfydd Clark as a hospice nurse whose newfound conviction goes too far. Glass’s critical acclaim prompted A24 to produce her followup film Love Lies Bleeding (2023) starring Kristen Stewart.
Saint Maud (2019) showcased Glass’s ability to pack an emotional punch with very little, focusing on intimate characters in a claustrophobic atmosphere. Glass’s ability to tighten the audience in a tension-fueled moment deserves all the attention of horror fans looking for fresh new filmmakers.
6 The Safdie Brothers
The filmmaking siblings Joshua Safdie and Benjamin Safdie have built an impressive catalog of crime thrillers including A24’s Good Time (2017) and Uncut Gems (2019). Between directing, writing, and producing their own films, even stepping in as the cinematographer or editor, the Safdie brothers take on a ton of creative control. Ben Safdie even dabbles in acting, with recent roles in Licorice Pizza (2021) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (2022).
Safdie Brothers films are praised for delivering dense, anxiety-ridden movie atmospheres and strong performances in tales that depict grimy streets and flawed characters, ripe with a volatile energy that can flip on a dime. The brothers always seem to have a trick up their sleeve, so it’s exciting to see what they do next.
5 Sean Baker
Sean Baker diverges away from the glitz and glamour of modern filmmaking, but instead chooses to tell stories in the seedy underbelly of society. Baker caught the attention of A24 with Tangerine (2015) which follows a sex worker whose pimp has been unfaithful. A24 would then produce Baker’s followups The Florida Project (2017), starring Willem Dafoe, and Red Rocket (2021) featuring returning star Simon Rex.
All of Baker’s films direct their lens on unsavory settings that aren’t often shown in the media. Whether its about sex work, or a disreputable single mother on the verge of homelessness, or a down-and-out adult film star, Baker doesn’t shy away from mature subjects; but more importantly, doesn’t justify or condone these questionable characters, but simply shines a light on them.
4 Alex Garland
Alex Garland‘s debut film, Ex Machina (2014), is arguably the film that put A24 on the map. It became A24’s first Oscar-winning film, taking home the trophy for Best Visual Effects, beating out Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015). With Garland’s background in visual effects and screenwriting the clever filmmaker has become a staple at A24 with follow-up films; Annihilation (2018), Men (2022) and the upcoming Civil War (TBA).
Garland remains innovative and thought-provoking with each entry and is always pushing the boundaries of what Sci-Fi can be. Garland tends to speak above his audience, trusting that they will catch up and eventually grasp his intellectual concepts. Fans can only hope he never shies away from pushing viewers to think outside the box.
3 Robert Eggers
Robert Eggers has become A24’s master of historical accuracy, adapting real-world documentation into his period piece horror films. Whether its 17th-century accounts of witches for The Witch (2015) or myths surrounding lighthouse keepers going mad in the 19th century for The Lighthouse (2019), Eggers strives to tell these absurd historical accounts almost verbatim.
What makes Egger’s films so gripping is his attention to authenticity, proving that the truth can still be cinematic. Many audiences appreciate the respect Eggers shows for historical accuracy amidst a sea of titles that are ok with modernizing a period setting. Egger’s success with A24, and beyond, is proof that you don’t have to sugarcoat history to make it entertaining.
2 Ari Aster
Ari Aster is a dominant force in modern horror since the back-to-back instant classics, Hereditary (2018) and Midsommar (2019). Aster burst onto the scene with Hereditary, receiving numerous accolades and commercial success, becoming the highest-grossing film for A24 at the time (now beat by EEAAO). Midsommar, Asters folk horror followup, was also highly praised and fans can’t wait for Aster’s third A24 project Beau Is Afraid (April 21, 2023) starring Joaquin Phoenix.
Aster’s direction ignited a trend in arthouse horror, bringing independent filmmaking tactics and creative new spins on visual storytelling to deliver something truly gripping. Aster crafts spine-chilling atmospheres and directs stellar performances that have solidified him as one of the best directors working today.
1 The Daniels
Directing duo Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, shake up the ominous flavor of most A24 films with a refreshing dose of comedy and absurdity. Swiss Army Man (2016), stars Paul Dano, a castaway who befriends a dead body (Daniel Radcliffe), and then there’s the latest Oscar-winning sensation, Every Everywhere All at Once (2022), which stars Michelle Yeoh as a stressed-out business owner, wife, and mother who navigates the multiverse to stop an apocalyptic threat.
Both of Daniels’ films are incredibly unique and unbelievably funny. They are able to balance morbid topics and cynical viewpoints with a wholesome optimism that just makes their films so relatable and meaningful, on top of being downright hilarious. Any filmmaker that can tell a profound existential drama through a bagel analogy (and win seven Oscars for it) is a force to be reckoned with.
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