remember

36. Remember

Another A24 film from Atom Egoyan, Remember is a step-up from The Captive, due in no small part to a typically great turn from Christopher Plummer. Plummer plays a man suffering from dementia, living out the last of his days in a nursing home. There, he befriends a concentration camp survivor (Martin Landau), who reminds Plummer that he, too, was in the camps, although Plummer’s dementia keeps him from fully remembering this. Landau sets Plummer on a quest to hunt down and kill the concentration camp guard who killed their families. Remember is a tense, disturbing film that has Egoyan regaining much of his directorial strength.

sonofagun

35. Son of a Gun

Julius Avery’s gritty Australian crime drama benefits from a dark turn from Ewan McGregor. Brenton Thwaites is a 19-year-old sent to prison for a rather minor crime. There, he falls under the protection of Australia’s public enemy #1 (McGregor). The two eventually escape prison together, developing a father-son relationship that turns dangerous. There’s nothing in this story that hasn’t been done a million times before, but writer-director Avery is so confident in what he’s doing here, and McGregor is clearly relishing playing a more villainous character than usual, that Son of Gun is far more entertaining than you’d expect.

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34. Cut Bank

Another crime thriller from A24, Cut Bank gives off the impression of a Coen Brothers Lite film, to the point that it features several Coen players – The Man Who Wasn’t There’s Billy Bob Thornton; Burn After Reading’s John Malkovich; A Serious Man’s Michael Stuhlbarg. Unfortunately, they’re all relegated to supporting players while the film focuses on Liam Hemsworth, the lesser Hemsworth brother. Hemsworth hatches a get-rich-quick scheme to get himself and his girlfriend out of their dull little town. But the plan backfires, and Hemsworth finds the town is actually more dangerous than he had originally perceived. Cut Bank is quirky and packs on one large plot twist, but you can never shake off that Coen knock-off feeling long enough.

intotheforest

33. Into the Forest

Patricia Rozema’s haunting semi-post-apocalyptic drama follows two sisters (Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood) coming to terms with a world plunged into darkness after a technological collapse sweeps the country. Page and Wood are excellent together, and Rozema and cinematographer Daniel Grant create some truly stunning moments. Into the Forest eventually runs out of energy by the time the third act rolls around, but until then it’s striking.

trespassagainstus

32. Trespass Against Us

Yet another A24 crime drama, Trespass Against Us is, like Son of A Gun, a film about the tensions between a father-son dynamic. It helps greatly that the father and son are played by Brendan Gleeson and Michael Fassbender, two supremely gifted actors. Gleeson and Fassbender are outlaws who come to blows when Fassbender dreams of a better, crime-free life for his own son (Georgie Smith). This doesn’t sit very well with the volatile Gleeson. A24 snatched up the US rights to Trespass Against Us back in 2014, but didn’t release it till 2016, which might hint at a film of inferior quality. But Trespass Against Us is worth watching, if only for the performances from Gleeson and Fassbender.

Ginger&Rosa

31. Ginger & Rosa

The second film distributed by A24, Sally Potter’s Ginger & Rosa follows two teen friends (Elle Fanning and Alice Englert) who start to drift apart. The film is set in 1962, and the threat of nuclear war looms in the background, which will unfortunately make the film feel even more relevant today than it did when it was released in 2013. What truly makes Ginger & Rosa remarkable is Fanning’s performance, signaling that the young actress was truly someone to pay attention to.

themonster

30. The Monster

The Monster doesn’t get points for subtlety, but it does have some great creature effects and one hell of a performance from Zoe Kazan. Written and directed by Bryan Bertino, The Monster Ella Ballentine as a young girl being driven to live with her father by her perennial screw-up of a mother (Kazan). The mother and daughter have had a strained relationship, but they have to band together when their car is attacked by some drooling, fang-filled monster lurking in the woods. The film hammers you over the head with its message (the monster is a metaphor for bad parenting!), but Kazan is so good here that you’re willing to overlook that.

Equals

29. Equals

Kristen Stewart, the best actress of her generation (don’t @ me), brings her low-key yet highly-engaging charms to this dystopian romance from director Drake Doremus. Nicholas Hoult is just one member of a cold, sterile society that no longer feels emotions. That all changes when Hoult finds himself drawn to Stewart, who in turn is drawn to him. The two must hide their feelings or risk exile and maybe even death. Equals doesn’t have an original bone in its body – it’s borrowed liberally from Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, 1984 and even the gun-fu goof-fest Equilibrium. What it does have is some slick production design and another great performance from Stewart.

freefire

28. Free Fire

A24’s most recent film is a shoot-em-up in the vein of Reservoir Dogs from High-Rise helmer Ben Wheatley. Wheatley assembled a cool cast, including Brie Larson, Sharlto Copley, Armie Hammer, Cillian Murphy and Jack Reynor, dressed them up in the silliest clothes possible, and let them shoot at each other for 90 minutes. It’s a lot more entertaining than it should be, mostly due to the performances, particularly Copley, who seems to have finally found a character to channel his usually terribly annoying schtick into.

morrisfromamerica

27. Morris From America

A sweet, funny coming-of-age film from Chad Hartigan, Morris From America stars Markees Christmas as a young African American boy feeling completely adrift living in Germany. Christmas is a star in the making as Morris, but the real standout here is Craig Robinson, who shows remarkable dramatic chops as Morris’ struggling father. A heart-to-heart scene near the end of the film where Robinson’s character tells Morris about coming to Germany to meet Morris’ mother is handled masterfully.

blackcoatdaughter

26. The Blackcoat’s Daughter

If there’s one genre that A24 should focus on more, it’s horror. Simply because the horror films they release are so different, and so unique, that they leave you hungry for more. Made in 2015 but not released until 2017, Oz Perkins’s The Blackcoat’s Daughter (originally titled February) is a chilly, chilling psychological horror film about two young women (Kiernan Shipka and Emma Roberts) and their relationship with an imposing boarding school. Perkins makes films that are deliberately paced to the point that they might annoy some impatient viewers, but everyone else will relish the subtle, unnerving way he builds tension and mood. It takes a while for the audience to figure out just what’s going on in The Blackcoat’s Daughter, and just how Shipka and Roberts’ characters are connected. But the reveal is both satisfying and disturbing.

theblingring

25. The Bling Ring

Sofia Coppola took audiences inside the mysterious world of modern teenagers with her funny exploration of a gang of privileged youths who spend their free time robbing celebrities. The Bling Ring was inspired by a true story of a group of teens who really did steal from celebrities, including Paris Hilton (who appears in the film as herself). It almost sounds unwatchable – who wants to watch a bunch of wealthy brats rip off other wealthy brats? But Coppola is too smart and talented a filmmaker to ignore, and she’s able to wring some strong satire from the situation.

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