By Adam Ray Palmer
January for Cineroom is like Christmas… One-off feature gifts left, right and centre.
This annual article is in the ‘lookback’ category, as we celebrate the most standout performer of the previous year. For instance, 2015 was “the box office” (for making s*** loads of money) and 2017 was Disney (they smashed it – like most years).
2019 is the year of A24…
Back on my birthday in August 2012, one of the best 21st birthday presents I received was from Daniel Katz, David Fenkel and John Hodges. The aforementioned trio are the founders behind American independent entertainment company, A24. In just the seven years of existence, A24 has become a much-loved powerhouse of cinema.
It has gone on from strength-to-strength since its inception, and the company never looked back after its 2013 distributed movie, Spring Breakers. That production, on a relatively shoe-string budget of $5 million, became a critically acclaimed fad-of-a-film which broke A24 into the mainstream.
And so, as of 2019, the company has received an astonishing total of 25 Academy Award nominations. In 2016, films distributed by A24 won Academy Awards for Best Actress (Brie Larson in Room), Best Documentary Feature (Amy), and Best Visual Effects (Ex Machina). In 2017, Moonlight won the Academy Award for Best Picture (the first such award for the company), Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali). For a 24-month period, that’s a colossal haul.
So perhaps this ‘article award’ is overdue, but 2019 for me, was such a stellar year for A24. So much so that I don’t think the A24 team put a foot wrong with their output. They released a mammoth 21 films in 2019, with a standout six (UK release) being: Mid90s, High Life, Under the Silver Lake, The Souvenir, Midsommar and The Farewell - what a batch. Mid90s and Midsommar are brilliant independent films, and the other four have so much acclaim, there’s not a lot else that needs to be said.
But even if we include American/Festival releases, the movies just get better in 2019 for A24. Excuse the pun, but a diamond of a film is Uncut Gems starring Adam Sandler that should have been in contention for awards season recognition. Another couple of charms are Waves and The Lighthouse – all of which can be seen in UK cinemas this month and next.
The fascination with A24 doesn’t end there, for me or for others apparently. A24 have a massive social media following. The company has over 1.5 million followers on Twitter and nearly 750k across Facebook and Instagram too. This cult following is down to a few things. Firstly, they ‘do social’ so well. They are always on it, fresh and posting such sharable content. Secondly, and obviously, their films are top drawer. But thirdly, and most interestingly, they are commercially savvy.
You’re only a true A24 fan if you have a piece of their official merchandise. You heard that right, they have an online shop. Everything that goes up for sale is sold out in days. Their cult following snap up every piece of A24 merch for each film. Mid90s, Midsommar, The Last Black Man in San Francisco and Moonlight have all had the online shop treatment with item such as mugs, tees, posters and even finger boards for Jonah Hill’s directorial debut.
In a nutshell, they are just a brand that deliver impeccably. They are flawless in their philosophy. They put their talent first, backing the individuals with the genius ideas and always ensuring diversity is at the forefront. Alongside all of this, they make sure the fans are catered for too.
2019 really has been the year of A24.