Cinephiles who are subscribed to HBO Max just received a serious treat. In addition to the plethora of original content added to the service this month, HBO Max has included several films from the library of A24. In its decade of existence, A24 has become the most popular indie studio in the industry with its commitment to bold and original storytellers. A24 has produced many of the best films of the past decade, including First Reformed, Uncut Gems, Lady Bird, Good Time, The Florida Project, and this year’s Everything Everywhere All At Once.
HBO Max gives A24 fans the chance to watch (and re-watch) some of the indie distributor’s best films, including Under the Skin, Cream, and Ex Machina. However, A24 can’t only be defined by their greatest hits. Some of A24’s “big bets” on indie films didn’t become sensations on the level of moonlight, and that’s okay! It’s nice to know that someone is still interested in giving a voice to emerging filmmakers.
HBO Max’s A24 collection includes some films that were either passed over for major awards recognition, simultaneously released on VOD, or received mixed responses from critics and audiences. Here are 9 great lesser-known A24 movies on HBO Max that you should check out.
Denis Villeneuve‘s name has become synonymous with grand, epic storytelling as a result of his work on Dune, Blade Runner 2049, Arrival, and Prisoners. Enemy is a much smaller (and much shorter) film than those, but it’s no less ambitious. The psychological thriller follows the college professor Adam Bell (Jake Gyllenhaal) as he discovers the existence of his Doppelganger. The two “twins” become obsessed with taking over each other’s lives. If you’re looking for a head scratcher that will inspire you to go down the rabbit hole of theories and analysis, Enemy is a worthwhile obsession.
The End of the Tour (2015)
You don’t have to read Infinite Jest in order to appreciate the work of David Foster Wallace. The End of the Tour spends a week in the life of Wallace (Jason Segal) as he’s accompanied on a press tour by the journalist David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg). Instead of telling a traditional biopic story about Wallace’s life, The End of the Tour is simply a series of moving conversations about the perils of being a writer, and the consequences of sharing your work. It’s a shame that The End of the Tour was released during the summer, because Segal’s moving performance deserved an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.
Tom Hardy has given bigger, weirder, and more physically demanding performances before, but he’s never been challenged by a part as much as he was in locke. Hardy stars as the construction manager Ivan Locke, the only character who is seen on screen in the film. locke takes place over the course of one traumatic night, as a man’s life falls apart during his drive home from work. Locke must explain his infidelities to his family, deal with a stressful situation at work, and explain to his children why he’s not coming home in a series of stressful phone calls. Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight gives Hardy powerful material to work with. It’s one of the standout performances of his career.
Mississippi Gravel (2015)
Mississippi Grind is a great throwback to the gambling films of the 1970s, particularly Robert Altman‘s 1974 classic two-hander California Split. Ben Mendelsohn gives one of the strongest performances of his career as Gerry, a serial gambler who has dug himself in too deep after a series of losses. Gerry befriends the perpetual winner Curtis Vaughn (Ryan Reynolds), who seemingly has the opposite problem. He always seems to win, but doesn’t know what he should be celebrating. While none of the writing is particularly original, Mendelsohn and Reynolds’ excellent chemistry improves the material.
A Most Violent Year (2015)
Similar to Mississippi Grind, A Most Violent Year is one of those films that “they simply don’t make anymore.” JC Chandor‘s ethical crime drama follows the breakdown of a marriage between the trucking company owner Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac) and his wife, Anna (Jessica Chastain), as they try to protect their business from hijackers. Abel isn’t willing to risk his honor, but Anna sees him as ignorant and selfish. It’s a fascinating way to examine systematic corruption through the prism of one marriage.
The Rover (2014)
The Rover is one of the best Mad Max rip-offs of all time. Similar to George Miller‘s classic action trilogy, the post-apocalyptic Australian thriller is set in the aftermath of a societal breakdown. Various criminal gangs battle for sparse resources. Henry’s (Scoot McNairy) gang of robbers makes the mistake of stealing from the disgruntled veteran Eric (Guy Pearce). Eric captures Henry’s naive brother, Reynolds (Robert Pattinson), and forces him to help recover his stolen car. Pearce shows a lifetime of regret on his face without ever spelling out Eric’s backstory. Pattinson gives his best preGood Time performance as a victim of cruelty, who is desperate to convince everyone that he has the upper hand.
Slow West (2015)
slow west is a peculiar, surrealist revisionist western that examines the nature of the “hero’s journey.” Before his awards nominated role in The Power of the Dog, Kodi Smit McPhee got to play another young western hero who learns about the nature of humanity from a toxic mentor. The young immigrant Jay Cavendish is joined by the eccentric bounty hunter Silas Selleck (Michael Fassbender) as he travels in search of his true love, Rose Ross (Caren Pistorius). He never stops to consider if Rose actually loves him, or what Silas’ true intentions are.
Son of a Gun (2015)
Son of a Gun may look like a standard DTV crime thriller, but the excellent direction from Julius Avery gives this true crime story a razor sharp edge. Based on the life of the notorious Scottish robber Brendan Lynch (Ewan McGregor), Son of a Gun follows the young chess master JR White (Brenton Thwaites) as he joins Lynch’s gang. It’s not exactly heatbut with son of a gun, you get a great prison break movie, some spectacularly entertaining heist sequences, and an absurdly fun McGregor performance.
The Spectacular Now (2013)
The Spectacular Now is a much deeper take on the “high school Romeo & Julietstyle coming of age movie. The film follows an unlikely romance that emerges between the reckless partygoer Sutter Keely (Miles Teller) and the shy, poor girl Aimee Finecky (Shailene Woodley). The Spectacular Now is intent on just coasting off of the charisma of its two stars; it shows the devastating costs of “living in the moment,” and just how difficult commitment really is.