There is something about A24 coming-of-age movies. They are a little spark that you find on screen. Due to great storytelling, these movies sincerely capture authentic stories through which most viewers can relate to. To highlight the liveliness of the stories – and the raw reality that lays behind them – produced by A24, we decided to introduce three coming-of-age movies…and a little surprise.
A24 is perhaps the coolest film distributor of Hollywood, and their recognition mainly stems from their « coming-of-age » productions. So far, the New-York based entertainment company has earned 25 Academy Awards nominations, including nominations in the « Best Picture » category. You may also know A24 for giving us the acclaimed HBO TV series, Euphoria. But let’s go back to the point. The strength of A24 lies in their ability to give voices to people – and then tell their stories – that have often been silenced or underrepresented in Hollywood.
Coming-of-age. A genre that is not always accurately described. Contrary to popular belief, the genre doesn’t boil down to solely angry adolescents ready to explode or lash out. The genre encompasses many more nuanced themes such as independence, romance, adulthood, responsibilities or simply growing up. It is not easy to portray adolescents in movies yet, A24, seems to have managed to do so.
Of course, introducing stories that resonate in some way with the audience is always the key to successful storytelling. That is why we could simply assert that A24 wants to reach any person who enjoys a good story, not just people obsessed with indie films. And that is precisely why the audience feels closer to the characters and more involved in what is depicted on screen. In addition to putting forward relatable stories, A24 successfully breaks down barriers – about races, sexuality, socioeconomic backgrounds – that Hollywood has for too long been holding up while proving quality content at the same time.
1. Moonlight (2016)
OK, so it was not possible to start this article without Moonlight! If you remember the 2017 Oscars correctly, you will remember that Moonlight won « Best Picture » and not La La Land as it was first announced! The Academy Award–winning film is about a queer, Black boy named Chiron (Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and Trevante Rhodes). The movie is split into three stages of growing up: childhood (« Little »), adolescence (« Chiron »), and adulthood (« Black »).
Each version of Chiron learns a bit more about himself and who he will eventually become. Each chapter of Chiron’s life puts forward the raw reality of what he is going through – the low moments mainly overshadowing the high ones. Moonlight successfully conveys a range of emotions to its audience in highlighting the humanity of its characters. The movie subtly deals with powerful subjects such as race, sexuality, masculinity, and identity. If you are looking for a very intimate but also a tragic and romantic movie, Moonlight is for you!
2. Lady Bird (2018)
Also known as A24’s precious little « hit » movie. You may know Greta Gerwig for Little Women (2019), but Lady Bird was her solo directorial debut. Set in the 2000s, the movie follows Christine (Saoirse Ronan), a 17-year-old, who defiantly calls herself Lady Bird. She wants to move away from her hometown of Sacramento and go to a college on the east coast. However, her family’s financial situation is unstable. Her mother, who kind of considers her to be ungrateful, thinks Christine should simply go to a state school instead.
Lady Bird successful manages to capture moving moments as well as terrifying moments in a young adult’s life. The movie is sprinkled with sarcasm and funny situations, but also filled up of deeper and cruel interactions between Christine and her mom. Lady Bird questions herself and her future, and she also faces some obstacles, but really aspires to fulfill her dreams. Lady Bird is a brillant exploration of what it is like to be an adolescent.
3. Waves (2019)
Teaming with Frank Ocean and SZA songs, Waves is drama film broken into two distinct parts – like a « diptych ». Set in South Florida, the movie follows the journey of a suburban African American family. The first part revolves around Tyler (Kelvin Harrison, Jr.), a high school wrestling ace trying to balance his romantic life and the pressure that his father (Sterling K. Brown) puts on his shoulders for athletic dominance. After an unexpected tragedy, the movie shifts and goes into its second part, focusing on Emily (Taylor Russell), Tyler’s sister.
Just as the yin and the yang, each part completes one another despite focusing on separated storylines, but without one another, Waves does not work. Some themes such as first loves, familial pressures, forgiveness, and loss are depicted in the film. Waves finally introduces a heart-rending journey but highlights how compassion and growth help to get over darkest times.
BONUS: The Florida Project (2017)
Focusing on six year old Moonee (Brooklynn Prince), and her single mother Hailey, The Florida Project is not purely a coming-of-age movie. But,it is a must watch! The candy-coloured film depicts poverty in an area of Florida that is set next to Disney World. The protagonists are living in a purple dilapidated motel with Bobby (William Dafoe), the motel’s manager. Dafoe provides a very nuanced performance in the film. The plot is quite loose, but perfectly addresses life and the hardships that the characters are enduring as well as introducing moments of joy and happiness. The Florida Project’s strength lies in these bright moments seen through the lens of the children’s naiveté and excitement.
There are so many A24 coming-of-age movies that could be featured in this article – American Honey, Eighth Grade, Mid90s, 20th Century Women, and more – but then, it would be impossible to stop talking about them. Keep in mind that production companies like A24 are vital if we want all sort of narratives to be accepted and celebrated. That is one of the many reasons why A24 movies should get more recognition and be appreciated.