Nothing excites Film Twitter and connoisseurs of highbrow cinema more these days than a new release from A24, the distributor of modern classics like Moonlight, Lady Bird, Eighth Grade, The Lighthouse, and The Green Knight. Having sat out 2022’s Best Picture race, the arthouse label is back this year with a packed slate.
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Things are already off to an auspicious start, asEverything Everywhere All at Once became the studio’s highest-grossing film to date, surpassing Uncut Gems. New movies from directors like Ari Aster and Darren Aronofskynot to mention a couple of hot acquisitions out of Cannes, may help A24 also beat their own record for nominations in a single year.
Flying under the radar all the way to its premiere at the 75th Cannes Film Festival, debut director Charlotte Wells‘drama about a father-daughter summer trip to Turkey in the late’ 90s has become one of 2022’s most anticipated titles. A24 acted quickly and snagged the film after it premiered on the Croisette to rapturous reviews.
The film’s actors, Paul Mescal and newcomer Frankie Corio, have received the lion’s share of praise, but critics are also noting the movie’s cinematography and expressionistic editing. It may end up being too small for the Academy, but the humanist drama has the potential makings of an indie juggernaut like Moonlight—Directed by Barry Jenkinsone of Aftersun‘s producers — and CODA. Mescal – on the verge of a major career break between this and another buzzy A24 offering – and Corio are probably the film’s best shot, though it’s too early to say that Picture and below-the-line categories like Editing are out of the question.
This Belgian drama and Grand Prix winner is about the disintegration of a bond between two thirteen-year-old boys as they enter high school. According to early reviews, Close is a real tearjerker, as well as a deep meditation on growing up, peer pressure, and performative masculinity. A24 had the good sense to acquire the movie before it premiered to wide acclaim and became a favorite at this year Cannes. Prior to the grand jury awarding the Palme d’Or to Ruben Östlund for Triangle of Sadness, several attendees predicted Lukas Dhont‘s coming-of-age drama would go all the way and win the top prize.
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Critics are calling the film gut-wrenching and visually stunning. A nomination for Best International Feature is practically guaranteed, but Picture is also very possible. Additionally, Dhont could break into the Director race and be this year PawełPawlikowski (Cold War), Thomas Vinterberg (Another Round), or Ryusuke Hamaguchi (Drive My Car).
If there’s one young director on an inevitable road to an Oscar nomination, it’s Ari Aster. His freshman feature, Hereditarygenerated awards chatter for Toni Collette in 2018, and Midsommarhis ambitious follow-up, provided Florence Pugh a star-making turn and garnered praise from the maestro himself, Martin Scorsese. Aster’s highly anticipated third film, Disappointment Blvd.–rumored to be a horror-comedy – stars Joaquin Phoenix in a role even more physically transformative than the one that earned him a Best Leading Actor statue for Joker. Very little is known about Disappointment Blvd. besides its enigmatic plot description (“an intimate, decades-spanning portrait of one of the most successful entrepreneurs of all time”) and that it will be released in black and white.
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There’s a good chance the final product will be too weird for the Academy and flop at the box office — an outcome that would give new meaning to the movie’s grim title. If it is a success, however, A24 will have a complete package on their hands. Best Picture, Director, Actor, and Original Screenplay are all possibilities, but we could also see this pop up in a few technical categories. The Academy has nominated five black-and-white films for Best Cinematography over the past four years (two of which won), and the “decades-spanning” scope suggests the kind of period detail that lands movies in the Production Design race. This is one to keep a close eye on.
Everything Everywhere All At Once
This quirky and surreal comedy about a laundromat owner undergoing an audit by the IRS while hopping multiverses and battling an intergalactic force of bagel-worshipers is 2022’s first word-of-mouth hit. Stars Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan are receiving unanimous praise for their performances, and both have the kind of inspirational career narrative that recently helped Troy Kotsur win Best Supporting Actor for CODA.
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Awards buzz this early in the year should always be met with a healthy dose of skepticism, but the passion critics and audiences alike seem to have for Everything Everywhere can’t be dismissed. If its popularity registers with the Academy, this crowd-pleasercould very well compete for Best Picture, Actress, Supporting Actor, Original Screenplay, and Editing (the movie has a lot of editing).
This is the other Paul Mescal movie A24 is distributing in 2022. Set in an Irish fishing town, God’s Creatures is about a mother forced to choose between family and community. Mescal plays her prodigal son, whose return home catalyzes the film’s sinister events. Word out of Cannes is that this is an atmospheric, slow-burn thriller.
Tepid reviews suggest God’s Creatures probably isn’t a major contender, but even the film’s critics are raving about Emily Watson‘s performance. The movie’s slim chances overall should not dispel her viability in the Best Leading Actress race. No Actress contender this year represented a Best Picture nominee, and a few years ago Glenn Close was the odds-on favorite for The Wifea movie that was not recognized in any other category.
Kelly Reichardt‘s First Cow was a critical hit in 2020. The New York Film Critics Circle, among the first organizations every year to announce winners, awarded it Best Film, spurring serious talk of Reichardt getting, at the very least, a writing nomination. The movie’s success with critics, though, did not translate to success at the Oscars, but it did put Reichardt on the map in a new way. Her latest, Showing Upjust premiered to positive reviews at the Cannes Film Festival.
Michelle Williams stars as an artist experiencing a midlife crisis during a pivotal moment in her career. Williams is already a strong Best Supporting Actress contender for Steven Spielberg’s upcoming The Fabelmans. Goodwill generated by that guaranteed awards player may just rub off on this quaint slice-of-life comedy and get Reichardt some long-overdue recognition.
Darren Aronofsky’s follow-up to the oft-maligned mother! (2017) stars Brendan Fraser as a 600-pound English professor grieving the death of his partner and trying to reconnect with his teenage daughter. Without a trailer or any promotional images, the buzz surrounding The Whale has mostly been generated by its similarity to The WrestlerAronofsky’s comeback vehicle for Mickey Rourke.
Like that film about a washed-up performer seeking redemption, The Whale provides Brendan Fraser an opportunity to exercise some serious dramatic chops and be a sought-after name in Hollywood again. Hong Chauwho received an awards push for her performance in Alexander Payne‘s otherwise dismissed Downsizing, has a significant role as Fraser’s nurse and could represent the film in Best Supporting Actress (along with rising talent Sadie Sink, who plays Fraser’s daughter). It is based on a particularly talky play that ponders classic literature and set entirely in the main character’s living room, so Adapted Screenplay is also a possibility. A24 is rumored to be positioning the movie for a TIFF or Venice premiere, where it will likely begin a path toward nominations in several major categories.
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