Two movies I’ve been hesitant to throw full force into my Oscar predictions have been 20th Century Women and Moonlight. While both seem to be very strong indie contenders, they lacked distribution and 2016 release dates, hurting their chances. However, both seem to have a Knight in Shining Armor, as A24 has picked up both films and given them release dates right in the heart of Oscar season.
A24 is a relatively young company, but their accomplishments are already impressive. From their inception in 2013, their list of films includes Spring Breakers, The Spectacular Now, Under the Skin, Locke, Obvious Child, A Most Violent Year, Ex Machina, Amy, The End of the Tour, The Lobster, this weekend’s Swiss Army Man, and perhaps most famously, Room. Even the films I dislike from that list have massive amounts of love (looking at you, Spectacular Now). That would be an impressive list for a studio’s entire lifetime, let alone for three years. And after coming within striking distance of Best Picture last year for Room, and still earning an Oscar for it along with Amy and Ex Machina, they are looking to finally earn their trophy.
20th Century Women is Mike Mills’ follow-up to the wonderful 2011 film Beginners, which earned Christopher Plummer his Best Supporting Actor Oscar. This time, Mills will create an ode to the women who helped raise him, by telling the story of three generations of women coming together in the 70s to help raise a young boy. The film will star Annette Bening as the boy’s single mother, alongside Greta Gerwig, Elle Fanning, and Billy Cruddup. Bening is long overdue for her Oscar, so expect A24 to make significant strides to finally bring her the trophy. And I wouldn’t be surprised to see beloved indie film star Greta Gerwig sneak into Best Supporting Actress. The film is being co-produced by Megan Ellison and Annapurna Pictures, and will be released sometime this fall. I would expect a Toronto Film Festival appearance.
Meanwhile, A24 has set release dates on two of its other pictures, Moonlight and American Honey. Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight will probably be their biggest push, as it is based on a racially charged and beloved play titled In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue. Taking place during the Miami Drug War in the 1980s, the film will follow the coming-of-age of a young black boy as he navigates the troubled worlds of race and sexuality. It will star Andre Holland (Selma), Mahershala Ali (House of Cards), Janelle Monáe (the singer is making her film debut), and especially Naomie Harris (Moneypenny in Skyfall), who is currently picking up some heavy awards buzz in early screenings. Meanwhile, American Honey, the Cannes darling by Andrea Arnold, will also be having a fall release. Starring Sasha Lane, Riley Keough, and Shia LaBeouf, the film follows a teenage girl who starts to travel across the country in order to sell magazines, and finds herself with a band of misfits. So, essentially, a Shia LaBeouf movie. American Honey and Moonlight open September 30th and October 21st, respectively.