SXSW sensations: 16 must-see movies at the 2018 fest
The lineup for the SXSW festival has been announced, and as one might expect, it’s stacked full of must-see feature films and TV shows. While there are a few familiar names on the slate, there’s also a lot of exciting newcomers sharing their work at the festival, due to kick off on March 9 and run through until March 18 in Austin, Texas.
Speaking about the selection for the 25th edition of the South by Southwest festival, director of film Janet Dierson commented: “This year’s slate, while peppered with works from many of our alumni, remains focused on new voices, new directors and a range of films that entertain and enlighten.”
Featuring a lot of world premieres, buzz-worthy breakouts, and flicks that received a great deal of love at Sundance, the SXSW Film Festival has a lot on offer this year. But here’s 16 that are particularly worth keeping an eye on in 2018.
Jordan Peele’s highly-anticipated new comedy series will be enjoying its world premiere at the festival. Starring Tracy Morgan (Cop Out), Tiffany Haddish (Girls Trip), and Cedric the Entertainer (Barbershop), the show follows ex-con Tray (Morgan) as he struggles to reintegrate into society following a 15-year stretch in prison. This story of “humanity, second chances, and redemption” is not to be missed and is bound to drum up a fair amount of buzz.
Written and directed by Bill Hader, Barry is another show set to make its debut at this year’s festival – that might prove to be a must-watch. Hader (The Skeleton Twins) stars in the lead as a lonely and dissatisfied hitman who unexpectedly finds acceptance in the L.A. theater scene. Let’s hope that the series utilizes Hader’s prolific talent for infusing humor with pathos.
The latest feature from eclectic filmmaker Michael Tully, Don’t Leave Home sounds like a spiritual follow-up to his brooding 2011 comedy-drama Septien. The story charts an American artist’s obsession with a disturbing urban legend, which ultimately leads her to the crumbling estate of a reclusive painter in Ireland. This pic sounds full of the mystery and darkness that Tully’s often lauded for – expect a real treat.
This biopic delves into the true story of unsung country music legend Blaze Foley, said to have given up paradise for the sake of a single song. Directed by Ethan Hawke, this pic received rave reviews at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and is sure to draw in the audience. Boasting an all-star cast that includes Benjamin Dickey, Alia Shawkat (The Final Girls), Sam Rockwell (Mute), and musician Kris Kristofferson, expect the entire feature to be stacked full of excellent performances.
Another film that garnered a lot of attention at Sundance, Bo Burnham’s critically-acclaimed Eighth Grade tells the story of thirteen-year-old Kayla as she makes her way through the last week of middle school. The film has been described as “remarkable”, while Elsie Fisher’s performance in the lead role should not be missed. Josh Hamilton (Frances Ha), Emily Robinson (Transparent) & Jake Ryan (Moonrise Kingdom) make up the cast.
Filmmaker Andrew Bujalski is known for making low-key masterpieces that tap into the mundane frustrations of everyday life and the director’s latest feature, Support the Girls, looks set to be a welcome addition to his oeuvre. The story follows a general manager at a highway “breastaurant” who has her incurable optimism and faith tested over the course of a long, strange day. Starring Regina Hall (Scary Movie), Brooklyn Decker (Just Go with It) & Lea DeLaria (Orange Is the New Black), this sounds like a must-see to us.
Academy Award nominee and honorary Oscar winner Spike Lee’s latest joint, written by newcomer Antoinette Nwandu, has been described as a “provocative riff on Waiting for Godot”. The plot follows two black men talking trash, passing time, and dreaming of the promised land. Birth Movies Death called it “more than just a filmed play“, having concluded that it is “an entirely new kind of experience from one of our finest filmmakers“.
Written and directed by Laura Steinel, the world premiere of this quirky comedy should most certainly be on your list. The film follows an emotionally stunted 30-year-old woman whose life is turned upside down when her awkward and bullied 12-year-old niece runs away from home to become a Juggalo – all under her supervision. Be sure not to miss Family, which sounds like it’s packed with enough comedic prowess to satisfy an entire posse of clowns.
A coming-of-age drama following a young woman who receives two life-changing pieces of information from her grandmother on her deathbed: one involves a baptism, the other a blowjob. Written and directed by Becca Gleason, a production assistant on Community and Rules of Engagement, the plot sounds unquestionably hilarious. Stars Joey King (The Conjuring), Andrea Savage (Veep), Paul Scheer (The Disaster Artist), and Erin Darke (Love & Mercy).
This one might be an obvious choice, considering it’s the headliner for this year’s festival. But John Krasinski’s supernatural horror, following a family who lives an isolated existence in utter silence, looks tense and mysterious – legitimately terrifying even. It’s an essential festival pick. Krasinski (Jack Ryan) stars in the lead alongside his real-life wife, Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada).
The feature directorial debut from Daryl Hannah, Paradox is a bit of a mystery, with the plot vaguely promising that it’ll be a “whimsical western tale of music and love”. But that makes it arguably more exciting to us, especially when one considers that Neil Young and Willie Nelson are among the cast. Yeah, we don’t need to know much else – already sold us.
There’s no doubt about it: this is one of those films that has awards season favorite stamped all over it. Telling the true story of the offbeat friendship between world-renowned artist Alberto Giacometti and American writer and art-lover James Lord, Final Portrait boasts a phenomenal cast which includes Geoffrey Rush (Shakespeare in Love), Armie Hammer (Call Me by Your Name), and Clémence Poésy (In Bruges). Directed by Stanley Tucci and based on Lord’s memoir A Giacometti Portrait.
The world premiere of Marja-Lewis Ryan’s drama is also on the schedule for this year’s South by Southwest festival. The pic, charting the journey of a woman who drives across country with her heroin addict brother in search of a detox center, stars Abbi Jacobson (Broad City) and Dave Franco (Neighbors) in the lead. It sounds like one heck of a compelling watch to us.
Starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Lorraine Toussaint, Fast Color tells the story of a woman who is forced to uproot her life and go on the run after her extraordinary abilities are exposed. The SXSW Film Festival is known for showcasing some of the brightest and boldest genre films of the year, and this pic, described as a “genre-bending supernatural drama“, appears to continue the tradition. Directed by Julia Hart (Miss Stevens) and written by Jordan Horowitz (La La Land) and Hart.
Does this movie look dumb-as-hell? Absolutely! But does it also appear to be utterly hilarious? Correct. John Cena (Daddy’s Home 2) showcases his comedic chops alongside Leslie Mann (Knocked Up) and Ike Barinholtz (Suicide Squad) in Blockers, following a gang of parents who desperately try to stop their kids from losing their virginity at prom.
Directed by Tommy Avallone, this documentary maps one man’s somewhat relatable journey to finding meaning in the many unexpected adventures of Bill Murray. The doc combines rare and never-before-seen footage of the comedic giant participating in stories previously deemed to be an urban legend. It should make for a thrilling watch at one of Murray’s most beloved festivals.