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20 Movies We Can’t Wait to See at SXSW 2018

From a definitive doc on Lynyrd Skynyrd to lo-fi sci-fi thrillers, everything you need to see at the Austin, Texas film fest

20 Movies We Can't Wait to See at SXSW 2018

20 films you need to see at SXSW 2018: from a definitive doc on Lynryrd Skynyrd to lo-fi sci-fi thrillers and a look at Bill Murray's Zen escapades.

Has the SXSW Film Festival really been around for 25 years? It feels like just yesterday that this addendum to the venerable Austin, Texas music gathering (which kicks off March 9th) began programming scrappy microbudget indies and a multitude of rock docs for curious visitors. Now, of course, this cinematic offshoot of what’s become a multi-tentacled beast filled with comedy shows, TV-show previews, panels and powwows on bleeding-edge tech, gaming demos, guest speakers and oh-so-much more – a veritable hipster one-stop shop, this – has carved out a nice niche for itself in the film-fest world. Yes, you still get to see some big-ticket items (The Disaster Artist premiered here last year). But you go for a peek at the shape of things to come. This was the festival that had first shown a spotlight on Lena Dunham and Barry Jenkins and It Comes at Night‘s Trey Edward Shults. The future may be lurking in its eclectic lineup.

And this year’s programming once again presents a hodge-podge of movies that run the gamut from marquee-name Hollywood movies (Paramount’s spring thriller A Quiet Place starring Emily Blunt is the opening-night selection) to mash notes from the digital underground, music docs on Southern rockers and free-jazz legends and a Mississippi native named Elvis, the usual midnight-movie psychotronica and a whole lot of beautifully unclassifiable missives from the margins. And should you somehow think, well, this all sounds so conventional – there’s also a futuristic, free-form frontier tone poem from Neil Young and Daryl Hannah. Here are 20 films we’ve singled out from SXSW’s everything-under-the-Lone-Star-sun roster. Keep Austin weird. And keep this film festival even weirder.


A British reporter (Valene Kane) poses as a young, brand-new convert to Islam, creating a fake Facebook profile to lure in ISIS recruiters for a story on social media and jihadism. No sooner has she hit “Save” then a man named Bilel (Shazad Latif) starts chatting her up online, sussing her out as a potential terrorist. [Cue: Status change to “It’s Complicated.”] Whether director Timur Bekmambetov is the right guy to take on journalistic ethics and Islamophobia is questionable – no one is expecting nuance from the guy who built an entire action movie around Angelina Jolie “curving” bullets – but given that he’s borrowing the gimmick from Unfriended (the whole things takes place on a computer screen), we’re intrigued.


This year’s SXSW seems to be a magnet for potentially mindbending, mindblowing lo-fi sci-fi – we’ve definitely got our eyes on you, aliens-give-a-teen-extraordinary-powers YA project First Light and the Bluebeard-fable-meets-techno-thriller Elisabeth Harvest. But the one entry in this fertile subgenre that we’re most curious about is Zeek Earl and Chris Caldwell’s story of an interstellar prospector (Transparent‘s Jay Duplass), his teenage kid (Sophie Thatcher), a moonscape that’s apparently dripping with resources and some fellow miners out to get rich or commit murder while tryin’. Game of Thrones’ Pedro Pascal and The Wire‘s Andre Royo costar. We’re a sucker for movies about father-daughter relationships and ones involving space madness, so put the two together and, like, can we get in line for this now?

SXSW Movies 2018 what to watch

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‘A Quiet Place’

A man (director John Krasinski), a woman (Emily Blunt) and two kids (including Wonderstruck‘s Millicent Simmonds) have somehow managed to survive some sort of genuinely awful, earth-shattering event. How do they manage to avoid whatever it is out there that’s lurking about in the postapocalyptic landscape, you ask? Well, they forage among abandoned townships, maintain a vigilant watch on the outside – and stay very, very quiet. Right, so what if one of them does make a sound? Did we mention this is a horror film? If this largely dialogue-free opening-night selection is half as tense as its trailer, we expect the audience to make up for all that silence with a shitload of screaming.

SXSW Movies 2018 what to watch


‘6 Balloons’

We know that, as one half of the duo behind Broad City, Abbi Jacobson is funny as hell; now it’s time to see her show off her dramatic chops. Marja-Lewis Ryan’s day-in-the-life character study casts the comedian as an Angeleno balancing the planning of her boyfriend’s surprise birthday party, picking up her niece and dropping her recovering-addict brother (Dave Franco) off at a rehab center. Except the facility can’t take him, and he’s going into serious withdrawal – which kicks off an odyssey around town that’s keeps getting more frantic and tolerance-testing by the minute.

Ryan Green

‘Support the Girls’

The man practically invented the genre (or at least set down the basic template) for what we once, in our youthful haze, called “mumblecore” – so of course writer-director Andrew Bujalski is making a movie about the employees of a popular “breastaurant.” (You all saw this one coming, right? By which we mean no one saw this coming at all.) The filmmaker behind such lo-fi treasures as Funny Ha Ha and Computer Chess returns to SXSW for an Amerindie about the manager of a curves-fixated chain eatery called Double Whammies and her efforts to shield her staff from all sorts of shenanigans. Girls Trip‘s Regina Hall plays the boss; Columbus MVP Haley Lu Richardson and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt‘s Dylan Gelula play two of her “girls” who, if the title is accurate, are in need of support. This one should be a hoot(ers).

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