Though 2017’s movies are still so fresh with the awards season having just wrapped up, it’s 2018, which means the next crop of award contenders loom on the horizon. And what better way to get a sampling than to drive down south to the Texas capital, where the South by Southwest Film Festival commences on Friday?
It’s a massive festival that’s taking place all across the Austin turf, with an overwhelming number of features to dig into. But in the interest of saving you the time and effort, here are five titles that show the power of breaking big.
Lean on Pete If you look at the full lineup, you'll notice there are quite a few A24 movies in there —including A Prayer Before Dawn (a Thai boxing/prison film with the ruthless arm-breaker from Green Room, Joe Cole), First Reformed (the screenwriter of Taxi Driver and Raging Bull directs Ethan Hawke in a dramatic thriller about grief and relationships) and Eighth Grade (comedian Bo Burnham writes and directs a coming-of-age movie that centers on the humor on the transition from middle school to high school). However, coming out of the gates running is Lean on Pete, a seemingly bittersweet drama that's a crossbreed of Into the Wild and Black Beauty.
I know horse movies all seem the same, but the talent involved (Charlie Plummer, Chloë Sevigny and Steve Buscemi) and the film’s trailer hint at a promising tale that has more to offer than the next Flicka installment. It helps that it’s helmed by a rather fantastic and nuanced filmmaker, Andrew Haigh, who directed the quiet but effective 45 Years.
Update: A24 recently acquired the rights to Never Goin' Back, which is also holding its regional premiere at SXSW. The film, directed by Dallas-native Augustine Frizzell and shot in Grand Prairie and Fort Worth, shares the story of two young women (Maia Mitchell and Camila Morrone) who just want to chill at the beach, but the cruel world doesn't want to throw them a bone. After playing hooky from work, there life just got more complicated than they could ever imagine.
The Breaker Upperers Easily the best titled film on the roster, The Breaker Upperers just so happens to have an equally as cool premise: Two women (Madeleine Sami and Jackie van Beek, who also wrote and directed the film) start a company that takes care of the titular dirty work for people who don’t have the means to deal with it.
From the people who brought you What We Do in the Shadows, comes a comedy that has that lovable New Zealand brand of humor and a commentary about how people like to shield themselves from reality. Hey, the truth hurts. But in this case, it just may punch you in the gut from all the laughter and fun characters.
Hereditary Here’s another A24 movie that deserves your eyes and ears. Hereditary was one of the most talked about films that premiered at Sundance earlier this year, with many critics and attendees calling it “one of the most terrifying movies [they’ve] ever seen.”
Like A24’s The Witch, there’s a ton of horrifying imagery in its trailer. It doesn’t look like the come-and-go spookfest. No. With its story that challenges what we inherit from our family, something tells me this one is going to permanently check itself in to our dreams.
The Last O.G. Jordan Peele. Tiffany Haddish. Tracy Morgan. That’s enough talent to send you straight into the sunken place out of shock.
The Last O.G. is an upcoming TBS sitcom that sees Morgan fresh out of prison after a 15-year sentence to find his former girlfriend (Haddish, Girls Trip) happily married to a white dude (Ryan Gaul) and raising the twins she and Morgan’s character had together. It’s a fish out of water — or rather, an old fish thrown into new water — kind of scenario. With Oscar-winner Peele (man, that feels so good to say) in the creator’s seat, we can expect good characters, comedy and thinking topics.
Daughters of the Sexual Revolution All right. Let’s wrap up the suggestions with a good one. Daughters of the Sexual Revolution is a documentary that tells the untold story of the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders. More specifically, it focuses on the late Suzanne Mitchell, who developed the look and style of what became a pop culture phenomenon. She was one of the pioneers of the new era of sports entertainment and branding. So to learn about some history from our own backyard sounds like a hell of a way to finish.
For all screening times, ticket and badge info, visit sxsw.com.