11 Must Films to See At SXSW 2016
SXSW is so much more than just a film festival. Music plays such a huge role in the festival and as many know it’s really the main reason why it even exists in the first place. Over the past few years, Interactive has become an increasingly popular element of the SXSW with Film taking on 3rd place in terms of the most discussed elements of SXSW.
What I am basically getting at is that if you are attending SXSW there is a lot going on and its much more of a celebration of the arts rather than just a film festival. With that being said, I go every year for film exclusively because it’s the area I am most familiar with as an entertainment journalist.
I have been covering the Film section at SXSW for the past 6 years and this is rumored to be a fairly big year in terms of film selection and premieres. The initial line-up was exciting enough but over the past few days, the festival has added two work in progress screenings of Keanu and Sausage Party which should be fairly big hits at the festival. Last year, Spy and Trainwreck played at SXSW and went on to be huge hits when they opened in the summer. I think the same can be said about these two big films.
With so many films playing at SXSW, I always try to pick a wide array of films to seek out. I pick a mix of smaller indie films that probably won’t have much of a life outside the indie circuit as well as bigger films that grab my attention. The 11 films listed below are ones that I am most excited for and I am cheating on one of these but that’s ok.
- Sausage Party
Anyone that knows me personally knows that I don’t like Seth Rogen. I don’t like his brand of humor nor do I like his on-screen persona, which seems to be the same in every single thing that he stars in. However, Sausage Party is rumored to be a spoof of Disney and Pixar films and is about food that comes to life. Oh, its also animated. If it was just Rogen on-board I probably wouldn’t be as interested in this film but considering Conrad Vernon is co-directing the film, I am intrigued. It seems as though it will be the grown up version of Shrek. My only hope is that Seth Rogan’s overbearing sexual humor doesn’t overshadow the seemingly brilliant and random plot. Sausage Party World Premiere will be held at SXSW 2016 on Monday, March 14, 2016 at 9:15pm at the Paramount Theater.
The trailer for Keanu looks and feels like a parody of John Wick and that could be a good thing if handled correctly. The film comes to us from the minds of Key and Peele and while there show can range from really funny to really stupid, I think Keanu is going to be an absolute blast. The film looks incredibly funny and I think the mix of action and comedy is really going to work. I think this is going to one of those films that is really going to generate a lot of buzz after its screening here which will lead the film to become a box office hit. Keanu’s World Premiere is on Saturday, March 12, 2016 at 10pm at the Paramount Theatre.
- Everybody Wants Some
As someone who is a fan of Linklater’s work prior to Boyhood, I can’t help but be excited for this film. I adore the Before trilogy but was rather on the fence on Boyhood after re-watching it. I think Richard Linklater is a great director and I am so excited that we are finally getting a sort of sequel to Dazed and Confused. Everybody Wants Some looks like a short and sweet light-hearted and entertaining comedy, which is a nice change of pace from watching a boy grow up on-screen for 3 hours. SXSW has slated Everybody Wants Some as its opening night film to kick off the festival and based on a few early reviews, this is going to be a solid opening night feature to kick the festival off right.
- Miles Ahead
I somehow missed Miles Ahead at Toronto and also Sundance but heard nothing but positive things about this film. While I am saddened that I didn’t catch it prior to SXSW, I will say that I thinking seeing a movie about Miles Davis at SXSW is a pretty perfect setting. If you are a fan of Davis’ or love bio-pics, I heard this is a truly great one with an amazing tour-de-force performance by Don Cheadle. Miles Ahead premieres at the Paramount Theater on Wednesday, March 16th at 8pm. Please keep in mind that if you are planning on seeing this screening to get an SXSW express pass because this will be open to both film and music badge holders.
While Slash probably won’t be one of the most talked about films at SXSW this year, the film’s premise intrigues me. Slash follows an awkward high school freshman that writes erotic fan fiction. As someone who loves films and television, I know so many people who are obsessed with popular culture things such as comics, superheroes, and yes, even My Little Pony. I am really interested to see what unfolds in this story considering I imagine this is a pretty popular thing to do among true geeks. Slash premieres at the Topfer Theatre on Sunday, March 13, 2016 at 4:15pm.
- The Trust
The last time Nicolas Cage came to SXSW, he was there to promote the indie cult hit Joe. Say what you will about Nicolas Cage but the man has had a long career with a filmography that ranges from “holy shit that was absolutely brilliant to holy shit what the hell did I just watch?” The Trust looks like it will fall somewhere in the middle but all I am expecting from it is a fun little buddy action comedy. The pairing of Cage alongside Elijah Wood is an interesting pairing all things considered. Both actors have had their fair share of hits and misses so this could be a win-win for them. I also need to say that I would never turn down a Nic Cage sighting. The man just oozes awesomeness and I was lucky enough to talk to him in the past. The Trust premieres at the Paramount theatre on Sunday, March 13, 2016 at 3pm.
- My Blind Brother
It is really the cast that sells me on this one. Adam Scott and Nick Kroll are better known for their television work but I find both of them to be very funny. I love Zoe Kazan in pretty much everything she has done especially Ruby Sparks and What If? And lastly, I really have a soft spot for Jenny Slate ever since I saw her in Obvious Child two years ago. The story here is about two brothers who fall for the same girl. It seems like the plot is rather clichéd but the hook is that one of the brothers is blind. It should make for a fun and quirky little film especially with the talent involved. My Blind Brother will have its World Premiere on Saturday, March 12, 2016 at the Topfer Theater. Most of the cast is rumored to be in attendance.
- Don’t Think Twice
I grew up about 30 minutes outside of New York City. I would consider NYC home to three things: truly great Italian food, Broadway, and the birthplace of various forms of comedy including standup and improv. Don’t Think Twice is written and directed by long time comedian Mike Birbiglia whose last film, Sleepwalk with Me was a really honest and funny look into the life of a standup comedian. His new film takes that concept and branches out into the whole improv scene. The results will more than likely be a lot of laughs as well as some harsh realizations of what it takes to make it in NYC. Birbiglia has proven that he is a talented filmmaker so given a bigger budget along with a solid cast that includes Keegan-Michael Key, Kate Micucci, and Gillian Jacobs, I think this is going to be a sleeper hit at the festival. Don’t Think Twice has its World Premiere on Sunday, March 13, 2016 at 6:30pm at the Paramount Theatre.
- Midnight Special
With Jeff Nichols reuniting with Michael Shannon, do I really need to say anything else? I don’t think I do but will say its a science fiction film about a kid with special powers. I think the trailer really sells this film without giving anything away. Midnight Special will have its North American Premiere on Saturday, March 12, 2016 at the Paramount Theatre.
- Sing Street
I saw this film at Sundance and loved it! The direction, the music, and the story are all wonderful. Sing Street is currently my second favorite film of 2016 so far and I cannot wait to see it again at SXSW. I am telling you, I saw this film almost a month and a half ago and I still have some of the songs stuck in my head. John Carney is a master of stories about music and love. You should definitely see this film if you are attending SXSW. Sing Street’s first screening at SXSW is on Friday, March 11, 2016 at 6:15pm at the Rollins Theatre.
- Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday
Confession: I am a lifetime Pee-Wee fan. I have been obsessed with the character ever since I was a little kid. I remember watching the television show religiously. I remember begging my mom to buy me the Pee-Wee Herman pull string doll. I even had a replica of the Pee-Wee Herman scooter from the television show. Needless to say, I have seen every single thing that this character has been a part of from the original HBO special to the actual Broadway show in NYC. Pee-Wee Herman is a staple of my childhood and one that I look back on with fond memories. It is so damn exciting to know that after so many years of rumors and production delays, the world is finally getting a new Pee-Wee Herman film. I cannot be more than thankful to be part of the audience at the World Premiere on Thursday, March 17, 2016 at the Paramount and getting the chance to see the film, a few hours before it premieres on Netflix. I am beyond excited that I will not only get to see the film on the big screen but also get to see Paul Reubens himself take to the stage afterwards to discuss the film and his legacy as Pee-Wee Herman.
So there you have, those are 11 of my top picks for SXSW 2016 and just like in the previous years, some of these films may turn out to be awful while others might be amazing. What do you think of my list? Do you agree? Disagree? Have different picks. Let me know by leaving a comment below. Thank you for checking out my preview to SXSW article and don’t forget to check We Live Entertainment daily for more exclusive SXSW 2016 content.