SXSW 2019: Most Anticipated Films, a List by Ashley Menzel

SXSW is such an enjoyable festival because of the wonderful programming by Janet Pierson and her team. The films span a wide variety of topics and include filmmakers from all different backgrounds. SXSW always produces some of my favorite films of the year and some of the most unique films as well. Looking ahead to SXSW Film Festival 2019, these are the films I can’t wait to see!

Booksmart

Director: Olivia Wilde, Screenwriters: Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Susanna Fogel, Katie Silberman
Told from a wildly original, fresh and modern perspective, Booksmart is an unfiltered comedy about high school friendships and the bonds we create that last a lifetime. Capturing the spirit of our times, the film is a coming of age story for a new generation. Cast: Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein, Jessica Williams, Will Forte, Lisa Kudrow, Jason Sudeikis (World Premiere)

Female written and directed comedies killed it at Sundance this year and I hope that the trend continues with Olivia WIlde’s Booksmart. Last year, we saw a spectacularly funny and authentic female coming of age film with Summer ’03, and I hope this is the 2019 continuation of that trend. Good Boys 

Director: Gene Stupnitsky, Screenwriters: Lee Eisenberg, Gene Stupnitsky
The writers of Superbad and the producers of Sausage Party take on sixth grade in Universal Pictures’Good Boys, an R-rated comedy about three friends on an epic one-day odyssey of bad decisions. Cast: Jacob Tremblay, Keith L. Williams, Brady Noon, Molly Gordon, Midori Francis, Josh Caras (World Premiere)

I’m so torn on this film. I am notorious not a fan of comedies like Sausage Party and that makes me very nervous for the film. The saving grace for me is that Jacob Tremblay stars in the film and I think he is a fantastic young actor. I’m willing to give it a chance, which I may regret but I’m always up for surprises.

Pet Sematary 

Directors: Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer, Screenwriter: Jeff Buhler
Based on the seminal horror novel by Stephen King. The new Pet Sematary trailer premieres online tomorrow! Click here to be one of the first to see it. Cast List: Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, Jeté Laurence, Hugo Lavoie, Lucas Lavoie, and John Lithgow

I have a strange relationship with horror films because I love the dark and twisted way they are presented but I don’t like being scared. For this reason, I am excited to see Pet Sematary despite not actually being there for the screening this year.

Running with Beto 

Director: David Modigliani
Follow Beto O’Rourke behind the scenes of his breakaway campaign to unseat Ted Cruz in the US Senate. With intimate access to the candidate, his family, and team, the film captures Beto’s rise from a virtual unknown to a national political sensation. (World Premiere)

Beto O’Rourke seemingly came out of nowhere during the US Senate race last year and I haven’t been had the chance to research his political career and rise to fame. I’m excited to learn more about a politician who could potentially be a candidate for the democratic party come election time.

Us

Director/Screenwriter: Jordan Peele
An original nightmare from Oscar-winner Jordan Peele (Get Out), starring Lupita Nyong’o and Winston DukeUs pits an average American family against a terrifying opponent: doppelgängers of themselves. Cast: Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Anna Diop, Evan Alex, Shahadi Wright-Joseph, Madison Curry, Cali Sheldon (World Premiere)

Everyone is talking about Us as the follow up to Jordan Peele’s spectacular Get Out. It is easily the most anticipated and talked about film at SXSW. The amazingly talented cast makes me even more excited to see Us. 

Yes, God, Yes

Director/Screenwriter: Karen Maine
After an innocent AOL chat turns racy, a Catholic teenager in the early 00s discovers masturbating and struggles to suppress her urges in the face of eternal damnation. Cast: Natalia Dyer, Timothy Simons, Wolfgang Novogratz, Francesca Reale, Susan Blackwell, Parker Wierling, Alisha Boe, Donna Lynne Champlin (World Premiere)

Obvious Child was one of my favorite films and had such sharply written comedy so I can’t wait to see what Karen Maine does again as a writer and now as a director. Natalia Dyer from Stranger Things and Donna Lynne Champlin from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend also really pique my interest in the film.

Mother’s Little Helpers 

Director/Screenwriter: Kestrin Pantera
When Joy Pride, a groovy 70’s burn-out on the caboose of the flower power movement learns she has weeks to live, her estranged children come together to do right by a mother who always did them wrong. Cast: Milana Vayntrub, Breeda Wool, Melanie Hutsell, David Giuntoli, Sam Littlefield, Kestrin Pantera (World Premiere)

Oddly enough, this storyline reminds me of the storyline in the television show, Casual with the mother and that initially attracted me to this film. Once I also learned that David Giuntoli was in the film, I was hooked. I loved him in Grimm and more recently in A Million Things so I can’t wait to see this film.

Olympic Dreams 

Director: Jeremy Teicher, Screenwriters: Alexi Pappas, Jeremy Teicher, Nick Kroll
In the Athlete Village at the Olympic Winter Games, Penelope (Alexi Pappas), a cross-country skier, befriends Ezra (Nick Kroll), a volunteer dentist, after a disappointing finish in her race. Penelope and Ezra share a special but limited time together. Cast: Nick Kroll, Alexi Pappas, Gus Kenworthy, Morgan Schild, Jamie Anderson (World Premiere)

Nick Kroll is one of those actors that I really enjoy seeing in different roles. He always picks totally different things. He will do a serious role like Operation Finale then switch gears to something like Zoolander 2. 

Romantic Comedy

Director: Elizabeth Sankey
Musician and writer Elizabeth Sankey investigates the past, present, and future of romantic comedies, assisted by a chorus of critics, actors, and filmmakers. (North American Premiere)

Romantic comedies are so ingrained in our culture and make such an impact on the lives of women and men especially, so taking a deeper look into the past, present and future of romantic comedies is something that could be really interesting.

Daniel Isn’t Real 

Director: Adam Egypt Mortimer, Screenwriters: Brian DeLeeuw, Adam Egypt Mortimer
Troubled Luke suffers a violent family trauma and resurrects his childhood imaginary friend to help him cope. Charismatic and full of manic energy, “Daniel” helps Luke to achieve his dreams, before pushing him into a desperate fight for his own soul. Cast: Patrick Schwarzenegger, Miles Robbins, Sasha Lane, Hannah Marks, Mary Stuart Masterson (World Premiere)

Daniel Isn’t Real based on the description really intrigues me. I love the combination of a dark imaginary friend manifested as a result of family trauma. It seems authentic but also very depressing and heavy. It could potentially be a film that finally shows the effects of trauma in a mental health view, could be really poignant.

*Films not included in this list include ones that I’ve seen at previous festivals but definitely recommend are: 

Little Monsters 

Director/Screenwriter: Abe Forsythe
A washed-up musician teams up with a plucky schoolteacher and a despicable kid’s show personality to protect a Kindergarten class from a sudden outbreak of zombies. Cast: Lupita Nyong’o, Alexander England, Josh Gad

Knock Down the House 

Director: Rachel Lears Screenwriters: Rachel Lears, Robin Blotnick
Four women run for Congress, overcoming personal adversity to battle powerful political machines across the country. One of their races will change the country forever.

The Weekend

Directors/Screenwriter: Stella Meghie
A comedian hauls the baggage of her defunct relationship on a weekend getaway with friends, which happens to include her ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend. Cast: Sasheer Zamata, Tone Bell, Dewanda Wise, Y’Lan Noel, Kym Whitley

Written by
Ashley Menzel is an avid film lover and lives in Los Angeles, CA. She loves foreign films and dramas and reading books that have film adaptations. Her favorite movie of all time is One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. She loves Doctor Who, Supernatural, iZombie, and Grimm.

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