SXSW is back this year after giving world premieres to not one, but two Oscar nominees in 2022 — Everything Everywhere All At Once and To Leslie. Running from March 10-19, the growing film festival looks ready for another big year in Austin with a major focus on television this time around. When initially making my watchlist, there was only one TV show I was anticipating to cover. Now with the second wave announced, the TV section looks like it’ll be the best SXSW has ever had.
Most Anticipated Movies
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves
Starring: Chris Pine, Hugh Grant, Michelle Rodriguez, Regé-Jean Page
Directors: John Francis Daley & Jonathan Goldstein
The opening act of this year’s festival is sure to be good. I’m not a D&D player, so this doesn’t naturally appeal to me. But looking at SXSW’s track record: If they’re placing this at the top of the schedule, it’s bound to be a huge hit. I came in with no expectations for Everything Everywhere All At Once and was completely blown away. This is bound to do well among the game-loving crowd.
Evil Dead Rise
Starring: Alyssa Sutherland, Lily Sullivan, Nell Fisher, Jayden Daniels
Director: Lee Cronin
There was talk that this could be a secret screening at Fantastic Fest back in 2022. But now it’s coming to the horror-loving crowd in Austin anyways. I was a huge fan of the 2013 remake and predicted Jane Levy would turn into a star. And she has. What’s next for this genre-favorite franchise? I’m all about seeing this.
Starring: Richard Montañez, Annie Gonzalez, Dennis Haysbert, Tony Shaloub, Matt Walsh
Director: Eva Longoria
Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut Booksmart did gangbusters in 2019 at the fest. Now Eva Longoria is attempting the same with this true story about the invention of flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Hopefully, it becomes a perfect double feature with Jerry Seinfeld’s upcoming Pop-Tart movie.
Starring: Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick, Wayne Brady, Andy Samberg, Christopher Lloyd
Director: Jake Johnson
Back in 2013, Jake Johnson came to town with the fun, breezy Drinking Buddies. Four years later, he was back with Win It All, one of my favorites of that year. Now he’s coming back with another headlining act that’s also his directorial debut. He’s already shown he’s a reliable talent as an improv performer in Joe Swanberg’s projects. Now it’s time to see how well he does behind the camera. Bonus points for reuniting with Anna Kendrick. Andy Samberg, Christopher Llyod, and Wayne Brady are also along for the ride. It’s sure to be one of the highlights of the week.
Starring: Taron Egerton, Toby Jones
Director: Jon S. Baird
Starring Taron Egerton, he’s said this has more in common with The Social Network than what you might expect of a video game movie. Written by Genius creator Noah Pink, I have a fair bit of confidence there’s truth to that publicity play. The mere mention of my favorite movie since 2010 gives me both suspicion and excitement though. But when push comes to shove, I’ve learned to trust the festival programmers that this is going to be something special. Top of the list anticipation.
Most Anticipated TV
Love and Death
Starring: Elizabeth Olsen, Jesse Plemons, Patrick Fugit
Hulu premiered its version of the Candy Montgomery murder trial last year starring Jessica Biel. Now it’s HBO’s turn with Elizabeth Olsen in the role alongside Jesse Plemons. And as a stan for Big Little Lies, having showrunner David E. Kelley leading the development, I’m even more excited for whatever POV is brought through this new lens.
Starring: Bob Odenkirk, Jacki Gunn, Chris Diamantopoulos
AMC has found its golden goose with Bob Odenkirk. After wrapping Better Call Saul last year, they’ve teamed up for a new show about a professor that threatens to kill a goose on campus each day until his department receives a budget- among other midlife crises. Add an episode directed by Peter Farrelly and writing credits for Paul Lieberstein (Toby from The Office), Lucky Hank has great potential.
American Born Chinese
Starring: Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan
This is an easy one. Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan gave SXSW its biggest spotlight ever with Everything Everywhere All At Once last year. Now they’re back with a Disney+ show based on the genre-hopping graphic novel by Gene Luen Yang. Now the question is, will this premiere later in the week to introduce them as Oscar winners since the ceremony is held on Sunday? Regardless, this is a very promising project.
Starring: Betty Gilpin, Elizabeth Marvel, David Arquette,
Batting 1.000 in TV serving as an EP for Lost and creating The Leftovers and Watchmen, Damon Lindelof is coming back to the small screen with a show about faith and technology that’s sure to ignite debate. Starring Betty Gilpin (who worked with Lindelof on the maligned movie The Hunt) is also back with her first big leading role since GLOW was canceled. Those two alone are enough intrigue to make this appointment television.
The Big Door Prize
Starring: Chris O’Dowd, Ally Maki, Crystal Fox, Patrick Kerr
Apple TV+ is making an appearance this year, bringing in their Chris O’Dowd vehicle based on the sci-fi book by M.O. Walsh about a machine planted at a small town grocery store that tells residents their life’s potential. I’m all for some high-concept fun.
Starring: Dominique Fishback, Chloe Bailey, Rory Culkin, Damson Idris
I don’t know if I need to say anything else besides this is Donald Glover’s latest creation? Probably not. I also can’t say much more since the plot is kept under wraps. Will this have the same cultural imprint as Atlanta? It’s a high bar, but this mystery project has my attention
I’m A Virgo
Starring: Brett Gray
I don’t want to know much more than the logline of this. Coming from the mind of Boots Riley (whose Sorry to Bother You was a big SXSW hit), I’m A Virgo is about a 13-foot-tall black man in Oakland. That’s it. That’s all you need to know. Sign me up for whatever this is.
Secret Screening Dreams
While not a guarantee to happen, SXSW’s secret screenings have always been huge successes. The Ready Player One screening is still my favorite cinema-going memory of all time. Bring that energy back! Hopefully, it’s one of these (listed by earliest release date.)
John Wick: Chapter 4 (March 24)
Burn down Austin with this one. Coming out a week after SXSW wraps, Lionsgate has the perfect opportunity to ramp up hype for the latest episode of Keanu Reeves running for his life. The movie that kicked off the whole franchise was a stealth hit in Austin (at Fantastic Fest) back in 2014. Now that it’s an international hit, it’s time to bring it back to where it all started. Nic Cage’s arrival at Southby was something out of a dream last year. Keanu would get that same treatment. It’s meant to be.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie (April 7)
I grew up playing Super Mario World 2 at the YMCA. And speed running the platformer with my best friend since graduating high school has been even more fun. Like many others with a personal connection to Mario, I was skeptical that this could be a good movie. But the trailers have given me confidence. Now it’s time to show the world what this movie can do. As an international tech conference that hosts Mario’s core demographic, Nintendo would set Austin on fire with a secret premiere.
Beau is Afraid (April 21)
Ari Aster came out of nowhere back in 2018 and blew the lid off Sundance with Hereditary. He then brought it over to Austin, building even more hype. Considering that success, it was a bit of a surprise that Midsommar was held from any festival screening. And having bumped into him in 2019 at Fantastic Fest, I know how much he’s a fan of Austin and attends even without a film. If he has any say in the matter, I’m sure he’s eager to bring it back to a welcoming crowd.
Fast X (May 19)
Back in 2015, Furious Seven premiered in Austin with a secret screening and is still arguably one of the biggest showings Southby has had. South By is the perfect atmosphere to unveil the 10th Furious installment. The festival has only gotten bigger, just as the franchise has. The only doubt…Furious Seven came out in April while Fast X is a May release. That might be too far out for Universal to unveil anything.