News

Our 9 Most Anticipated Movies of the South by Southwest Film Festival

Us is gonna be huge, but it's not the only exciting title set to fire up the Austin crowds.

by | March 5, 2019 | Comments

South by Southwest, the annual conference of film, tech, music, gaming, and comedy, kicks off in Austin this Friday, March 8, and we’re pumped. The 26th edition of the SXSW Film Festival — or “South-By,” as it has affectionately been dubbed — is looking just as promising as last year’s, during which Certified Fresh favorites A Quiet Place, Isle of Dogs, and Hereditary delighted festivalgoers and rode the Texas-sized buzz to box-office success.

SXSW 2019 will be bookended by two of the most anticipated horror titles of the year. As previously announced, Jordan Peele will open the festival with Us, his follow-up to the Oscar-winning, genre-bending phenomenon Get Out; the world premiere of Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer’s Pet Sematary will close things out. We have pored over the slate of 131 films and singled out these nine features as the ones we’re most excited to see with that infamously raucous SXSW crowd. You can find the full list of films that will screen Austin here.


Alice (2019) 90%

Director/Screenwriter: Josephine Mackerras

Cast: Emilie Piponnier, Martin Swabey, Chloe Boreham

Synopsis: According to Director Josephine MackerrasAlice is about personal revolution. When Alice discovers her husband is leading a double life, everything she once believed to be true is shattered. Abandoned with a child to take care of and pushed beyond her own boundaries, she discovers a strength she never knew she had, her sense of self expands, and a new personal revolution of self and identity begins.

Why we’re excited about it: This is Mackerras’ feature debut after several promising shorts, and looks to be a woman-on-the-edge French thriller mash-up of Notes on a Scandal and Blue Jasmine.


Pet Sematary (2019) 57%

Directors: Kevin Kölsch, Dennis Widmyer

Screenwriters: Jeff Buhler, David Kajganich

Cast: Jason Clarke, John Lithgow, Amy Seimetz

Synopsis: This remake of an adaptation of Stephen King’s terrifying novel about zombie pets tormenting families first caught our attention when a trailer for the film dropped late last year. The Starry Eyes directing duo bring their version – led by John Lithgow and Jason Clarke – to the Lone Star State’s premiere film festival exactly 30 years after Mary Lambert’s Pet Sematary hit theaters in 1989.

Why we’re excited about it: Mary Lambert’s 1989 Pet Sematary definitely had us thinking twice about where to bury the family dog. This updated tale looks set to lean into all the decomposing critters with even more lost-in-the-woods creepy feels. Lithgow’s casting is giving us serious 1980s throwback vibes, and Clarke might just be able to finally break into leading man status with a strong showing here.


Villains (2019) 85%

Directors/Screenwriters: Dan Berk, Robert Olsen

Cast: Bill Skarsgåard, Maika Monroe, Kyra Sedgwick, Jeffrey Donovan

Synopsis: A couple of wannabe gangsters rob the wrong home, are thrust into a dark web of sadism at the hands of a seemingly normal suburban family, and must do everything they can to break out.

Why we’re excited about it: After IT, just saying the name Bill Skarsgård kinda gives us chills. Director duo Berk and Olsen have primarily worked in the VOD-style horror genre, but have brought some star power to their latest effort with Skarsgård and Greta star Maika Monroe.


The Curse of La Llorona (2019) 28%

New Line Cinema

(Photo by New Line Cinema)

Director: Michael Chaves

Screenwriters: Mikki Daughtry, Tobias Iaconis

Cast: Linda Cardellini, Raymond Cruz, Patricia Velasquez

Synopsis: The Latin legend of La Lorona is roaming the streets of Los Angeles during the 1970s. A social worker brushes off a mother’s terrified warnings and is in turn pulled into a frightening world of supernatural horror.

Why we’re excited about it: You had us at James Wan. The modern-day horror master who launched the Conjuring, Saw, and Insidious franchises is in the producer’s chair for this adaptation of the Latin American folk legend of La Llorona, the “Weeping Woman” who cries over lost her children and wreaks havoc by kidnapping kids and terrorizing mothers with her haunting cries. Sounds like a perfect recipe for scares.


Stuber (2019) 42% (Work in Progress)

Director: Michael Dowse

Screenwriter: Tripper Clancy

Cast: Kumail Nanjiani, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan

Synopsis:  An unassuming uber driver picks up a cop on the hunt for a brutal killer and inadvertently gets caught up in harrowing action.

Why we’re excited about it: Though not a completed effort, other films have headed to SXSW with the “work-in-progress” label and gone on to great success (The Disaster Artist, KeanuSausage Party). With two Guardians in tow, this was already one to stop for, but adding the red-hot Nanjiani just adds to the “must see” factor. Guardians showed us that Bautista has comedic chops, and if there’s a chance we could pull some Avengers: Endgame clues from him or Gillan while in Austin, it will be worth our time.


The Beach Bum (2019) 57%

Director/Screenwriter: Harmony Korine

Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Snoop Dogg, Isla Fisher, Stefania Lavie Owen, Jimmy Buffett, Zac Efron, Martin Lawrence

Synopsis: A hilarious examination of an aging hippie. Moondog, a lovable rogue who is living life by his own rules, encounters an equally entertaining cast of characters along the way.

Why we’re excited about it: Austin’s own son, Matthew McConaughey, looks to return to his roots with some help from Zac Efron and Snoop Dogg. (Some of us still remember McConaughey playing the bongos in the nude outside his home.) Needless to say, it’s not a stretch for the University of Texas grad to embody an aging beach hippie living by his own rules. Plus there is more than a likely chance that McConaughey’s old friend Willie Nelson will be around for the premiere.


Long Shot (2019) 81%

Director: Jonathan Levine

Screenwriter: Dan Sterling

Cast: Seth Rogen, Charlize Theron, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Andy Serkis, June Diane Raphael, Ravi Patel, Alexander Skarsgård

Synopsis: A romance between Hillary Clinton type diplomat and a fratboy journalist looks threaten her stellar reputation and presidential ambitions.

Why we’re excited about it: This Knocked Up–styled odd couple comedy pairs Rogen and Theron, she as a presidential candidate and he as her speechwriter. A comedic version of Scandal, perhaps? Rogen has had a long history of Certified Fresh premieres at SXSW as a star and producer: Blockers, The Disaster Artist, Sausage Party, and TV’s The Preacher each enjoyed a Texas-sized welcome from fans and critics. We also spied some surprising chemistry between the two in the freshly released trailer, leaving us more than a little intrigued.


Us (2019) 93%

Director/Screenwriter: Jordan Peele

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

Synopsis: An upper-middle class African American family takes off with their two children for a once-in-a-lifetime beach vacation that turns into the ultimate nightmare when deranged doppelgangers invade. In Jordan Peele’s next horror flick, we look to find out what happens when you become your own worst fear.

Why we’re excited about it: Jordan Peele’s follow up to Get Out starring a Black Panther scene-stealer and our vote for 2019’s Scream Queen? Who isn’t excited?


Olympic Dreams (2019) 70%

Alexi Pappas and Nick Kroll, Olympic Dreams

Director: Jeremy Teicher

Screenwriters: Alexi Pappas, Jeremy Teicher, Nick Kroll

Cast: Nick Kroll, Alexi Pappas, Gus Kenworthy, Morgan Schild, Jamie Anderson

Synopsis: At the Winter Olympics, a cross-country skier befriends a volunteer dentist after her Olympic dreams are dashed following a disappointing finish. They share a brief but heartfelt romance in an unlikely place.

Why we’re excited about it: Pulling double duty as writer and star, Nick Kroll (Big Mouth, Oh, Hello on Broadway) looks set to make a successful comedy-to-drama crossover. Filmed on location at the 2018 winter Olympics, the movie sees Kroll step into his first lead role as a cross-country skier who falls for another athlete (played by Alexi Pappas, who was an Olympic long-distance runner and co-wrote the script). The rom-com also co-stars Winter Olympics superstar Gus Kenworthy.


Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.

Tag Cloud

2017 Hulu trailers zero dark thirty APB dceu Brie Larson fast and furious prank CMT parents Interview 71st Emmy Awards Turner Classic Movies MCU Calendar diversity joker HBO Max Ellie Kemper Paramount Plus boxing quibi ghosts foreign latino godzilla period drama new york Western Exclusive Video WGN USA Network anthology Mary Tyler Moore toronto new zealand rt archives OneApp hispanic heritage month art house Quiz 2020 justice league golden globes mockumentary telelvision teaser television Mindy Kaling twilight asian-american monster movies spinoff social media venice kids a nightmare on elm street FXX Summer HBO 45 MSNBC Classic Film dreamworks 2019 cooking richard e. Grant Baby Yoda San Diego Comic-Con target sports 20th Century Fox Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt women japan See It Skip It BBC One A&E scene in color cops Esquire OWN The CW historical drama canceled ABC Signature blockbuster versus Lifetime italian know your critic Fantasy australia Image Comics basketball WarnerMedia game of thrones royal family Neflix singing competition The Walt Disney Company Christmas Extras young adult Heroines Emmy Nominations Marvel Television The Arrangement YA critics finale TNT nature Holiday james bond cartoon Pixar independent book Disney+ Disney Plus hispanic Superheroe Sundance Now theme song Avengers 90s comic book movies sopranos Martial Arts cancelled television BAFTA slashers TV renewals New York Comic Con miniseries NBC RT History anime king kong 2016 AMC Plus facebook Showtime scorecard SundanceTV Comedy mcc composers streaming indie tv talk spy thriller Sundance TV comics Film Festival satire 93rd Oscars Super Bowl boxoffice superman HBO Go Universal hist Adult Swim obituary Funimation Freeform jurassic park reviews reboot archives series documentaries Oscars 72 Emmy Awards ITV Rocky breaking bad Podcast ESPN American Society of Cinematographers FX on Hulu Horror Pacific Islander First Reviews festivals Discovery Channel YouTube Premium Stephen King Comic Book binge worst Travel Channel harry potter Starz robots technology Creative Arts Emmys Cosplay Mary Poppins Returns heist movie Drama TV Land 2021 Disney Plus PlayStation 2015 Comic-Con@Home 2021 Year in Review stand-up comedy Netflix rotten 99% adenture Set visit doctor who revenge AMC comic book movie DC Comics TLC halloween LGBTQ Instagram Live Fall TV Alien Rocketman laika debate Thanksgiving genre Writers Guild of America Grammys Teen universal monsters movie Best and Worst thriller Bravo Women's History Month TV One El Rey Spectrum Originals IFC Films dogs nbcuniversal FOX TCA Awards SDCC Shudder Lucasfilm Trivia VICE Superheroes transformers 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards cancelled TV series The Purge Lifetime Christmas movies Acorn TV Awards Tour Opinion Arrowverse Pop TV streaming movies First Look Star Wars TBS Spring TV Tomatazos deadpool Red Carpet spanish halloween tv Captain marvel stop motion Warner Bros. pirates of the caribbean Walt Disney Pictures Pop mob MTV live action Sundance scary movies Marvel Studios international Emmys Mystery name the review Trailer romance travel GLAAD TCA Winter 2020 NBA DGA Black History Month sequel docuseries dragons RT21 crossover Certified Fresh ratings news Biopics Box Office franchise Logo Amazon razzies politics serial killer rom-coms cancelled TV shows christmas movies slasher aliens USA animated Film A24 Amazon Prime Video video scary canceled TV shows Food Network Binge Guide Watching Series CW Seed Peacock free movies best President jamie lee curtis Toys adaptation blaxploitation Rom-Com dexter olympics dc Winter TV renewed TV shows TV movies Reality Competition E3 new star wars movies Photos live event Amazon Prime rotten movies we love king arthur BBC America ABC Family rt labs critics edition YouTube Red National Geographic IMDb TV psycho Netflix Christmas movies Fox News VOD Turner DirecTV feel good PBS classics CBS Apple TV Plus talk show casting suspense Rock FX DC streaming service kong Syfy batman aapi Countdown Universal Pictures GoT cats spider-man E! YouTube 2018 The Witch zombie 24 frames black Star Trek cinemax saw NYCC LGBT 1990s docudrama sequels wonder woman vs. Crackle natural history elevated horror concert IFC criterion marvel comics Premiere Dates supernatural TCM Nat Geo Winners blockbusters spain Lionsgate Columbia Pictures directors Tarantino Crunchyroll indiana jones TCA 2017 kaiju lord of the rings films Ghostbusters Shondaland 73rd Emmy Awards space worst movies unscripted psychological thriller Mudbound 007 Sony Pictures Musicals high school nfl japanese political drama Music Amazon Studios Dark Horse Comics Elton John Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Marathons CNN marvel cinematic universe Pet Sematary hidden camera Polls and Games Video Games police drama 21st Century Fox TV Tumblr Animation screenings black comedy biopic posters Trophy Talk book adaptation Endgame romantic comedy discovery Comedy Central fresh TCA TruTV GIFs Spike Comics on TV 4/20 children's TV Sci-Fi Paramount toy story Country emmy awards spanish language remakes adventure french biography Character Guide golden globe awards Mary poppins popular Musical Family Tokyo Olympics VH1 medical drama disaster sitcom Ovation dramedy ViacomCBS vampires Tubi comiccon dark CBS All Access Schedule Disney Channel mutant superhero Television Critics Association critic resources zombies X-Men Action werewolf Hear Us Out PaleyFest Academy Awards football spider-verse Infographic Anna Paquin rt labs Sneak Peek die hard BET crime Nickelodeon Election Reality Vudu Masterpiece crime thriller science fiction Apple ABC DC Universe legend Pride Month game show Britbox what to watch action-comedy festival comedies Kids & Family true crime Marvel The Academy award winner Awards Wes Anderson video on demand Holidays Cannes SXSW cults History stoner Pirates chucky screen actors guild Song of Ice and Fire Valentine's Day witnail Disney Paramount Network comic books child's play war TIFF Epix Legendary Disney streaming service comic sag awards ID strong female leads movies The Walking Dead BET Awards Chernobyl Hallmark BBC cars based on movie south america documentary Cartoon Network Black Mirror Hallmark Christmas movies cancelled Television Academy all-time hollywood green book crime drama Broadway mission: impossible Fox Searchlight gangster Apple TV+ Nominations