Dungeon & Dragons, Tetris, and Beef are coming to SXSW: Festival Preview

Ben Affleck, Chris Pine, Steven Yeun, and Michelle Rodriguez are expected to bring new titles to the iconic Austin film festival

by | March 9, 2023 | Comments

TAGGED AS: , , ,

Justice Smith, Sophia Lillis, Chris Pine, and Michelle Rodriguez in Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (2023)

(Photo by ©Paramount Pictures)

The annual SXSW mega-conference kicks off this week in Austin, Texas. The lineup is stacked with titles that critics and audiences have been buzzing about, though our list includes 15 potential bangers, which only scratches the surface. In addition to the films listed below, this year’s fest also features films about a 13-year-old Pakistani-American boy’s emerging mustache, a champion high school golf team of Mexican-Americans in the 1950s, and a thriller about a mysterious Texas cultAnd those are just the narrative films!

The documentary and TV lineups look just as flush, but we only have so much room in this preview. Notable docs include films about Joan Baez, Mary Tyler Moore, Donna Summer, the Zombies, and even the first Black Barbie. And on the TV front, in addition to what’s listed below, SXSW will also premiere new series starring Bob Odenkirk, Zoe Lister-Jones, Keifer Sutherland, and even Betty Gilpin as a nun.

Whether you are attending SXSW or just curious to see what the raucous crowd will be cheering for this weekend, read on for our picks of the buzziest titles at the SXSW film festival.


Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

In the constant churn of IP-driven adaptations, Dungeons & Dragons might be one of the better bets. Though a big-budget movie adaptation of the beloved gaming series was tried in 2000 (it earned a 10% Tomatometer score and lost a significant amount of money for New Line), it’s been almost completely forgotten, and this new version helmed by Paramount should have the benefit of feeling like a fresh trial with critics and audiences. A cast starring Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Regé-Jean Page, and Hugh Grant is undoubtedly a good start, and the directors of Game Night (Jonathan M. Goldstein and John Francis Daley) seem like an excellent fit for the material. The film is being labeled as a comedy, but it could find a rapt audience if it can capture the right balance between humor and action set pieces.


Hey, speaking of IP based on popular games, could we interest you in a Cold War story about the breakout of Tetris to a global audience? Taron Egerton stars as Henk Rogers, the Dutch-American video game salesman who discovered the titular game in Russia in 1988 and worked behind the Iron Curtain to bring the game to the rest of the world. Egerton, who has been on a tear of everyman character performances, is arguably the initial draw, but this game adaptation is full of surprises. 

Evil Dead Rise

As the latest Scream movies seem to be proving at this very moment, a great horror franchise can genuinely never be killed. And that’s great news for the latest reboot of this classic Sam Raimi series from the ’80s. This time writer/director Lee Cronin (The Hole in the Ground) is in charge, with a cast that includes Lily Sullivan and Alyssa Sutherland. Every Evil Dead film so far has been a critical and commercial success, and Warner Bros. is undoubtedly hoping that trend continues with this fifth installment (the first in 10 years) of the durable franchise.


(Photo by Courtesy of SXSW)

The last time Ben Affleck starred in a movie about a missing girl, it yielded the modern classic Gone Girl. This time he’s teamed with writer/director Robert Rodriquez (El Mariachi), he plays a detective, the missing girl is his daughter, and the plot involves a secret government program. Hypnotic is being screened as a work-in-progress, which arguably has us even more intrigued. 


(Photo by Courtesy of SXSW)

Let’s quote the SXSW synopsis: “Bottoms follows two unpopular girls in their senior year who start a fight club to try to impress and hook up with cheerleaders.” Um, yes, please. The always delightful Rachel Sennott and Ayo Edebiri play those two unpopular girls, and Sennott co-wrote the script with the film’s director, Emma Seligman. Shiva Baby, the previous collaboration between Seligman and Sennott, was an irresistible exercise in tightly controlled cringe, and we can’t wait for round two. Bottoms, we fully expect you to hit us as hard as possible. 

Flamin’ Hot

(Photo by Courtesy of SXSW)

Eva Longoria directing a film about the origin story of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos sounds just bonkers enough to be irresistible. Jesse Garcia stars as the Frito Lay janitor who came up with the idea. The film also sports a delightful selection of character actors, including Tony Shalhoub, Dennis Haysbert, and Matt Walsh. Considering Longoria is both a Texas native and a former Miss Texas, it’s all but assumed this film would debut to loud cheers in the Lone Star State.  

Self Reliance

(Photo by Courtesy of SXSW)

Jake Johnson makes his feature directorial debut with this comedy, in which he stars alongside an irresistible cast that also includes Anna Kendrick, Andy Samberg, and Christopher Lloyd. Johnson stars as a man offered a million dollars to let hunters try and kill him because he believes he can exploit the loophole that he can only be targeted when he’s alone. But what happens when his friends and family don’t want to hang out with him? 

A Disturbance in the Force

It’s the Star Wars documentary we assumed we’d never get: the true story of how the 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special, famously hated by George Lucas, became the ultimate cult classic for obsessive fans. A who’s who of famous Star Wars fans weigh in, from Seth Green to Kevin Smith to Weird Al, and even Gilbert Gottfried makes a posthumous appearance. 

Wild Life

Courtesy of SXSW

(Photo by Courtesy of SXSW)

Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi can rightly be considered among the greatest working documentarians. Their 2018 film, Free Solo, won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature, and 2021’s The Rescue was every bit as thrilling. This time they’ve turned their camera to Kris Tompkins, the conservationist who helped her husband, Doug Tompkins, turn outdoor brands like Patagonia and The North Face into massive successes. But Kris and Doug left the business world behind to concentrate on their mission of creating national parks in South America, and they’ve found the perfect filmmakers to tell their story. 


I’m a Virgo

Ever since writer/director Boots Riley unveiled the truly bonkers Sorry to Bother You at Sundance in 2018, we’ve been eagerly anticipating what he might come up with next. Well, here’s our answer: an Amazon series about parents who try to keep the secret of Cootie, their 13-foot-tall adoptive Black child, by not letting him leave the house. But then, you guessed it, Cootie leaves the house. 

American Born Chinese

In the same week that Everything Everywhere All at Once may make Oscar history, two of its stars — Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan — will be unveiling their next project, this TV series by Shang Chi director Destin Daniel Cretton. Based on the celebrated graphic novel by Gene Luen Yang, American Born Chinese is about a Chinese-American high school sophomore trying to become more popular when he suddenly finds himself saddled with a new foreign exchange student from China assigned to shadow him.


(Photo by Courtesy of SXSW)

Steven Yeun and Ali Wong star as two strangers who engage in a long-lasting feud stemming from a road rage incident. This Netflix series is being co-produced by A24, and though it’s labeled as a comedy, it’s also being described as “dark” and “deeply moving.” Sounds perfect. 

Love & Death

David E. Kelley has been enjoying a renaissance at HBO in recent years, where he produced both Big Little Lies and The Undoing. He’s back at it with Love & Death, which stars Elizabeth Olsen and Jesse Plemmons as a church-going couple who somehow end up encountering someone with an ax. Or maybe one of them is the ax-wielder? We don’t know, but we can’t wait to find out. Kelley’s recent series started with a dead body and then worked their way through the mystery, so maybe Love & Death (which also stars Lily Rabe, Patrick Fugit, and Krysten Ritter) will do the same. 


Most of the details of this Amazon series are being kept under wraps, but here’s what we know: Donald Glover is one of the producers and directors, it stars Dominique Fishback, and the tagline is “Murder. Sex. Music.” Well, we like all three of those things.

On an Apple device? Follow Rotten Tomatoes on Apple News.