By Monica Castillo
The cold is rolling out and the skies are clearing up over Austin just in time for the crowds to flock to this year’s SXSW Film Festival. In between panels, performances, and tacos (so many tacos), some of 2019's most anticipated films are making their debut at the festival — like Jordan Peele's Get Out follow-up, Us, and Harmony Korine's The Beach Bum, starring Zac Efron and his frosted tips. But SXSW is also a good time to check out the year's weirder, more indie-genre fare — like Keola Racela's Porno, a film about a succubus possessing a group of teenage movie theater ushers.
This year, MTV News will be on the ground at SXSW feasting on films and tacos, and here are the 14 movies we're most excited for.
What’s it about? A family on vacation returns home one night to discover eerie-looking doppelgängers of themselves.
Why we’re excited: He’s back! After winning an Oscar for Get Out, Jordan Peele has another creepy horror story to share that promises to be just as disturbing and thought-provoking. Us also features the acting talents of Lupita Nyong'o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss, and Tim Heidecker.
The Beach BumNeon
What’s it about? Moondog (Matthew McConaughey), a sun-soaked party man and drug-fueled poet, lives and thrives in South Florida.
Why we’re excited: Honorary Florida man Harmony Korine captured the garish strangeness of his adopted home with his 2014 movie, Spring Breakers. Now, he’s back with McConaughey, Zac Efron, Snoop Dogg, and Isla Fisher to wreck even more havoc on the Sunshine State.
What’s it about? Two high school best friends try to catch up on all the partying they missed before graduation.
Why we’re excited: Actress Olivia Wilde makes her directing feature debut with a comedy that sounds like a mix of Lady Bird, Dazed and Confused, Clueless, and Superbad. Wilde said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly before the festival that she was attracted to tell the story about the strong bonds between the two girlfriends.
Good BoysGetty Images
What’s it about? A group of middle school boys (Jacob Tremblay, Keith L. Williams, Brady Noon) break an expensive drone, and in their efforts to replace it, fall into all kinds of mischief.
Why we’re excited: After Bo Burnham’s sensitive look at a girl’s last year of middle school in Eighth Grade, here’s a look at a group of boy’s sixth grade misadventure from the writers of Sausage Party and a number of big names in comedy movies. Director Gene Stupnitsky, who co-wrote the screenplay with producer Lee Eisenberg, also have Seth Rogen, Pineapple Express writer Evan Goldberg, and Neighbors director James Weaver on-board the project as producers.
Stuber (Work-in-Progress)20th Century Fox
What's it about? A passive Uber driver (Kumail Nanjiani) picks up a cop (Dave Bautista) as he’s tracking down a murderer.
Why we’re excited: Don’t let the “work-in-progress” title get you down, these movies are in good enough shape for audiences to enjoy. Michael Dowse leads a tremendous cast that includes Nanjiani, Bautista, Iko Uwais, Natalie Morales, Betty Gilpin, Jimmy Tatro, Mira Sorvino, and Karen Gillan. I can’t wait to see what Nanjiani and Bautista’s comedic chemistry looks like.
Go Back to ChinaCourtesy of SXSW
What's it about? After burning through her hefty trust fund, Sasha Li (Anna Akana) is dragged back home to China where her dad forces her to work in the family’s toy shop.
Why we’re excited: Emily Ting’s semi-autobiographical film has the potential to be both funny and touching. In her humbling experience working for her father, Sasha not only learns to appreciate the value of money, she learns more about herself and what she wants to do with her life in the process. Plus, the film’s look at globalization and long-distance families may keep you talking long after the credits have rolled.
Mickey and the BearCourtesy of SXSW
What’s it about? A tough teen in Montana weighs the options of leaving her widowed father on his own to pursue college out west.
Why we’re excited: Annabelle Attanasio’s feature debut looks to offer a topical coming-of-age story with the edginess of a gritty drama. Mickey Peck (Camila Morrone), the teenager at the center of the movie, is her father’s caretaker and the family’s financial provider as he’s struggling with an opioid addiction. Like Jennifer Lawrence’s breakout movie, Winter’s Bone, it’s the story of a young woman trying to save her family from themselves.
PornoCourtesy of SXSW
What’s it about? A ragtag group of movie theater ushers discovers their workplace was once an old porn theater, and in the process, are possessed by a sex demon.
Why we’re excited: Blessed by Austin’s year-round genre scene, South by Southwest has one of the best crowds to enjoy a weirdo movie like Porno. Keola Racela’s movie about a haunted old porno theater has an outrageous premise, but this teen movie might also surprise you with a lot of heart — candidly addressing themes of sexuality… with a little help from a succubus.
Saint FrancesCourtesy of SXSW
What’s it about? A young woman gets an abortion just before she starts a new job as a nanny, causing her to reflect on the difficulty of relationships and family.
Why we’re excited: I’m hoping that Alex Thompson’s Saint Frances is as introspective as it sounds. I’m curious to see how grief after abortion is handled and how the main character comes to terms with working for a new family while still dealing with the emotions that may come up with her experience. I’m also ready for there to be a few cute scenes between her and the 6-year-old child she’s taking care of.
Yes God YesCourtesy SXSW
What's it about? Set in the early 2000s, a Midwest teenager (Natalia Dyer) discovers her first sexual urges in an AOL chat room, which bothers her strict Catholic beliefs.
Why we’re excited: First off, who doesn’t want to revisit old chat room drama? And secondly, Yes God Yes directly deals with faith, sex, and guilt, which sometimes gets lost in the drama of new love or the fallout of getting caught. Here, the movie seems focused on what we define as good and how faith can shape that sense of self-worth.
Olympic DreamsGetty Images
What’s it about? A cross country skier (Alexi Pappas) befriends a volunteer dentist (Nick Kroll) in the Olympics' Athlete Village.
Why we’re excited: This might be a special movie for sports fans to catch since Olympic Dreams was the first narrative feature to be shot in the Olympic Village during last year’s Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, and star Alexi Pappas competed in the Rio Games in 2016 — and there are other Olympians that appear in the film, too. Director Jeremy Teicher worked as a one-man crew to film his project.
I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth Vs. Michelle Carter
What’s it about? This two-part documentary examines the case of Michelle Carter, a teenager who urged her boyfriend to commit suicide via text.
Why we’re excited: Documentarian Erin Lee Carr knows how to revisit an old story with new eyes. Her previous film, Mommy Dead and Dearest, similarly pieces together various testimonies and evidence from another famous case for a whole new outlook at what caused another young woman to kill her mother. Now, she turns her journalistic efforts to this controversial case over texting in Massachusetts.
What’s it about? In a tumultuous time in her life, a young woman’s sister, a phone sex operator, introduces her to the world of cam girls.
Why we’re excited: Numa Perrier's Jezebel is not just an exploration of different corners of the online and phone sex industries. Her movie also follows two sisters as their relationship changes when the younger Tiffany rises in popularity. In addition to coping with all of this family drama, Tiffany also continues to explore her own sexuality.
Days of the WhaleCourtesy of SXSW
What’s it about? Two young graffiti artist open Pandora’s Box when they spray over a gang’s threat with a painting of a whale.
Why we’re excited: This Colombian import from director Catalina Arroyave Restrepo looks like an involving story about artists and idealists challenging the status quo in their town and addressing the violence that many kids face growing up.