Song to Song
This year’s opening night film at South by Southwest comes from acclaimed filmmaker Terrence Malick. Song to Song, Malick’s latest ethereal wisp of a story, ostensibly focuses on the Austin, Texas music scene as shown through the eyes of two aspiring musicians (Ryan Gosling and Rooney Mara) and a shady record producer (Michael Fassbender). Natalie Portman, Cate Blanchett, Holly Hunter, and Val Kilmer are among the stars who float through Malick’s latest, which was shot over the course of many years.
Edgar Wright’s first movie since The World’s End in 2013 stars Ansel Elgort as the young getaway driver of the title and surrounds him with an all-star cast featuring Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm, Kevin Spacey, Jon Bernthal, and Lily James. Baby Driver arrives in theaters this August.
Perhaps the biggest world premiere at this year’s SXSW is Atomic Blonde, which finds Charlize Theron playing a kick-ass spy tossed into Berlin just before the fall the Berlin Wall in 1989. Equal parts John Wick, Jason Bourne, and James Bond, Atomic Blonde boasts startling action scenes (courtesy of Deadpool 2 director David Leitch), an eclectic supporting cast led by James McAvoy, and a killer soundtrack of ’80s classics, all of which should make it one of the summer’s most talked about releases. Focus Features will debut Atomic Blonde on July 28 — but feel free to get excited now.
Ryan Reynolds reteams with Deadpool writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick for Life, a space thriller that envisions what happens when a group of astronauts finds unfriendly life on Mars. Jake Gyllenhaal and Rebecca Ferguson costar in this latest film from Daniel Espinosa (Safe House), which will close SXSW.
The Disaster Artist (work-in-progress)
James Franco plays infamous filmmaker Tommy Wiseau in The Disaster Artist, which tells the story of Wiseau’s cult classic The Room. Dave Franco, Seth Rogen, Josh Hutcherson, Alison Brie, Jacki Weaver, and Ari Graynor round out the cast. James directs from a script by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber (The Spectacular Now).
Following its world premiere at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, Free Fire hits Austin, Texas, with an ensemble cast that includes Brie Larson, Armie Hammer, Sam Riley, Cillian Murphy, Jack Reynor, and Sharlto Copley. The A24 release is out in theaters on April 21.
The Big Sick
Following its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January, which led to a lucrative deal from Amazon, Michael Showalter’s The Big Sick will screen in Austin, Texas. Based on the lives of star Kumail Nanjiani and co-writer Emily V. Gordon (played in the film by Zoe Kazan), the romantic comedy will debut later this year.
Most Hated Woman in America
Melissa Leo stars as the title character in this true-life biography about the disappearance of Madalyn Murray O’Hair, founder of the “American Atheists” and a “pioneering firebrand in the political culture war.” Josh Lucas, Michael Chernus, Rory Cochrane, Vincent Kartheiser, Sally Kirkland, Adam Scott, Juno Temple, and Peter Fonda costar in the Netflix release, which Netflix will debut this month.
Master of None star Noël Wells makes her feature directorial debut with Mr. Roosevelt, which stars Wells as a struggling comedian who’s forced to move back to her hometown of Austin, Texas and winds up staying with her ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend.
Game of Thrones star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau plays a disgraced cop just out of jail and mixed up in a bunch of criminal activities in Evan Katz’s Small Crimes, which Netflix recently picked up for distribution.
Small Town Crime
Not to be confused with Small Crimes, Small Town Crime features John Hawkes as an ex-cop trying to solve the murder of a young woman. Octavia Spencer and Anthony Anderson costar.
Win It All
Of the many documentaries premiering at South by Southwest, Stranger Fruit stands the chance of being the buzziest. The film focuses on the death of Michael Brown, who was shot and killed by Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9, 2014. “Stranger Fruit is the unraveling of what took place that day, told through the eyes of Mike Brown’s family,” reads the film’s description.
A footnote in Hollywood history, actor George Lazenby played James Bond in one film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. The documentary Becoming Bond looks a Lazenby’s life through an interview with the star and reenactments of key moments in his life. A Hulu release.
Based on Neil Gaiman’s novel and created by Bryan Fuller and Michael Green for Starz, American Gods will have its world premiere at SXSW before bowing for television audiences in April.
Dear White People
Justin Simien adapts his acclaimed 2014 feature Dear White People for Netflix with a 10-episode series of the same name. The streaming service’s Dear White People debuts in April. Of note: Moonlight Oscar winner Barry Jenkins directed an episode of the series.
Produced by Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone, the TV Land series Nobodies focuses on a trio of comedians (Hugh Davidson, Larry Dorf, and Rachel Ramras) who try to make it in Hollywood.
I'm Dying Up Here
Produced by Jim Carrey, Showtime’s latest series focuses on the 1970s comedy scene in Los Angeles. Melissa Leo, Ari Graynor, and Clark Duke all star.
Game of Thrones
There aren’t new episodes of HBO’s hit fantasy series debuting at SXSW this year, but showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss will participate in a discussion about the series hosted by Thrones stars Maisie Williams and Sophie Turner.