Posted on Friday, March 10th, 2017 by Jacob Hall
The 2017 SXSW Film Festival kicks off today and /Film will be there for the duration, bringing you reviews of major premieres and new discoveries alike. While we’re bound to uncover a gem (or three) that come out of nowhere, a few movies are already on our radar as must-sees. Let’s run down the films we’re prioritizing this year.
We decided to make this preview all about the movies no one on the /Film crew has seen yet, so you won’t see us mention Free Fire, The Big Sick, and Colossal. However, we recommend all three of them and you can read our reviews by clicking on those links.
American Gods (TV Pilot)
The Official Description: Adapted from Neil Gaiman’s award-winning novel, American Gods follows Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) and Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) in a hidden world where a battle is brewing between Old Gods and New.
Why It Has Our Attention: Bryan Fuller, the genius behind Hannibal, and Michael Green, one of the writers on the excellent Logan, are spearheading Starz’s TV adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s popular (for a good reason) fantasy novel. Television may be the right location for this tale, which explores the brewing conflict between the gods of ancient religions and the gods of modern concepts. The book was just a window into a massive world that demands further exploration.
The Official Description: Oscar winner Charlize Theron explodes into summer in Atomic Blonde, a breakneck action-thriller that follows MI6’s most lethal assassin through a ticking time bomb of a city simmering with revolution and double-crossing hives of traitors.
Why It Has Our Attention: One of the directors of John Wick went of and made John Wick: Chapter 2. The other, David Leitch, adapted the graphic novel The Coldest City and cast Charlize Theron as a badass British spy who treks to Berlin in 1989 to complete an impossible mission. If the thought of Furiosa herself breaking necks and taking names in a Cold War action movie doesn’t entice you, let’s not be friends.
The Official Description: A talented, young getaway driver relies on the beat of his personal soundtrack to be the best in the game. But after being coerced into working for a crime boss, he must face the music when a doomed heist threatens his life, love and freedom.
Why It Has Our Attention: This is the next Edgar Wright movie. That’s all you need to know. But if you do need to know more, this is an action/heist movie about a young getaway driver who lives his life (and does his job) to an eclectic and curated soundtrack. Yes, the director of Shaun of the Dead and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World has made car chase movie powered entirely by music.
The Official Description: Barbecue is about more than grilling a piece of meat. It’s a ritual performed religiously across the world. For some it’s a path to salvation. It is the pride of nations. And the stories told around the fires become a way to bring the world together.
Why It Has Our Attention: Australian director Matthew Salleh had SXSW at hello with this documentary, which explores how people prepare barbecue in nations all over the world. As an Austinite who has firsthand experience with establishments that worship at the altar of smoked meats, they couldn’t have picked a better movie to get the locals (and hopefully, plenty of visitors) salivating.
The Disaster Artist
The Official Description: This is a true story about the making of The Room; the cult classic described as the Citizen Kane of bad movies.
Why It Has Our Attention: I have no idea what to make of James Franco playing Tommy Wiseau, the gloriously incompetent filmmaker whose The Room has become an all-time bad movie sensation. But he also directed it, which means he is definitely seems to be going in…and when Franco commits, he really commits. This has the potential be Ed Wood for the 21st century, if everything clicks.
The Official Description: Life is a terrifying sci-fi thriller about a team of scientists aboard the International Space Station whose mission of discovery turns to one of primal fear when they find a rapidly evolving life form that caused extinction on Mars, and now threatens the crew and all life on Earth.
Why It Has Our Attention: What has impressed me most about the trailers for Life is that this is unabashedly, unashamedly a horror movie, albeit one set on a space station that seems to have borrowed a thing or two from Gravity. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the astronauts staring alien doom in the face are played by Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, and Ryan Reynolds.
Most Hated Woman in America
The Official Description: Darkly funny, true story of the rise and untimely demise of Madeline Murray O’Hair—crank, swindler, iconoclast, and America’s most outspoken atheist.
Why It Has Our Attention: Madalyn Murray O’Hair, the atheist activist whose work led to the Supreme Court banning the reading of the Bible in public schools, is a fascinating figure whose actions inspire heated debate more than ever. Cast Melissa Leo in the part and surround her with Adam Scott, Juno Temple, Vincent Kartheiser, Josh Lucas, and Peter Fonda and you have a very promising movie.