17 Must-See Movies at SXSW 2011

South By Southwest has already begun heating up, but there are still plenty of movies and buckets of Schlitz to go. If you’re in Austin right now, you’re probably puzzling day to day over what you’re going to see.

If you’re not in Austin, you’re probably still wondering what might escape the confines of the festival to see theaters near you. Although there’s no guarantee (except for a few big names we already know will see theaters), here are the hot tickets that might just earn themselves distribution deals.

Our intrepid SXSW patrol (comprised of Adam Charles, Jack Giroux, Rob Hunter, Neil Miller, Luke Mullen and Brian Salisbury) have put together a list of what they’re most looking forward to for your reading and viewing pleasure.

Keep in mind, there are over 250 movies playing this year, so this represents only a small amount of the quality programming. These are the movies that stand out even amongst the best of the best at the fest.

Check it out for yourself:

The Innkeepers

Ti West completely knocked us on our asses with House of the Devil. Not only that, House of the Devil was a film that in many ways was custom-built for geeks like me. I have been chomping at the bit to see a new Ti West movie ever since. I truly believe he is one of the most promising talents in horror today. -BS


Not even sure why I need to explain my anticipation for Paul. The one-two comedy punch of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost has never failed me. From Hot Fuzz to Shaun of the Dead and all the way back to their television series Spaced, these two have proven to be the dynamic duo of tickling my funny bone. Granted, this is the first of their collaborations I’ve seen that has not been directed by Edgar Wright, but that does little to quell my tingles. -BS


Bellflower was one of the biggest and most welcomed surprises out of Sundance this year. The concept alone brings a smile to my face: a love story following a man prepping for the apocalypse… by building
an invincible car inspired by Mad Max. Sounds cool, right? Our own head honcho Neil Miller caught the film last night, and even he had good things to say about it. -JG

Night Fishing

Most gimmicks aren’t worth the price of popcorn, but most gimmicks don’t have Park Chan-wook’s name near them. The master filmmaker co-directed this short film with brother Park Chan-kyong, and they did it all on their iPhone. So, yeah. A gimmick. But, who cares? It promises to be more insanity from one of the best directorial minds of our generation. If he wants to risk getting a phone call while shooting, that’s his business. -CA

Win Win

The third feature from writer/filmmaker Tom McCarthy (The Station Agent and The Visitor) seems a little more comically focused, based on the trailer, than his prior two films while still leaving a little leg room for an undercurrent of emotional human connection that dominated those first films. In this tale, Paul Giamatti is a full-time attorney/part-time high school wrestling coach of a team of very untalented wrestlers when he comes across a prodigy in the shape of one of his clients’ previously unknown grandson. I anticipate a few sports metaphors for life and some excellent acting from the seasoned cast as that tends to be McCarthy’s strong suit thus far. -AC

What other highly anticipated SXSW flicks are there? Find out…



Did you hear the one about the beauty queen who flew across the ocean to rescue kidnap liberate her Mormon lover? Errol Morris’ past documentaries include The Thin Blue Line, A Brief History Of Time, The Fog Of War, and many more. While they all share the same level of quality they differ dramatically at times in content and topic, and his latest may just be the oddest one yet. This true story from 1977 gets a Rashomon-style dissection as each of the participants recollections differs from the next. Far from the global issues Morris has explored recently this looks to be a far more intimate and human tale that promises to entertain as it bewilders. -RH


James Gunn’s Taxi Driver-esque vigilante film is funny, dark, subversive, and is just a whole lot of fun. It’s by no means a film for everyone, but to those looking for a film that goes outside the norm, this is for you. Super is an odd film, in the sense that it gets to have its cake and eat it too by being both successfully twisted and emotionally satisfying. That’s no easy tonal task to pull off. -JG


Filmed over the course of 4 years, Elevate is a fish-out-of-water documentary about a group of West African Muslim teenagers who attend prep schools here in the U.S. thanks to scholarships for both their academia and basketball skills. Having to deal daily with being the outsiders they each have their own struggles with managing their differences in a foreign environment that may not be as accepting of them.

The subject sounds intriguing and potentially heartbreaking and/or cheerful given the conflicts. The fact that first-time filmmaker Anne Buford chose to abandon her career in order to develop her own production company and choose this as her first project makes the story seem too engaging to not want to listen to. -AC

My Sucky Teen Romance

Directed by Austin wunderkind Emily Hagins, My Sucky Teen Romance promises to sink its fangs into the current spate of teen vampire flicks. As a horror fan, I find myself spitting on the ground whenever Twilight is mentioned. I admire the fact that an 18-year-old filmmaker is firing back at these wastes of celluloid, and I can’t wait to see a parody with bite. -BS


The trailer for Joseph Kahn’s high schooler killer pic was messy. It was overstuffed and didn’t quite give a clear sense as to what the film is about. But all that trailer overload was filled with certain aspects that could make for a gangbuster picture: aliens, hipsters dying, and the idea of a famed movie killer coming to life. All these different flavors could make for a big ‘ol mess, but let’s hope that’s not the case… -JG

Source Code

With the quiet and intriguing reservation of his first feature-length film Moon, Duncan Jones expressed a certain kind of subdued science-fiction that has been utilized less and less over the decades since Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Source Code is Jones’s sophomore picture about a soldier who wakes up in the body of an unknown man and learns that he’s become part of an experiment that allows someone to live in the life of another person in the last 8 minutes of their life. It sounds like Being John Avatar only you get to look like Jake Gyllenhaal instead of a large, blue John Malkovich. Too bad it’s only for 8 minutes. -AC


The Dish & the Spoon

I’m going to be honest here and admit that before now I knew only one thing about this film. Greta Gerwig stars. The lovely and talented Miss Gerwig stole the show from her much bigger co-stars in both Greenberg and No Strings Attached, but here she takes the lead as a woman distraught over the revelation that her husband has had an affair. Her plans to confront the other woman are interrupted by a lost teenage boy who also happens to be British and extremely lucky. British by birth and lucky because a sweetly odd relationship develops between he and Gerwig’s character. -RH

Road To Nowhere

At the risk of sounding like a shallow film fan obsessed with obscure actresses, I once again want to see this film for a singular reason. Shannyn Sossamon stars. Sadly, whereas Gerwig is on the rise Miss Sossamon seems to be eternally missing the stardom train. She has an ethereal beauty, but as she’s shown in films like Rules Of Attraction she can easily play the charismatic and goofy roles just as well. Here she plays an actress who bears a spooky similarity to the real-life woman she’s playing, and as the film rolls on the line between fact and fiction begins to blur. The trailer actually looks fairly ambitious as the story moves from small town America to London, Rome, and beyond. -RH

Caught Inside

Women are troublemakers. Everyone knows it, but we forgive them because they balance their downside with good things like cooking and Thai-style massage. But what if there isn’t enough of either to go around? A group of surfers on a trip to secluded waters are upset at the presence of an uninvited girlfriend, but as the sun beats down and the nights heat up one male’s inherent urge to be an asshole erupts in violence and poor seamanship.

This Australian thriller has potential to be both exciting and dangerous in its tale of mayhem and misdeeds on the high seas, but I’m hoping it’s closer to Dead Calm than Donkey Punch. -RH

Hobo With a Shotgun

I had a chance to check this out at Butt-Numb-a-Thon, and it’s a hell of a lot of fun that’s been doused in gasoline, tossed into a maternity ward and shot with a big ass gun (which as we all know from movies, makes things explode for some reason). Rutger Hauer is a crazed homeless man, and if that’s not enough to get you out to this thing, you need to cash in on your life insurance. The violence is absurd and animated with vibrant, saturated colors, and the story is truly, truly, deeply touching. You’ll just have to show a policeman later on where it touched you. They have dolls for that. -CA


Sort of part and parcel with my excitement for The Innkeepers is my excitement for James Wan’s Insidious. If the early reviews of Insidious are any indication, this could be the haunted house movie that continues the subgenre’s revolution kicked off by Ti West’s House of the Devil. I’m looking forward to horror films getting back to atmosphere over gore and 3D. -BS

The Future

Miranda July may be one of the most interesting individuals currently working in film. As a filmmaker she only has Me and You and Everyone We Know as her lone feature-length picture, but her diversity in the arts as a performance artist and published short story writer points at a personality who doesn’t like to limit their expression to one kind of canvas. The Future tells of a couple living in Los Angeles who choose to adopt a stray cat during the final month in their apartment. Somehow this triggers an altering of space and time and the couple find themselves on separate courses, hoping to reunite. The idea that a cat can somehow unleash a black hole sounds too amazingly odd to not find out more. -AC

Be on the lookout for reviews of these films and more as our coverage of SXSW continues

The FSR Staff is an author similar to Hydra. Its articles have many authors. It has many heads. Please don't cut off any of its heads, we're trying to work here.

Read More from FSR Staff
Get Film School Rejects in your email. All the cool kids are doing it:
Previous Article
Next Article
Reject Nation
Leave a comment
Comment Policy: No hate speech allowed. If you must argue, please debate intelligently. Comments containing selected keywords or outbound links will be put into moderation to help prevent spam. Film School Rejects reserves the right to delete comments and ban anyone who doesn't follow the rules. We also reserve the right to modify any curse words in your comments and make you look like an idiot. Thank You!