The 16 Must See Films of SXSW 2012

South by Southwest is our favorite film festival not just because it’s in our own backyard (relatively speaking) or because it affords us a chance to eat BBQ on daily basis or even because it means we can sit in the Drafthouse all day but because – wait, no, it’s our favorite film festival for precisely those reasons. What else could you possibly want from a film festival? Good films? Fair enough.

Luckily, finding good films at SXSW isn’t hard, not even remotely, which explains why our list of Our 16 Most Anticipated Films came together with no overlap – there’s truly something for everyone. For Rob Hunter, that means a lot of guns and violence, for Dear Leader Neil Miller, he just wants to stop being the last person in America who hasn’t seen The Raid. We even let Jack pick some films too.

Sixteen in total, these films encapsulate the variety that makes SXSW so great – stick with this list and you probably can’t go (too)  wrong. Why sixteen films? Because we’re sweet. Or just suffering from anticipatory exhaustion from our favorite film festival.

Check out all the movies we’re aching to see after the jump.

The Aggression Scale

A quartet of cold-blooded and heavily armed killers come rolling into town looking for stolen loot, but when they set their sights on a rather innocuous-looking home they meet a bit more resistance than they expected. It’s hard to tell exactly where this one will land, but it certainly looks like an extremely violent riff on the Home Alone formula. Which is awesome. And if nothing else it features a Twin Peaks reunion with Ray Wise and Dana Ashbrook! – Rob Hunter


A young man survives the loss of his wife but is left to face off against the twisted feral children who killed her. Once more, twisted feral children. He’s also apparently “torn between the help of an understanding nurse and a vigilante priest” which is equally intriguing. “Understanding” is code for sexy right? So a sexy nurse and a vigilante priest and twisted feral children? I’m sold. – Rob Hunter

Girls Against Boys

Two female bartenders reach their breaking point and set out for revenge against the less attractive sex. That one line synopsis is enough to get me to watch any movie, but my interest piques even more when the girls are attractive (Danielle Panabaker, Nicole LaLiberte) and the film falls into the blackly comic yet violent subgenre. Words like gruesome, darkly meditative, and coming of age don’t hurt either. In fact, my only reservation about seeing this one is the writer/director’s name…Austin Chick. Ugh. – Rob Hunter

The Raid

Let’s be completely honest here: not since just before I was about to lose my virginity have I been so excited about any single life event as seeing The Raid for the first time. Director Gareth Evans wowed us with his amazing martial arts tale Merantau, a film that ended up sneaking its way into a number of “best of” lists in 2009.

Now he’s taking the best of what he did in that film — mostly the ass-kickery — and applying it to the story of a team of police officers who must travel floor by floor up a slum, through dangerous levels filled with armed thugs, to get to a psychotic crime lord. Its all action all the time approach is something that will make The Raid fun for the whole family. I mean, have you seen that trailer?  -Neil Miller

The Hunter

Willem Dafoe as “a skilled and ruthless mercenary sent into the Tasmanian wilderness on a hunt for a tiger believed to be extinct” certainly falls well within my own personal guideline of “Willem Dafoe as anything is worth watching.” The fact that he’s a dangerous man hunting elusive prey and becoming prey to any number of dangers — as story for which I’m quite fond — is only a bonus. Character piece that explores the mind of a hunter and its prey? Yeah, we’ll line up down the street for that. – Neil Miller

Under African Skies

As any longtime FSR reader will note, we usually end our reviews with an Upside (what works) and a Downside (what doesn’t work) as a sort of cheat sheet for those of you who like things summed up in nice, tight packages. So when I saw our usually stern critic Robert Levin completely unable to come up with a Downside for Under African Skies in his Sundance review and I combined that with the fact that I do, indeed, enjoy the music of Paul Simon, I was locking this one into my SXSW schedule. It looks delightful. – Neil Miller

Wonder Women: The Untold Story of American Superheroines<

I was instantly attracted to Wonder Women by its title alone, but once I read up on the history behind the documentary and the filmmaker’s dedication to exposing not just the superheroines on the page but also the women behind them I was sold. As a teen I spent hours reading Gen 13, Wonder Woman, Sailor Moon, and X-Men comics with my best friend Jen and debating the reasons we loved seeing these tough women kick ass and look hot, and a documentary that allows me to relive those moments seems too good to miss. – Gwen Reyes

Electrick Children

Speaking of the silly things kids do, the SXSW debut of Electrick Children sounds like a good time in a tiny Mormon package. Following a young FLDS girl who believes her recent pregnancy is the work of God and not some dirty church leader as she ventures from her small Utah town to the bright lights of Las Vegas to share her story with those along the way, the film’s eerie unravel promises to leave us more uncomfortable the it found us.

What seems so compelling is this girl believes so completely in the falsity that her unborn child was conceived without sex, allowing for those around her to take advantage of her naivety. Electrick Children might be perfect for anyone looking for a new Mysterious Skin. – Gwen Reyes

Click here to see the eight remaining must sees of SXSW 2012…

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.

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