Movies, TV shows and, of course, barbecue. It’s all on the marquee at this year’s SXSW, the annual celebration of all things entertainment being showcased in Austin from March 10 to 19. From Hollywood blockbusters like “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” to iconoclastic fare like “I’m a Virgo” — the first foray into television for indie maverick Boots Riley — there’s a wild variety in this year’s lineup. Historically, the festival was better known for its musical offerings, but that’s changed in recent years as Hollywood has embraced the Texas gathering.
And while Sundance and Cannes may be higher profile, SXSW has established itself as an important stop for movies and shows looking to generate notoriety — “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” for instance, premiered at last year’s festival before racking up more than $100 million in ticket sales and dominating the Oscar nominations. Here’s a look at some of the projects that could be destined to follow in its footsteps.
Evil Dead Rise
A decade after the last chapter in the “Evil Dead” franchise, the Necronomicon is headed somewhere new: the big city. This fifth film moves the action to an L.A. apartment building, but still has the outrageous gore and camera angles of its predecessors. Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell, who directed and starred in the original films, respectively, are back as executive producers, and “The Hole in the Ground” helmer Lee Cronin is writing and directing. Given the talent behind the camera, this film looks to be a dynamic mix of something old and something new for horror fans, as well as a bloody good time.
For children of the 1980s and ’90s, Tetris was synonymous with Game Boy, the handheld Nintendo game console that represented the best portable entertainment on the market in the pre-internet era. But getting to that point of ubiquity involved navigating a tangled legal battle, one that frequently unfolded across the Soviet Union in the waning days of the Cold War. Now, Taron Egerton stars in a biographical drama that pulls back the curtain on one businessman’s quest to take this puzzle game global. Think “The Social Network” with Russian accents.
For his first TV project post-“Better Call Saul,” Bob Odenkirk is staying in the family. He’s back at AMC for “Lucky Hank,” a comedy-drama about a college professor going through a midlife crisis. Aaron Zelman (“Damages”) and Paul Lieberstein (“The Office”) adapted the Richard Russo novel “Straight Man,” and this sounds like a fun sendup of higher-education dysfunction.
Adele Lim, the screenwriter of “Crazy Rich Asians” and “Raya and the Last Dragon,” makes her feature film directorial debut with this hard R-rated comedy about a group of Asian American pals in search of one of their birth mothers. Ashley Park, Sherry Cola, Sabrina Wu and Stephanie Hsu star in a film that’s described by those in the know as raunchy, hilarious and heartfelt. Lionsgate, the studio behind “Joy Ride,” has high hopes for the movie, believing it could be a sleeper sensation.
I’m a Virgo
Boots Riley, the inventive mind behind “Sorry to Bother You,” follows that up with his first TV creation, “I’m a Virgo,” and it promises to be just as off-kilter as his award-winning film debut. Jharrel Jerome (“When They See Us”) plays a 13-foot Black man in the Oakland-set series from Amazon Prime Video. Walton Goggins and Mike Epps also star, with cameos by LaKeith Stanfield and others and a soundtrack by Riley’s hip-hop band. “Whatever you think it is, it’s a little bit crazier than that,” he recently said of the series. Count us in!
This drama looks at Richard Montañez, the Frito-Lay janitor who claims he cooked up the idea of bringing the heat to Cheetos. His story has been the subject of debate, with the Los Angeles Times raising questions about the extent of Montañez’s role in creating the Flamin’ Hot brand. However, the movie, guided by Eva Longoria in her narrative feature directorial debut, is expected to deliver an inspirational look at someone achieving the American dream.
A surreal comedy that toggles between the world of high art and the U.S. immigration system, while mixing in the magic of Tilda Swinton for good measure, “Problemista” sounds like an ambitious blend of subjects and styles. That’s exactly the sort of thing that writer and director Julio Torres achieved on “Los Espookys,” his HBO horror-comedy that was cruelly canceled after two sublime seasons. The cast for “Problemista” also boasts RZA and Isabella Rossellini.
Donald Glover and “Atlanta” writer and producer Janine Nabers co-created this dark Amazon Prime Video series about a socially awkward woman named Dre (Dominique Fishback), obsessed with a Beyoncé-esque musical sensation. In fact, Dre’s so infatuated that she will silence anyone who speaks ill of the singer, even if it means embracing extreme measures. Glover, whose endlessly creative “Atlanta” wrapped last year, cites inspiration from disparate sources, including Isabelle Huppert, Martin Scorsese and “Mad Men.” His new series also boasts a promising young staff writer: Malia Obama.
You Can Call Me Bill
From captain of the Starship Enterprise to Priceline pitchman, William Shatner has boldly gone where few performers have been before, doing everything from fighting off Klingons to securing discounted hotel rooms. This documentary offers an up close and personal look at one of Hollywood’s most compelling and idiosyncratic talents, a man with a stentorian voice and distinctive cadence who has transfixed generations of movie and TV fans. Plus, Shatner, now 91 years old, will be on hand at SXSW for both the documentary’s premiere and for a keynote conversation with Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League about his career in “Star Trek,” “Boston Legal” and beyond.
Two strangers collide after road rage upends both their lives. One driver is a contractor who has fallen on hard times; the other is a well-heeled businesswoman. That’s the premise of Netflix’s “Beef,” a dark comedy that also marks Steven Yeun’s return as a regular to live-action TV for the first time since battling zombies in “The Walking Dead.” Here he’s pitted against Ali Wong, the stand-up comic who is tackling the most dramatic role of her career thus far. Bold, weird and hailing from an exciting new voice — it’s the first series created by “Dave” and “Tuca & Bertie” writer Lee Sung Jin. “Beef” feels like the kind of offbeat project that typically electrifies the fans who flock to Austin.
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves
There have been ill-considered attempts to bring the D&D role-playing game to life on-screen, but this version, from Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley, the writers of “Horrible Bosses,” seems to be the most promising. With tongue firmly planted in cheek, “Honor Among Thieves” follows a gang of con artists and bandits battling an evil force. Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Justice Smith and Regé-Jean Page are among the roguish protagonists, with Hugh Grant providing some scenery-chewing villainy. It’s almost enough to make one forget the doleful 2000 adaptation of “D&D.” Well, almost.
Having tackled issues of faith and humanity in series like “The Leftovers” and “Watchmen,” Damon Lindelof is getting philosophical again with Peacock’s “Mrs. Davis.” This time he’s partnering with “The Big Bang Theory” alum Tara Hernandez, who serves as showrunner on this unique series — which couldn’t be timelier. As artificial intelligence breakthroughs dominate headlines, “Mrs. Davis” is about a powerful, all-knowing algorithm that seems tailor-made for our Bing era, with Betty Gilpin portraying Simone, a nun who aims to stop it. It’s a series unlike anything else on TV and will have audiences debating the battle between religion and technology.
Love & Death
It’s a brutal Lone Star State crime that has shocked the nation: In HBO’s “Love & Death,” Elizabeth Olsen stars as a Texas housewife named Candy Montgomery, who may or may not have hacked her friend Betty (Lily Rabe) to bits with an ax after engaging in an affair with Betty’s husband, Allan (Jesse Plemons). The macabre 1980-set tale was also the inspiration for Hulu’s 2022 series “Candy.” Given the glossy cast, “Love & Death” sounds like a must-watch, even if its grisly subject matter doesn’t leave us desperate for a trilogy of Candy Montgomery shows.
Michael Schneider, Selome Hailu, and William Earl contributed to this report.
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