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20 Movies We Can’t Wait to See at SXSW 2022

From a host of music docs to a Nicolas Cage meta-comedy — your complete guide of what to catch at the Austin, Texas film festival

Hello, Austin! The Texas-based film festival SXSW returns this year with a vengeance, complete with in-person events and what appears to be its traditional fit-to-burst lineup of raucous studio comedies, scrappy microindies, genre-freak fan service, across-the-board music docs, episodic TV-pilot sneak peeks and some wonderfully unclassifiable flotsam and jetsam. (Full disclosure: PMC, Rolling Stone‘s parent company, owns a stake in the fest.)

After several years of virtual editions — they were the first film fest to shut down due to the pandemic in 2020 — it will be wonderful to return to the Land of Milk and Queso from March 11th to the 19th and experience SXSW on the ground, in all of its ragged, crowd-friendly glory. (They will still be doing online screenings as well, should you want to check some of their selections from the comfort of your living room.) Here are 20 movies we’re chomping at the bit to catch down in the crown jewel of the Lone Star state, from profiles on King Crimson and the Kids in the Hall to Nicolas Cage doing what he does best: kicking ass and being Nicolas Cage.

From Rolling Stone US


A kid’s-show host (Jim Gaffigan) — think Bill Nye the Science Guy, but goofier — discovers that part of an old Russian rocket has dropped out of the sky and landed in his sleepy Ohio suburb. He believes that it could be a sign that he should revive his childhood dream of becoming an astronaut, and begins constructing a homemade spaceship in his garage. His wife (Better Call Saul‘s Rhea Seehorn) and family think he’s losing his mind. They may be right. The Donnie Darko vibes are strong with this one. Michael Ian Black and Tony Shaloub are along for the ride as well


Jahseh Onfroy began posting songs on SoundCloud at the age of 16, under the name XXXTENACION. By the time he was 20, he’d be famous and a leading pioneer in emo-rap, arrested for aggravated battery, considered one of the most controversial musical artists on the planet and murdered. That’s the story we know from the news reports and articles, at least; filmmaker Sabaah Folayan wants us to take a different look at the life and death of this troubled, young man. Her previous movie Whose Streets? is a landmark doc on the Ferguson uprising after the passing of Michael Brown, so if anyone was going to deal with this divisive subject in a non-exploitative manner, it’s her.

‘Lover, Beloved’

By the age of 23, Carson McCullers was a celebrated novelist, thanks to her stunning 1940 debut The Heart is a Lonely Hunter; by the age of 15, musician Suzanne Vega had become a serious fan of the Southern writer. The “Tom’s Diner’ singer was so enamored of McCullers work and her story, in fact, that many years later, she penned and performed a one-woman musical centered around two lectures that McCullers gave before her death in 1967. If you missed those evenings at the theater, no worry: This concert film of sorts allows Vega to do her tribute show one more time and captures the whole shebang for posterity. It’s worth it just for “Harper Lee,” an infectiously catchy song in which McCullers drags most of her literary peers through the dirt.

‘Nothing Last Forever’

With 2007’s Manda Bala (Send a Bullet) and 2017’s Love Means Zero, Jason Kohn established himself as a documentarian who could tackle everything from class warfare in Brazil to tennis coaching from every conceivable angle (and few inconceivable ones as well). His latest dives deep into the world of the diamond industry, where there’s allegedly a criminal conspiracy happening that threatens to throw the world of jewelry into a tailspin. We genuinely can’t wait to see this.


In terms of music industry highs and lows, Sheryl Crow has seen it all — and she’s now ready to spill her guts about all of it for the camera. Documentarian Amy Scott (the incredible Hal Ashby portrait Hal) lets Crow guide us through several decades worth of triumph and trauma, sickness and health, hits and misses, with luminaries like Keith Richards, Emmylou Harris and Joe Walsh adding their two cents. Seriously, have you listened to “If It Makes You Happy” recently? That thing’s a banger!

‘Spin Me Round’

A manager (co-writer Alison Brie) at an Olive Garden-style restaurant in Bakersfield, California, gets hand-picked to attend a prestigious corporate retreat in Tuscany. Upon arriving in Italy with her fellow trainees, however, she begins to suspect something else is going on. She also attracts the attention of the franchise’s CEO (Alessandro Nivola) and his take-no-shit assistant (Aubrey Plaza). Considering that the Brie and director Jeff Baena’s last project together was the highly unsettling Horse Girl, you should expect this dark comedy to go some weird and disturbing places. Call it Eat, Prey, Cringe. Plus the supporting cast is stacked: Fred Armisen, Molly Shannon, Tim Heidecker, Zach Woods, Lil Rey Howery, BSG‘s Tricia Helfer, SNL‘s Ego Nwodim, High Maintenance‘s Ben Sinclair.

‘This Much I Know to Be True’

Andrew Dominik chronicled Nick Cave dealing with grief, pain and the healing process in 2016’s One More Time With Feeling; now the director and the songwriter reunite for a look at Cave’s creative partnership and long friendship with multi-instrumentalist Warren Ellis. It’s just these two musicians working through songs from their 2021 album Carnage and the 2019 Bad Seeds joint Ghosteen, accompanied by a few extra singers and a string quartet, figuring out how to translate them into a live performance setting. Which, if you’ve heard these albums, is more than enough to keep you riveted.

‘To Leslie’

Once upon a time, Leslie (Andrea Riseborough) won the lottery and had an opportunity to make things better for her and her son. Now, thanks to a life of hard drinking and even harder living, she finds herself out on the street and having alienated her entire family. The kindness of strangers — specifically, a motel manager (Marc Maron) — offers her a second chance at stability, if only she can fight off her personal demons and worst instincts. Does filmmaker Michael Morris’ character study sound like a rough ride through one person’s bottoming out? Yes. Will we watch anything that the extraordinary Riseborough does? Also yes. Allison Janney, Stephen Root, Andre Royo, Owen Teague and 1883’s James Landry Hébert costar.

‘The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent’

Nicolas Cage plays the the role he was born to play: Nicolas Cage. Playing a fictional version of himself, i.e. a movie star disillusioned with the industry and dealing with money issues [cough], His Cageness is an actor getting ready to quit the biz when he gets an offer that’s too good to refuse: $1 million to simply show up at a billionaire’s birthday party. It turns out that the host is a superfan. He’s also an international crook, and then the C.I.A. get involved, and also there’s apparently a younger, possibly imaginary, definitely off-the-hook version of Cage running around as well. This could be the Nic Cage meta-comedy we’ve been waiting for.


As in “X rating,” which is what you’d get if you were, say, making a porno movie in the isolated, rural backwoods of Texas circa 1979. What folks failed to warn the would-be Dirk Digglers and skin-flick auteurs who venture outside of the city in the hopes of adult-film fame and fortune is that some folks don’t taste kindly to having such smut being lensed in their backyard. They may even get a little…homicidal about things. Ti West has given us one of the great throwback-horror movies of the last 20 years (The House of the Devil), so expectations are high for this grungy, creepy-looking grindhouse nugget.