South by Southwest, the music, film and interactive festival in Austin, recently wrapped up its competitive film portion. The big winners of the night were the feature film “Gimme the Loot” and documentary “Beware Mr. Baker.”
But other movies made quite an impression on audiences. For one, the Austin fest is home to the more quirky ventures in the comedy, drama and horror (especially this year) genres, which makes sense considering the city’s unofficial slogan is “Keep Austin Weird.”
The remake of “21 Jump Street” met with great fanfare and acclaim. Stars Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum even showed up to promote it… in their full cop outfits.
Will Ferrell‘s new Spanish-speaking comedy “Casa de Mi Padre” also had a warm welcome.
But the best films were the ones audiences and critics didn’t see coming. From oddball horror flicks (“Cabin in the Woods”) to sweet, quiet comedies (“Somebody Up There Likes Me”), these are the top films to watch out for this 2012-2013 movie season.
1. “Cabin in the Woods”
Directed by “Cloverfield” helmer Drew Goddard and produced by the cult-genius behind “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” Joss Whedon, this film is about a group of good-looking friends who explore a cabin, you guessed it, in the woods.
But because Goddard and Whedon are well-versed in the horror/sci-fi/supernatural genres, there’s much more at play than meets the eye. Check out the spooky trailer.
This rousing documentary about the life of icon Bob Marley was another big hit at SXSW.
Produced by the singer’s son Ziggy and directed by “The Last King of Scotland” maker Kevin McDonald, the movie is sure to bring in the crowds come release time. This trailer makes Marley look more interesting than ever.
3 “The Babymakers”
This new comedy is brought to you by Broken Lizard writer Jay Chandrasekhar, the man behind hilariously odd flicks like “Super Troopers” and strange-to-terrible ventures like “Club Dread.”
Luckily, “The Babymakers” is more on the “Super Troopers” side as it follows a young, frustrated couple (Olivia Munn and “Parks and Recreation one-time star Paul Schneider) as they try to have a baby.
When Schneider’s character finds out he is the problem, he plans to rob a sperm bank he once gave sperm to in order to get his wife pregnant.
4. “Gimme the Loot”
This sincere film about two young graffiti artists who try and get revenge on the people who destroyed their most recent work of art was worthy of its SXSW’s Feature Film Jury Award.
The movie looks to be a lovingly made look into the lives of a platonic couple with great lead performances. Here’s the nuanced trailer.
“Sucker Punch” co-star Jamie Chung looks to have much better quality material to work with here as a Korean-American who is forced into a life of prostitution.
While this story has been told before, the film seems to take a twist: in order to survive, Chung’s character must join forces with the human traffickers who abducted her.
The actress received a Special Jury Recognition for her performance the film won the Audience Award.
6. “Somebody Up There Likes Me”
For anyone willing to see “Parks and Recreation” star Nick Offerman as much as possible, this will be a great treat.
This sweet indie comedy follows 35 years of two friends as they encounter a strange, magical suitcase that seems to slow the ageing process through major life moments. Watch this sweet, if slightly dysfunctional, bromance.
7. “Beware Mr. Baker”
The Grand Jury Prize winner for documentary follows the life of Cream drummer Ginger Baker and the impact he made on famous drummers throughout history like Rush’s Neal Peart and The Police’s Stewart Copeland.
Judging from the trailer alone, Baker must have had one hell of a life.
8. “Killer Joe”
From “The Exorcist” director William Friedkin, this new drama/thriller is centered around a young drug dealer (“Into the Wild” star Emile Hirsch) as he plots to kill his mother to collect her insurance money and pay off some local kingpins who are waiting for their cut.
The young drug deal finds Matthew McConaughey‘s “Joe,” a police officer who moonlights as a hit man. But there’s more to him and the situation than meets the eye.
“Killer Joe” was given an NC-17 rating, and the rating was upheld even after an appeal. But that goes to show this trailer park-set thriller won’t be cutting corners on authentic violence.
9. “Fat Kid Rules the World”
Based on a young-adult novel from 2003, this movie follows a suicidal, severely overweight teen named Troy that is rescued from his suicide attempt by a young punk rocker who coerces Troy to form a band with him.
He’s then sucked into the world of punk rock music but learns self-confidence and more.
It’s a relatively standard coming-of-age drama, but critics are singing praises of the standout performance from Jacob Wysocki as Troy and solid direction from “The Descendants” actor Matthew Lillard. Plus the trailer makes the film look endearing and unique.
10. “Safety Not Guaranteed”
Starring “Parks and Recreation” star Aubrey Plaza, “New Girl” actor Jake M. Johnson and director/actor Mark Duplass, this entry made waves at Sundance and now at SXSW.
The movie is about a three magazine journalists who decide to find out about the man who wrote this classified ad, while one of them (Plaza) starts to have feelings for him:
“WANTED: Someone to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. P.O. Box 91 Ocean View, WA 99393. You’ll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. I have only done this once before. Safety not guaranteed.”
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