Breaking down the 5 must-see movies that premiered at South By Southwest 2022

After a three-year hiatus in person, the South by Southwest Film Festival has made its long-awaited return. To celebrate, we headed to Austin for SXSW 2022’s opening weekend and to witness the return of Texas’ biggest movie event. I hadn’t been to the famous festival since I volunteered during my undergrad years at UT Austin, so I was excited to get back in the swing of things and cover some of the most anticipated new movies.

Walking around downtown Austin, I got the sense that the festival and conferences seemed smaller – an understandable state considering the months (and years) leading up to the March event. Several people I spoke to noted the same feeling, but that didn’t dampen the experience or the excitement of catching multiple buzzing world premieres. I tried to see as much as possible, both in person and online (in addition to the headlining premieres, most had options to view the screenings virtually), throughout the week.

The following five films were my favorite and must-see projects that premiered at SXSW 2022. Refresh yourself to plan your next movie night and find out where and how to watch them after the festival.

“Everything Everywhere All At Once” will be the opening night movie of SXSW 2022.

Everything everywhere all at once

In theaters March 25

The world premiere of this new hybrid action-comedy-sci-fi film from Daniel Kwan (Swiss army man) served as the opening night screening of the SXSW 2022 Film Festival. It stars Michelle Yeoh (boobies rich asian) as Evelyn, an aging Chinese immigrant who can’t seem to finish her taxes and gets carried away with exploring other worlds. Also starring James Hong and Jenny Slate, the film explores what it’s like for a woman to get a glimpse of other lives she could have lived.

One of the most incredibly unique, clever and funny movies I’ve seen in a long time, Everything everywhere all at once doesn’t just attempt to shock audiences with its jaw-dropping scenes – although that’s a very entertaining part of it. It also has an intensely emotional storyline. Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan (Evelyn’s husband) and Stephanie Hsu (Evelyn’s daughter) perform together as a family of three who have had issues. A wake-up call for Evelyn, this adventure through the multiverse is a journey that allows her to see what could have been and ultimately face the difficulties within her own universe.

SXSW Cha Cha
Dakota Johnson appears in Dallas-born Cooper Raiff’s “Cha Cha Real Smooth,” an Official Selection for the US Drama Competition at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. (Courtesy Sundance Institute)

Cha Cha real smooth

Airing on Apple TV+ on June 17

After winning the People’s Choice Award in the American Drama category at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, the new film from Dallas native Cooper Raiff made its Texas premiere at SXSW. In 2020, Raiff released his first feature film, S#!%house, which won the Grand Jury Prize in the Narrative Feature Competition at South by Southwest. Cha Cha real smooth stars Raiff as a recent college graduate who gets a job hosting a Bar Mitzvah party. He befriends (and maybe more) a young mom (played by Dakota Johnson) and her autistic daughter Lola at one of the parties.

An impressive second film from Raiff, the comedy-drama has been picked up by Apple TV+ for release this summer. Similar to S#!%house, the film explores the life of a young man in the process of becoming an adult. Andrew (Raiff) returns home with his mother (Leslie Mann), little brother and stepfather (Brad Garrett) after college, and works at a place called Meat Sticks while his college girlfriend moves to Barcelona. Feeling confused and stuck, Andrew’s bond with Domino (Johnson) and his daughter quickly intensifies. Although Domino is engaged to another man, she develops a complicated relationship with Andrew rooted in her fears of settling down. With Lola (Vanessa Burghardt), the three have a wonderful, feel-good dynamic that makes things difficult. Raiff portrays the post-college struggle of being on the threshold of child and adult in a comedic and emotional way.

The Lost City SXSW 2022
Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum star in “The Lost City,” premiering at SXSW 2022.

The lost city

In theaters March 19

Starring Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum, this action romantic comedy follows the story of author Loretta Sage who has spent her career writing romance and adventure novels. Its covers feature model Alan (Tatum) who is on Sage’s book tour. Sage is kidnapped by a billionaire (Daniel Radcliffe) who thinks she can lead him to the lost treasure of her novel. Alan must then prove himself as a hero in real life by saving her. Brad Pitt also makes a hilarious appearance as a former Navy Seal whom Alan hires to find Loretta.

A fun and fresh take on the romantic comedy, The lost city is a simple and entertaining adventure film starring two of the biggest stars from directors and co-writers Adam and Aaron Nee. Although it’s not an obvious match, Bullock and Tatum have great chemistry. Radcliffe plays the villain, whose main goal is to prove his family of media moguls wrong (as they chose his younger brother to take over the empire). This movie is a must for a silly and feel-good experience. Plus, Sandra Bullock is always a delight to watch.

The unbearable weight of massive talent SXSW 2022
Nicolas Cage embodies himself in “The unbearable weight of a massive talent”. (Photo by Katalin Vermes/Lionsgate)

The unbearable weight of massive talent

In theaters April 22

Another world first, this action-comedy film stars Nicolas Cage as well as Nick Cage. A fictionalized version of himself, the story follows a dissatisfied creative actor who faces financial ruin. To remedy this, Cage takes a million dollar gig to attend the birthday party of a superfan played by Pedro Pascal. Tiffany Haddish stars as a CIA agent who recruits Cage as an informant to take down the fan, who is also a drug kingpin.

One of the movies I was disappointed to miss at SXSW, this Nic Cage meta movie currently has a 100% review score on Rotten Tomatoes. So far it’s been hailed as a hilarious, Nicolas Cage extravaganza where the high-energy actor explores all the characters he’s played throughout his career.

Tony Hawk SXSW Films
“Tony Hawk: Until the Wheels Drop” was a favorite documentary at SXSW.

Tony Hawk: Until the Wheels Drop

Airing on HBO Max on April 5

This documentary about the greatest skateboarding legend of our time, Tony Hawk, offers a unique and in-depth look at the athlete’s early life and rise to stardom. Produced by the Duplass Brothers and directed by Sam Jones, the 2 hour and 15 minute film not only explores Hawk’s career, but also his personal life and his complicated relationship with skateboarding. The film includes interviews with several other former professional skateboarders from the Bones Brigade (of which Hawk was a part as a child), including Rodney Mullen, Stacy Peralta, Lance Mountain, Mike McGill, and more.

On a more personal level, Until the wheels fall explores Hawk’s relationship with his parents, particularly his father who founded the National Skateboarding Association. The film also reviews past relationships (Hawk has been married four times) and how they were affected by becoming a famous skateboarder at such a young age. And not for the faint-hearted, clips are shown of some of Hawk’s worst falls.

Hawk, now 53, attended the Austin premiere of the documentary with a broken femur. But he still used his crutches to get on stage and answer a few questions. So many of his older brothers and his Bones Brigade family express concern in the film about whether he will ever kill himself while skateboarding. But at this point, after we’ve just seen Hawk land a final 900 (he says), Tony Hawk looks invincible.