October 27, 2016
        "The Circle" and "The Lost City of Z": Which potential 2016 contenders got bumped to 2017?                Natalie Portman, Janelle Monáe, Matthew McConaughey, Bryce Dallas Howard, Edgar Ramirez, Stacy Keach at Hollywood Film Awards                Viola Davis will be campaigned in Best Supporting Actress for "Fences"                Mel Gibson to be Honored with the Hollywood Director Award at the 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                Michael Moore drops a surprise new film with "Michael Moore in TrumpLand"                Hollywood Contenders: New Oscar Predictions for October                Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant, Naomie Harris, Lily Collins get Honors at 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                "Manchester by the Sea" leads the Gotham Award nominations                Tom Ford, Marc Platt and Kenneth Lonergan to be Honored at 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                Tom Cruise is in his action hero comfort zone with "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back"                "Moonlight" could be A24's big Oscar horse this year                Ewan McGregor steps behind the camera with "American Pastoral"                Hollywood Contenders: A second crack at Golden Globe predictions for 2016                "The Accountant" seeks to help give Ben Affleck another blockbuster                85 countries will be competing for Best Foreign Language Feature nominations at the Oscars        

SXSW: Mel Gibson’s “The Beaver” leads our list of 15 must-see films

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: We have a little bit of time to process the extensive South By Southwest film line up, which was unveiled by festival programmers earlier this week. This year’s event, scheduled to take over beautiful Austin, Texas from March 11 to 19, will showcase 130 features including 60 world premieres, 12 North American premieres and 16 U.S. premieres.

“SXSW prides itself on taking chances, sifting for films that are the seedlings of the next generation of must-see artists,” said Film Conference and Festival Producer Janet Pierson. “This year’s line up is full of emerging voices and filmmakers who transcended the resources they had on hand, often with an alchemist’s touch.”

As we prepare to bring you exclusive coverage from Austin, I went ahead and singled out the 15 films I’m most looking forward to seeing while in town. The descriptions were provided by the SXSW press team, and I’ll try to work up deeper insight for each film as to why it stands out as the fest approaches. But this is the tip of the SXSW iceberg. To learn more about this year’s programming, as well as the many panels and workshops that will be going on during the amazing fest, click over to SXSW.com.

For now, the 15 films I’m most anxious to see at SXSW 2011, in order, are:

1. The Beaver
Director: Jodie Foster, Writer: Kyle Killen
Two-time Academy Award® winner Jodie Foster directs and co-stars with two-time Academy Award® winner Mel Gibson in an emotional story about a man on a journey to re-discover his family and re-start his life. Plagued by his own demons, Walter Black was once a successful toy executive and family man who now suffers from depression. No matter what he tries, Walter can’t seem to get himself back on track…until a beaver hand puppet enters his life. Cast: Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, Anton Yelchin, Jennifer Lawrence, Cherry Jones (World Premiere)

2. Page One: A Year Inside The New York Times
Director: Andrew Rossi
Unprecedented access to the New York Times newsroom yields a complex view of a media landscape fraught with both peril and opportunity.

3. Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop
Director: Rodman Flender
Did Conan O’Brien go on tour to connect with his fans or fill a void within himself? Rodman Flender’s documentary captures an artist trained in improvisation at the most improvisational time of his career. (World Premiere)

4. Fly Away
Director & Writer: Janet Grillo
A poignant yet humor filled story about a single mother of a teenager with autism, confronting her child’s future. What will sustain her daughter, and herself? A parent/child love story, when love means letting go. Cast: Beth Broderick, Ashley Rickards, Greg Germann, JR Bourne, Reno (World Premiere)

5. Win Win
Director: Tom McCarthy, Writers: Tom McCarthy & Joe Tiboni
Tom McCarthy, acclaimed writer/director of The Visitor and The Station Agent, once again explores the depths and nuances of human relationships in his new film about the allegiances and bonds between unlikely characters. Cast: Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, Bobby Cannavale, Jeffrey Tambor, Burt Young, Melanie Lynskey, Alex Schaffer, Margo Martindale, David Thompson

6. Last Days Here
Directors: Don Argott & Demian Fenton
The film follows middle-aged rocker Bobby Liebling, lead singer of the cult hard rock/heavy metal band Pentagram, as he leaves his parents’ basement in search of the life he never lived.
(World Premiere)

7. Detention
Director: Joseph Kahn, Writers: Joseph Kahn & Mark Palermo
A downtrodden 17-year-old girl is sent to detention where she must survive a slasher film killer and save the world in time for prom. Cast: Josh Hutcherson, Dane Cook, Shanley Caswell, Spencer Locke, Aaron David Johnson (World Premiere)

8. Source Code
Director: Duncan Jones, Writer: Ben Ripley
When soldier Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) wakes up in the body of an unknown man, he discovers he’s part of a mission to find the bomber of a Chicago commuter train. In an assignment unlike any he’s ever known, he learns he’s part of a government experiment called the “Source Code,” a computer program that enables him to cross over into another man’s identity in the last 8 minutes of his life. Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, Jeffrey Wright (World Premiere)

9. Foo Fighters
Director: James Moll
The definitive documentary of the last great American rock n’ roll band: chronicling Foo Fighters’ 16 year history from their first club gigs to the recording of their new album in Dave Grohl’s garage.
(World Premiere)

10. Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey
Director: Constance A. Marks
Elmo is one of the most beloved characters among children across the globe. Meet the unlikely man behind the puppet – the heart and soul of Elmo – Kevin Clash. Narrated by Whoopi Goldberg, this documentary includes rare archival footage and offers a behind-the-scenes look at Sesame Street and the Jim Henson Workshop.

11. Sound of My Voice
Director: Zal Batmanglij, Writers: Zal Batmanglij and Brit Marling
A young couple infiltrate a cult that meets in the San Fernando Valley. Cast: Brit Marling, Christopher Denham, Nicole Vicius

12. The Innkeepers
Director & Writer: Ti West
Hotel clerks by day, amateur ghost hunters by night, the last two employees of the historic Yankee Pedlar Inn set out to prove that their place of business is as haunted as its reputation.
Cast: Sara Paxton, Pat Healy, Kelly McGillis (World Premiere)

13. Fuck my life (Chile)
Director & Writer: Nicolás López
Love in the times of Facebook is worst than love in the times of cholera.
Cast: Ariel Levy, Lucy Cominetti, Andrea Velasco, Paz Bascuñan, Leonor Varela (U.S. Premiere)

14. Paul
Director: Greg Mottola, Writers: Simon Pegg & Nick Frost
Simon Pegg and Nick Frost reunite as two geeks who meet an alien named Paul (Seth Rogen) on a pilgrimage to America’s UFO heartland. Their road trip will alter our universe forever. Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jason Bateman, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Blythe Danner, John Carroll Lynch, with Sigourney Weaver, and Seth Rogen as Paul (North American Premiere)

15. Terri
Director: Azazel Jacobs, Writer: Patrick deWitt
A moving and often funny film about a big kid in a small town that doesn’t seem to have room for anyone who is different. Cast: Jacob Wysocki, John C. Reilly, Creed Bratton, Olivia Crocicchia, Bridger Zadina

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About Sean O'Connell

Sean O'Connell is a nationally recognized film critic. His reviews have been published in print ('The Washington Post,' 'USA Today') and online (AMC FilmCritic.com, MSN's Citysearch) since 1996. He's a weekly contributor to several national radio programs. He is a longstanding member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Southeastern Film Critics View all articles by Sean O'Connell Association (SEFCA).

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