SXSW 2023: All Of Deadline’s Movie Reviews

By Valerie Complex, Damon Wise, Pete Hammond

SXSW 2023
The Paramount Theater in Austin Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for SXSW

The SXSW Film & TV Festival has returned to Austin, and Deadline’s reviewers are watching all the key films. Here is a compilation of our reviews from the fest, which last year was the launchpad for newly-minted Oscar winner Everything Everywhere All at Once. The Daniels’ wild sci-fi action comedy is the first pic to debut at SXSW and go on to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

SXSW: ‘Raging Grace’ Takes Top Honors In Narrative Feature Competition – Winners List

Check out the movies we reviewed below.


Ben Affleck as Phil Knight in 'AIR'
Ben Affleck as Phil Knight in ‘Air’ Amazon Studios

Section: Headliners
Director: Ben Affleck
Screenwriter: Alex Convery
Cast: Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Jason Bateman, Chris Messina, Matthew Maher, Marlon Wayans, Chris Tucker, Viola Davis, Gustaf Skarsgård, Julius Tennon
Deadline’s takeaway: In his fifth feature film, Ben Affleck’s talents exceed expectations. He’s grown as an actor and director but is best when doing both. The organization and patience needed to balance all of those elements must be stressful, but I couldn’t tell because he never breaks a sweat.


Sydney Sweeney Halsey Americana
Sydney Sweeney, Halsey and Paul Walter Hauser in ‘Americana’ Bron Studios

Section: Narrative Spotlight
Director-Screenwriter: Tony Tost
Cast: Sydney Sweeney, Paul Walter Hauser, Halsey, Eric Dane, Zahn McClarnon, Gavin Maddox Bergman, Simon Rex, Derek Hinkey, Toby Huss, Harriet Sansom Harris
Deadline’s takeaway: Told out of order, the western dramedy with a rich and enjoyable cast has some tricks up its sleeve, thanks to the brilliant writing and the script’s comedic timing.


Rachel Sennott Ayo Edebiri Bottoms
(L-R) Rachel Sennott as PJ and Ayo Edebiri as Josie in ‘Bottoms’ Courtesy of ORION Pictures Inc.

Section: Headliners
Director: Emma Seligman
Screenwriters: Emma Seligman, Rachel Sennott
Cast: Rachel Sennott, Ayo Edebiri, Ruby Cruz, Havana Rose Liu, Kaia Gerber, Nicholas Galitzine, Miles Fowler, Marshawn Lynch, Dagmara Dominiczyk, Punkie Johnson
Deadline’s takeaway: Bottoms is fun, but with some slight tweaks this could have an epic exploration of the gray areas of queerness and what it means to stand in the center of that as an adolescent. It’s definitely an ambitious second outing for a director who still has room to grow.

Dungeons And Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

Chris Pine and Michelle Rodriguez in ‘Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves’ Paramount

Section: Headliners
Directors: Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley
Screenwriters: Jonathan Goldstein & John Francis Daley and Michael Gilio
Cast: Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Hugh Grant, Regé-Jean Page, Justice Smith, Sophia Lillis, Chloe Coleman, Daisy Head
Deadline’s takeaway: With renewed interest in the fantasy genre, it’s good to see something outside LOTR and Game of Thrones getting it right and having a good time. Dungeons and Dragon is also one of the better adaptations due to all of its elements coming together: a strong cast, a decent story, dynamic direction and pleasing special effects.

Evil Dead Rise

‘Evil Dead Rise’

Section: Headliners
Director-Screenwriter: Lee Cronin
Cast: Lily Sullivan, Alyssa Sutherland, Morgan Davies, Gabrielle Echols, Nell Fisher
Deadline’s takeaway: The Deadites are one of the most comedic and charismatic of horror canon, and despite the usual annoying horror tropes, it’s a funny, absurd, gory and bleak return to for that will keep viewers on edge. Just how fans like it.

Flamin’ Hot

Flamin' Hot
‘Flamin’ Hot’ Searchlight Pictures

Section: Headliners
Director: Eva Longoria
Screenwriters: Lewis Colick and Linda Yvette Chavez
Cast: Jesse Garcia, Annie Gonzalez, Emilio Rivera, Dennis Haysbert, Tony Shalhoub, Matt Walsh, Bobby Soto, Pepe Serna
Deadline’s takeaway: The film’s lighthearted narration by the main character plays with the idea that not everything presented here is a documentary. That is a smart move, because this crowd-pleasing and highly entertaining movie should not be penalized for possibly playing with some of the facts.

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Frybread Face And Me

(L-R) Kier Tallman and Charley Hogan SXSW

Section: Narrative Spotlight
Director-screenwriter: Billy Luther
Cast: Kier Tallman, Charley Hogan, Martin Sensmeier
Deadline’s takeaway: Using his authentic experience as a rough map rather than a beat sheet, Billy Luther hits on something very special here, exploring universal themes of childhood and family in ways that transcend the specificity of its setting.


'Hypnotic' review Ben Affleck Robert Rodriguez
Ben Affleck Hypnotic Film Holdings LLC

Section: Narrative Spotlight
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Screenwriters: Robert Rodriguez & Max Borenstein
Cast: Ben Affleck, Alice Braga, JD Pardo, Hala Finley, Dayo Okeniyi, Jeff Fahey, Jackie Earle Haley, William Fichtner
Deadline’s takeaway: Robert Rodriguez revealed at the premiere screening that his film is a work in progress — and it still needs work in order to progress. It’s never boring and has a solid concept that is solid enough to get behind, but it’s all over the place and in desperate need of heavy tweaking.

If You Were The Last

Anthony Mackie and Zoë Chao in ‘If You Were the Last’ SXSW

Section: Narrative Spotlight
Director: Kristian Mercado
Screenwriter: Angela Bourassa
Cast: Anthony Mackie, Zoë Chao, Natalie Morales
Deadline’s takeaway: The curious thing is that Kristian Mercado’s film seems to pass quicker when it’s languishing in the doldrums of the cosmos than it does when it arrives in the real world: why such a simple story takes so long to get to just 92 minutes is one of the many mysteries of the universe.

John Wick: Chapter 4

John Wick: Chapter 4
Keanu Reeves in ‘John Wick: Chapter 4’ Lionsgate

Section: Special Event
Director: Chad Stahelski
Screenwriters: Shay Hatten, Michael Finch
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Ian McShane, Lance Reddick, Donnie Yen, Bill Skarsgard, Hiroyuki Sanada, Shamier Anderson, Rina Sawayama, Scott Adkins, Clancy Brown
Deadline’s takeaway: The John Wicks are getting longer and a little more bloated since the original. And though John Wick: Chapter 4 has grown by nearly 40 minutes over the last one, for the most part it never slows down, and remains a feast for fans of Keanu Reeves’ command of the martial arts/gun fu/car fu genre.

Joy Ride

'Joy Ride' trailer
(L-R) Sabrina Wu, Ashley Park, Sherry Cola and Stephanie Hsu in ‘Joy Ride’ Ed Araquel/Lionsgate

Section: Headliners
Director: Adele Lim
Screenwriters: Cherry Chevapravatdumrong and Teresa Hsiao
Cast: Ashley Park, Sherry Cola, Stephanie Hsu, Sabrina Wu
Deadline’s takeaway: The script is self-assured, the direction is dynamic, and the cast is sensational. Props to Chevapravatdumrong, Hsiao and Lim for knowing when to have fun and knowing when to get serious. It’s a difficult balance to strike, but they do it effortlessly.

Late Bloomers

Late Bloomers
(L-R) Margaret Sophie Stein and Karen Gillan in ‘Late Bloomers’ We’re Doin’ Great / Park Pictures

Section: Narrative Feature Competition
Director: Lisa Steen
Screenwriter: Anna Greenfield
Cast: Karen Gillan, Margaret Sophie Stein, Jermaine Fowler
Deadline’s takeaway: Lisa Steen’s debut feature is an intimate, defiantly female-fronted indie, showcasing an engaging and refreshingly vanity-free performance from Karen Gillan, a talented Scottish actress whose career to date is still something of a work in progress.

Late Night With The Devil

Late Night With The Devil
‘Late Night With the Devil’ Image Nation Abu Dhabi

Section: Midnighters
Director-screenwriters: Colin and Cameron Cairnes
Cast: David Dastmalchian, Georgina Haig, Faysal Bazzi
Deadline’s takeaway: That Late Night With the Devil is one for the myriad genre festivals that abound internationally is a no-brainer, but the Cairnes brothers deserve a bit more consideration than that for their film’s wry engagement with U.S. history and pop culture.

National Anthem

National Anthem
Charlie Plummer in ‘National Anthem’ LD Entertainment

Section: Narrative Spotlight
Director: Luke Gilford
Screenwriters: David Largman Murray, Kevin Best, Luke Gilford
Cast: Charlie Plummer, Rene Rosado, Eve Lindley
Deadline’s takeaway: Perhaps more by coincidence than design, National Anthem arrives at a time when everything it celebrates is under attack, and such a low-key affirmation of personal growth and freedom might actually be what we really need right now.

The New Americans: Gaming A Revolution

The New Americans: Gaming a Revolution
‘The New Americans: Gaming a Revolution’ Interloper Films

Section: Documentary Spotlight
Director-screenwriter: Ondi Timoner
Deadline’s takeaway: After last year’s Last Flight Home, an emotionally intense but beautifully calibrated meditation on her father’s right to medically assisted death, Timoner returns to her forte, which is an uncanny ability to intuit the vicissitudes of pop culture while embedding herself in it while it’s happening.


‘Parachute’ Great Escape

Section: Narrative Feature Competition
Director: Brittany Snow
Screenwriter: Brittany Snow, Becca Gleason
Cast: Courtney Eaton, Thomas Mann, Francesca Reale, Gina Rodriguez, Joel McHale, Scott Mescudi, Dave Bautista, Jennifer Westfeldt, Kathryn Gallagher, Chrissie Fit, Kelley Jakle, Owen Thiele
Deadline’s takeaway: Brittany Snow’s directing debut doesn’t so much add to the “troubled-girl-on-a-journey” canon as dust it down a bit for a new generation, and its success is mostly attributable to its star Courtney Eaton — the deserving winner of a SXSW Special Jury Recognition for Performance.


Julio Torres and Tilda Swinton in ‘Problemista’ A24

Section: Headliners
Director-screenwriter: Julio Torres
Cast: Julio Torres, Tilda Swinton, RZA, Isabella Rossellini, Larry Owens, Catalina Saavedra, Greta Le
Deadline’s takeaway: Problemista, a comedic, surrealist fantasy that serves as a critique of capitalism, is about authenticity and learning to be confident enough to take up space. Especially as a person of color who often feel invisible, or feel they must shrink themselves in order to fit in.


‘Scrambled’ Lionsgate

Section: Narrative Feature Competition
Director-screenwriter: Leah McKendrick
Cast: Leah McKendrick, Ego Nwodim, Andrew Santino
Deadline’s takeaway: It’s a good set-up for a comedy, with its girl-power sentiments about single-parenting and putting one’s emotional affairs in order. But the setup is really all there is, with no distinctive game plan other than to see Leah McKendrick’s Nellie get to the finish line with her treatment.

Self Reliance

Stll From Jake Johnson Film Self Reliance
‘Self Reliance’ MRC Film

Section: Narrative Spotlight
Director-screenwriter: Jake Johnson
Cast: Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick, Andy Samberg, Natalie Morales, Christopher Lloyd, Wayne Brady, GaTa, Emily Hampshire, Mary Holland, Boban Marjanović
Deadline’s takeaway: Self-Reliance is never dull, but the story isn’t as well structured; that third act is an erratic mess. The other issue is at the conclusion, Tommy doesn’t undergo a complete 180-degree change, so he’s still a douche by the end.

Story Ave

'Story Ave'
‘Story Ave’ Eric Branco

Section: Narrative Feature Competition
Director: Aristotle Torres
Screenwriter: Bonsu Thompson, Aristotle Torres
Cast: Asante Blackk, Luis Guzmán, Alex Hibbert, Melvin Gregg, Coral Peña, Cassandra Freeman, Hassan Johnson
Deadline takeaway: Naming a young Black man’s story after a transport stop gives off strong Fruitvale vibes, but Aristotle Torres’ feature debut reaches back further to the hip-hop morality tales of the early ’90s, like Boaz Yakin’s Fresh or Ernest Dickerson’s Juice.


Nikita Efremov and Taron Egerton in 'Tetris'
‘Tetris’ Apple TV+

Section: Headliners
Director: Jon S. Baird
Screenwriter: Noah Pink
Cast: Taron Egerton, Nikita Efremov, Sofia Lebedeva, Anthony Boyle, Ben Miles, Ken Yamamura, Igor Grabuzov, Oleg Shtefanko, Ayane Nagabuchi, Rick Yune
Deadline takeaway: Tetris is simply riveting, playing more like a Cold War-era international spy thriller than a manual for acquiring rights to a Russian video game. Yes, that latter sentence is what makes up the bones of this story, but I guarantee you will be on the edge of your seat, and remarkably it is all true.

You Sing Loud, I Sing Louder

'You Sing Loud, I Sing Louder'
Ewan and Clara McGregor in ‘You Sing Loud, I Sing Louder’ Sobini Films/Killer Films.

Section: Narrative Spotlight
Director: Emma Westenberg
Screenwriter: Ruby Caster
Cast: Clara McGregor, Ewan McGregor, Vera Bulder
Deadline’s takeaway: In terms of subject matter, it’s gritty, dealing with issues of addiction and self-harm, but the treatment is surprisingly light and almost spectral. Like Eliza Hittman’s 2020 Sundance hit Never Rarely Sometimes Always, this is a road movie that passes like a fever dream.

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