WORTH SEEING IN THEATERS
Arrival [PG-13] – Amy Adams plays a college professor drafted by homeland security to communicate with alien visitors. With Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker. trailer
Elle [R] – Black comedy-thriller of a successful businesswoman (Isabelle Huppert) who tries to track down the man who raped her. Directed by Paul Verhoeven. In French. trailer
Fences – Denzel Washington and Viola Davis in adaptation of August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play. trailer
Hell or High Water [R] – “Neo-western” about two brothers (Ben Foster and Chris Pine) who rob sleepy banks in West Texas to settle a personal score, with Texas Rangers (Jeff Bridges and Gil Birmingham) in slow-motion pursuit. Screenplay by Taylor Sheridan. trailer
La La Land – Aspiring actress (Emma Stone) and jazz pianist (Ryan Gosling) chase their Hollywood dreams in refreshingly retro movie musical. Directed by Damien Chazelle. trailer
Moana [PG] – Animated musical adventures of a new Disney princess, Moana, who sails the South Pacific in search of a fabled island. trailer
Moonlight [NR] – Spell-binding love story of gay African-American coming of age in inner-city Miami. Directed by Barry Jenkins. “Like Brokeback Mountain a decade ago, Moonlight is a piece of art that will transform lives long after it leaves theaters” — Gregory Ellwood trailer
Neruda – Chilean poet/senator Pablo Neruda (Luis Gnecco) delights his public and taunts the police who pursue him in political exile. Directed by Pablo Larraín. trailer
Paterson [R] – Poetry and dreams fill the life of a Paterson, New Jersey bus driver (Adam Driver). Wryly rendered by director Jim Jarmusch. trailer
Sully [PG-13] – Tom Hanks portrays Chesley Sullenberger, the unassuming pilot who landed a stricken jetliner on the Hudson River, as he endures a post-crash NTSB investigation. Directed by Clint Eastwood from a script by Todd Komarnicki, adapting Sullenberger’s own book. trailer
Toni Erdmann [R] – Eccentric father wins his way back into his daughter’s life (in German). trailer
1. Split [PG-13] – Schizophrenic kidnapper (James McAvoy) battles his multiple personalities. Directed by M. Night Shyamalan.
2. xXx: The Return of Xander Cage [PG-13] – Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) returns to action for a new, tough assignment.
3. Hidden Figures [PG] – NASA learns to embrace a team of mathematicians (Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae) who are both female and African-American.
4. Sing [PG] – A mouse, an elephant, a pig, a gorilla and a porcupine compete in the world’s greatest singing competition. In 3D animation.
5. La La Land [PG-13] – Aspiring actress (Emma Stone) and jazz pianist (Ryan Gosling) chase their Hollywood dreams in refreshingly retro musical. Directed by Damien Chazelle. trailer
January 20 – The Founder – Michael Keaton plays Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s.
February 3 – A Dog’s Purpose – From director Lasse Hallstrom.
February 10 – I am Not Your Negro – James Baldwin documentary.
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Early buzz for “Landline” and Al Gore in “An Inconvenient Sequel” as festival suffers power outage at one theater and cyberhack on box office systems.
2016 recap: U.S. Grand Jury Prizes – Weiner (documentary), The Birth of a Nation (drama). U.S. Audience Awards – Jim: The James Foley Story (documentary) and The Birth of a Nation.
Terrence Malick‘s Song to Song will open the SXSW Film Festival on March 10.
Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some!! opened the film portion of the festival. Adam Pinney’s quirky film about eccentricity and obsession, The Arbalest, won the narrative grand jury prize. Keith Maitland’s Tower, which reconstructs the 1966 sniper shootings at the University of Texas at Austin, won the top documentary prize.
Opening night: The First Monday in May documentary by Andrew Rossi.
Best Narrative Feature: Dean, directed by Dimetri Martin.
Best International Narrative Feature: Junction 28, written and directed by Udi Aloni. Best Documentary Feature: Do Not Resist, directed by Craig Atkinson. The feature slate included an anniversary celebration of Taxi Driver. The new TV track included screenings of The Good Wife, Six Feet Under, Roots and Broad City.
Palme d’Or: I, Daniel Blake, from British director Ken Loach, about a British carpenter struggling to keep his benefits after a heart attack. Notable screenings out of competition: Woody Allen’s Cafe Society, set in 1930s Hollywood, Steven Spielberg’s The BFG starring Mark Rylance, and Jim Jarmusch documentary about Iggy Pop, Gimme Danger.
Patron preview: La La Land – “Writer-director Damien Chazelle revives the all-singing, all-dancing MGM musical” (Larry Gross) with Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone and composer Justin Hurwitz.
Premieres: Clint Eastwood’s Sully with Tom Hanks and Laura Linney, and Moonlight from writer-director Barry Jenkins.
Tributes: Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea), Amy Adams (Arrival) and Pablo Larrain (director, Neruda).
Writer-director Damien Chazelle’s La La Land, the retro musical with Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, dominated the festival chatter. Arrival and Moonlight built momentum, and Pablo Larrain’s Jackie, starring Natalie Portman as Jackie Kennedy, made a high-profile debut.
Opening night: The 13th, searing documentary by Ava DuVernay (director of Selma in 2014) about America’s sky-high prison incarceration rate. Featured: 20th Century Women, directed by Mark Mills. Closing night: The Lost City of Z, a period drama by James Gray set in the Amazon.