Critic’s Picks: The 5 Best Films of SXSW 2016

1:24 PM 3/20/2016

by THR Staff

THR film critic John DeFore ranks his five faves from the fest, including Richard Linklater’s latest, a doc examining America’s first campus massacre, and a cartoon from Seth Rogen about....supermarket food.

Sausage Party Still - H 2016
Courtesy of SXSW

Sausage Party Still - H 2016

As the film section draws to a close and even the music-fest participants are dragging their hangovers onto planes bound for the coasts, one thing has become clear: South by Southwest's 30th year had its share of strong film entries, ranging from geeky-great music docs (The American Epic Sessions) to bloody Westerns (In a Valley of Violence) to unusually well balanced ensemble pieces (Don't Think Twice). Even the most monkish attendee can't claim to have seen everything the fest had to offer. But with that caveat in mind, here's a list of the five best films I saw:

  1. 5

    The Seer

    A spotlight-averse author is the focus for Laura Dunn's Wendell Berry film — justly awarded for its cinematography — in which the man himself takes a back seat to the land, and the traditional farming culture, that means so much to him.

    Read more 'The Seer: A Portrait of Wendell Berry': SXSW Review


  2. 4

    Rainbow Time

    A fine cast surrounds writer/director/actor Linas Phillips in this risky dramedy about a man introducing his girlfriend to a developmentally challenged brother. What would generally play as condescending or exploitative feels honest here, making an ideal vehicle for one of the more peculiar talents emerging on the indie scene.

    Read more 'Rainbow Time': SXSW Review

  3. 3

    Sausage Party

    Yeah, it's a studio picture full of famous actors. But this outrageously raunchy, taboo-tweaking CG 'toon dreamed up by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg gave viewers the "holy s--t!" laughs they've come to expect from at least one sneak preview here each year.

    Read more 'Sausage Party': SXSW Review

  4. 2


    Giving the Waking Life treatment to an oral history of Charles Whitman's 1966 shooting spree was the right move in Keith Maitland's moving doc about America's first encounter with campus massacres. Despite a problematic extended epilogue, the picture had surprising staying power.

    Read more 'Tower': SXSW Review

  5. 1

    Everybody Wants Some

    Richard Linklater doesn't generally premiere films at his hometown fest, but this affectionate portrait of collegiate horniness fit the crowd like a well broken-in glove.

    Read more 'Everybody Wants Some': SXSW Review