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When Kathy Bates smashed that sledgehammer into James Caan's ankles 30 years ago in Misery, the world may have collectively cringed, but it made Bates an unforgettable force in Hollywood history.
The then 42-year-old actress wasn't a household name when she took on that role of homicidal nurse Annie Wilkes. She'd had theatrical successes, and appeared in a few smaller films and television shows like St. Elsewhere and L.A. Law. And yet, that year, she took home an Oscar, proving the game wasn't up for women over 35. Not by a long shot.
This year, Bates is enjoying her fourth Oscar nomination, this time for Richard Jewell, the Clint Eastwood-directed true tale of a heroic security guard falsely accused of planting a bomb at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, although he actually found the device and saved many lives.Warner Bros.
Despite the Academy recognition, it's only very recently, in conversation with Eastwood, that she allowed herself to consider her success.
“I said to Clint, 'I've been doing this for 50 years, but I finally feel like I hit the big time.'” She says. “And I don't mean with all the marching bands and the confetti, I mean, working with another incredible director, and doing a story that matters.”
And Richard Jewell really does matter, in that telling the true story of a wrongly-accused person will always matter. Jewell surely deserves all the public exoneration a big-name feature film can deliver, even after his untimely death at 44 in 2007.
The film details his intense media and FBI hounding, while his mother Bobi, played by Bates, suffers under the weight of defending her son.Warner Bros.
Feeling “extremely nervous”, Bates flew to Atlanta ahead of the shoot for her first ever meeting with Eastwood. “I remember asking him why he wanted to make this movie,” she says, “and at first he looked up with those eyes and I thought, 'Oh God, here we go.' Then he said, 'Well, I think it's a movie I'd like to see.' He was so angry at how Richard had been treated. He felt this was an American tragedy, and that it needed to be told.”
So, she went to work, researching Bobi Jewell. And then they met. “We sat and talked for two or three hours and I recorded her voice. We went through the script and she corrected a few things. She teared up quite a few times. She was very determined. She gave me the Vanity Fair article that Marie Brenner had written that the film is based on. Bobi looked very different then, she was more my size, so that made me feel good. At one point I said, 'I just want to get this right for you Bobi.' And almost like a little girl, she said, 'Well, just be me.' And I thought, 'Oh...
In the years leading up to “Booksmart,” filmmaker Olivia Wilde had a strong urge to put all that she had gleaned from her years on set as an actress into use when it finally came time for her to direct. When she was a guest on IndieWire’s Filmmaker Toolkit podcast, she admitted that one of the biggest obstacles she faced on her path to making “Booksmart” was her fear over a perceived lack of experience.
“I was so insecure based on my lack of film school training,” said Wilde. “I think that’s what a lot of people say, ‘I would direct, I just don’t know enough about lenses.’ And that’s an excuse, you don’t need an encyclopedic knowledge about the technical aspects of every single element, you need the awareness of what a collaborative experience it is, and the joy is really in hiring those people to help you make it.”
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Wilde’s directing friends, specifically Mark Romanek and Spike Jonze, encouraged her to try her hand at music videos first, which she found to be a great outlet to let lopse her pent up creative energy and gain confidence. “It’s what I imagine would have happened in film school, a challenge: Take a day, and few days to edit, and make something extraordinary and poetic,” said Wilde. “It’s almost like writing a poem to find your voice and visually tell a story, which in itself is its own challenge.”
What Wilde learned while making “Booksmart” was that she needed the confidence in her vision to say to collaborators, “this is a project worth your time and skill,” rather than worrying about being able to make every technical decision herself.
“When crafting a shot I loved acknowledging what I don’t know,” said Wilde. “So that I could allow for that person that did know the answer to feel empowered. That was a fun part for me, to say to the DP, Jason McCormick, who was so wonderful, to say, ‘This is the mood I want here, help me find that mood.'” That’s only the start of what she learned making her feature directorial debut; here’s what else Wilde took away from the experience.Comedy Advice
Michael O’Brien turned in a brilliant performance in “Booksmart” as the pizza delivery man the two leads Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever try to “hold up.” But the celebrated comedy writer and ex-“Saturday Night Live” staffer also had some important wisdom to share.
“He’s one of the best comedy writers out there,” said Wilde. “And he says, ‘Comedy...
Eight months ago, Sheila Nevins, the former longtime president of HBO Documentary and Family Programming, took over as head of MTV Documentary Films, a division of MTV Studios. One of the first projects she set up was short documentary St. Louis Superman, which today landed a Oscar nomination in the Documentary Short Subject category. It marked MTV's first Oscar nomination in 15 years.Nevins is no stranger to Oscars, her projects having won 28 statuettes over the course of her career. St. Louis Superman is MTV's third Oscar nomination in its 39-year history. The network previously won for Best Original Song in 2005 for Hustle & Flow, and received nominations for 2004's Tupac: Resurrection and 1999's Election.
“St. Louis Superman is an underdog story and MTV is an underdog film distributor which makes all of this that much more gratifying and very special,” Nevins told Deadline. “There are so many great shorts — it's such a competitive category and every year it seems to get more so. Bruce Franks Jr. is a hero and this nomination means that more people will get to hear his story and the amazing work he's doing. That's the beauty of documentary. We're very happy and grateful. It's a really good day and we've MTV Documentary Films only been at it for eight months!”
Smriti Mundhra and Sami Khan-directed St. Louis Superman is about Representative Bruce Franks Jr., a Ferguson activist and battle rapper who was elected to the overwhelmingly white and Republican Missouri House of Representatives.
Produced by Mundhra, Khan and Poh Si Teng, and executive produced by Nevins and Fiona Lawson-Baker, St. Louis Superman won the jury prize for Best Documentary Short at Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, the Audience Award for Best Short at Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, the Audience Award for Best Short at AFI Docs and the Special Jury Mention at Tribeca Film Festival.
During her tenure at HBO, Nevins oversaw the production of more than 1000 documentary films and earned 32 Primetime Emmys as an executive producer or producer, more than any other individual. In addition, she received 35 News and Documentary Emmys and 42 George Foster Peabody Awards.
Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Show: The Secret History of Hollywood
Where You Can Stream It: The podcasting app of your choice.
The Pitch: The Secret History of Hollywood is the most compelling, immersive, and emotional podcast I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to. Each season consists of deep dives into a major Hollywood figure, tracing its subject’s rise to prominence and giving incredible insight into their home lives, painting a portrait so captivating and well-rounded that biographies or books on the subjects could only dream to achieve.
Why It’s Essential Quarantine Listening: I’ve been thinking about this podcast a lot since I first stumbled across it several years ago, but I think it’s especially appropriate to recommend it right now because some of its episodes are incredibly lengthy – many clock in around an hour and a half, but some of them stretch to four, six, or even nine hours long. Yes, really. Some of you may scoff, but isn’t being in quarantine the perfect time to give a long-form podcast a chance?
Adam Roche, the voice behind the show, had no background in sound editing or sound production when he got started, but he could have fooled me: the series reminds me of an old-time radio show, complete with sound effects and Roche doing voices as he plays the people in a given scene. I realize that may sound cheesy, and it absolutely would be in less-capable hands. But trust me: Roche’s mellifluous voice and incredibly researched accounts are perfect for this type of storytelling.
The show has brought me to tears multiple times over the years, and I think a huge part of the reason for that is because of the long episode lengths. Like a great TV series you never want to end, you get to spend hours and hours with the subjects of these episodes and build emotional connections to them, so when they they experience hardships, a project goes wrong, or they lose a loved one, the results can be unexpectedly powerful.
The show has earned the attention of Hollywood vets like Peter Ramsey Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Mark Gatiss Sherlock, Game of Thrones, the latter of whom lends his own terrific voice to introductions of the most recent season, which covers the prolific producer Val Lewton Cat People, The Body Snatcher, The Ghost Ship. I knew nothing about Lewton or his work before I listened to the eleven episode season, but by the end, I feel like not only do I know all about him, but I feel I’ve experienced his highs and lows right alongside him. It’s truly spellbinding stuff, and it comes with my absolute highest recommendation.
I’ve talked about the show a couple...