After Krysty Wilson-Cairns earned an Oscar nomination for her feature debut — the staggering World War I drama 1917, which she co-wrote with director Sam Mendes and for which they became Best Original Screenplay nominees — the screenwriter followed it with something totally different, scripting Edgar Wright's stylish throwback thriller Last Night in Soho.
Those two films alone are indicative of her eclectic tastes.
"For most of my childhood, I was never more than a few feet from a screen, not if I could help it. The TV in the living room, the multiplexes dotted around town, and the local 'picture palaces' in Glasgow, I lived in these places," Wilson-Cairns says. "It's probably why I now need glasses. If my grandmother was right, I gave myself square eyes — and I suppose whatever the equivalent of that is to the soul…"
Her newest release sees her pivoting genres once again, this time to true crime with an adaptation of Charles Graeber' nonfiction book, The Good Nurse: A True Story of Medicine, Madness, and Murder. Directed by Tobias Lindholm, The Good Nurse casts Eddie Redmayne as nurse and serial killer Charles Cullen and Jessica Chastain as the colleague who brings him to justice.
Below, Wilson-Cairns shares with A.frame the five films that made her into the screenwriter she is. Or as she puts it, "For lack of a better term, square-souled."
Directed by: Jerry Rees | Written by: Jerry Rees and Joe Ranft
This American animation from 1987 would have come into my life as a VHS handed down from some older cousin or family friend. It is the first film I can remember sobbing uncontrollably too. Sobbing so hard I needed an inhaler. I watched this movie on repeat and every time it got to the junk yard my mum had to stop the video and calm me down.
One time, as she was attempting to calm down an inconsolable child who was repeatedly doing this to herself she told me something along the lines of, "It's all made up. Someone made it up." This was the first time in my young life that it had ever occurred to me that films have creators, that there are people out there who authored them. And I am sure it planted a seed.
I also just want to point out I have had the same toaster for the last 14 years.
Directed by: McG | Written by: Ryan Rowe, Ed Solomon and John August
People laugh at me for this, but this is the film that made me want to work in movies. I was 13 when this film came out, and I had watched a lot of films. Yet, I had never in my life, on the big screen seen a bunch of women be superheroes, not the sidekicks — these women were the heroes, the stars of the show.
And they were completely feminine with their heroism. They were intelligent, they were cool, they were friends, they were beautiful, they were geeks, and they were so proud of the fact they were geeks. As, and I cannot stress this enough, a massive nerd, I felt like someone had made a film for me.
At the end when they roll the credits with the outtakes with the scenes of Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu washing a car together it was one hell of an epiphany for me — firstly I was clearly bisexual, and secondly, I knew with every fibre of my being I either wanted to be a Charlie's Angel, or work in the film industry. The Townsend Agency was not taking applications.
Directed by: Danny Boyle | Written by: John Hodge
I first watched this movie through a crack in the living room door after my grandparents thought they had put me to bed. I was 9. My screaming at the home invasion scene gave me away. And for years, I used to shudder when I caught sight of the VHS cover at the rental store. I re-watched it in film school and it became the film that lived in my head. It's still there. The characters, the humour, the darkness — the fact it was set in Scotland, and had people speaking with my accent in it but still felt like a movie. I was, and have been entranced by this film ever since. The script is as close to perfection as I think you can get, tonally it is a miracle. And the thing I love perhaps most about it: It's three bad people doing bad things, and you’re never sure when you watch it, that you wouldn't do the same…
Directed and written by: Anthony Minghella
Sumptuous, decadent, constantly balancing delirious pleasure and simmering dread, it's a work of genius, and every time I watch it I just feel so glad it exists.
It's almost impossible for the film adaptation to be better than the book. This film is one of the few exceptions. To me this is the perfect character driven thriller, full of twists and turns, but every single one is seeded in, perfectly in keeping with the characters we quickly come to know and love. It's a film that gets its way through plot without ever feeling like it’s plot driven — the hardest sleight of hand there is to pull off in films.
It's also rare to watch a film about a serial killer and to then want to live in that world, but I can promise you, if I could, I would be in Positano with Ripley.
Directed by: Baz Lurhmann | Written by: Craig Pearce and Baz Lurhmann
I remember working my way through Romeo & Juliet in English class, learning monologues for tests, being left cold by the readings of teachers and classmates. There is only so many times you can hear someone butcher "But soft, what light through yonder window breaks…"
I was never going to be first in the queue to see Baz Lurhmann's adaptation. But then as a reward the teacher showed us this film on the last day of term. And from the moment Tybalt enters to the sound of a growling wildcat I was hooked. I had spent months with a text and felt no connection to it, but now it was alive, and I was entranced by it. That was when I saw the power of cinema first hand, and this film is pure cinema.