Oscar Directors: Linklater, Richard–Background, Career, Awards, Filmography

September 21, 2020

Richard Linklater Career Summation

Occupational Inheritance:

Nationality: US

Social Class: upper-middle; mother professor



Formal Education: Austin Community College, 1984; drop out of Sam Houston State University

Training: As teen, he won a Scholastic Art and Writing Award

First Film: It’s Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books, 1988; aged 28; then Slacker, 1990; aged 30

Breakthrough: Slacker, 1990; aged 30

First Oscar Nomination: Boyhood, 2014; 54

Gap between First Film and First Nom: 26 years (from first film Slacker)

Other Oscars: No

Other Oscar Nominations: Best Adapted Screenplay, Before Sunset, 2004; age 44; nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay for Before Midnight, third film in Before trilogy.

Oscar Awards: Berlin Fest

Nominations Span: 1988-present

Genre (specialties): regional, no plot, one-day

Inspiration: Scorsese’s Raging Bull, 1980; he was 20

Collaborators: Actor Ethan Hawke; Julie Delpy

Popular Films: Before/After series

Great Films/Masterpieces: Dazed and Confused, 1993, aged 33; Boyhood, 2014; aged 54

Last Film: Where Bernadette, 2019


Career Length:

Career Output: about 15

Marriage: same woman, daughter actress


Death: NA

Richard Stuart Linklater (born July 30, 1960), the American film director, producer, and screenwriter, is known for films dealing with suburban culture and the effects of the passage of time.

His films include the comedies Slacker (1990) and Dazed and Confused (1993); the Before trilogy romance films, Before Sunrise (1995), Before Sunset (2004), and Before Midnight (2013); the music-themed comedy School of Rock (2003); the animated films Waking Life (2001) and A Scanner Darkly (2006); the coming-of-age drama Boyhood (2014); and the comedy film Everybody Wants Some!! (2016).

In 2015, Linklater was included on the annual Time 100 list of the 100 most influential people in the world.

Linklater has a distinct style and method: Many of his films are loosely structured narrative; several of his projects—the Before… films and Boyhood—feature the same actors filmed over extended period of years.

Linklater was born in Houston, Texas, the son of Diane Margaret (née Krieger), who taught at Sam Houston State University, and Charles W. Linklater, III.

He attended Huntsville High School in Huntsville, Texas, during grades 9–11, where he played football for Joe Clements as a backup quarterback for the #1 ranked team in the state. For his senior year, he moved to Bellaire High School in Bellaire, Texas because he was better at baseball than football and Bellaire had a better baseball coach. As teen, he won a Scholastic Art and Writing Award.

Linklater studied at Sam Houston State University (where he also played baseball), until dropping out to work on an offshore oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. He frequently read novels on the rig and, upon returning to land, developed a love of film through repeated visits to a repertory theater in Houston. At this point, Linklater realized he wanted to be a filmmaker. He used his savings to buy a Super-8 camera, a projector, and editing equipment, and moved to Austin, Texas.

He enrolled in Austin Community College in the fall of 1984 to study film.

Linklater founded the Austin Film Society in 1985 together with his frequent collaborator Lee Daniel. One of the mentors for the Film Society was former New York City critic for the SoHo Weekly News George Morris, who had relocated to Austin and taught film there.

For several years, Linklater made short films that were exercises and experiments in techniques. He completed his first feature, It’s Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books (available in The Criterion Collection edition of his second feature, Slacker), a Super-8 feature that took a year to shoot and another year to edit. The film is significant in the sense that it establishes most of Linklater’s preoccupations. The film has his trademark style of minimal camera movements and lack of narrative, while it examines the theme of traveling with no real particular direction in mind. These idiosyncrasies would be explored in greater detail in future projects.

Linklater created Detour Filmproduction (an homage to the 1945 low budget film noir by Edgar G. Ulmer), and subsequently made Slacker for only $23,000. It went on to gross more than $1.25 million. The film shows an aimless day in the life of the city of Austin, Texas showcasing its more eccentric characters.

While gaining a cult following in the independent film world, he made his third film, Dazed and Confused, based on his years at Huntsville High School and the people he encountered there. The film garnered critical praise and grossed $8 million in the United States while becoming a hit on VHS. This film was also responsible for the breakout of fellow Texas native Matthew McConaughey.

In 1995, Linklater won the Silver Bear for Best Director for the film Before Sunrise at the 45th Berlin Film Fest. His next feature, subUrbia, had mixed reviews critically, and did poorly at the box office. In 1998, he took on his first Hollywood feature, The Newton Boys, which received mixed reviews while tanking at the box office.

With the rotoscope films Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly, and his mainstream comedies, School of Rock and the remake of Bad News Bears, he gained wider recognition.

In 2003, he wrote and directed a pilot for HBO with Rodney Rothman called $5.15/hr, about minimum wage restaurant workers. The pilot deals with themes later examined in Fast Food Nation.

The British television network Channel 4 produced a docu about Linklater, in which the filmmaker discussed the personal and philosophical ideas behind his films. St Richard of Austin was presented by Ben Lewis and directed by Irshad Ashraf and broadcast on Channel 4 in December 2004 in the UK.

Linklater was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay for his film Before Sunset.

Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly both used rotoscoping animation techniques. Working with Bob Sabiston and Sabiston’s program Rotoshop to create this effect, Linklater shot and edited both movies as live-action features, then employed a team of artists to “trace over” individual frames. The result is a distinctive “semi-real” quality, praised by such critics as Roger Ebert (in the case of Waking Life) as being original and well-suited to the aims of the film.

Fast Food Nation (2006) is an adaptation of the best selling book that examines the local and global influence of the US fast food industry. The film was entered into the 2006 Cannes Film Fest before being released on November 17, 2006 and in Europe on March 23, 2007. The film received mixed reviews.

Linklater fared better with the critics with A Scanner Darkly (released in the same year), Me and Orson Welles (2009), and Bernie (2011).

He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Before Midnight, the third film in the Before… trilogy.

In 2014 he released the film Boyhood, which had been 12 years in the making. It received overwhelming critical acclaim. Linklater won the Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, and BAFTAs for Best Director and Best Picture. He also received his first nomination for the Academy Award for Best Director, along with nominations for Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture.

Linklater was attached to direct a remake of The Incredible Mr. Limpet for Warner Brothers. However, he dropped the project in favor of working on a spiritual successor to Dazed and Confused, titled Everybody Wants Some!!, with backing from Annapurna and Paramount distributing the film in North America. The film was released in March 2016 and was well received by critics, but it failed to recoup its budget of $10 million, grossing only 4.6 million.

In the second half of the 2010s, Linklater wrote and directed the drama Last Flag Flying, starring Bryan Cranston, Laurence Fishburne, and Steve Carell. A sequel to Hal Ashby’s 1973 film The Last Detail, it was released on November 3, 2017. Linklater then directed Where’d You Go, Bernadette, based on the novel by Maria Semple and produced by Annapurna.

Linklater was attached to direct an adaptation of Graeme Simsion’s novel “The Rosie Project that would have starred Jennifer Lawrence in the lead, but he dropped out of directing when Lawrence dropped out.

In 2019, it was announced that Linklater would film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s musical “Merrily We Roll Along.” Like Boyhood, it will be filmed over the course of several years, but, like the musical and the play it is based on, will be presented in reverse chronology.

Inspiration for Linklater’s work was based on his experience viewing Scorsese’s Raging Bull: It made me see movies as a potential outlet for what I was thinking about and hoping to express. At that point I was an unformed artist. At that moment, something was simmering in me, but Raging Bull brought it to a boil.[25]

He was also influenced by Robert Bresson, Yasujirō Ozu, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Josef Von Sternberg, and Carl Theodor Dreyer.

Many of Linklater’s films, including Slacker, Dazed and Confused, and Before Sunrise, take place in a single day. They are less plot driven and more about interactions between people and they vary in time and situation.

Ethan Hawke and Matthew McConaughey have appeared in many of his films. Other frequent actors include Jack Black, Julie Delpy, Ellar Coltrane, Adam Goldberg, Parker Posey, Rory Cochrane, Greg Kinnear, Patricia Arquette, and Laurence Fishburne.

Linklater lives in Austin, Texas and refuses to live or work in Hollywood for any extended period of time.

Linklater has been partnered with Christina Harrison since the 1990s. In 1994 they had a daughter, and twin girls in 2004. The oldest, Lorelei Linklater, co-starred in Boyhood as the sister of the main character.

Linklater has been a vegetarian since his early 20s. In 2015, he explained the dietary lifestyle in a Boyhood-style docu for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Feature films

1988 It’s Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books Yes Yes Yes Also editor and cinematographer
1990 Slacker Yes Yes Yes
1993 Dazed and Confused Yes Yes Yes
1995 Before Sunrise Yes Yes
1996 SubUrbia Yes
1998 The Newton Boys Yes Yes
2001 Waking Life Yes Yes Also cinematographer
Tape Yes
2003 School of Rock Yes
2004 Before Sunset Yes Yes Yes
2005 Bad News Bears Yes Yes
2006 Fast Food Nation Yes Yes
A Scanner Darkly Yes Yes
2008 Me and Orson Welles Yes Yes
2011 Bernie Yes Yes Yes
2013 Before Midnight Yes Yes Yes
2014 Boyhood Yes Yes Yes
2016 Everybody Wants Some!! Yes Yes Yes
2017 Last Flag Flying Yes Yes
2019 Where’d You Go, Bernadette Yes Yes
2021 Apollo 10½ Yes Yes Yes
TBA Merrily We Roll Along Yes Yes Yes Filming for 20 years
Acting roles
Year Name Role Notes
1988 It’s Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books Unnamed character
1990 Slacker “Should Have Stayed at the Bus Station”
1995 The Underneath Ember Doorman
1995 Before Sunrise Foosball player
1996 Beavis and Butt-Head Do America Tour Bus Driver Voice role
1998 Scotch and Milk Cab Passenger
2001 Spy Kids Cool Spy
Chelsea Walls Crony #2
Waking Life Pinball Playing Man / Man on Back of Boat
2006 The Hottest State John Wayne Enthusiast
2008 RSO (Registered Sex Offender) Principal Mallard
2018 Blaze Oilman #3
2019 Another Day at the Office Rick
Other works
Year Name Director Writer Producer Notes
1985 Woodshock Yes short
1991 Heads I Win/Tails You Lose Yes Yes Yes experimental video project
2003 Live from Shiva’s Dance Floor Yes short
2004 $5.15/Hr. Yes Yes Yes television pilot
2008 Inning by Inning: A Portrait of a Coach Yes documentary
2012 Up to Speed Yes Yes Yes web series
2015 I Dream Too Much executive
2016–2018 School of Rock[31] Yes television series; executive producer
2019 Another Day at the Office Yes Yes Yes short
2020 That Animal Rescue Show No No Yes television series; executive producer
Critical reception
Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic
Slacker 85%[32] 69[33]
Dazed and Confused 94%[34] 78[35]
Before Sunrise 100%[36] 77[37]
SubUrbia 64%[38] 62[39]
The Newton Boys 62%[40] 57[41]
Waking Life 80%[42] 82[43]
Tape 78%[44] 71[45]
School of Rock 92%[46] 82[47]
Before Sunset 95%[48] 90[49]
Bad News Bears 48%[50] 65[51]
Fast Food Nation 50%[52] 64[53]
A Scanner Darkly 69%[54] 73[55]
Me and Orson Welles 85%[56] 73[57]
Bernie 90%[58] 75[59]
Before Midnight 98%[60] 94[61]
Boyhood 97%[62] 100[63]
Everybody Wants Some!! 88%[64] 83[65]
Last Flag Flying 73%[66] 65[67]
Where’d You Go, Bernadette 48%[68] 51[69]
Average 83% 78
Box office
Film Release date Revenue Budget Ref.
United States Outside United States Worldwide
Slacker July 27, 1990 $1,228,208 N/A $1,228,208 $23,000 [70]
Dazed and Confused September 24, 1993 $7,993,039 N/A $7,993,039 $6.9 million [71]
Before Sunrise January 27, 1995 $5,535,405 N/A $5,535,405 $2.5 million [72]
SubUrbia February 7, 1997 $656,747 N/A $656,747 N/A [73]
The Newton Boys March 27, 1998 $10,452,012 N/A $10,452,012 $27 million [74]
Waking Life October 19, 2001 $2,901,447 $275,433 $3,176,880 N/A [75]
Tape November 2, 2001 $490,475 $25,425 $515,900 $100,000 [76]
School of Rock October 3, 2003 $81,261,177 $50,021,772 $131,282,949 $35 million [77]
Before Sunset July 2, 2004 $5,820,649 $10,171,966 $15,992,615 $2.7 million [78]
Bad News Bears July 22, 2005 $32,868,349 $1,384,498 $34,252,847 $35 million [79]
A Scanner Darkly July 7, 2006 $5,501,616 $2,158,302 $7,659,918 $8.7 million[80] [81]
Fast Food Nation November 17, 2006 $1,005,539 $1,203,783 $2,209,322 N/A [82]
Me and Orson Welles November 25, 2009 $1,190,003 $1,146,169 $2,336,172 $25 million [83]
Bernie April 27, 2012 $9,206,470 $884,171 $10,090,641 $6 million [84]
Before Midnight May 24, 2013 $8,114,627 $3,061,842 $23,376,973 $3 million[85] [86]
Boyhood July 11, 2014 $25,071,500 $19,143,000 $44,214,500 $4 million [87]
Total $198,132,207 $89,476,361 $287,608,568 $155.923 million
Awards and nominations
Main article: List of awards and nominations received by Richard Linklater
Slacker (1991) was nominated for Best Director at the Independent Spirit Awards.
Before Sunrise (1995) won the Silver Bear for Best Director at the Berlin International Film Festival.
Waking Life (2001) was nominated for Best Director and Best Screenplay at the Independent Spirit Awards.
Before Sunset (2004) was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and Best Screenplay at the Independent Spirit Awards.
A Scanner Darkly (2006) – Named Best Austin Film by the Austin Film Critics Association.
Me and Orson Welles (2008) – Named Best Austin Film by the Austin Film Critics Association.
Bernie (2011) – Named Best Austin Film by the Austin Film Critics Association.
Before Midnight (2013) was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and Best Screenplay at the Independent Spirit Awards.
Boyhood (2014) was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Editing, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Supporting Actress by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and won Best Supporting Actress for Patricia Arquette. It also won Golden Globes for Best Director and Best Motion Picture – Drama, as well as the Silver Bear for Best Director at the 64th Berlin International Film Festival.[88] Received Best Film and Best Director honors from Los Angeles Film Critics Association, Boston Society of Film Critics, New York Film Critics Circle, Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association and New York Film Critics Online.
Linklater was made Honorary Associate of London Film School.