When I found out a fellow female film critic was coming to town, I knew I had to meet her.
Ann Hornaday is an Iowa native that became a film critic, somewhat, on accident. She didn’t grow up loving and studying movies like I did but instead began with a passion for writing. Hornaday started her career as a freelance writer in New York, where she then became a researcher and assistant to Gloria Steinem.
Hornaday went on to write for the “Arts & Leisure” section of The New York Times, then to The Baltimore Sun, before finally landing at The Washington Post in 2002. If that isn’t amazing enough, in 2008, she was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Criticism. Hornaday’s impressive resume and extensive knowledge of film and criticism led her to write a book titled, “Talking Pictures: How To Watch Movies,” in 2017.
The evening she was coming to Film Streams in Dundee was perfectly planned and I couldn’t have been more excited. First, there was a showing of one of Hornaday’s favorite films called, The Sweet Smell of Success – the 1957 drama, starring Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis, about an unethical Broadway columnist who persuades a press agent into breaking up his sister’s romance for suspicious reasons. After the film, there was a Q & A where the audience was able to analyze the film with her. I couldn’t believe how much our opinions aligned! To listen to someone talk about movies the same way I do was an incredible experience.
As soon as the Q & A was over, I ran to be first in line to get her autograph in her book that I had bought at the beginning of the night. I was giddy, nervous and attempted to come up with how I was going to ask her to check out my blog without sounding crazy. Luckily, she was extremely kind and seemed very excited when I handed her my business card and ask if she would give me feedback on my reviews. I thanked her for her time, stumbled over my goodbye and got out of there before I said anything too cringe-worthy out of pure nervousness.
If that wasn’t enough excitement for one night, there was someone else special in the audience, hometown-hero and director, Alexander Payne. He directed films like Downsizing, The Descendants and Nebraska and rubs elbows with stars like George Clooney and Reese Witherspoon so it’s safe to say… YES, I was geeking out.
My mom, being the loving, pushy, “Go get ’em!” type mom that she is, asked me if I wanted to go up and talk to him. I swiftly said no but my mom’s question was more rhetorical because before I knew it, I was waiting not-so-patiently for Mr. Payne to finish his conversation with someone else before I anxiously butted in for an autograph and a chance to mention my reviews.
He, too, was overwhelmingly kind, wanting to know all about me and my love for films. He signed my book, took my card with a smile and told who he was with that he would be working for me one day (I almost passed out right then).
Overall, the night was a dream. I got to meet a fellow female movie critic, who is living my dream, and a successful director that has won not just one but TWO Academy Awards. Meeting them only inspired me to chase after my passion even more and never stop doing what I love – writing movie reviews.
– A huge thank you to my Grandma Sue for letting me know about the event and my dear, sweet mother, Dina, for always pushing me to be the best I can be.