After using his father’s coming-out process as the subject the 2010 film Beginners, Mike Mills spent years putting together 20th Century Women, a film about trying to figure out, and ultimately not quite knowing, his late mother. Though he received an Oscar nomination for the film’s screenplay this morning, Mills is an unconventional writer who built much of his story out of memories of his childhood, objects of special significance, and even news clips of political speeches. Talking to Vulture for the second time in recent weeks, Mills explained how he went about researching his own life for the film, the broken writing rules that paid off, and why the film’s a sort of “trans Bogart mom movie.”


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