The Best Kathy Bates Movies And TV Shows And How To Watch Them
A master of her craft.
There are some actresses that have truly stood the test of time and created so many amazing pieces of work that you wonder how they always pick such good films or shows to do. For a long time, one of those actresses, in my humble opinion, has been Kathy Bates. From some of her bigger films back in the 1990s to her time in television to some of her latest hits, Bates has always been a brilliant actor.
If you’re looking for some of the best Kathy Bates movies and TV shows that are streaming or available to rent or buy right now, be sure to check out these great picks.
First off on the list, we have a Kathy Bates classic. Misery, based on the Stephen King book of the same name, tells the story of an author who is taken care of by a mega fan of his books when he gets into a car crash. But soon, it’s revealed that this woman is not all he thought she would be.
Misery is actually the film that won Kathy Bates her Academy Award for Best Actress, and honestly, it’s so well-deserved. Her acting in this brilliant horror film is just a masterpiece, and it's one of the greatest Stephen King adaptations ever. If you haven’t seen Misery yet and you like horror, be sure to check it out. Seriously.
American Horror Story (2011 - Present)
Next up, we have one of my personal favorites, American Horror Story. This FX drama anthology series, that has been going on for more than a decade now, tells new horror stories every single season, whether that be in a haunted house, a freak show, or even an apocalypse.
Kathy Bates has always been a consistent cast member of the anthology series, coming back for several versions of the show and killing it (both figuratively and literally) every single time. My personal favorite is when she portrayed Madame Delphine LaLaurie in the third season, American Horror Story: Coven.
Stream American Horror Story on Hulu.
Richard Jewell (2019)
In 2019, Kathy Bates starred in Richard Jewell. This fantastic biographical movie told the true story of the titular character, Richard Jewell, who foiled a bomb attack at the Atlanta Olympics, but his life is torn to shreds when the FBI looks at him as a suspect in the case.
Kathy Bates portrayed Barbara “Bobi” Jewell, the mother of Richard, and she scored a nomination for Best Supporting Actress at the Academy Awards for her performance in the film. From the beginning, you are completely entranced by her acting talent, which completely earns that nomination.
Rent/buy Richard Jewell on Amazon.
Dolores Claiborne (1995)
Next up, we have Dolores Claiborne. This Stephen King adaptation tells the story of a mother and a daughter who have had a strained relationship their whole life, but their world changes when her mother is accused of murdering an elderly woman that she has taken care of for some time.
Dolores Claiborne came out about five years after Misery, with Kathy Bates in another Stephen King adaptation, and honestly, it's such a great movie. There’s just something about Bates and horror. She masters it every single time and knows how to build that suspense that makes the film so good, and her and Jennifer Jason Leigh’s chemistry is just spectacular.
Rent/buy Dolores Claiborne on Amazon.
Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)
In this dramedy, Fried Green Tomatoes tells the story of a housewife who is unhappy with her life, so she decides to do something different - she befriends an elderly woman, and through this, starts to learn about the past from her, listening to the stories that give her a sense of fulfilment in her life.
I have to say, I really love Fried Green Tomatoes. Not only is the story genuinely funny and has a lot of heartfelt moments, but Kathy Bates' performance as Evelyn Couch is second to none and stands out above the rest. It always saddens me that she didn’t receive another Academy Award nomination for her performance here.
Stream Fried Green Tomatoes on Peacock.
Rent/buy Fried Green Tomatoes on Amazon.
The Office (2010 - 2011)
Bet ya didn’t see this one coming. The Office is an iconic sitcom that takes place in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and follows the employees of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company and their ridiculous (but sometimes good) boss, Michael Scott.
While Kathy Bates was never a part of the main The Office cast, she had a pretty big recurring role for some time on the show as Jo Bennett, who was the former CEO of their parent company, and had some of the funniest one-liners in the show. You think Kathy Bates is great in horror? Just wait until you see her in comedy. I wish she'd been used so much more, because her role was so freaking funny.
About Schmidt (2003)
On the list next is About Schmidt, a film starring Jack Nicholson. In this dramedy, we follow a retired man who is trying to find fulfillment in his life after taking no risks, so he goes on a trip across the country to visit his estranged daughter for her wedding, meeting people along the way.
Kathy Bates plays Roberta Hertzel, and oh my God, she isn’t in this film for long but holy crap, I could rewatch her scenes over and over again. She and Jack Nicholson had some of the best chemistry I have seen on camera in a comedic film, and I would pay genuine money to see the two of them together again. Once more, Bates is killer in comedy, too.
Rent/buy About Schmidt on Amazon.
Primary Colors (1998)
Moving on, we have another comedy drama, Primary Colors. This film takes a look at how a presidential campaign is run, through a comedic lens, primarily based on the novel, Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics, which was about Bill Clinton’s first run for presidency.
Kathy Bates portrayed Libby Holden in a cast full of big-time actors like John Travolta, Emma Thompson and Billy Bob Thornton. For her role in the film, she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, further showing her prowess as an acting talent.
Rent/buy Primary Colors on Amazon.
I’m sure you’ve heard of this one. Titanic, which is based on the real-life tragedy, follows the fictional story of Jack and Rose, a forbidden romance from members of two different classes who find each other on the fatal voyage.
Kathy Bates was a part of the iconic Titanic cast, where she played Molly Brown, a socialite who was honestly hilarious and stole the show. I always love Kathy Bates in comedic and dramatic roles, but there’s something about her in period pieces that always makes me smile, too, as you really believe she’s from that time period.
Stream Titanic on Paramount Plus.
Rent/buy Titanic on Amazon.
Revolutionary Road (2008)
Moving on, we have Revolutionary Road, which is actually a reunion between Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet and Kathy Bates from Titanic. This period film depicts a 1950s couple that is going through marriage troubles and struggle to get through them together.
Bates portrays Helen Givings, a realtor who sells the couple their house and befriends them, and her portrayal is great from start to finish. While she isn’t in the film for long compared to some of the other actors, she steals the show in every scene she’s in and further proves why her period piece projects are some of her best.
Stream Revolutionary Road on Paramount Plus.
Rent Revolutionary Road on Apple TV.
Disjointed (2017 - 2018)
Ever wonder what it would be like if Kathy Bates worked at a weed dispensary? That’s what Disjointed looks to answer. This hilarious Netflix series starring Kathy Bates tells the story of a woman who had spent her whole life advocating for legal cannabis usage. When it’s legalized in California, she and her son, along with his friends, decide to run a dispensary.
I am so upset that this show was only one season. I know cancelling shows after one season seems to be Netflix’s thing but dang it, I really loved Kathy Bates in this starring role. It was something that was so different from many of her other performances out there and she really shined as a sitcom star. It’s a shame we never got to see Season 2.
The Blind Side (2009)
Last but not least, we have The Blind Side. This iconic film tells the story of Michael Oher, a homeless boy who is taken in by Leigh Anne Tuohy, who puts him on the fast-track to success - which leads to him being in the NFL years later.
While The Blind Side is certainly one of Sandra Bullock’s best movies, it’s also one of Kathy Bates’ best films as well. Bates plays Miss Sue, who is the tutor to Michael and ugh, her scenes with him (he's played by Quinton Aaron) were just the best. Miss Sue was so sweet and kind-hearted and truly wanted Michael to succeed and every scene made me want to cry in the best way possible. It’s a crime that she wasn’t nominated for many awards for this film because she was fantastic.
Stream The Blind Side on Netflix.
Rent/buy The Blind Side on Amazon.
Which one of these films or TV shows are your favorite? Or, if you haven’t gotten the chance to see any of these, maybe now you’ll have a brand new favorite TV show or movie with Bates as the lead. If you don’t mind me, I’m going to go and watch American Horror Story again for the umpteenth time.
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Big nerd and lover of Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire. Will forever hate season eight. Superhero and horror geek. And please don't debate me on The Last of Us 2, it was amazing!
By Adam Holmes