Scott Rudin, Eli Bush and Evelyn O’Neill
Director: Greta Gerwig
Producers: Scott Rudin, Eli Bush, & Evelyn O’Neill
Writer: Greta Gerwig
Cinematography: Sam Levy
Editor: Nick Houy
Release Date: November 3, 2017
Run-time: 93 minutes
FILM SYNOPSIS: Strong-willed teenager Christine McPherson, who has dubbed herself Lady Bird, yearns to leave her hometown of Sacramento and attend college on the East Coast. Her equally opinionated mother, Marion, who is struggling to provide for her family, tries to prepare her daughter for life’s inevitable heartbreaks while also encouraging her to be her best self.
In this year’s climate, with the Time’s Up initiative in full swing and allegations of sexual misconduct surfacing everyday, “Lady Bird” gains the most benefit at this year’s Academy Awards. Not to say Greta Gerwig and her sincere film do not deserve its place and would have found itself in the same exact place on any other given year. But the fact that people want to elevate women after the year we’ve had pushes this film beyond simply being an indie darling that was enjoyed by most critics (it had a record for the film with the most “Fresh” reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, keeping it at 100% Fresh for quite some time) but it now becomes a film people want to rally behind. Whether that translates to a Best Picture win or not is questionable, but in my personal opinion, this is simply not the Best Picture of the Year. Is this the film we will remember from this year, decades from now? Probably not. “Dunkirk,” “The Shape Of Water,” and even “Get Out” are far more memorable. But perhaps after the year we have all had, maybe it will be remembered, just probably not for the best reasons.
“Lady Bird” feels like the telling of Greta Gerwig’s teenage years. Whether it is or not, it feels like it. Because the situations and dialogue are so specific that they feel authentic and true to life. Lady Bird’s senior year of high school feels lived in. The conversations between her and her friends and her and her parents are conversations I feel like most teenagers have. Maybe not the one where Lady Bird jumps out of a moving car and breaks her arm, to which the film begins, but we’ve all probably felt like doing that at one point or another. One aspect of the film I can truly relate to is wanting to get as far away from your hometown as possible. Not because the people aren’t great, but because you have a calling to go somewhere more exciting. Granted, she’s living in Sacramento, which is a far cry from small-town Minnesota, but still, the overall feelings are the same. The biggest thing going for the film is the relationship between Lady Bird and her mother Marion, which is definitely the reason both actresses have received their acting nominations. Their dynamic plays out in front of you like you’re watching a real mother and daughter. Not that playing those particular roles would be hard for either of them, as they are both someone’s daughter and someone’s mother in real life, but they jive well together.
Greta Gerwig also deserves the Original Screenplay nomination, not because the screenplay is a masterpiece or something we’ve never seen before (Diablo Cody comes to mind), but because it effectively gets her unique voice across. And that also shows in her directing. The Original Screenplay category is stacked this year, all five nominees with unique voices telling things from their unique points of view. Even though Gerwig’s voice shines through in every line of dialogue and every action the character of Lady Bird takes, it doesn’t compare to say fellow newcomer Jordan Peele’s screenplay for “Get Out,” which transcends genres, also on his very first outing. “Get Out” was likely one of the most talked about films this year and the fact that it came out in February and stuck around in everyone’s minds for the full year definitely makes it something unique and memorable. I also feel like “The Shape Of Water” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” are bigger front-runners for the Best Picture category and a win their usually brings several other wins along with it, including Original Screenplay. “Lady Bird” definitely lands right next to “The Big Sick,” however, which is also a dissection of the writers’ lives, particularly how they met and fell in love.
As far as Greta’s directing nomination, just in general, unless they make one of the most memorable films of all-time, I do not believe any director should win for their directorial debut. You’ve got directors like Guillermo del Toro and Christopher Nolan who have a body of work that puts some of the best directors to shame and neither of them have ever won an Academy Award and you’re telling me that someone who has never really done this before, who makes a decent film, deserves to win? Sure, if that directorial debut completely surpasses the other nominations, if it wows in a way that you simply cannot help but give the win to that person, then fine, but “Lady Bird” is not that film. “Dunkirk” might not be Nolan’s best work, but upon seeing it earlier this year, my first reaction was that it was a huge front-runner for Best Picture. And del Toro’s “The Shape Of Water,” many will argue, is his best work yet. And with a body of work like his, to now produce his best work is definitely more deserving than a first-timer.
This is Saoirse Ronan’s third Academy Award nomination in 10 years and she’s only 23 years old, proving she has a long and fruitful career ahead of her. Her role here is very memorable and she stands at the center of this film with such a presence that it really does carry the entire film. Not to mention she definitely nails the eccentricities of the version of Greta Gerwig that she’s playing. That being said, the role of Lady Bird isn’t even Ronan’s best performance that she’s been nominated for. She was much better as oung Irish immigrant Eilis Lace in 2015’s “Brooklyn.” On the other hand, this is probably Laurie Metcalf’s best performance, although I have not seen her in much, especially in the past decade or so. She nails the role of the matriarch here, being able to deliver some of her best work in just the looks that she gives Lady Bird. This is definitely her year, as the revival of “Roseanne” is nearly upon us as well. It is likely down to Metcalf versus Allison Janney in this category and if she can garner enough support, she might have a shot.
Ultimately, unless Laurie Metcalf can pull off a long shot, “Lady Bird” will likely not be taking home any awards. The wild card in all of this is whether the Academy voters will feel drawn to voting for the film because they want to elevate women or if they will simply vote for what they feel is the best film. When “Moonlight” won last year, part of me felt like it was a response to the “Oscars So White” debacle the year before. Not that parts of “Moonlight” weren’t great or that it wasn’t deserving to be nominated, but in my opinion, “La La Land” was simply the more memorable film. In my personal opinion, if “Lady Bird” wins this year, it will feel as though it was a response to the year we had rather than awarding a film that was truly deserving. That being said, it 100% deserves a nomination and I am so happy to be apart of Greta Gerwig’s success, as she’s an actress and co-director I’ve always had a connection to.
|2002 (75th)||“The Hours”||Nominated||Best Picture (Producer)|
|2007 (80th)||“No Country For Old Men”||Won||Best Picture (Producer)|
|2010 (83rd)||“The Social Network”||Nominated||Best Picture (Producer)|
|“True Grit”||Nominated||Best Picture (Producer)|
|2011 (84th)||“Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”||Nominated||Best Picture (Producer)|
|2013 (86th)||“Captain Phillips”||Nominated||Best Picture (Producer)|
|2014 (87th)||“The Grand Budapest Hotel”||Nominated||Best Picture (Producer)|
|2016 (89th)||“Fences”||Nominated||Best Picture (Producer)|
“Christine ‘Lady Bird’ McPherson”
CHARACTER SYNOPSIS: Saoirse Ronan plays Lady Bird McPherson, a high school senior who longs to break free from her hometown and her sometimes tumultuous relationship with her indomitable mother.
|2007 (80th)||“Atonement”||Nominated||Best Actress in a Supporting Role|
|2015 (88th)||“Brooklyn”||Nominated||Best Actress in a Leading Role|
CHARACTER SYNOPSIS: As Marion McPherson, Laurie Metcalf portrays a devoted, outspoken mother attempting to instill self-reliance in her equally headstrong teenage daughter.
|Films Left||Days Left|