It’s been eight years since a woman has broken into the best director category at the Oscars, but this year Greta Gerwig bucked the trend. The 34-year-old made her directorial debut with the critically acclaimed coming-of-age story Lady Bird, starring Irish actress Saoirse Ronan, who’s also up for best actress.
Gerwig joins a highly respected but, sadly, very short list of former nominees that includes Sofia Coppola (Lost In Translation), Joan Campion (The Piano) and Lina Wertmuller (Seven Beauties). Ten years ago, Kathryn Bigelow received a nomination for her direction of The Hurt Locker, a film following members of a bomb-disposal unit in Baghdad, and took home the Oscar to boot. She was the first and last woman to do so in the category until, potentially, this year.
Gerwig is up against big-name (and all-male) filmmakers Christopher Nolan, Jordan Peele, Guillermo del Toro and Paul Thomas Anderson. Speaking to Rolling Stone late last year, the filmmaker recounted the moment she discovered her main character. “I just put everything aside and I wrote at the top of the page—I don’t know where it came from—‘Why won’t you call me Lady Bird? You promised that you would.’ And I looked at the sentence and I thought, ‘Who is this person?’”
Gerwig and her Lady Bird, Ronan, got along right away. After first meeting the director via Skype, the 23-year-old actor explained, “We were ridiculously giddy with each other instantly, sort of like two best mates who have just come back after their summer holidays.” The duo first met two years ago at the Toronto International Film Festival, where they began going through the script. Movie magic ensued.
The story focuses on issues that specifically affect young women, like sexuality, education and conforming to social norms, as Lady Bird navigates the highs and lows of her life in Sacramento and her strong-willed mother. In addition to the relatable plotline, Ronan is featured throughout with visible acne, lending an admirable level of authenticity. The icing on the cake of a fabulous, highly regarded debut would be statues for these two exceptional talents!
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