Ahead of the 2018 Oscars, Hadley Freeman champions Greta Gerwig’s coming-of-age drama about the inner lives of women
It is still slightly mind-blowing that Lady Bird is nominated at all at this year’s Academy Awards, because there is nothing about this movie that screams “Oscar fodder!” But the fact that it is nominated is a testament to just how bloody good this movie is, and why it really should win best picture.
Its most obviously un-Oscar quality is that it was written and directed by a woman, Greta Gerwig, who is still only 34. Gerwig is, shamefully, only the fifth woman to be nominated for best director in the Oscars’ 90-year history. The relevance of her gender is all too apparent in the second factor that makes it seemingly so anti-Oscars: it is about the inner lives of girls and women. The last time a movie about female lives was awarded the best picture Oscar was way back in 1983, when it went to the classic weepie Terms of Endearment, starring Debra Winger and Shirley MacLaine. And one of the women in that had to die for it to be considered worthy.
One actor after another is coming out denouncing the director. When did the honour of being in one of his films lose its lustre?
I wonder when historians will pinpoint the exact moment that working for Woody Allen flipped from being an absolute honour for any actor to a matter of obvious shame, for which they would be donating their fee to charity. To the untrained eye, it seems to have been sometime last week, despite his daughter Dylan Farrow’s claims that Allen sexually abused her when she was seven having been known about for many years. (The director denies the allegations.) First to say she wouldn’t be working with him again was Greta Gerwig, and the actor and director has now been followed by Mira Sorvino, Rebecca Hall, and Timothée Chalamet.
Whenever the precise date falls, the director’s insistence on making a film approximately every 10 minutes means two things. One, that the much-vaunted “honour” has been somewhat diluted. Contrary to actors’ usual humblebrags, there are about three people in Hollywood who haven’t worked with Woody Allen, so much so that he’s down to honouring former Disney kids with roles. Once Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus and Justin Timberlake are having the most extraordinary creative experience of their career, or whatever the standard line is, you have to realise that Woody’s only a couple of rehashed melodramas away from casting the guy who plays Goofy at the Anaheim theme park as a romantic lead.
The Irish-American actor has been tipped for Oscar glory in Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig’s acclaimed comic drama
Film stars frequently rise to their place in the showbusiness firmament trailing a glittering series of lead roles and fiery celebrity feuds behind them. Others, like Saoirse Ronan, appear there suddenly, twinkling down benignly.
The Golden Globe-winner, now an A-list performer despite being only 23, is the open-faced, unpretentious Irish-American actor whose starring role in the acclaimed new film Lady Bird, along with forthcoming lead parts in the films Mary Queen of Scots, On Chesil Beach and The Seagull, is about to heavily underline her arrival in the first rank of talent. Yet reaching the top of the casting directors’ wishlists has been quietly achieved, through a succession of carefully delineated roles in unusual and complex films, such as Brooklyn, The Grand Budapest Hotel and Atonement.