“The only thing exciting about 2002 is that it is a palindrome” – Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson, played by Saorise Ronan in Lady Bird
Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay
This film is a comedy-drama. At it’s most basic level, this is coming of age story centered around a somewhat shaky relationship, often both harsh and comical, between a mother and daughter and the trials and tribulations of adolescence. It takes place back in 2002 during Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson’s senior year at her Catholic high school. Curious about the title? “Lady Bird” is the name Christine has given herself, and although it is never really explained why, one has to imagine it was ruffle her mother’s feathers in addition to being a representation of her atypical view on life.
Saorise Ronan. I’m not super familiar with her previous work but you might remember her from Atonement (which I believe she was nominated for) and The Grand Budapest Hotel. She is really quite excellent in this movie. Her character, Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson has so many layers – she was quirky, independent, honest, and atypical – and I thought she was so believable. She and Laurie Metcalf (who plays her mother, Marion) have great on-screen chemistry and they play really well off each other. I think she is very deserving of the nomination for best lead actress and she has a solid chance of taking home the little gold fella. She plays the confidently-awkward perfectly.
Laurie Metcalf. Very familiar face and voice in the industry; I think she’s been around since the 80s and it’s great to see she’s still going strong! Her character is Marion McPherson, a working mother that has an up and down relationship with her quirky teenage daughter. This role felt like it was almost written for her to play. My opinion – she steals the movie and this may be one of her best, if not the best, roles of her career in film. Her role is subtle at times, but she is so genuine and has such a significant impact on the film. The exchanges and mother-daughter banter between her character and Lady Bird are perfectly executed – funny, authentic, and so so relatable. Her nomination should come as no surprise – and she’s in a stacked field amongst the other best supporting actresses.
Supporting cast. All I have to say is when the school counselors and the nuns make you laugh in their minor roles simply because of their brutal honesty, you’ve done a bang-up job on casting the supporting cast. There are a lot of great characters in the movie, and they all have a purpose to the story.
One of my favorite movies is Juno; it is so well written by Diablo Cody and it’s humor is right up my alley (go figure). The cast is also awesome. There’s a Juno-esque quality to this film that I really enjoyed. And although there have been countless “coming-of-age” movies over the years, Lady Bird has such a refreshing take on it; there’s so much really well written sub-content in this film that it takes away any of the predictability that you usually find in “coming-of-age” movies. Thank god. It is clearly not a big budget film; it’s quirky, original, and perfectly imperfect. Frankly, a big budget would have ruined the really wonderful indie quality of the film. Best of all – it will have you laughing from the get go, at times awkwardly, and throughout the entire film, and the humor is really nicely weaved throughout the drama and more serious aspects of the plot.
You cannot talk about this film without talking about how ridiculously great the writing is. It’s sharp, direct, honest, funny, and so many other things. It’s written and directed by Greta Gerwig and has been nominated in 5 categories – all deserving, in my opinion, and it could have easily been nominated in a few others. Even better (and this is a super impressive fact coming your way), the Best Director nomination makes Gerwig the first female nominee in the directing category to earn he nod for her debut film. Another fact – only one female has ever won an Oscar for Best Director and only 5 have ever been nominated.
Bottom line – if you liked the movies Juno and Bridesmaids (and who doesn’t!!), you will absolutely love Lady Bird. Bear with me…I know that’s an odd pairing – Juno and Bridesmaids – and yes, I am sober while I am writing this. Just go see it and I think that will make a little more sense! I’ve seen all but 3 of the Best Picture nominees at this point (haven’t written about them all just yet), and this one jumped into my top 3.
A little something extra – If you are a Dave Matthews Band fan (like me!), there’s an added bonus for you in this film as one of my favorite scenes involves DMB’s 90s-era hit, Crash Into Me (which actually appears a couple of times during the film).