The LAMB Devours the Oscars 2018: Best Picture Nominee: Lady Bird

by Jay Cluitt · February 26, 2018 · Featured, LAMB Devours the Oscars · 3 Comments

Every day until the Oscars ceremony we’ll be highlighting a different category or movie here on the LAMB! Here’s a link to all the posts written so far:

Today, Jess Manzo from French Toast Sunday is here to look at the Best Picture nominee, Lady Bird.

The coming-of-age teenager has been a well-covered subject of films, but very rarely does it translate to a Best Picture nomination. Lady Bird broke into the category and became a favorite of 2017 not by totally breaking the mold of those films we’ve seen so often, but for the specific way it approaches the material. We’ve seen these typical teen experiences in other films, but they resonate here because of the specific personality infused into the story and characters. Greta Gerwig wrote this film inspired by her own experiences of growing up in Sacramento. Even if it’s not a direct autobiography, her personality shines and you feel a strong sense of identity.

Christine McPherson aka Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan) is a senior in high school, desperate to trade the boring suburbs of Sacramento for a more lively and cultured locale. Attending university in New York City is her dream, one not easily attainable for a not quite star student from a working class family. Her mother Marion (Laurie Metcalf) is a beleaguered nurse whose cold realistic demeanor clashes with Lady Bird. Her unemployed father Larry (Tracy Letts) is a bit more sympathetic and encouraging, often playing peacemaker between daughter and wife. Her older brother and his girlfriend also reside in their cramped home which contrasts with the impressive houses of Lady Bird’s classmates at the private Catholic school she attends.

Lady Bird is theatrical and rebellious which clashes with her school, managing to get by with her best friend Julie (Beanie Feldstein). The film follows her senior year of high school – exploring boyfriends and new friends, school plays and dances. She tries on different identities, trying to make life more exciting but also to mask her insecurities. Ronan plays this role so wonderfully and with such a sense of humor. She’s a fully realized person with downright unlikable moments, but you root for her.

The complicated relationship between Lady Bird and Marion provides the strongest material. Lady Bird feels disliked and held back by Marion, who feels unappreciated and has a hard time hiding her disappointment. Metcalf gives such a tender, understated performance it’s no wonder she earned her first Oscar nomination. Their relationship also brings up the struggles of class and how financial pressures can strain a whole family.

The women rule here, with nominations for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress, along with Original Screenplay and Direction for Gerwig. At this point in the awards race it doesn’t seem to have great odds at winning in any of these categories, but my best bet would be Metcalf pulling an upset against Allison Janney (I love them both). Best Picture nominees are often dominated by male stories so it’s encouraging to see Lady Bird present.

What do you think of Lady Bird‘s chances?

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