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Director Spotlight: Greta Gerwig deserves more recognition for her directing

In light of her recent Oscar nomination snub for Best Director, Greta Gerwig’s contributions and accomplishments in the film industry are bar none. From “Lady Bird” to “Little Women” to the recent blockbuster “Barbie,” Gerwig produces hit after hit, continuously proving herself to be one of the best directors of the 21st century.

Though commonly known for her directing, Gerwig actually got her start in acting. Gerwig’s initiation to filmmaking began in collaboration with filmmaker Joe Swanberg, where Gerwig starred in “Hannah Takes the Stairs” (2007) and “Nights and Weekends” (2008), for which she shared a directing credit. 

Gerwig has since collaborated with her now husband Noah Baumbach on several films. The two met when Gerwig was cast in his 2010 film “Greenberg”. Baumbach and Gerwig started dating shortly after in 2011, and the pair started collaborating on projects together. Gerwig continued acting, but also started producing and directing alongside Baumbach in “Frances Ha” (2012), “Mistress America” (2015) and  “White Noise” (2022).

Gerwig’s other acting credits include “Damsels in Distress” (2011), “To Rome with Love” (2012), “Maggie's Plan” (2015),  “Jackie” (2016), “20th Century Women” (2016) and “Isle of Dogs” (2018). 

However, Gerwig’s true prowess in the film industry comes from her direction. Gerwig made her solo directorial debut in 2017 with “Lady Bird,” a coming-of-age film starring Saoirse Ronan as the titular character, Lady Bird, and her complicated relationship with her mother, played by Laurie Metcalf. The film is semi-autobiographical, mirroring her upbringing in Sacramento, CA, while attending Catholic school. Gerwig commented on the similarities in an interview with IndieWire.

“I really wanted to make a movie that was a reflection on home and what does home mean, and how does leaving home define what it is for you and your love for it,” Gerwig said. “I felt like it was a love letter to Sacramento, and I felt like, what better way to make a love letter than through somebody who wants to get out, and then realize that they loved it?"

“Lady Bird” was an instant cult classic and is an emotionally layered look into mother-daughter relationships, teenage angst, growing up and leaving home.

Gerwig’s directorial debut received five Academy Award Nominations at the 2018 Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actress (Ronan) and Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Metcalf). However, the film didn’t win any of the categories in which it was nominated.

In 2019, Gerwig directed “Little Women,” the seventh film adaptation of the novel of the same name written by Louisa May Alcott. The story chronicles four sisters — Meg (Emma Watson), Jo (Saoirse Ronan), Beth (Eliza Scanlen) and Amy (Florence Pugh) — during the Civil War era. The sisters grow up, learn about love and navigate a society in which women are disregarded. 

Gerwig’s take on this classic is unmatched in its emotional complexity. The love and care that went into this film is obvious, with each actor delivering deeply emotional performances. The film received six Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actress (Ronan), Best Supporting Actress (Pugh), Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Score, and won for Best Costume Design.

With “Lady Bird” and “Little Women'' under her belt, Gerwig’s knack for directing was clear. Gerwig was recognized for her accomplishments, being included in the Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world in 2018. 

But Gerwig’s biggest and most celebrated film is ultimately the 2023 global phenomenon “Barbie.” The live-action “Barbie” movie was announced in 2009, with development beginning in 2014. The film went through several casting and directorial changes but ultimately landed on Gerwig as the director.

“Barbie” follows Barbie (Margot Robbie) and Ken (Ryan Gosling) as they venture out of Barbie Land and into the real world. “Barbie” was a smash hit, raking in $1.365 billion worldwide, making it the highest-grossing film of the year.

Despite the film’s success, Gerwig did not receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Director. "Barbie" was also the highest-earning live-action movie globally from a female director ever, and to not be recognized for her overall creative direction and vision for the film was shocking. 

Though Gerwig was snubbed for Best Director, "Barbie" collected nominations in several other categories, including Best Picture, Supporting Actor, Adapted Screenplay, Costume Design, Production Design and Original Song ("I'm Just Ken" and "What Was I Made For?"). 

Gerwig has a knack for bringing out incredibly emotional performances from her cast. This skill ultimately makes her a celebrated director and is why her films are so uniquely powerful. 

While female directors often go unnoticed in the film industry, Gerwig makes herself known, consistently directing instant classics. Gerwig is set to direct and write at least two film adaptations of “The Chronicles of Narnia” for Netflix, which is sure to be yet another smash hit in Gerwig’s filmography. 

Though her talents were overlooked at the 2024 Academy Awards, Gerwig’s directing is ahead of its time and deserving of any and all accolades she receives. 


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