Lady Bird Should Never Have Left The Oscars Empty-Handed

Under unprecedented pressure to change the status quo on female-led and female-told stories, Hollywood would’ve done well to recognise this film
Lady Bird

So that’s all, folks. Awards season is over. Time to pack up your predictions, your outrage and your penchant for pausing on the best (and worst) losing faces until next year.

Many say that the Oscars get less and less surprising every year, but one of the biggest shockers of the season has got to be the fact that Greta Gerwig’s hilarious, bittersweet and so-damn-relatable Lady Bird went home empty-handed.

What’s not to love? It’s funny, it’s frank, it’s painfully familiar. It tracks well-trodden (but no less fruitful) territory of young people finding self-acceptance and confidence, as adulthood awaits them. It asks the important questions about growing up, without a knowing, pretentious, sugar-sweet answer.

Gerwig’s semi-autobiographical story beautifully shows the difficulty in reconciling your upbringing, your home and your family with the person you want to become. Embarrassment, frustration and naivety illustrate most people’s teenage years and Gerwig has scribbled these memories and feelings all over her directorial debut with unrestrained vigour. It’s fantastic.

Saoirse Ronan simmers as a precocious, ambitious teen, while Laurie Metcalf’s manner is (for the most part) more icy, with her that’s-the-way-it-is mother mantra. Their chaotic relationship is also magnetic, repelling and attracting one another throughout.

But it’s not just about the mother-daughter drama. It’s about finding your own path, while still being unable to deny your connection with your home, your family, your childhood. A story that is told with humour and care.

In the 24 hours leading up to the accolade for Best Picture being announced, 47% of UK bets were placed on Lady Bird taking home the title. So, what went wrong?

Some have suggested that it was (and is) overrated. The difference between fan and critic ratings is larger than for any other Oscar-nominated feature film this year. Metacritic has given it 94 out of 100, whereas it has been rated at 7.7 on IMDB.

Perhaps it was the more nuanced, understated nature of the film that caused it to be ultimately overlooked by the awards crowd. Did it not fill the quota for drama, impact or cross-species romance?

Now under unprecedented pressure to change the status quo on female-led and female-told stories, Hollywood would’ve done well to recognise a film that was not only brought to the screens by an extraordinary, female, first-time director, but also one that uses male love interest roles (Lucas Hedges and Timothée Chalamet) predominantly as storytelling devices instead of the centre of a female protagonist’s universe.

Whatever reason you give, it’s just disappointing that a film which so skilfully navigates the tumultuous nature of an ordinary struggle has been overlooked.

For me, the subtle treatment of the story is why it’s so important. The struggles of a mother-daughter relationship, a young girl’s sexual awakening (“Who the f**k is on top their first time?” was a particularly fabulous line) and the poignancy of a teenage girl striking out on her own are all life experiences that deserve appreciation, discussion and above all, recognition.


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