Oscar Season has officially started; which means that ‘Best Picture’ nominees – besides ‘Get Out’ – are returning to theaters for audiences to give a chance to before that fateful day (March 4) comes. I have only got a chance to see both ‘Get Out’ and ‘Dunkirk’ before ‘Lady Bird’ came out. Now with “Oscar Blitz” happening at one of my local theaters, I finally might get that chance to watch all the ‘Best Picture’ nominees that will screen there – starting with Greta Gerwig’s magnum opus ‘Lady Bird’.
‘Lady Bird’ is not just a film that bathes itself in post-9/11 frustration and early 2000’s nostalgia, nor is it only a love letter to Gerwig’s hometown of Sacramento, California; it is a film that has all the elements of a high school movie, that is as real as it could be while seemingly trying to avoid the tropes these movies manage to step into, albeit sometimes trudging through them in tiresome fashion. Saoirse Ronan’s Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson is the epitome of Gerwig herself, as she faces the awkwardness of being a teenager at a Catholic high school, although she is anything but pure. “Lady Bird” is none other than your typical teenage girl going through the motions of life; dealing with a loving, yet overbearing, mother (Laurie Metcalf – who received an Oscar nod for her performance), her best friend Julie (Beanie Feldstein), and a romance with classmates Danny O’Neill (Lucas Hedges), and Kyle Scheible (Oscar Nominee Timothee Chalamet – ‘Call Me By Your Name’)
The name “Lady Bird” is not derived from the nickname of Lyndon B. Johnson’s wife (which could be a misleading factor for those who have not heard anything about this movie); we never truly know why “Lady Bird” is her nickname, but as McPherson says when auditioning for the production of ‘Merrily We Roll Along, “I gave it to myself; it was given TO me BY me.” However, upon coming to the realization, the term “Lady Bird” is not just an alias McPherson has, the title ‘Lady Bird’, along with its cliché slogan “Fly away home.” is a metaphor for growing up, self-discovery and, when ready, leaving the nest – something McPherson has to do later on. In more ways than one, Gerwig has made a movie just as real as its metaphor.