Each year, I try to watch every movie nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award before the Oscars ceremony. As I do this, I will write a brief review of each movie, along with a suggestion of what to eat and/or drink to pair with the movie.
I’m not sure what took me so long to watch Lady Bird. I wanted to -- it got great reviews from all the feminists I trust. I loved Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn. It has a female director. I just never got around to it and by the time I started in earnest on these Oscar nominations, it was no longer in theaters.
But I did manage to watch it and it was the last of the Best Picture nominations I saw. In my ideal world, the two top contenders for the Best Picture award would be the two most compelling and interesting movies of the year: Get Out and Lady Bird. But I don’t need to read Oscars buzz to know that this is not my ideal world.
I generally avoid films about teenage drama because I am a high school teacher and that’s literally part of my job. Where others see a charming, nostalgic walk down memory lane, I usually see the thing that gets in the way of my lesson plans with some regularity.
But Lady Bird gets it right in a way that most other films don’t. A lot of films focused on teenagers have a subtle air of condescension that the filmmakers may be unaware of in the way that people are unaware of their condescension when they talk to or about teenagers. That’s another reason I avoid movies with teenagers -- the judgy-ness annoys me. There’s nothing like that here. Just complete and total empathy.
And that’s because the characters are authentic. That’s where the whole strength of the story comes from.
My favorite aspect of the story was the raw and heartbreaking portrayal of a complicated parent/child relationship. Both Lady Bird [Saoirse Ronan] and her mother [Laurie Metcalf] are deeply flawed people who love each other, and who have higher standards for each other than they have for themselves. While they are flawed, they are also both lovable and occasionally affectionate, which is what makes the relationship complicated. The viewer immediately understands why they love each other, and why they sometimes hate each other.
Lady Bird also manages to juggle multiple stories with just the right amount of overwhelming. Being a teenager is overwhelming, so it’s appropriate that it sometimes feel like too much.
In addition to Best Picture, Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf gained well-deserved nominations for Lead Actress and Supporting Actress, respectively. Greta Gerwig is nominated for Director, but she won’t win. I will be very happy if she does, but she won’t. It was also nominated for Original Screenplay but as I’ve said for this entire series, I think Get Out should win that based on creativity alone. If I’m judging screenplays based solely on authenticity, I’d give it to Lady Bird.
What to make: Poultry is the obvious thing here. There’s a Thanksgiving scene so a roasted turkey would work and would feed a crowd! I recommend butterflying it for faster and more even cooking, but if the idea of a turkey in March is too much for you, you can also butterfly and roast a chicken.
Or, while I haven’t really gone the pun route with my recommendations, you could do Lady [Bird] Fingers for dessert.