Welcome to the 2017 Awards Profile series, where we talk about high- and low-profile films coming to a theater near you at some point this year. We will analyze the potential for these films to be players for the Academy Awards, and while many of these have the potential to be recognized, many will not, either by quality or being pushed back to the following year. For the next few weeks, we will bring you a film every Monday and Wednesday to talk about their potential. If you have a suggestion, please include it in the comments below. If you missed a film, click on the tag or category Awards Profile.
FILM: “Lady Bird”
PRODUCERS: Eli Bush, Evelyn O’Neill, Scott Rudin
DISTRIBUTOR: Sony Pictures Classics
DIRECTOR: Greta Gerwig
WRITER: Greta Gerwig
CAST: Saoirse Ronan, Odeya Rush, Laurie Metcalf, Kathryn Newton, Tracy Letts, Jake McDorman, Lucas Hedges, Laura Marano, Andy Buckley, Timothée Chalamet, Stephen Henderson
SYNOPSIS (via iMDB): The adventures of a young woman living in Northern California for a year.
WHY IT MIGHT SUCCEED:
“Lady Bird’s” secret weapon comes in the form of Oscar magnet Scott Rudin. The legendary producer has racked up an impressive eight Best Picture nominations since 2002. This includes a win in 2007 for “No Country for Old Men.” Since 2010, he has had a film nominated for Best Picture in five of the seven years. He may have to split his time and resources this year between Alex Garland’s sci-fi thriller “Annihilation” and “Lady Bird.” However, Rudin sneaks two films into Best Picture on occasion. In fact, in 2010, both “True Grit” and “The Social Network” were projects Rudin helped bring to the Dolby. Might he be the secret weapon that propels Gerwig’s directorial feature into the Best Picture race?
The two women at the center of the film are poised for strong Oscar consideration. Star Saoirse Ronan has become the youngest actress in history to score two Oscar nominations. Her first came at age 13 for “Atonement” and second at age 21 for “Brooklyn.” The Academy clearly takes notice of her work, especially in a starring role. Greta Gerwig, on the other hand, has yet to be noticed by Oscar. However, with strong acting performances in “20th Century Women” and “Frances Ha,” where she also was a co-writer, she seems to be in a good spot to earn a nomination shortly. The film also stars fellow Oscar nominee Lucas Hedges, as well as multiple Emmy winner Laurie Metcalf and Pulitzer Prize winner Tracy Letts. In short, the film is filled with award winning names from top to bottom.
WHY IT MIGHT NOT SUCCEED:
How often do youth focused movies score major Oscar nominations? Movies such as “The Social Network” and “Boyhood” go quite far, only to lose in the home stretch. This feat is harder for films about young women. Oftentimes the films have to be hard dramas (“Room,” “Winter’s Bone,” “Precious,” “Beasts of the Southern Wild”) or based off an acclaimed novel (“Brooklyn,” “An Education”) to have a chance at making it into Best Picture. The one hope for “Lady Bird” is it captures the cultural zeitgeist in the same way “Juno” did on its way to four nominations, including Best Picture, and Original Screenplay win. However, that film still had a good deal of importance attached to it, as it dealt with teenage pregnancy. This doesn’t douse the film’s chances in Screenplay or in Actress for Ronan. However, it does put a roadblock in the film’s path for Best Picture.
For as ready as Gerwig is for her Oscar coronation, will this be the project they embrace her for? There have been seventeen directors who receive nominations for their first feature, so it is not unheard of. Even some actors who made the leap to directing are included in that statistic, such as Warren Beatty (“Heaven Can Wait”). Kevin Costner (“Dances with Wolves”) and Robert Redford (“Ordinary People”) both won Best Director for their first feature. However, every person who has accomplished this feat is a man. More troubling, only four female directors can claim to be Oscar nominees. One of them – Sofia Coppola – is an actress turned director. However, one only has to look at Barbara Streisand, who made that jump from actress to director, to see how the Oscars can shun you. Screenplay is much more likely, but that shouldn’t keep Gerwig from shooting for the stars.
POTENTIAL OSCAR CATEGORIES IN PLAY:
- Motion Picture
- Director – Greta Gerwig
- Lead Actress – Saoirse Ronan
- Supporting Actor – Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges
- Supporting Actress – Laurie Metcalf
- Original Screenplay – Greta Gerwig