Culture / Film

5 Greta Gerwig films to watch before you watch the ‘Barbie’ movie

Greta Gerwig movies to watch

I'm not sure there's anyone with access to the internet lately that has not been privvy to the sheer avalanche of memes and commentary sparked by the most recent trailer of Greta Gerwig's Barbie movie starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling. Whether we're making memes out of the franchise's movie posters, reciting Ken's "boyfriend-girlfriend" line, or simply trying to be the first to actually guess what the movie will be about, it seems the film is shaping up to be one of this year's biggest and most talked about blockbusters.

While the Barbie movie is certainly a thematic departure for Gerwig, compared to her subversive and largely dialogue-driven indie back catalogue of work, it's an exciting and somewhat surprising new foray for the multi-hyphenate creative. Originally an aspirational playwright, Gerwig got her start as an actress in a slew of independent films before making the transition to writing and directing.

While we must, unfortunately, wait until late July to get our hands on her next film, we can console ourselves with the fact that we now have ample time in the coming months to parse through Gerwig's back catalogue of films. Irrespective of whether she was in front of or behind the camera, here are five of our top Gerwig flicks to watch.


1. Frances Ha

Gerwig shines in this cult film she co-wrote with Noah Baumbach (her now husband). Gerwig plays the titular Frances, a downtrodden New York City dancer trying to go pro, and struggling to keep afloat against a near tidal wave of simultaneous misfortune. Unemployed, effectively homeless, friendless and dropped from her company, the film is a perfectly imperfect portrayal of feeling unmoored, albeit confident in the face of waning evidence. It's an excellent toe-dip into the world of Gerwig's film, and quietly an indie masterpiece.


2. Lady Bird

Lady Bird is Gerwig's directorial debut, and a masterclass in how to tell a story where both nothing and everything happen at once. As ever, Soarise Ronan is a magnificent lead as Lady Bird herself, encapsulating with nuance the fevered passion, rage, rebellion and fears of a teenager on the cusp of adulthood. et in Sacramento, California, we reminisce on the heartbreak (and cringe) of adolescence, as Lady Bird navigates being a high school senior, and her strained relationship with her mother.

If not for Ronan and Gerwig, the film is worth a watch just for its glimpses of a young Timothee Chalamet as Lady Bird's brooding, bass-playing, kind-of-awful love interest, Kyle.


3. 20th Century Women

A slow burn and an intimate portrayal of the modern woman, 20th Century Women portrays three generations in the late 70s: determined single mother Dorothea (Annette Bening), free-spirited artist Abbie (Gerwig), and their teenage neighbour Julie (Elle Fanning). Through their stories, we explore deep loss, the dynamic of family, and discussions about death and sex and vulnerability. A must-watch.


4. Isle of Dogs

The twee charm of Wes Anderson's Isle of Dogs is as endearing as it is enchanting. When a young Japanese boy arrives on a quarantined island of canines in search of his beloved pet, he enlists the help of a cast of motley dogs to accompany him on his journey.

Anderson's stop-motion style is displayed in all its kitsch glory, featuring a host of other big voice acting names – from George Clooney to Scarlett Johnasson and, of course, Bill Murray. Gerwig joins the voice cast as outspoken American exchange student Tracy.


5. Little Women

It feels like we've seen the March sisters enter the threshold of womanhood time and again, as their story has been adapted and re-adapted for screens big and small over the years. However, Gerwig's direction of Louisa May Alcott's seminal book Little Women is notable in many ways, if not for its ability to convincingly make universally human points about freedom, love and its counterpoint, sacrifice.

The enigmatic trio of Ronan, Chalamet and Gerwig are reunited after their stellar performances in Gerwig's directorial debut, and round out a wonderfully wholesome cast that includes Florence Pugh, Emma Watson and Meryl Streep.


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