Greta Gerwig’s coming-of-age film has Rotten Tomatoes’ most perfect score ever. Critics explain why.
It takes a perfect movie to earn a perfect Rotten Tomatoes score – and “Lady Bird” may be just that.
First-time director Greta Gerwig’s coming-of-age story starring two-time Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan has won such universal acclaim, it bumped 1999’s “Toy Story 2” this week to become the best-rated film ever on the review aggregate site. As of Thursday, it was holding onto a 100% “fresh” rating from 180 critics (with zero “rotten” reviews against it) compared to the Pixar giant’s 163 positive reviews.
And on Thursday, the New York Film Critics Circle awarded it Best Picture, and crowned Ronan Best Actress for her portrayal of a high school senior who renames herself Lady Bird as she struggles to reconcile who she is with who she wants to become when she leaves home to pursue her creative dreams.
So what’s all of the fuss about? Box office experts and movie critics break down the reasons “Lady Bird” actually lives up to the hype.
It speaks to everyone. Joe Neumaier, film critic for 710AM WOR Radio in New York, tells Moneyish that the story rooted in Gerwig’s own high school experience embodies the golden rule that the personal is universal. “Greta says something to all of us who survived a senior year of high school, and who see ourselves as a certain kind of creative person, about how we need to understand where we were and where we are in order to get to where we’re going,” said Neumaier. “Gerwig also allows her heroine to be complicated and complex — she’s not always in the right — and so it feels much more than just a rosy look-back at a moment in one’s life.”
Gerwig is a master craftswoman. The indie “it girl” renowned for her performances in “Frances Ha” and “Mistress America” paid exquisite attention to detail. She gave the production team her own high school journals and yearbooks to get the atmosphere spot on. She crafted the quintessential early aughts playlist for her soundtrack by writing letters directly to Alanis Morissette, Justin Timberlake and Dave Matthews explaining what their songs meant to her growing up. “Gerwig is a cinephile herself, and the way she looked at film, music and art to pull things from there and find inspiration is something truly special,” said Neumaier. “And to have a movie that is written and directed by a so perfectly attuned female voice, an actress blossoming into a screenwriter and a director at a crucial moment in the zeigeist, is a beautiful thing to see.”
Letters that Greta Gerwig sent to Alanis Morissette, Dave Matthews and Justin Timberlake, respectively, requesting their songs for Lady Bird. pic.twitter.com/T9t8MrE7OX
— Robertsom (@justrobertsom) November 21, 2017
Saoirse Ronan nails it. “Saoirse Ronan has been a terrific force in movies for 10 years, since ‘Atonement’ (2007) got her an Oscar nomination, all the way through to ‘Brooklyn’ (2015),” said Neumaier. “Here again is an extraordinary performance showing that she can do anything. She was born and raised in New York for two years, and grew up in Ireland, but she adapts to being a 2003 Greta Gerwig avatar in California perfectly. And even though she’s older than the character is supposed to be, she captures that awkward hunger for personality that high school seniors have.”
It’s filling theater seats. “Lady Bird” isn’t just an indie darling resonating with critics. The film has made $11,565,915 in less than a month in theatres as of Nov. 28, according to IMDbPro and Box Office Mojo data, as strong word-of-mouth has spurred moviegoers to see what the fuss is about. “The film’s limited opening in just four theaters delivered one of the largest per theater averages of the year, at $91,109 per theater,” Brad Brevet, IMDbPro’s box office editor, told Moneyish. “These are impressive figures for an independent film from a first-time filmmaker.” And it’s week-to-week gains remain strong.
It’s Academy Award gold. “I think that as last year showed with ‘Moonlight’ (which won Best Picture last year) personal stories and personal visions are becoming more important to a majority of Oscar voters,” said Neumaier, who expects “Lady Bird” to get best original screenplay, best director and best picture nods. “And I think Oscar voters will respond to the beauty of it, the craft of it, the purity of its heart, and to the opportunity to acknowledge an actress-turned-filmmaker whose power behind the camera is just as memorable as the performances she has given.
“We’re seeing all of that reflected in the reviews and in that Rotten Tomatoes perfect score and in the box office,” he added, “and I think we’ll see that reflected at awards season, as well.”
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