10 Best Greta Gerwig Movies
One of independent cinema’s strongest actors for years and now practically a household name after her great success in 2017, Greta Gerwig is one of the most versatile performers of the 21st century. This is something she’s proven time and time again — from being at the forefront of the mumblecore movement back in the 2000s to her eventual crossing-over with Noah Baumbach, Gerwig continues to make herself known. Her characters are often full of dichotomies: grown but immature, sophisticated but irritating, honest but self-conscious. She epitomizes the generation born in the 80s, the generation that had an analog childhood but a digital adulthood. For this reason, her filmography is full of all kinds of hits, each one just as great as the last.
Co-written by Greta Gerwig in collaboration with the inimitable Noah Baumbach, Frances Ha sees Gerwig playing the role she was born to play. It was written for her, so of course, she’s perfect for it. She’s a New Yorker without an apartment, a dance instructor without much prior experience, a woman set on achieving her dreams that aren’t even fully formed yet. It’s a gem of a film, with a bunch of great performances from Adam Driver, Mickey Sumner, and Grace Gummer helping to round out the cast led by Gerwig herself.
A spiritual sort-of sequel to Frances Ha, Mistress America stars Gerwig alongside Lola Kirke as a recklessly confident New Yorker and a college freshman, respectively, both of which are set to become stepsisters in the very near future. It’s a classic modern day screwball comedy from Baumbach and Gerwig, but what really sets this movie near the top of Gerwig’s filmography is her surprisingly fearless performance.
20th Century Women
A movie filled with plenty of realistic and heartfelt characters, 20th Century Women tells the story of a teenage boy, his mom, and the two other young women who all work together to help raise him in their Southern California town in the late 70s. They’re all so likable, so lovable even, that one can’t help but to be enthralled by every performance on-screen. Gerwig is doing especially great work here, though — Abbie, her character, is a sympathetic punk that grabs your attention like a magnet.
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Isle of Dogs
Her first-ever collaboration with indie filmmaker darling Wes Anderson, 2018’s Isle of Dogs is a stop-motion animated film that pays homage to the people, the culture, and the animals of Japan. Gerwig plays an opinionated foreign exchange student named Tracy, a character who proves to be of the utmost importance when the film’s main character Atari needs rescuing. It’s a sweet movie, and Gerwig’s unique voice is an excellent addition.
Based on the experiences of former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy in the weeks after her husband’s tragic assassination, Jackie sees Greta Gerwig playing real-life White House Social Secretary (and friend to the Kennedys) Nancy Tuckerman. The film is anchored by a tour-de-force performance from Natalie Portman in the titular role, but it’s always a delight when Gerwig shows up on screen from time to time. It’s a serious role, but she totally nails it.
The House of the Devil
One of Gerwig’s earliest roles (and one of her only horror films so far), The House of the Devil is an effectively creepy and completely captivating independent horror film from up-and-comer Ti West. It’s a period piece, taking place in 1983, the year that Gerwig was actually born in. It’s definitely an homage to the horror films of yesteryear, but Gerwig is a fun addition to the cast and certainly elevates the movie to a whole new level that it wouldn’t have been able to reach without her.
Nights and Weekends
It’s really no coincidence that Gerwig’s greatest mumblecore performance happened in a movie that she co-wrote and co-directed. Starring alongside her writing and directing partner, Gerwig plays one half of a long-distance couple struggling to stay together after covering up their relationship issues for far too long. It’s obviously solid, given Gerwig’s track record, but it’s also really true-to-life in a way that feels too personal to not come from Gerwig’s own personal life.
An early collaboration with Noah Baumbach, Greenberg stars Ben Stiller and Greta Gerwig as a house sitter and a personal assistant, respectively. They’re both lost souls, which means they fit right in with each other. They, along with their respective neuroses, play off of each other nicely and develop something that’s weird but honest, unconventional but loving. It’s one of Gerwig’s sweetest roles yet.
Damsels in Distress
Starring Gerwig as one-third of a group of college girls determined to turn their university upside down, Damsels in Distress contains yet another iconic Gerwig performance. She was born to dominate the independent film scene, and that she certainly did. Damsels in Distress is practically carried from start to finish by Gerwig, no easy feat but one that she does gladly and with ease.
From French director Mia Hansen-Løve comes Eden, a movie that captures the early 90s and the dreams of the generation that grew up then. It’s a subtle and beautiful film, which means that Gerwig’s signature style fits right in. She’s playing a lesser role here, nothing more than a supporting character named Julia, but there’s no denying that she’s livening things up (even with minimal screen time).
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