Why Greta Gerwig Movies Are Culturally Significant


Greta Gerwig may have stepped into Hollywood as an actress, but the breathing force in her astounding success was direction and scriptwriting. From doing low-budget independent films, also known as mumblecore features, to climbing up the ladder of fame with her notable and award-winning solo works including Lady Bird (2017) and the infamous Barbie (2023). Greta Gerwig is certainly a director with the art of incorporating peak entertainment and incredible niches.

Surpassing the usual level of fame a female director would normally get, Greta’s impact is undoubtedly significant. With a handful of solo directorial projects under her belt, her works are affecting the culture more profoundly than one would think. Here are some distinguished cultural vitality of her works.

Calling Attention To Sensitive Themes

Saoirse Ronan in "Lady Bird"


After setting her feet in the ‘Coming of Age” genre, Greta decided to craft a masterful universe of empowered and misunderstood characters. Gerwig chose to highlight some of the fetching themes that are both important and sensitive. Gerwig’s approach to creating Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson for her solo directorial debut perfectly encapsulates all the dreary states of teen life. Her practical approach to the concept of the “teenage dream” is critically acclaimed for its relatability to the young ones. This is indeed daring for a filmmaker to play the rebel and go against the already-existing glamorized version of girlhood and turn it into something less talked about. More importantly, what matters is the successful attempt to retain the messed up insides of young minds. Dreams, ambitions, prospects, and expectations are accompanied by a fair share of loneliness, alienation, misunderstandings, and isolation. 

Despite being challenging, life can be sensual. Lady Bird’s perfect foil came into being when Greta expanded her vision with Barbie. The movie explored the hardships of womanhood in the most striking way. This was Gerwig’s take on the pink glitz of Barbie’s world to take out poignant themes of women’s struggles. Wading through the patriarchal norms, sarcastic discourse, and camouflaged perspectives, Barbie redefined what we call a ‘misunderstood character’. Themes in Barbie had the biggest impact in accentuating stereotypes that exist in the 21st century.

Romanticizing Femininity

Margot Robbie in "Barbie"

One of the strongest impacts of Barbie’s commercial success is how it preaches to embrace femininity. Whether it be trends in fashion or expressing vulnerability, it explored multiple facets of women’s empowerment and what it truly means. The way the color pink and ‘Barbie core’ ruled the past year, it is surely evident that Barbie fulfilled the purpose of its creation. Barbie’s exemplification to describe Greta’s vision is necessary because the box office numbers are reliable to understand the true cultural implication of it. Apart from that, the filmmaker’s approach to similar themes is prevalent in her other works.

Greta’s take on Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel Little Women

 is a beautiful representation of female fragility vs strength. Her leading women showcase ambitions and dreams with their fair share of femininity. Jo March and Barbie can be both career women and ordinary women who perpetuate the true essence of women’s leadership roles.

Shedding Light on the Patriarchal Norms 

Whether we’re in the time zones of World War or the modern world we live in today, patriarchal norms exist all around us. Historically, female authors and filmmakers have continued to express the hostile conditions for women to thrive in a male-dominated society. Gerwig’s artistic expression of presenting women back in the 70s in the publishing industry (Little Women) and all walks of life (Barbie), serves as a cultural reset. It further raises awareness regarding women’s roles and responsibilities on an international level. 

A Realistic Take on Masculinity

Timotheé Chalamat in "Little Women"

The most valuable feature of Greta Gerwig’s fictional world is the careful depiction of men. It is indeed difficult to bring about an acceptable image of men when feminism is a dominant theme in most of her work. That’s where you’d think these characters would exude typical male toxicity and ego to initial binary oppositions. But that is not the case here. I’ll be forever enchanted by the emotional vulnerability of men that Greta always manages to bring out. With soft characters like Theodore Laurence and John Brook and edgy men like Kyle Scheible and Ken, one can always find the right kind of masculinity that favors their outlook on life without being idealistic. 

Her Inspirational Career Fuels the Impact of Her Films

Greta Gerwig

One could separate the art from the artist, but not when she’s an embodiment of the magic she creates. Greta’s leading ladies aren’t just fictional. They exist in real life, just take a look at Greta herself!

Greta Gerwig started her writing and directing career by writing the script for independent films, Hannah Takes the Stairs (2007), Northern Comfort (2010), and Frances Ha (2012). Later down the road, she wrote, directed, and produced Nights and Weekends (2008) and Mistress America (2015).

As a solo female director, her renowned works include Lady Bird (2017), and Little Women (2019), both starring Saoirse Ronan as the pivotal protagonist. Recently, she wrote, directed, and executively produced the sensational hit, Barbie (2023), starring Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, Rhea Perlman, Will Ferrell, and Michael Cera. Greta Gerwig adores the filmmaking style of the talented and acclaimed Woody Allen and her works have a hint of Allen’s charm and artistic approach. 

Given a long list of hit films, Greta Gerwig also bagged a lot of awards, accolades, and nominations for her distinct work. Here are some of the most acclaimed achievements of the A-list director herself:


  • The 2017 BAFTA Awards gave Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird the nomination for Best Original Screenplay. 
  • Lady Bird also received a nomination for Best Original Screenplay in the 2017 Critics’ Choice Movie Awards. 
  • Golden Globe Awards also nominated Lady Bird for the Best Screenplay – Motion Picture category. 
    • At the 90th Academy Awards, Greta Gerwig earned the nomination for Best Original Screenplay and Best Director for Lady Bird (2017), making her the first woman in 8 years and the fifth in the history of the Academy Awards to be nominated in that category. 
  • Lady Bird was nominated for Best Original Screenplay and Outstanding Directing – Feature Film in the 2018 Writers Guild of America Awards and the Directors Guild of America Award, respectively. 


  • Greta Gerwig’s Little Women was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay at the 92nd Academy Awards, the 2019 BAFTA Awards, and the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, in which the nomination for Best Director was also included. 


    • Greta Gerwig’s fantasy-comedy feature Barbie, received a plethora of praise from all over the world, making it the highest-grossing film made by a female director and the 14th highest-grossing film of all time, crossing the whopping 1.4 billion dollar mark.
    • Barbie also received nominations for Best Director and won the Best Original Screenplay in the 2023 Critics’ Choice Movie Awards.
  • The most recent dazzling highlight of Barbie was the 2023 Golden Globe Awards, in which it won the award for Cinematic and Box Office Achievement and was nominated for Best Screenplay – Motion Picture. 


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