When Joanna Lumley hosted the 2018 BAFTA awards ceremony (the first woman to do so since Mariella Frostrup accompanied Stephen Fry in 2001) at the Royal Albert Hall this week, she opened proceedings with the following speech “in a place that exactly 100 years ago hosted an historic event celebrating the first group of British women being given the vote a century ago.
The suffragettes laid the ground work for the kind of dogged resistance and powerful protest that is carried forward today with the ‘Time’s Up’ movement and with it the determination to eradicate the inequality and the abuse of women the world over.” It was a night for some victories - Frances McDormand’s searingly feminist performance of a woman who takes on the establishment in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri deservedly earned her the Leading Actress award. Similarly, first-time film- maker Rungano Nyoni made waves with I Am Not A Witch (winner in the outstanding British debut category) but there’s still a long road to travel before we really eradicate sexism and gender inequality in film.
No women were nominated for the best director BAFTA prize but looking forward to the 90 th Oscar ceremony on 4 March – the odds are greater that the winner of best director might just be a woman.
When the shortlist was announced, actor turned director and co-writer of the wonderful Frances Ha, Greta Gerwig became the 5 th woman to ever be nominated for the best director Oscar (Kathryn Bigelow is the only woman to have won the award for 2009’s The Hurt Locker) for a film that I am incredibly excited about, the Triple F-Rated Lady Bird.
Based on her upbringing in Sacramento, Gerwig’s already multi award-winning debut follows Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (the formidable Saorsie Ronan – Atonement; Brooklyn: The Grand Budapest Hotel) as she not so much approaches, but rather hurtles towards being an adult.
Desperate to leave her small hometown for the city, and fearful of the “un-special sex” she’s been told awaits her, Lady Bird sins her way through her senior year at a Catholic high school. At the heart of the film is the relationship between Lady Bird and her mother, which cycles beautifully between fiery conflict and overwhelming love.
The combination of Gerwig’s direction and writing, and Ronan’s powerful (also Oscar nominated) performance in the title role is electric. Equally wonderful, Laurie Metcalf stars as Marion, her strong and steadfast mother, with the heartbreakingly brilliant Tracy Letts as Lady Bird’s father. Love interests - in the form of theatre nerd, Danny (Lucas Hedges) and apathetic intellectual, Kyle (Timothée Chalamet) - pack unsentimental nostalgic punches at adolescent romance.
Not many stories are told from the point of view of women - especially between the experience of mothers and daughters, and so it becomes more important than ever that films like Lady Bird are being made – because so few filmmakers are women.
It’s a film about being the very best version of yourself you can be – a refrain we can all take to heart in the wake of #Time’s Up.
Lady Bird is at the Showroom from 23 February.