Oscar Directors: Gerwig, Greta–Background, Career, Awards, Filmography (Women Make Film)

September 28, 2020

Greta Gerwig Career Summation

Occupational Inheritance: No

Nationality: US

Social Class: mother nurse; father credit union



Formal Education: Barnard College, degree in English and philosophy.

Training:  She performed in Columbia University Varsity Show with Kate McKinnon.

First Film: as actress, in Woody Allen, Baumbach films; Nights and Weekends, co-directed with Joe Swanbergas, 2008; aged 25; Lady Bird, 2017; aged 34

Breakthrough: Lady Bird, 2017

First Oscar Nomination: Lady Bird, 2017; aged 34

Gap between First Film and First Nom: None

Other Oscars: for her actors

Other Oscar Nominations:

Oscar Awards: Golden Globe

Nominations Span:

Genre (specialties):

Collaborators: Joe Swanbergas (co-director); Baumbach, also partner;

Last Film: NA

Contract: NA

Career Length: 2008-present

Career Output: 2

Marriage: partner director Baumbach



Greta Celeste Gerwig (born August 4, 1983) is an American actress and filmmaker. She first garnered attention after working on and appearing in several mumblecore films.

Between 2006 and 2009, she appeared in a number of films by Joe Swanberg, some of which she co-wrote or co-directed, including Hannah Takes the Stairs (2007) and Nights and Weekends (2008).[

Since the early 2010s, Gerwig has collaborated with her partner Noah Baumbach on several films, including Greenberg (2010), Frances Ha (2012), for which she received a Golden Globe Award nomination, and Mistress America (2015). She also appeared in Whit Stillman’s Damsels in Distress (2011), Woody Allen’s To Rome with Love (2012), Rebecca Miller’s Maggie’s Plan (2015), Pablo Larraín’s Jackie (2016), Mike Mills’ 20th Century Women (2016), and Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs (2018).

Gerwig has had two solo directorial ventures, the coming-of-age films Lady Bird (2017) and Little Women (2019), both of which earned nominations for the Best Picture Oscar.

For the former, she received Academy Award nominations for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay,[7] and for the latter, she was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Gerwig was included in Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2018.

Gerwig was born in Sacramento, California, and grew up in River Park neighborhood. She is the daughter of Christine (née Sauer), an Ob-Gyn nurse, and Gordon Gerwig, who worked for a credit union on small business loans. She is close to her parents and they make an appearance in Frances Ha as her character’s parents. She has an older brother, a landscape architect, and sister, a manager at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Gerwig has German, Irish, and English ancestry.[12]

Gerwig was raised a Unitarian Universalist. She attended St. Francis High School, an all-girls Catholic school in Sacramento, and graduated in 2002.

She has described herself as having been “an intense child.” Gerwig showed an early interest in dance and later took up competitive fencing, but had to quit in part due to the high costs.[

She had intended to complete a degree in musical theatre in New York, but ended up graduating from Barnard College with a degree in English and philosophy.

Outside class, she performed in the Columbia University Varsity Show with Kate McKinnon.

Gerwig originally intended to become a playwright, but turned to acting when she was not admitted to playwriting MFA programs.

In 2006, while still studying at Barnard, she was cast in a minor role in Joe Swanberg’s LOL, and appeared in Baghead by Jay and Mark Duplass. She began a partnership with Swanberg, which resulted in the duo’s co-writing Hannah Takes the Stairs (2007), and sharing both writing and directing duties on Nights and Weekends (2008).

Through these films, she became known as a key figure in the rising mumblecore film movement, often referred to as an “it girl.” Although she had an association with a other mumblecore filmmakers, mainstream success remained elusive.

Of this period in her life, Gerwig has said, “I was really depressed. I was 25 [in 2008] and thinking, ‘This is supposed to be the best time and I’m miserable’ but it felt like acting was happening for me, and I went back to acting classes.”

In 2010, Gerwig starred in Noah Baumbach’s Greenberg with Ben Stiller, Rhys Ifans, and Jennifer Jason Leigh.

In 2010, Gerwig made her first talk show appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!. From 2011 to 2015, she voiced one of the main characters in the Adult Swim animated series China, IL.

In 2011, she was cast as a lead in the HBO pilot The Corrections, which however was not picked up to series. In 2012, Gerwig appeared in Woody Allen’s film To Rome with Love in the vignette John’s Story, acting alongside Jesse Eisenberg, and Alec Baldwin.

Gerwig and Baumbach co-wrote Frances Ha, which was released in May 2013 after having toured the festival circuit since September 2012. Gerwig played the title role, and received a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Comedy or Musical for her performance.

Her third collaboration with Baumbach, Mistress America, was released in August 2015 to generally positive reviews.

In May 2014, Gerwig made her stage debut as Becky in Penelope Skinner’s The Village Bike at the Lucille Lortel Theatre in New York. The show ran until the end of June. She was nominated for the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Actress for her performance.She was cast in the lead role in a spin-off of How I Met Your Mother titled How I Met Your Dad in 2014,[32] but it was not picked up to series.[33]

Gerwig’s next starring role was in Rebecca Miller’s Maggie’s Plan, which premiered as an official selection of the 2015 Toronto Film Festival, opening to positive reviews. The film was also screened at the 2016 Sundance and the 66th Berlin Film Festival. That same year, Gerwig starred in Pablo Larraín’s Jackie, and Mike Mills’ 20th Century Women, earning acclaim for both performances, particularly her work in the latter, for which she earned a nomination for the Critics’ Choice Movie Award for Best Supporting Actress.

In 2016, she guest-starred in two episodes of the comedy series The Mindy Project.

In 2017, Gerwig made her solo directorial debut (after having co-directed Nights and Weekends) with the coming-of-age comedy-drama film Lady Bird, which she also wrote.

The film’s cast includes Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges, Timothée Chalamet, Beanie Feldstein, Stephen McKinley Henderson, and Lois Smith.[42] Lady Bird premiered at the Telluride Film Festival and was theatrically released in November 2017. The film grossed over $78 million against its $10 million budget worldwide.

Upon its release, Lady Bird received widespread critical acclaim, with reviewers particularly lauding Gerwig’s screenplay and direction. The film was chosen by the National Board of Review, the American Film Institute, and Time magazine as one of the top ten films of 2017.

At the 75th Golden Globe Awards, Lady Bird won Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy and Best Actress – Musical or Comedy for Saoirse Ronan, and also received nominations for Best Supporting Actress for Laurie Metcalf and Best Screenplay for Gerwig. At the 90th Academy Awards, it was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay for Gerwig, Best Actress for Ronan, and Best Supporting Actress for Metcalf. With the nominations announced, Gerwig became the fifth woman in Oscar history to be nominated for Best Director.[7] When she found out about the nominations, Gerwig said she was “in various states of laughing and crying and yelling with joy.”

In 2018, following the success of Lady Bird, Gerwig was part of the voice cast of Wes Anderson’s stop-motion animated film Isle of Dogs, which premiered at the 68th Berlin International Film Festival to critical acclaim, and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.[52]

In June 2018, it was announced that Gerwig would direct a new film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s novel Little Women, whose script she had been previously hired to write. With an ensemble cast featuring Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Laura Dern, Timothée Chalamet, and Meryl Streep,[53][54][55] Little Women was released in December 2019 to widespread critical acclaim.[56] At the 92nd Academy Awards, it received six nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actress for Ronan, Best Supporting Actress for Pugh, and Best Adapted Screenplay for Gerwig,[57] and a win for Best Costume Design. The film was frequently mentioned as part of an Oscars controversy after no woman (including Gerwig) was nominated for Best Director, a snub that was publicly noted by Hillary Clinton and Saturday Night Live, amongst others.[58] Gerwig’s name was one of those featured on the cape that actress Natalie Portman wore to the ceremony, which featured the names of snubbed female directors from that year’s ceremony.[59]

Gerwig will next collaborate with Baumbach in co-writing and directing a live-action Barbie film, starring Margot Robbie in the title role.

Directorial style

Gerwig’s films tend to be based on her own experiences. In a behind-the-scenes video on the set of Lady Bird she said, “I tend to start with things from my own life, then pretty quickly they spin out into their own orbit.”[61] Gerwig presses her actors to incorporate their personalities into their performances as well, and says of her writing and directing, “it’s all about actors.”[61] In addition, she allows little line improvisation and the script is followed fairly closely.[10]

Her works have common themes: the growth and emotional maturation of the leading woman, and relationships among family members, friends, and significant others, with a special interest in female dynamics. Characters are reportedly never villainized, and all are sympathetic. She tends to imbue her films with a unique and specific deadpan sense of humor. Visually they also carry a very specific atmosphere – simultaneously having the warmth of looking back on something in memory and displaying things as they are, stripped of any sort of showiness.[10][61]

In an interview with The New Yorker Gerwig cited Woody Allen has major influence in her work stating, “His influence is hard to measure because it runs so deep”. Her other influences include, Howard Hawks, Ernst Lubitsch, Carole Lombard, Joan Didion, Patti Smith, Chantal Akerman, Claire Denis, Mia Hansen-Løve, John Huston, Mike Leigh and Agnès Varda.

Gerwig moved to New York City at 19 to attend Barnard College. She lives in Brooklyn with filmmaker Noah Baumbach, her partner since 2011. In March 2019, Gerwig had given birth to their son Harold.

2008 Nights and Weekends Yes Yes Yes Co-directed with Joe Swanberg
2017 Lady Bird Yes Yes No
2019 Little Women Yes Yes No
As Actress

Year Title Role Director Notes
2006 LOL Greta Joe Swanberg
2007 Hannah Takes the Stairs Hannah Also co-writer
2008 Baghead Michelle Mark Duplass
Jay Duplass
2008 Yeast Gen Mary Bronstein
2008 Nights and Weekends Mattie Joe Swanberg
Greta Gerwig Also co-writer, co-director, co-producer
2008 Quick Feet, Soft Hands Lisa Paul Harrill Short film
2008 I Thought You Finally Completely Lost It Greta Rod Webber
2009 You Wont Miss Me Bridget Ry Russo-Young
2009 The House of the Devil Megan Ti West
2010 Greenberg Florence Marr Noah Baumbach
2010 Art House Nora Ohr Victor Fanucchi
2010 Northern Comfort Cassandra Rod Webber Also co-writer
2010 The Dish & the Spoon Rose Alison Bagnall
2011 No Strings Attached Patrice Ivan Reitman
2011 Damsels in Distress Violet Wister Whit Stillman
2011 Arthur Naomi Quinn Jason Winer
2012 Lola Versus Lola Daryl Wein
2012 To Rome with Love Sally Woody Allen
2012 Frances Ha Frances Halladay Noah Baumbach Also co-writer
2014 Eden Julia Mia Hansen-Løve
2014 The Humbling Pegeen Mike Stapleford Barry Levinson
2015 Mistress America Brooke Cardinas Noah Baumbach Also co-writer and co-producer
2015 Maggie’s Plan Maggie Hardin Rebecca Miller
2016 Wiener-Dog Dawn Wiener Todd Solondz
2016 Jackie Nancy Tuckerman Pablo Larraín
2016 20th Century Women Abigail Porter Mike Mills
2017 The Meyerowitz Stories Victoria (voice) Noah Baumbach Uncredited
2018 Isle of Dogs Tracy Walker (voice) Wes Anderson
Year Title Role Notes
2009 A NY Thing Tamera Television film
2011–15 China, IL Pony Merks (voice) 21 episodes
2012 The Corrections Julia Vrais Unaired HBO pilot
2014 How I Met Your Dad Sally Unaired CBS pilot
2015 Portlandia Mermaid Episode: “Doug Becomes a Feminist”
2016 The Mindy Project Sarah Branum 2 episodes
2017 Saturday Night Live Ms. Reynolds Uncredited; Episode: “Saoirse Ronan/U2”
Year Title Role Venue Ref.
2014 The Village Bike Becky MCC Theater, Off-Broadway [73]
2020 Three Sisters Performer New York Theatre Workshop, Off-Broadway (Cancelled) [74]
Awards and nominations
Main article: List of awards and nominations received by Greta Gerwig
In 2011, Gerwig won an award from the Athena Film Festival for her artistry as one of Hollywood’s definitive screen actresses of her generation.[75] In 2014, she was selected as a member of the jury for the 64th Berlin International Film Festival.[76] In 2018, her nomination for Best Director at the 90th Academy Awards for Lady Bird made her the first woman in eight years (and one of only five women in Oscar history) to have been nominated in that category.[7][77] Gerwig’s work on Lady Bird was nominated for sixteen awards in notable circuits, winning six of those awards.[46][78][79]

Year Film Academy Awards BAFTA Awards Golden Globe Awards
Nominations Wins Nominations Wins Nominations Wins
2017 Lady Bird 5 0 3 0 4 2
2019 Little Women 6 1 5 1 2 0
Directed Academy Award performances

Gerwig has directed multiple Oscar nominated performances.

Year Performer Film Result
Academy Award for Best Actress
2018 Saoirse Ronan Lady Bird Nominated
2020 Little Women
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
2018 Laurie Metcalf Lady Bird Nominated
2020 Florence Pugh Little Women