Lady Bird

6 Movies Written By Greta Gerwig To Watch After ‘Barbie’

Need another Greta Gerwig fix after ‘Barbie?’ We’ve got you covered.

If you were a fan of Barbie in all its pink-hued splendor, chances are you like Greta Gewrig’s approach to storytelling. The actor/writer/director is known for her nuanced and introspective style that seamlessly balances emotional sensitivity with witty banter. Her dialogue is sharp and engaging, yet always marked by a strong sense of empathy for the protagonists. Here are other Greta Gerwig creations to watch after heading to theaters to see Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling as Barbie and “Just Ken.”

Little Women’ | 2019

Greta Gerwig penned the screenplay for Little Women (with Gillian Armstrong and Robin Swicord) based on the classic novel of the same name by Louisa May Alcott. The film, just like the book, captures the essence of sisterhood and female empowerment — as each character strives to assert their individuality and follow their personal aspirations. It’s a triumphant film that challenges societal norms while modernizing the source material (just enough to resonate with contemporary audiences while still paying homage to Alcott).

Gerwig’s film emphasizes the importance of female agency and women’s desires outside traditional gender roles. Via a non-linear (yet cohesive) narrative, dynamic camerawork, and a breathtaking color palette, Gerwig’s movie retains a sense of vivacity. She offers a new perspective that highlights the novel’s timeless themes while bringing previously underexplored relationships and character complexities into the light. 

‘Lady Bird’ | 2017 

The film’s protagonist, Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson is in her senior year of high school, navigating the struggles of adolescence while looking for an escape from her hum-drum, “no culture” life. She yearns to see the world. Contemplate art. She desires discussion about literature with the academic elite. She’s trying to find her place in this world while managing a contentious yet significant relationship with her mother, Marion. The mother-daughter dynamic at play is unparalleled — highlighting the mix of misunderstandings and love that often define an adolescent’s relationship with their primary caretaker. 

The humor in the film is top-notch, relying on the ridiculousness inherent to everyday life as a teenager. It’s subtle but unpredictable. The dialogue is authentic and, though slightly superior to “natural” conversation, never feels pedantic or over-indulgent. It’s quippy and quirky. Smirk-inducing and chuckle-causing. Lady Bird is equal parts tender and turbulent. It shifts seamlessly from dramatic heights to comedic reprieves, perfectly capturing the adolescent experience in both style and story. Lady Bird may just be Gerwig’s strongest film on this list. 

Mistress America’ | 2015 

Greta Gerwig wrote (with husband and frequent collaborator Noah Baumbach) and stars in Mistress America as a wacky future stepsister to the leading protagonist, Tracy. Tracy is a college freshman in need of a cure for her loneliness and disappointment. Mistress America benefits most from rapid-fire dialogue, as Gerwig’s Brooke is a verbose and quick-thinking supporting character. The writing is whip-smart from start to finish, maintaining audience engagement even when the quarter-life crisis bit gets a bit old. 

The film hilariously satirizes contemporary urban culture and the rat-race mentality that often surfaces among young adults falling under the pressures of capitalism and societal determiners of success. Like many Gerwig movies on this list, the film blends social commentary with lightweight comedy to make a point without getting on a soapbox. The film is an example of observational humor, relying on the eccentricities of its characters and the relatable scenarios they wind up in to resonate with diverse audiences.

Frances Ha’ | 2012

Once again, legendary duo Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach come out swinging with a masterpiece. Gerwig also stars as the lead protagonist, Frances, in this film; thus, you’ll get a satisfying heaping of Gerwig grandness.

Frances Ha follows a New York woman who doesn’t have an apartment and apprentices for a dance company…though she’s not exactly a dancer. And she, with reckless abandon, throws herself headfirst into chasing her dreams. It can be a bit overly self-conscious at times, but the way it traverses the territory between dreams and disappointments is inspiring and nuanced. It’s a deft comedy that finds something to cherish about life — even when down at heel. 

Gerwig gives a critically-celebrated performance as a contradictory and insecure woman who seamlessly shifts from chaos to contemplation. It’s a slice-of-life comedy that offers up natural conversations and emotional depth with an utterly endearing protagonist at the center of it all. 

Nights and Weekends’ | 2008 

Greta Gerwig and Joe Swanberg co-wrote, co-directed, and co-starred in Nights and Weekends — a film about a man and a woman who must face the challenges that surface while navigating a long-distance relationship. The film is unapologetically raw in its depiction of long-distance relationships. No sunshine and rainbows here. 

The movie demonstrates just how messy and painful love can be — diving into the characters’ inner lives and thoughts to showcase their deepest vulnerabilities and fears. However, would it be a Gerwig flick without some relatable comedy? As much as the film finds heartache in its characters’ vulnerabilities, it also finds humor there. Their Skype calls elicit laughter and empathy in tandem. It’s a realistic and emotionally complex exploration of — not simply romance — but meaningful human connection. 

Hannah Takes the Stairs’ | 2007 

Before teaming up with Swanberg on Nights and Weekends, Gerwig co-wrote Hannah Takes the Stairs with him and Kent Osborne, who also stars across from Gerwig in this 2007 romantic dramedy. Gerwig stars as Hannah: a recent college grad interning at a production company. She happens to be crushing on two writers at work: Matt (Osborn) and Paul (Andrew Bujalski). The question is: will entering into a relationship with one of them impact their friendship trifecta? 

Although, according to critics, Hannah Takes the Stairs is the weakest of the bunch on this list, the film benefits from Gerwig’s knack for realism. The movie firmly plants itself into the mumblecore genre—a subgenre of independent filmmaking that emphasizes naturalistic dialogue (sometimes improvised) often at the expense of fully-fleshed sentences and ideas. The movie can get a bit irritating, as the characters aren’t exactly “not annoying,” but there’s just enough comedy and sharpness to get through the 83-minute ride. 

So, sit on the couch, grab the popcorn, and start your Greta Gerwig movie marathon.


About the author

Josh Lezmi

Josh is an entertainment writer and editor at Thought Catalog.