‘Lady Bird’ Was Snubbed By the Oscars, But It’s a Historic Coming of Age Movie

IndieWire | 3/9/2018 | Staff
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This article was originally produced as part of the NYFF Critics Academy.

“Lady Bird always said she lived on the wrong side of the tracks, I didn’t know there were actual tracks.” So says Danny (Lucas Hedges) almost flippantly in “Lady Bird.” In the film, class plays a large role in how the titular character interacts with everyone she comes in contact with. The movie is seemingly a coming of age story about a girl who’s simply trying to make her social ends meet as she transitions from high school to college, but that would almost be too superficial of a reading. “Lady Bird” and “The Florida Project” didn’t win any of the Oscars they were nominated for on Sunday, but their legacies are secure as part of a growing trend to break the mold of the old coming-of age model. In doing so, have become more authentic in regards to how the characters view family, class, and themselves.

Movies - End - World - War - II

Socially conscious, class-based movies are not new to cinema. After the end of World War II, Italy stripped its filmic style down to its bare bones through the nation’s “neo-realist” movement. Movies like “Rome, Open City”, “Bicycle Thieves,” and “Umberto D” allowed for audiences to enter the spaces and lives of social classes that they had previously never experienced before. Now 70 years later, American cinema has joined the tradition of emphasizing social and racial class divides.

Much like the rich tradition of socially conscious pictures, the coming of age movie can be traced back to the ‘50s, with Nicholas Ray’s “Rebel Without a Cause,” in which James Dean played an aimless, melodramatic teenager who repetitiously claims that no one understands him.

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