Let’s begin with a statement based entirely in fact. It is this - over the past decade, technology has officially taken over Hollywood.
The evidence seeps out of the pores of every film studio; it’s splashed across the press releases of distributors big and small; and leads the stars of blockbusters to discuss how much of what they did should be credited to raw talent, and how much to a green screen. The result, however, is that movies are bigger, brighter, more ambitious. A stunning array 3D graphics confront every moviegoer, death-defying CGI leaps from every pocket, and HD tricks and illusions pattern even the simplest of storyboards.
But among all these superhero sequels, bombastic reboots and thrilling trips around cinematic imagination, doesn’t it sometimes feel as though we’ve lost control? Modern cinema appears to be boarding a rollercoaster ride that is high on adrenaline but low on heart and, most worrying of all, bereft of true artistic innovators.
All that explains why 2017 was the year that an obscure indie star created the biggest wave in the film industry. For although Greta Gerwig’s glorious coming-of-age tale Lady Bird was not one of the most lucrative movies – such accolades went to the likes of Disney’s live action Beauty and the Beast and Star Wars: The Last Jedi – it is arguably the film that people found the most touching and surprising; rich beyond words in every sense but box office dollars. Earning an almost perfect score on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, it was adored by critics and cinemagoers alike.
A coming-of-age dramatic comedy about a fiercely independent 17-year-old Sacramento girl, Christine (Saoirse Ronan) is anxious to escape the confines of small-town life, and her mother in particular. A simple plot makes Lady Bird a straight-forward and highly relatable tale, and one that its creator laboured over for some time. “It felt like I had been writing this story forever – at least the last 10 years,” offers Greta Gerwig, who embraced screenplay writer and director duties. “It's about how home becomes most vivid and meaningful when you leave it; it's about mothers and daughters and how there are none who are perfect.