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Movies Directed by Greta Gerwig Ranked From Worst to Best

Stills from all the movies directed by Greta Gerwig

From microbudget indie to billion dollar blockbuster, here’s a ranking of all movies directed by Greta Gerwig, ranked from worst to best!

Greta Gerwig was a name in every film fan’s mouth in 2023, particularly due to the massive success of Barbie, the highest-grossing movie of the year, which made $1 billion at the box office in just 17 days! Barbie earned 6 Academy Award nominations, including one for Best Adapted Screenplay which she would have shared with her husband and long time collaborator Noah Baumbach. Barbie, Lady Bird and Little Women have all been nominated for the most prestigious Best Picture award at the Academy Awards, yet none have taken home the win quite yet! As such, it is apparent that she is one of the best directors working right now

Her filmography is abundant with wonderfully written complex, funny and nuanced characters, consistently making a space for strong female narratives in Hollywood. It was confirmed last summer that Gerwig would be directing and writing at least two films based on The Chronicles of Narnia books for a reboot by Netflix. It’s certainly exciting to see how she orients this series to her own style, perhaps with Susan Pevensie at the forefront in lieu of her coming-of-age style narratives? Either way, I can’t wait! Though it’s seemingly an impossible task, here’s a list of all movies directed by Greta Gerwig, ranked from worst to best!

4. Nights and Weekends (2008)

Joe Swanberg and Greta Gerwig hold a yellow toy lion wearing red hats in Nights and Weekends, one of the movies directed by Greta Gerwig ranked from worst to best by Loud and Clear Reviews
Movies Directed by Greta Gerwig Ranked From Worst to Best – Joe Swanberg and Greta Gerwig in Nights and Weekends (2008) (IFC Films)

Nights and Weekends was the directorial debut of Greta Gerwig, alongside Joe Swanberg (Easy, Drinking Buddies). They also both play the main characters, Mattie and James. The movie is a mumblecore feature, which is essentially a low budget film with newcomer actors who give quite naturalistic performances. It is apparent that essences of mumblecore have been carried into her future features, but they have been embedded more successfully. Nights and Weekends does not have a clear story; it is more a series of conversations between a couple as they go through change in a long-distance relationship. It is a nuanced and intimate portrait of a relationship, and the way it is shot with handheld cameras and closeup shots make it so realistic that the viewer feels as if they are intruding on very private and difficult conversations between a couple or we are watching a documentary. 

Often with low budget features, there is a lot of emphasis on the script and the characterisation, and Gerwig and Swanberg, who also wrote the feature, excellently illustrate a very genuine relationship and how these characters would handle the difficulties they encounter. The film almost feels like a series of essays and I definitely finished the movie and wanted more from it.

It is clear that it was a stepping stone piece for Gerwig to write and direct as I definitely finished the film and wanted , as her further films present a much more well paced story with more multi-faceted characters and multiple dilemmas. I would say though it’s great to see Gerwig act in her own feature, and I hope in future she ventures back into an acting role as she is just so wonderfully captivating to watch in everything she’s in – and she definitely steals the show in this. 

3. Barbie (2023)

Ken and Barbie sing in a pink car in Barbie, one of the movies directed by Greta Gerwig ranked from worst to best by Loud and Clear Reviews
Movies Directed by Greta Gerwig Ranked From Worst to Best – Ryan Gosling and Margot Robbie in Barbie (Warner Bros. Pictures)

So pink it caused a global shortage of neon pink paint from the company Rosco, Barbie was bright, fun and the biggest film Greta Gerwig has directed in her career so far. Comparing the meagre $15,000 budget of Nights and Weekends to Barbie’s $145 million shows how quickly Gerwig’s directing style has caused her success to reach summer blockbuster levels of fame. Produced by Mattel, the company behind the Barbie doll, Barbie presents the perfect, bright pink world of Barbie Land where all the Barbies and Kens live in perfect harmony, with the Barbies ruling and the Kens just happy to be included.

However, one day Barbie (Margot Robbie, The Wolf of Wall Street, The Big Short) starts having an existential crisis, which turns out to be connected to the human who’s playing with her, Gloria (America Ferrera, Ugly Betty). And so, she and Ken (Ryan Gosling, Drive, La La Land) go to the real world and soon discover the joys and pain of being human. With Gerwig’s touch, Barbie becomes somewhat of a coming-of-age film. It exhibits some essences of Little Women and Lady Bird as Barbie ventures from her pink bubble and discovers that being a woman in the real world is tough, almost as if she is entering adulthood and her vision of the world is changing. Ken, however, discovers the wonders of the patriarchy, bringing it back to Barbie Land  preaching to the Kens and ruining the ‘girl power’. 

Barbie is super funny, ostentatious, thoroughly entertaining and full of great songs and dance sequences, but it loses a fair bit of the emotional depth that Gerwig is so known for in the process. The story gives quite a palatable form of feminism that I’m unsure says anything overly profound: they are Barbies, after all, and the most hardship they have to face is the Kens introducing the patriarchy. However, Gloria (makes an emotive speech about being a woman in the 21st century, and strong monologues are very much a Greta Gerwig staple. Despite this, the Barbies ultimately overcome the Kens through cunning rather than a progressive conversation and I did leave the film feeling as if the Kens were let off a bit too easily…

2. Little Women (2019)

The March sisters sit by the fire in Little Women, one of the movies directed by Greta Gerwig ranked from worst to best by Loud and Clear Reviews
Movies Directed by Greta Gerwig Ranked From Worst to Best – Little Women (Wilson Webb/CTMG/Sony Pictures)

Adapting a screenplay and directing an adaptation, that has already been done multiple times, of such a beloved classic American novel is no easy feat, but Greta Gerwig perfectly managed to put her own spin on Little Women that it felt entirely new. Gerwig’s Little Women combines two novels by Louisa May Alcott, “Little Women” and “Good Wives,” and depicts the March sisters’ journey from childhood to adulthood.

Set in 19th Century Massachusetts during the Civil War, the film follows the women of the March family: Marmee (Laura Dern, Marriage Story), Jo (Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn), Meg (Emma Watson, Harry Potter), Amy (Florence Pugh, Midsommar) and Beth (Eliza Scanlen, Babyteeth). Due to their father being away at war, the women are left to fend for themselves and are faced with genteel poverty. The film jumps between past and ‘present’ day, subtly indicating it with the colour palette changing – it is a bright autumnal orange in the past scenes, and a blue grey dreary tone for the present. 

Gerwig made the decision to have the actresses play both the young and adult versions of their characters, and this directorial decision works perfectly. With such a stacked cast of young talent, she utilises them to the best of their ability; each is believable in both time periods and it assists in creating a less jarring jump between differing actresses. Gerwig believes that her actors bonding through activities and rehearsals creates true bonds which comes across on screen. These thoughtful directorial choices truly add visible layers to the relationships on screen; for Little Women, the actors had two weeks to rehearse together and create that sisterly connection between them naturally. 

One of my favourite scenes in Little Women is a joyous one when Amy March is taken in by their neighbour Mr Lawrence (Chris Cooper, American Beauty), his grandson Laurie (Timothée Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name, Dune), and his tutor John Brooke (James Norton,  War and Peace). Marmee and her other siblings arrive to pick her up in a rabble, all talking over one another, and introduce themselves to their neighbours for the first time. Gerwig had said scenes like this are the most difficult to direct, as so many conversations occur at once with the audience being taken around the room and getting a small glimpse of each. The ensemble scene perfectly characterises the charm of the March women, and their apparent impact on the men at the Laurence house. 

Also, Gerwig has a knack for monologues. Amy’s speech to Laurie about marriage being an entirely economic proposition has such an impact in the film. Though it is a female driven narrative, more widely in society they still faced the sobering sentiment that women were entirely dependent on men for economic stability. When womanhood has been perceived as such a wonderful thing to share full of sisterly love, creativity and debutante balls, Amy’s line “I’m just a woman” shows her repositioned view of womanhood as an adult, juxtaposing her sweet young self supported by her sisters.

Through Little Women, Gerwig presents the theme of dreams not meeting reality, particularly around womanhood and relationships, which works so well as we see watch each little woman  in childhood and then adulthood, and discover the life events that led them to their world view – it is simultaneously lovely as well as heart wrenching and devastating, and that is why her adaptation is my favourite by far. 

1. Lady Bird (2017)

Lady Bird and her mother lie in bed in front of each other with eyes closed in the Greta Gerwig directed movie Lady Bird
Movies Directed by Greta Gerwig Ranked From Worst to Best – Lady Bird (A24)

Many young women, including myself, have a very profound bond with Lady Bird. It is such a nuanced, complex and deeply personal film that feels like it was written just for me – it was also the film that introduced people to Gerwig’s talent as a Director, due to the huge recognition it gained with 5 Academy Award nominations. Saoirse Ronan, who has become somewhat of a muse for Gerwig, plays the titular role of Christine ‘Lady Bird’ Macpherson in her final year of high school as she tries to forge her own path away from her hometown Sacramento and from her hardworking yet harsh mother (Laurie Metcalf, Scream 2) with whom she has a turbulent relationship.

Like Jo in Little Women, Lady Bird wants for bigger things than are presented to her, and Gerwig presents the misunderstood and confused artist wonderfully in both. The film handles the complexity of parental relationships with such care and tenderness, painting neither Lady Bird nor her mother out to be in the wrong, in fact just illustrating their flawed humanity and their misunderstandings of one another despite such a shared love for one another at the core.

There is a wonderful video of Gerwig directing Lucas Hedges and Ronan as their characters go on a playful date frolicking in some gardens together, so simply depicting the whimsy of young love with such nostalgic impact. Gerwig so brilliantly is able to capture the youth and playfulness of teenagers as well as the growing pains as they are on that liminal space between childhood and adulthood. There is a quick rhythm to the way her characters speak, adding a true sense of realism to the dialogue and as such the relationships; this works particularly well as Lady Bird and her mother bicker with one another, interrupting and talking over one another.

Her films are simply so rich. Lady Bird is one of those films where “not much happens” physically, but so much is explored and developed emotionally, and that’s what makes her films so deeply relatable and what makes Lady Bird such a poignant coming-of-age story. In my opinion, Lady Bird will always be Greta’s magnum opus. This semi autobiographical story contains everything that makes her films so brilliant, and that is why it has taken the top spot. 

Watch on Apple TV

All four movies directed by Greta Gerwig are available to watch on digital and on demand. Read our reviews of Little Women, Barbie, and Lady Bird, watch Greta Gerwig’s movies, and find out how Margot Robbie’s Barbie costumes evolve with the narrative!

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