Nominated for Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Costume Design and Best Original Score, “Little Women” is a film that has definitely garnered the attention of the Academy and movie-goers alike. Director Greta Gerwig — known for her 2017 directorial debut “Ladybird” which also stars Saoirse Ronan and Timothée Chalamet — effortlessly fuses this classic story of the 19th century with hints of modernity, garnering “Little Women” to be one for the books.
With a star-studded cast, the film is really an ensemble. The audience falls in love with Jo’s sense of self, Laurie’s passion, Marmee’s selflessness, Beth’s kindness, Meg’s humility and Amy’s resilience. From Laura Dern to Emma Watson, this cast brings to life a new, fresh version of characters readers across generations have come to know. Florence Pugh, especially, brings forth a side to Amy that renders the youngest March sister to become a fan-favorite, despite years of being maligned by readers. And Timothée Chalamet is just the perfect Laurie, to say the least.
The way in which “Little Women” is crafted is quite literally remarkable, at least in my eyes. The artistic nature of its cinematography grabs the audience’s attention through every scene as the story steadily jumps back and forth between two time periods — one of the characters’ childhoods and another seven years later during their adulthood.
Gerwig creates a color palette characterizing each time period, allowing for the audience to clearly follow the story arc of the film. With childhood radiating a “golden glow” as Gerwig calls it, the characters’ lives exhibit a sense of joyful warmth. Adulthood, on the other hand, emulates a range of somber blue hues, giving Jo’s present-day a feeling of solemn, cold reality.
As the movie seamlessly navigates its way through these two color palettes, the cinematic parallels that appear in their juxtaposition overwhelms the audience with emotion and nuance. It almost resembles factors, specifically that of color and tone, which I really enjoyed about the 2016 movie "La La Land."
There are even small components of the film that show the subtlety of Gerwig’s attention to detail. Whether it’s Laurie and Jo sharing costume pieces, thus blurring the line between gender, and as many fans have theorized - reflecting the two being halves of each other. Additionally, the focus on detail can be seen in how different elements of the March siblings are present in Marmee through hair and costume.
Beyond its cinematic qualities though, "Little Women" is just that: a story of women by a woman. As Jo says herself in the film, “Women, they have minds and they have souls and they’ve got ambition.” Characters question societal expectations of women, structural barriers that limit their social and economic movement, while simultaneously enforcing the agency they do have.
Ironically, this major theme of the movie is only reinforced with Greta Gerwig being snubbed a nomination for Best Director at this year’s upcoming Academy Awards. Despite six other nominations, which in and of themselves insinuate a need for an outstanding directing, Gerwig is not recognized for her truly remarkable work.
It’s awards season, and yet it’s another year of all-male nominees.
Even Florence Pugh commented on the lack of a nomination to Entertainment Weekly by stating, “She's literally made a film about this… She made a film about women working and their relationship with money and their relationship with working in a man’s world. That’s literally what “Little Women” is about, so [this] only underlines how important it is — because it’s happening.”
Though it’s shocking that Gerwig was not nominated, it doesn’t come as a surprise that no women were nominated for Best Director at all, for only five women have ever been nominated in Oscars history — one of which has been Gerwig for her aforementioned film “Ladybird.”
Beyond Gerwig’s "Little Women," the Oscars left out some of the year’s top movies directed by women in many of it nomination categories, including Alma Har’el’s “Honey Boy,” Lulu Wang’s “The Farewell,” Marielle Heller’s “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” and Joanna Hogg’s “The Souvenir.” And not to mention the lack of women of color.
It’s quite interesting though. These movies directed by women strike a stark contrast to what the Academy and many mainstream reviews have decided to reward as some of the year’s best films. Whether it’s “The Irishmen” or “Joker” or “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” films centered around males, created by males, and often dealing with violence or brutality of some kind are deemed worthy of being recognized. Films with overarching notions of masculinity are given high praise and are ultimately rewarded.
Female filmmakers deserve the same high-profile recognition, for their stories are just as worthy, and they’re just as good, if not better. Not only would this provide and open doors to further opportunities, but it would normalize the role of women in the industry, especially as directors. Female filmmakers — especially Greta Gerwig for her creation of “Little Women” — deserve to be awarded for their fruition; not just because they’re women, but because they’ve earned it.
So yes, it’s awards season, and yes, it’s another year of all-male nominees, but hopefully it can be one of the last.
Kavitha Babu is a staff writer for the Daily Cardinal, to read more of her work click here