Greta Gerwig’s Favorite Movies: 12 Films the Director Wants You to See

She only has two solo directorial efforts under her belt, but Greta Gerwig has quickly become one of the most highly respected filmmakers working today. Her 2017 coming-of-age drama “Lady Bird” was an instant teen classic upon release, and her 2019 adaptation of “Little Women” received similar rapturous acclaim, becoming the definitive film version of the classic book. In July, after an agonizing three year wait and lead role in “White Noise,” Gerwig is coming back to theaters as a director with Twitter’s most anticipated film of the year. “Barbie” is a colorful studio comedy based on the classic dolls from Mattel, starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling as the titular Barbie and her heartthrob Ken. (He’s just Ken!)

Gerwig perhaps isn’t the obvious director to choose for bringing the thematically thorny Barbie universe to cinemas; before “Lady Bird,” Gerwig was best known as an actor in small, independent films, and her first time in the director’s chair was co-helming 2008’s “Nights and Weekends” with Joe Swanberg. She gained more mainstream fame when she began collaborating with her partner Noah Baumbach on films like “Greenberg,” “Mistress America,” and “Frances Ha,” the last of which earned Gerwig her first Golden Globe nod. But those high-minded indies still seem a world away from the studio comedy “Barbie” promises, which makes Gerwig and Baumbach’s co-screenwriting credits on the film intriguing at the very least.

That said, if you look at the films that Gerwig has shouted out publicly as her influences and her favorites, this specific pairing of director and film starts to make more sense. Gerwig has a broad taste in her favorite movies, and the works that have influenced her run the gamut from old Hollywood classics to mega-popular teen romances.

Her shortlist of films includes Sight & Sound’s current No. 1 film of all time, Chantal Akerman’s “Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles,” and recognized classics like the heartbreaking British romance “Brief Encounter” and the technicolor musical “Singin’ in the Rain.” But she’s also not afraid to shout out a nostalgic ’80s classic like John Hughes’ “Pretty in Pink,” which helped inspire parts of “Lady Bird.”

Here are 12 films that Gerwig has mentioned over the years as some of her favorites, listed in no particular order.

With editorial contributions by Alison Foreman.

[Editor’s note: This article was first published in April 2023, and has since been updated.

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