“Lady Bird,” the semi-autobiographical “love letter to Sacramento” by the city’s new favorite daughter, Greta Gerwig, was nominated Tuesday for five Academy Awards, adding fresh laurels to what is already the most successful movie set in California’s capital city.
As anyone who saw “Lady Bird” might suspect, Gerwig still has enormous pride in Sacramento years after moving away.
“I knew I wanted to make a movie that took place in Sacramento,” Gerwig said Tuesday in a phone interview with The Sacramento Bee, still buzzing from the early morning announcement. “I love Sacramento. I want to show it as being beautiful.”
Gerwig, 34, grew up in the River Park neighborhood of Sacramento and attended school at three high-achieving East Sacramento campuses: Phoebe Hearst Elementary, Sutter Middle School and St. Francis Catholic High School. After graduating, she left for Barnard College in New York.
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Are more love letters on the way?
“I would like to make a quartet of films in Sacramento,” Gerwig said. “I have three more before the quartet is done.”
She said it was truly special to start the film’s journey with a screening at the Tower Theatre in Land Park. But she didn’t know how well the film resonated outside of Sacramento until a screening in London.
“So many people say, ‘I’m not from Sac but I have a Sacramento in my heart,’ ” Gerwig said. The film in November set a record for positive reviews on the movie review site Rotten Tomatoes.
In return, Sacramento is embracing Gerwig like it has few other homegrown artists. As Mayor Darrell Steinberg recognized Gerwig and her film at Tuesday’s “State of Downtown” address, 11 digital billboards around the region trumpeted her Oscar nominations.
The five nominations makes it one of the most decorated films of the year. Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of Water” received the most Oscar nominations with 13.
Gerwig said she was proud to serve as the latest inspiration for other female directors. She is just the fifth woman nominated for the best director award.
“The women who have been nominated before me were such an inspiration,” she said. “What I hope is that women of all ages say, ‘I want to direct my film.’ I couldn’t be more grateful. I hope it is an inspiration.”
The nominations mark another notch in Gerwig’s rapid ascent into Hollywood’s upper echelon. She got her start through a film subgenre called mumblecore, largely improvised, low-budget films that emphasize dialogue over plot.
The 2012 film “Frances Ha” earned Gerwig her first Golden Globe nomination for acting. She also shared a writing credit on the film, which was partially filmed in Sacramento.
The Oscar nominations highlight what has already been a fruitful awards season for “Lady Bird.” It took home two Golden Globes for best comedy and best actress in a comedy or musical (Saoirse Ronan). Grewig was not nominated for best director at the Golden Globes and lost to “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” in the screenwriting category.
It was also nominated for awards from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Screen Actors Guild, Producers Guild of America, Writers Guild of America and Broadcast Film Critics Association.
The Academy Awards will air on ABC on March 4.