5. Lady Bird
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges
Director: Greta Gerwig
Our take: Senior year of high school is less like a roller coaster than a Tilt-a-Whirl, daily life wildly spinning in one direction as existence spins in another. This dizzying, frustrating, exhilarating right of passage is the focus of actress Greta Gerwig's first directorial effort, the story of girl named Lady Bird (her given name, in that "it’s given to me, by me") who rebels against everyday Sacramento, California life to obtain whatever it is "freedom" turns out to be. Set in the early 2000s, a time when Dave Matthews' "Crash Into Me" regularly melts hearts, Lady Bird charts a year-in-the-life through precision recreation of shared moments: the arguments with parents, the math quiz meltdowns, the arguments with parents, the life-or-death musical tryouts, the arguments with parents, the fleeting first-time sexual encounters that mean everything, and of course, the arguments with parents. Laurie Metcalf is an understated powerhouse as Lady Bird's mother, a constant source of contention who reconciles with poverty through her daughter's success. It's a tragic note in total complement to Gerwig's hysterical love letter to home, high school, and the history of ourselves.
Where to see it right now: In theaters (watch the trailer)