By no means do I want to cause a mid-life crisis for anyone reading this, but I have to remind you that Saoirse Ronan is 24 years old and already has three Oscar nominations. Yes, even that young, the Irish talent has already built up an excellent filmography and established herself as one of the more exciting actors working today.
To celebrate the release of The Seagull, we’re taking a look at her five best films to date.
If you haven’t yet had your heart ripped to shreds by Joe Wright’s Atonement, you must do so at your earliest convenience. This war time film stars Ronan as a thirteen year old who irrevocably changes the lives of her older sister and her lover (Keira Knightley and James McAvoy) after accusing him of a crime he did not commit. Atonement is a stunning if heart wrenching British masterpiece with exceptional performances from Knightley, McAvoy and Ronan who, if that fact at the beginning wasn’t painful enough, received her first Oscar nomination at the age of 13.
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
Who doesn’t love a bit of Wes Anderson? The quirky director brought us this star studded caper in 2014, following the story of a legendary concierge (Ralph Fiennes) and his faithful lobby boy (Tony Revolori) at a famous hotel in the fictional Republic of Zebrowska in between the world wars, caught up in the case of a stolen painting. This face paced adventure was an absolute delight; hilarious, eccentric and endearing, it was everything we could have wanted from an Anderson film. Playing the role of Agatha, the young lobby boy’s love interest, Ronan was only a small part of what is easily one of the most impressive cast lists in recent years, appearing among the likes of Willem Dafoe, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton, Jeff Goldblum and Jude Law among others. Despite scoring nine Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director, it’s still a crime on the Academy’s part for never even nominating Fiennes for Best Actor in what is easily one of his finest performances.
Up next is a seriously overlooked film from 2011, starring Ronan as a young girl raised in the wilderness by her ex-CIA father (Eric Bana) and trained as an assassin, whilst being pursued by a senior agent (Cate Blanchett). Another great collaboration between the actress and Joe Wright, Hanna is a sleek thriller with excellent action sequences and a knock out lead performance. Bana is great also, and who doesn’t love Cate Blanchett as a villain? Though the real gem of this film is the always brilliant Tom Hollander as a manic former agent. A superbly directed coming of age thriller with a kick-ass soundtrack by The Chemical Brothers.
Do you ever see those trailers for films that you can’t ever picture yourself sitting down for? That was me with Brooklyn; even as a fan of the film’s screenwriter Nick Hornby, I just wasn’t sold on this tale of a young Irish girl sailing to Brooklyn in hopes of a prosperous future, but low and behold, I was wrong. As soon as the Oscar buzz kicked in, I had to check this out for myself and found out that it was utterly delightful. Endlessly charming and beautifully shot, it boasts great performances from Ronan – achieving her second Oscar nomination – Julie Walters, Domnhall Gleeson, Emory Cohen and Jim Broadbent, who bring Hornby’s tight script to life.
Lady Bird (2018)
Our final entry is her most recent, and boy, is it a masterpiece; Greta Gerwig made her directorial debut with this perfect coming of age tale, starring Ronan as a stubborn but ambitious seventeen year old growing up in Sacramento in 2002. Lady Bird is practically flawless; even as someone who can’t relate to the trials and tribulations of a teenage girl, I found myself floored by every ounce of emotion this film throws. Everything about it feels real, including it’s intense moments of teenage awkwardness that are as painful as they are hilarious. Beautifully shot and immaculately directed, Gerwig brings to the screen the formative years of a young girl and somehow makes it feel as though it’s happening right there in front of us. Every laugh, every tear, every scream, every anxiety, every heartbreak…It’s all there. Saoirse Ronan gives a career best performance; within minutes, she dominates the film and makes it her own, though stiff competition comes from Laurie Metcalfe as her firm mother. Beanie Feldstein is hilarious and adorable, and Lucas Hedges continues to make excellent film choices. It’s a shame this film didn’t win any Oscars; Greta Gerwig’s talent speaks volumes as she became only the fifth woman in history to garner a Best Director nomination for her work, and her screenplay equally deserved it’s recognition. But as great as Frances McDormand is, there’s a strong argument that this should have been third times a charm for Ronan in one of the most endearing performances of the year. To put it simply, Lady Bird is one of the best films of the year, and one of the best coming of age films of all time.
The Seagull is out in cinemas now!