If you, like me, are disappointed but not surprised by the lack of female representation for best director in the Oscars you understandably need something that will lift your spirits this week. Now I’ll admit I thought about going through my usual stages of grief when I heard the news. You know, things like rage tweeting, ice cream eating, and booking a ticket to immediately go see Little Women again. Unfortunately at the end of the day I knew none of these things would actually brighten my dim spirits and they certainly would not get our director queen Greta Gerwig the Oscar nomination she deserves. (Justice for Greta!)
Instead of wallowing or raging I turned my thoughts to what a beautiful, complicated, and poignant story she told through her Little Women adaptation. Greta Gerwig took a book most of us knew pretty well and made it feel fresh and modern while still staying true to the heart of the plot and characters. Because of this I would like to propose five new classics we should give to her. Gerwig is the hero and the champion of classic literature we didn’t know we needed and could only hope to deserve.
I hope that the imagined idea of her doing any or all of these adaptations gives you the small spark of joy you need to continue the important work of going about your personal way of raging against the patriarchy.
North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
Now, this might just be a ploy for me to finally get the big Hollywood adaptation for North and South that I am practically salivating for, but I truly think Gerwig’s take on this would be something special. There is loss and grief, love and misunderstandings, and to top it all off there are complicated family relationships and class differences. I think she could work her magic in a big way here. I also think Emma Watson would be an amazing Marget Hale and they’ve already worked well together, so there’s that.
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
Gothic literature? Ex wives? A spooky secluded estate? Sign me up! The last adaptation for this was by Hitchcock in the 1940s and so we are obviously due for another one (because we all know that Hollywood can’t churn out an original thought). In fact I guess Netflix thought so too because while in the process of writing this article I found that Rebecca is currently marked as an “upcoming movie” in their queue. There is no release date yet, but it will allegedly star Lily James and Armie Hammer. Right now the director is listed as “Ben Wheatley” but if there is anything that Disney and the Star Wars franchise has taught us it’s that directors can be changed at any time! I volunteer Greta as tribute!
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
This story concentrates almost entirely on the relationship of the two oldest Dashwood sisters and there is no doubt that Greta Gerwig would be the one to do them justice. This is a woman who knows how to direct and portray complex female relationships! I need to see the vastly different and yet fiercely loyal Marianne and Elinor on the big screen immediately please.
Also to be entirely fair, I’ve never found the romantic relationships in Sense and Sensibility to be quite as swoony as other Austen novels, but the family and sister dynamics make up for it. Besides, who among us swooned over Professor Bhaer in the Little Women books or subsequent movie adaptations? I would be willing to guess not many of us without professor fantasies. Yet it’s worth noting that somehow, despite years of most of us begrudging his character, Louis Garrel danced across our screens in 2019 as the older and wiser Professor Bhaer and we couldn’t take our eyes off him! I have hope for a hot Colonel Brandon and Edward Farrars in Gerwig’s hands!
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
Now I went back and forth on what Dickens novel to choose here for a while, but in the end I had to stick with the most obvious one. We had a more recent adaptation of Great Expectations in 2013 and as much as I loved the Elijah Wood version of Oliver Twist from 2005, maybe it’s time to revisit it? Also I have high hopes that Gerwig would be able to fit Timothee Chalamet somewhere in this cast of rugged characters and we need this adaptation for that reason alone. Give me Timothee Chalamet in period piece costumes or give me death!
Sandition by Jane Austen
Did we just have a BBC mini series on this? Yes. Is there a Jane Austen novel on this list already? Yes. Will either of these things stop me from wanting this adaptation? No. Gerwig needs to take this story and give us the ending we deserve, and dare I say, the ending that Jane herself would be proud of. That’s all I’m going to say about that while actively glaring daggers at BBC.
Which classic would you give to Greta Gerwig?