Baumbach at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival.
|Born||September 3, 1969|
New York City, U.S.
|Alma mater||Vassar College|
Jennifer Jason Leigh
(m. 2005; div. 2010)
Noah Baumbach (//) (born September 3, 1969) is an American filmmaker. He was nominated twice for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for The Squid and the Whale (2005) and Marriage Story (2019), both of which he wrote and directed. He has written and directed a number of other films including Margot at the Wedding (2007), Frances Ha (2012), While We're Young (2014), Mistress America (2015), and The Meyerowitz Stories (2017).
Baumbach was born in Brooklyn, New York City. His father, Jonathan Baumbach, was an author of experimental fiction and the co-founder of the publishing house Fiction Collective, taught at Stanford University and Brooklyn College, and was a film critic for Partisan Review. His mother, Georgia Brown, was a film critic for The Village Voice who also wrote fiction. His father was Jewish; his mother is Protestant. His parents later divorced during his adolescence, which served as inspiration for his 2005 film The Squid and the Whale. Baumbach has three siblings, two of whom are from a previous marriage of his father's.
Baumbach grew up in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and was determined to become a filmmaker from a young age. Films that influenced Baumbach include The Jerk, Animal House, Heaven Can Wait, The World According To Garp, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, and Invasion Of The Body Snatchers.
He graduated from Brooklyn's Midwood High School in 1987 and received his BA in English from Vassar College in 1991. Soon after, he briefly worked as a messenger at The New Yorker.
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1990s: Early work
Baumbach made his writing and directing debut in 1995 at the age of 26 with Kicking and Screaming, a comedy about four young men who graduate from college and refuse to move on with their lives. The film starred Josh Hamilton, Chris Eigeman, and Carlos Jacott and premiered in 1995 at the New York Film Festival. Baumbach was chosen as one of Newsweek's "Ten New Faces of 1996".
In 1997 he wrote and directed Mr. Jealousy, a film about a young writer so jealous about his girlfriend that he sneaks into the group therapy sessions of her ex-boyfriend to discover what kind of relationship they had. He then co-wrote (under the name Jesse Carter) and directed (under the name Ernie Fusco) the New York-set comedy of manners Highball. He co-wrote The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) with Wes Anderson.
His 2005 film The Squid and the Whale was a semi-autobiographical comedy-drama about his childhood in Brooklyn and the effect of his parents' divorce on the family in the mid-1980s. The film stars Jeff Daniels and Laura Linney in the parent roles. In an interview with author Jonathan Lethem in BOMB Magazine, Baumbach said of the film, "Sometimes when I think about the whole experience of this, it starts to become a joke within a joke within a joke. The film is not only inspired by my childhood and my parents’ divorce, but it was also the first script I didn't show to my parents while I was working on it. It's not that I wanted to protect them from anything. I just wanted to keep it my own experience." The Squid and the Whale was a sleeper hit and a critical success, earning Baumbach two awards at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival as well as an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay. It also received six Independent Spirit Award nominations, three Golden Globe nominations and the New York Film Critics Circle, Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the National Board of Review all voted it the year’s best screenplay.
Baumbach wrote and directed the 2007 comedy-drama Margot at the Wedding, starring his then-wife Jennifer Jason Leigh, Nicole Kidman, Jack Black and John Turturro. In the film, Kidman plays a woman named Margot who spends several days visiting her sister Pauline (Leigh) on the eve of Pauline's wedding to Black's character. It was shot in April and May 2006 in Hampton Bays and City Island, Bronx. The film was released in the United States by Paramount Vantage on November 16, 2007.
Baumbach helped to write and direct the short films Clearing the Air and New York Underground which aired on Saturday Night Live. The films were co-written and co-produced by cast-members Fred Armisen and Bill Hader. New York Underground featured Hader as a British rock journalist doing a piece on quirky underground musician Joshua Rainhorne (Armisen has performed as Joshua at numerous live events). Clearing the Air featured Hader, Armisen, and Paul Rudd (who was the guest host for that week) trying to clear the air over a girl they all slept with. Both pieces aired on SNL in the fall of 2008.
2010s: Continued Success
In 2012, Baumbach directed the comedic drama Frances Ha, which he co-wrote with Greta Gerwig, who also starred. The film played at the Toronto International Film Festival. Baumbach filmed Frances Ha with his cinematographer Sam Levy digitally and in black-and-white, the latter to emulate in part collaborations by Woody Allen and his cinematographer Gordon Willis, in films like Manhattan (1979). CBS News compared Frances Ha's style to the works of Woody Allen, Jim Jarmusch and François Truffaut. Gerwig received a Golden Globe Award nomination for her performance.
Baumbach has "shown an affinity for writing about the East Coast elite." Baumbach has written an adaptation of Curtis Sittenfeld's novel Prep. He also co-wrote a screenplay for DreamWorks Animation's Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted. He worked on HBO's adaptation of the Jonathan Franzen novel The Corrections, but the pilot was never completed and HBO passed on the project.
Baumbach wrote and directed the 2014 comedy-drama While We're Young, starring Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Adam Driver, and Amanda Seyfried. A24 Films released the film on March 27, 2015, and the film went on to gross more than all of Baumbach's previous films in the United States box office.
He also directed and co-wrote the 2015 comedy Mistress America, starring Greta Gerwig and Lola Kirke. The film, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, was released to general audiences on August 14. That same year he presented De Palma, a documentary about filmmaker Brian De Palma that he co-directed with Jake Paltrow. It premiered at the 2015 Venice Film Festival.
In 2017, The Meyerowitz Stories was released on October 13th on Netflix. Before it's streaming debut, the film was selected to compete for the Palme d'Or in the main competition at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival. The film focuses on a fractured and dysfunctional family and starred Dustin Hoffman, Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler, and Emma Thompson. On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 92% based on 181 reviews, and an average rating of 7.66/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) observes the family dynamic through writer-director Noah Baumbach's bittersweet lens and the impressive efforts of a remarkable cast." On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating, the film has a weighted average score of 79 out of 100, based on 40 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
In 2019, Baumbach wrote, produced, and directed Marriage Story. The film follows a showbusiness couple and their marriage breaking up followed by a emotional divorce preceding. The film starred Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson as the couple, Charlie and Nicole. Alan Alda, Ray Liotta, and Laura Dern also portray the lawyers involved. The film also featured performances by Merritt Wever, Julie Hagerty, and Wallace Shawn. The film premiered to great acclaim at the Venice Film Festival, before it was released on Netflix on November 6, 2019, with many ranking it among Baumbach's best work. The film went on to receive six Academy Award nominations including for Best Picture, and Best Original Screenplay. Driver, and Johansson also received nominations. Laura Dern won the Oscar for her performance as the shrewd but manipulative lawyer Nora.
Baumbach has noted that Woody Allen has been "an obvious influence", stating, "He was the single biggest pop culture influence on me". Baumbach cited the films Manhattan, Zelig, and Broadway Danny Rose as influences on his work.
He has also cited Ernst Lubitsch, Max Ophuls, Jean Renoir, Robert Altman, Peter Bogdanovich, Spike Lee, Whit Stillman, Steven Spielberg, as well as the screwball comedies of the 30s and 40s, and the films of the French New Wave as influences.
Baumbach met actress Jennifer Jason Leigh in 2001, while she was starring on Broadway in Proof. The couple married on September 2, 2005. They have a son, Rohmer. Leigh filed for divorce from Baumbach on November 15, 2010, in Los Angeles, citing irreconcilable differences. The divorce was finalized in September 2013.
Baumbach's romantic and creative collaboration with actress, writer, and director Greta Gerwig, began late in 2011, when they met during the production of Greenberg (released in early 2010). In March 2019, it was announced Gerwig and Baumbach had a son named Harold.
|1995||Kicking and Screaming||Yes||Yes||No|
|1997||Highball||Yes||Yes||No||Credited as "Jesse Carter" for writing |
Credited as "Ernie Fusco" for directing
|2000||Conrad & Butler Take a Vacation||Yes||Yes||No||Short film|
|2004||The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou||No||Yes||No||Co-written with Wes Anderson|
|2005||The Squid and the Whale||Yes||Yes||No|
|2007||Margot at the Wedding||Yes||Yes||No|
|2009||Alexander the Last||No||No||Yes|
|Fantastic Mr. Fox||No||Yes||No||Co-written with Wes Anderson|
|2010||Greenberg||Yes||Yes||No||Story co-written with Jennifer Jason Leigh|
|2012||Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted||No||Yes||No||Co-written with Eric Darnell|
|2013||Frances Ha||Yes||Yes||Yes||Co-written with Greta Gerwig|
|2014||She's Funny That Way||No||No||Executive|
|While We're Young||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|2015||Mistress America||Yes||Yes||Yes||Co-written with Greta Gerwig|
Co-directed with Jake Paltrow
|2017||The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|1995||Kicking and Screaming||Danny|
|2004||The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou||Phillip|
Awards and nominations
|2005||Academy Award||Best Original Screenplay||The Squid and the Whale||Nominated|||
|2005||Golden Globe Awards||Best Screenplay||Nominated|
|2005||Independent Spirit Awards||Best Director||Nominated|
|2005||Writers Guild Award||Best Original Screenplay||Nominated|
|2013||Independent Spirit Award||Best Film||Frances Ha||Nominated|
|2017||Cannes Film Festival||Palme d'Or||The Meyerowitz Stories||Nominated|
|2019||Venice Film Festival||Golden Lion||Marriage Story||Nominated|
|2019||Academy Awards||Best Picture||Nominated|
|Best Original Screenplay||Nominated|
|2019||Golden Globe Award||Best Screenplay||Nominated|
|2019||British Academy Film Awards||Best Original Screenplay||Nominated|
|2019||Independent Spirit Award||Best Film||Nominated|
|Robert Altman Award for Ensemble||Won|
|2019||Writers Guild Award||Best Original Screenplay||Nominated|
|1995||Kicking and Screaming||53%||75|
|2004||The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou||56%||62|
|2005||The Squid and the Whale||93%||82|
|2007||Margot at the Wedding||52%||66|
|2009||Fantastic Mr. Fox||92%||83|
|Alexander the Last||67%|
|2012||Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted||79%||60|
|2014||While We're Young||83%||76|
|She's Funny That Way||40%||44|
|2017||The Meyerowitz Stories||93%||79|
|Frequent actor collaborations (3 or more films)|
|Actor/actress||Kicking and Screaming (1995)||Highball (1997)||Mr. Jealousy (1997)||The Squid and the Whale (2005)||Margot at the Wedding (2007)||Greenberg (2010)||Frances Ha (2013)||While We're Young (2014)||Mistress America (2015)||The Meyerowitz Stories (2017)||Marriage Story (2019)||Total roles|
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- "Magagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved February 9, 2014.
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- Reprinted in the December 30, 2019 issue.
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