Sara Vilkomerson
January 25, 2018 AT 12:00 PM EST

To read more about Lady Bird and EW’s Oscar guide, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly on stands Friday, or buy it here now. Don’t forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.

There’s just something about Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird. Audiences’ love affair with the coming-of-age tale began at the Telluride Film Festival, where attendees were first charmed by this sharp, vivid, witty, and poignant story of a teenage girl (Saoirse Ronan) who is restless to leave her family home in Sacramento, California, for something bigger and better. What that exactly is, she’s not sure, but she’s convinced that it’s happening just beyond her reach. Her clashes with her mother (Laurie Metcalf), her relationship with her father (Tracy Letts), her intense friendship with her best friend (Beanie Feldstein), and her crushes (Lucas Hedges and Timothée Chalamet) are all achingly relatable.

The Academy certainly agrees — earlier this week, Lady Bird racked up five Oscar nominations including Best Picture, Best Actress for Ronan, and Best Supporting Actress for Metcalf. Gerwig’s screenplay got a nod and she became just the fifth woman in Oscar’s 90-year history to crack Best Director (for her solo directorial debut, no less).

“I felt it from the very beginning,” says Gerwig of the hard-to-put-your-finger-on-it magic that surrounds this film. “You start getting the feeling that the movie wants to exist. That sounds a little goofy, but that’s what it feels like.”

Entertainment Weekly sat down with Gerwig, Ronan, and Metcalf, where it quickly became clear the warm feelings that are so apparent in front of the camera, exist behind the scenes, too. “Don’t take this the wrong way,” Ronan says, turning to Gerwig. “But I don’t see you, like, as a female director. I just think of you as a great director. A great filmmaker. I think the reason why the set was run so well is that Greta’s a great leader.” Echoes Metcalf, “We trusted Greta so much. We knew [Gerwig] was looking for the heart of it, and that you’ve always got your eye on the big picture.”

Check out our cover of the trio below. And to read all about the Oscar nominations — we have a 47-page complete guide to them! — pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly.

Marc Hom for EW

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