'Little Women' Reactions Praise Saoirse Ronan's 'Fierce' Performance in Greta Gerwig's Adaptation

Little Women also stars Meryl Streep, Laura Dern, Timothée Chalamet and Emma Watson

Saoirse Ronan and Greta Gerwig are receiving Oscar buzz for the upcoming film adaption of Little Women.

Based on Louisa May Alcott’s classic coming-of-age novel, which tells the story of the March family around the time of the U.S. Civil War, the Gerwig-directed film stars Ronan, 25, alongside Timothée Chalamet, Emma Watson, Meryl Streep and Laura Dern, plus two rising stars, Eliza Scanlen (HBO’s Sharp Objects) and Florence Pugh (Midsommar).

On Wednesday night, the movie screened for the first time in Los Angeles. After the screening, many shared their immediate reactions — predicting awards season buzz for Ronan and Pugh’s performances and Gerwig’s direction especially.

“So I’ve seen Little Women twice now and it’s one of my very favorite movies of the year,” Entertainment Weekly writer David Canfield tweeted. “Greta Gerwig delivers a both passionately faithful and gorgeously original take. Saoirse is a fierce Jo, Chalamet/Dern/Streep esp are great in support, and Florence Pugh is astonishing.”

Wilson Webb/Columbia Pictures
Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Saoirse Ronan and Eliza Scanlen in Little Women. Wilson Webb/Columbia Pictures

“Gerwig makes this material her own in delightful ways you’d expect and some adult-meditation-on-childhood ways I didn’t,” IndieWire’s Chris O’Falt wrote. “So rewarding to see the ease with which she paints on this canvas and that she (or any director these days) was given it.”

PEOPLE’s Kara Warner tweeted: “Greta Gerwig’s @LittleWomen is wonderful. A loving, meticulously-crafted adaptation that exceeded my expectations. Heartfelt, moving and a terrific showcase for its extremely talented cast and beloved source material.”

“Greta Gerwig takes the straightforward story of LITTLE WOMEN and boldly scrambles it, starting two-thirds of the way through and retelling most of what you remember via flashbacks and cross-cutting,” the New York Times’ Carpetbagger Kyle Buchanan said.

Other critics predicted Oscar buzz for Ronan, who plays Jo March, Pugh, who plays her sister Amy March, and Gerwig.

“Saoirse Ronan is going to land her fourth Academy Award nomination for #LittleWomen at the age of 25,” writer Jenelle Riley said, adding, “In related news, I needed a two-hour nap today after stubbing my toe.”

Variety‘s Marc Malkin tweeted: “#LittleWomen could earn multiple Oscar noms, including best picture and directing for Greta Gerwig. As well as another for Gerwig for adapted screenplay. As for acing noms — lead actress for #SaoirseRonan, suppporting for #FlorencePugh and possible #TimotheeChalamet.”

“Saoirse Ronan makes all this look easy, once again proves, she is one of our most gifted actresses working,” AwardsCircuit’s Clayton Davis wrote, adding, “Florence Pugh is outstanding, and doesn’t just steal, but snatch every viewer’s eyes in each scene she inhabits.”

In the film, Watson and Scanlen play the third and fourth March sisters, Meg and Beth, respectively. Meanwhile, Chalamet, 23, plays Jo’s love interest Laurie. Dern, 52, is the girls’ caring mother, Marnee, while Streep, 70, is their sharp-tongued and old-fashioned Aunt March.

“We wanted it to feel like the movie feels, which is both classical and fresh,” writer/director Gerwig previously told PEOPLE and EW exclusively about crafting the first trailer for the anticipated Christmas release. “But it’s really about these characters and these relationships that have meant so much to me. And then it’s also infused with this mutual energy and this exuberance. And I think that that’s what the actors brought to the film and that’s what cinematography captured.”

Little Women hits theaters Dec. 25.

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