Every Noah Baumbach Couple, Ranked by Sheer Misery

Noah Baumbach exclusively makes films about New Yorkers who hate themselves and each other. But which Baumbach coupling hates each other the most?


Noah Baumbach exclusively makes films about New Yorkers who hate themselves and each other. But which of his onscreen couples is the most miserable?

Noah Baumbach exclusively makes films about New Yorkers who hate themselves and each other. But which Baumbach coupling hates each other the most?

24. Eliza and Robin (Grace Van Patten and Justin Winley), The Meyerowitz Stories Photo: Netflix Eliza and Robin, the youngest and happiest couple Baumbach has ever written, have approximately zero issues. Granted, they’re 18, but still. Appearing in only a smattering of scenes together, the two college kids appear to have a genuine connection built on mutual hotness and general affability. As the narrator of the film puts it, “Eliza liked kissing Robin the best, even more than Marcus.” Eliza is clearly the more compelling half of the couple, the sort of young artiste who makes films in which she appears nude and has sex with herself, but Robin seems proud and not threatened by her fledgling avant-garde artistry. At the end of the film, he quietly accompanies her to the bowels of the Guggenheim to find her grandfather’s old artwork. And when he meets her father, he simply and very sweetly says, “Eliza speaks highly of you.”

Least Miserable Moment: When it is implied that Ivan and Joan have sex at her book party.

Most Miserable Moment: When Cornelia and Josh show up to Marina and Fletcher’s house and realize they’re throwing a party and didn’t invite them.

21. Cornelia and Josh (Naomi Watts and Ben Stiller), While We’re Young Photo: IAC Films Cornelia and Josh are one of the first truly content couples Baumbach ever wrote. They’ve fallen into an easy pattern of takeout, wine, and staring at their phones next to each other in bed. They could go to Europe anytime, but they don’t. When they fall in with youthful weirdos Jamie and Darby, their relationship flies off course — suddenly, they’re vomiting and making out with 25-year-olds at ayahuasca ceremonies (“Maybe don’t flirt with the shaman?”), taking hip-hop classes, arguing in the street, and wondering whether or not they should’ve had a child. “I don’t want this to be every time you take a hallucinogen, you want a baby,” says Cornelia. “Not every time,” says Josh. Eventually, they right the ship, with Josh admitting he’s been acting like a man-child. “If we were different people I’d ask you to renew our vows,” he tells Cornelia, before they decide to adopt a baby. “Maybe we are different people.”

Least Miserable Moment: When Maureen survives the attack with a “nasty raspberry on her knee.”

Most Miserable Moment: When Greenberg tells Florence, apropos of nothing, that she was molested as a child. “I wasn’t molested,” she says.

18. Max and Kate (Chris Eigeman and Cara Buono), Kicking and Screaming Photo: Trimark Pictures Max, a philosophy major with no prospects, has several postgrad hobbies, including doing crossword puzzles, drinking heavily, having sex with his friends’ girlfriends, and dating a high-schooler named Kate with gigantic hair. Their relationship is one of the least miserable in the film, perhaps because Kate is a child and therefore cannot truly do much else besides “support” Max as he attempts to figure out what he wants to do with his life. Nobody seems very troubled by their age difference except me!

Least Miserable Moment: When Lili eventually moves out and hopefully begins dating other intellectual women.

Most Miserable Moment: When Pauline confronts him about making out with their underage babysitter, he yanks a branch from the ground and begins to sob.

15. Jane and Grover (Olivia d’Abo and Josh Hamilton), Kicking and Screaming Photo: Trimark Pictures When we first meet Jane and Grover, they’ve just graduated from college and are having a monotonous conversation about their future (or lack thereof) at a party. “I’m off to Prague … I know that Prague’s a cliché now,” says Jane. “Czechoslovakia is the worst place to go,” says Grover. They proceed to argue over whether Prague is “overrated,” then over who gets to have the conversation as “material” for their future works of genius. It’s not clear what they despise more: the concept of Eastern Europe or each other. However, flashbacks to the beginning of their relationship evoke a sunnier time, when Jane fiddled constantly with her transparent retainer and they discussed each other’s names in dive bars. At the end of the film, after ignoring Jane’s phone calls for months, Grover appears to be on the verge of following her to Prague — though whether or not this is a good thing isn’t exactly clear.

Overall Misery Level: Watching an early era Baumbach movie about white male anxiety

Least Miserable Moment: “Your face is too close to me.” “I’m hugging you.”

Most Miserable Moment: “I wish you could be as jealous of me as I am of you.” “We love differently, Lester.”

12. Diane and Travis (Lauren Katz and Chris Reed), Highball Photo: Courtesy of the studio Baumbach has disowned Highball, a tiny movie made in a week with leftover budget from Mr. Jealousy that can only be described as a gentle circus of the mundane. The film centers on a series of parties thrown by miserable Brooklynites Diane and Travis, one of the most mismatched couples in Baumbach’s repertoire who, despite being the film’s protagonists, do not even appear on its VHS cover. Diane is a classic pre-Gerwig Baumbach woman: high-strung, needy, unhinged. Travis is an idiot. After clashing over the structure of their first two parties, Diane and Travis break up. Diane gets drunk, dresses up as a prostitute, and tries to sleep with his best friend Wes (Eric Stoltz), who comes out to her as gay. Eventually, they get back together and, yes, throw another party.

Least Miserable Moment: When all three begin their own collegiate writer’s club.

Most Miserable Moment: Both express a profound desire for the other’s death.

9. Sophie and Patch (Mickey Sumner and Patrick Heusinger), Frances Ha Photo: Scott Rudin Productions Patch is a finance bro with a distressed baseball hat who says things like “take a leak.” Sophie is a wry book editor with incredible glasses. She doesn’t seem to give a shit about him, but decides to quit her job, move to Japan, and marry him anyway, devastating her best friend Frances in the process. Near the end of the film, a wasted Sophie tells him he shouldn’t be sad about his grandpa’s death because he was a “cheating Nazi.” She proceeds to spend the night in Frances’s bed and fantasize about a life the two might lead together, sans Patch. “Are you gonna marry Patch?” asks Frances. “No,” says Sophie. She does marry Patch.

Least Miserable Moment: Me watching Dashiell get punched in the face.

Most Miserable Moment: “Do you forget I exist?” Darby asks Jamie, a few scenes before peacing out.

6. Frances and Dan, Frances Ha Photo: Scott Rudin Productions Frances and Dan only technically appear in one scene together, which means I’m breaking one of my rules, but it’s such an incredible and evocative scene that we need to discuss it. Frances, whose one true love is her best friend Sophie, is visibly uncomfortable with her dull boyfriend Dan’s decision to buy a pair of freaky hairless cats. “I’ll give you $200 not to get the cats,” she says. He responds by asking her to move in. “Oh, wow,” she says. “I mean, I do have this other thing. I promised Sophie I’d stay through the lease. I feel bad. Is that bad? I’m sorry.” The conversation is so deeply, profoundly loveless that it leads to an automatic breakup. “This hasn’t been great for a while,” they agree. Both pause. “Let’s move in together,” says Dan. We never see him again.

Overall Misery Level: Going to Paris but accidentally sleeping through the entire trip

Least Miserable Moment: At the end of the above scene, Skippy makes fun of the way Miami asks him to “get out,” and she laughs with pure, unfiltered delight.

Most Miserable Moment: When Jim picks up the dying dog on the side of the highway, Margot is angry with him. “You make me feel like shit,” she says, “because I wouldn’t have stopped. I hate myself when I’m with you. Sometimes I find you so despicable.”

3. Walt and Sophie (Jesse Eisenberg and Halley Feiffer), The Squid and the Whale Photo: Sony Pictures International It seems impossible, but Jesse Eisenberg is more insufferable as Walt in The Squid and the Whale than he is as Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network. Walt is my least favorite type of person: a rude nerd. He pretends to have written Roger Waters’s “Hey You” and performs it at a school talent show. He is obsessed with his dick of a father and tries to impress him by sharing that his girlfriend Sophie is “not gorgeous, but she’s cute.” He is rude to Laura Linney. He tells poor Sophie things like, “I wish you didn’t have so many freckles on your face.” Most importantly, he is an awful kisser. Neither he nor Sophie appear to derive any joy from their relationship; instead, it is a series of small miseries piled on top of larger, more consequential miseries. They eventually break up so Walt can lust after his father’s student and fuck buddy Anna Paquin and continue to be a rude nerd uninterrupted.

Most Miserable Moment: “Your mother’s backhand is pretty weak.”

Read more: New York Magazine

Oh Goooode Gosh! I have seen EVERY single movie like 3 times + (but for the disowned flick ~did not) but still ~I just ADORE NoahBaumbach ( & love Greta Gerwig 1000 times more!) I don't think that premise is anywhere near true... whaaaaaaat? I think his films are exclusively about Shroom Induced Brain Damage JuddApatow, for real, his characters are those who tripped to hard on Shrooms, recreationally, for waaay to long; I know many people like that...

TaylorLorenz White New Yorkers. Thank you. This made me see Walt in a different light than an awkward virgin blindly admiring and emulating of a shithead father. Ivan and Joan are one of my favorite couples of all time though.

Every Noah Baumbach Movie, RankedNoah Baumbach has never made a bad movie — even the movie he disowned — but the highs and quite-highs of his career tell a story of an artist who’s constantly evolving The one with Dustin Hoffman kind if sucked, and Greenberg wasn't great - but the rest are great.

Every Noah Baumbach Movie, RankedNoah Baumbach has never made a bad movie — even the movie he disowned — but the highs and quite-highs of his career tell a story of an artist who’s constantly evolving The one with Dustin Hoffman kind if sucked, and Greenberg wasn't great - but the rest are great.

How to Shoot the Start of a Relationship’s End in ‘Marriage Story’'You’re kind of trying to capture something spontaneous and ordinary, but you know you’re only going to use seconds of it.' Watch director Noah Baumbach narrate a sequence from 'A Marriage Story' in the latest 'Anatomy of a Scene.' What if Blind people had a guide pole that 'told them where to go'? We'd call it an 'Independent Opinion Pole'. GE19 election opinionpolls polls elites The wife was the perfect villain. Poor guy didn’t see it coming. coming from the NYT!

Spoiling Marriage Story, a Divorce That Escalates as Lawyers Polarize the ProceedingsNoah Baumbach’s film shows how two people can go from being on the same team to fighting each other for custody of their child.

If You've Experienced Divorce, 'Marriage Story' Is Hard to Watch—But Also WorthwhileNoah Baumbach's Marriage Story garnered six Golden Globe nominations, but here is why some would-be viewers are avoiding it. I experienced divorce and it was way worse than in the movie, still, I believe that all crucial issues and characters' details are just sketched and not analysed or really deepened enough, imho. Good movie though by far no masterpiece.

Netflix Dominates Golden Globe Nominations With ‘Marriage Story,’ ‘Unbelievable,’ ‘The Crown’Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story,” a searing look at the end of a relationship, capped a big morning for Netflix, nabbing a leading six Golden Globe nominations. The streaming gian… Schitt's Creek was snubbed. Unbelievable. The Golden Globes STINK. Congratulations 😉 That was a boring movie, who decides what gets nominated ? No taste.

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