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Laura Dern wins her first Oscar as best supporting actress in ‘Marriage Story’

Laura Dern in “Marriage Story.”
Laura Dern, winner of the supporting actress Oscar for “Marriage Story” is congratulated by cast member Scarlett Johansson during the telecast of the 92nd Academy Awards.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Laura Dern won her first Oscar on Sunday night for her supporting role in “Marriage Story,” as a shrewdly charming Los Angeles divorce lawyer. It was her third nomination, having previously been recognized for lead actress in 1991’s “Rambling Rose” and in a supporting role in 2014’s “Wild.”

The Academy Award tops an awards run for the role that also saw Dern winning the Golden Globe, the SAG Award, the BAFTA and numerous other prizes this season.

Along with her role in “Marriage Story,” Dern also appeared in fellow best picture nominee “Little Women,” where she played the kind-hearted mother Marmee.

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When “Marriage Story” was unveiled at the Telluride, Venice and Toronto film festivals in the fall, Dern’s powerhouse monologue late in the film about the double standards on parenting between men and women received a rousing ovation from the audience. Talking to The Times earlier this year, director Noah Baumbach noted that the monologue sprang from conversations he had with Dern and that, “I wanted to give Laura something she could kind of tear into.”

The Oscar win brings to a crest a career renaissance for Dern. Her mother, actress Diane Ladd, is a three-time Oscar nominee, while her father, actor Bruce Dern, is a two-time Oscar nominee.

In her acceptance speech on Sunday, Dern acknowledged Baumbach and “Little Women” director-screenwriter Greta Gerwig, her children and — in a moment that had many drying their eyes — her parents.

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“You know, some say, never meet your heroes,” Dern said. “I say if you’re really blessed you get them as you parents. I share this with my acting heroes, my legends, Diane Ladd and Bruce Dern.”

Dern, whose birthday is Monday, finished by saying, “This is the best birthday present ever.”

After a few small roles such as in Martin Scorsese’s 1974 film “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore,” Dern began acting in her teen years, appearing in movies such as “Foxes,” “Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains” and “Mask.” She appeared in David Lynch’s “Blue Velvet” and “Wild at Heart,” as well as Steven Spielberg’s “Jurassic Park” and Alexander Payne’s “Citizen Ruth.”

She has subsequently appeared in a wide array of movies, including Lynch’s “Inland Empire,” Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master,” Kelly Reichardt’s “Certain Women” and Rian Johnson’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”

Dern is also a governor of the academy’s actors branch and has becoming something of a de facto goodwill ambassador for the industry. At the Spirit Awards on Saturday, where Dern was recognized as part of the “Marriage Story” ensemble in receiving the Robert Altman award, as part of a musical number the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles began to sing a gospel-inflected hosanna of “Laura Dern!”

She also recently won both an Emmy and a Golden Globe for her performance on the HBO series “Big Little Lies.”

Dern’s “Marriage Story” costar Scarlett Johansson was nominated in the lead actresses category for her role in the film, and was also nominated in the supporting actress category for her part in “Jojo Rabbit.” Dern’s “Little Women” costar Florence Pugh was also nominated in the supporting category. Also nominated for supporting actress were Kathy Bates for “Richard Jewell” and Margot Robbie for “Bombshell.”

Read the complete speech:

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“Thank you to the academy for this honor. Just to be in this room with such remarkable artists, including my fellow nominees, my sisters and colleagues. Thank you, Netflix, my friend, Ted, Scott, everyone, for their support and love.

“To Noah, his vision, his magic. Thank you, Noah, for your words. And for your friendship in art and life with you and Greta. Thank you to this cast, the majestic Adam, Scarlett, Alan, Ray, our amazing crew, David.

“Noah wrote a movie about love and about breaching divisions in the name and in the honor of family and home, and hopefully for all of us in the name of our planet.

“And I would like to say a special thank you to the gifts of the love stories in my life, my stepchildren CJ and Harris, my heart and inspiration, Ellery and Jaya.

“And you know, some say never meet your heroes. I say if you’re really blessed you get them as your parents. I share this with my acting heroes, my legends Diane Ladd and Bruce Dern. You got game. I love you. Thank you all for this gift.

“This is the best birthday present ever. I love you. I love my friends. You lift me up every day. Thank you.”


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