This morning's Oscar nominations were announced and while there were, as usual, a few snubs and surprises, one place there was little shock was in the Best Supporting Actress category. The very first category announced this morning included a nomination for Laura Dern in the category for her role in Marriage Story. It's not surprising. Dern won the Golden Globe for her performance in the film, but I simply can't help but feel that the Oscar nomination, while going to the right actress, might have been given for the wrong role. Should Luara Dern have been nominated for Little Women instead?
Cards on the table, Little Women made my top 10 of 2019 and Marriage Story did not, though I think it's a good movie and certainly worthy of the accolades it has received. However, Marriage Story is very much a two person show. Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson own that movie, as well they should. They're so great in their roles that basically everybody else just falls to the side.
Laura Dern certainly doesn't phone in her performance. She's great in the movie, she's basically great in everything ever, but I never would have put her in the running for Best Supporting Actress after seeing the film. The role feels small. It's not that small, but Driver and Johansson are such powerful forces that everything else in the movie feels small.
Laura Dern's role in Little Women probably isn't any larger than her role in Marriage Story in the grand scheme of things, there are so many great performances that she's alongside here, but it just feels stronger, more vital. As the matriarch of the family, Laura Dern's character is the glue that holds the family together in the movie.
Dern's just given more to do in Little Women. In Marriage Story, her character is a smooth talking divorce lawyer that seems to only have one speed. One questions how much she truly cares about her client, and one is never given a satisfactory answer. As Marmee, she experiences joy and sorrow in equal measure. Performances with range are usually what the Academy likes to reward, and the Marriage Story role just doesn't have that, regardless of how good it is otherwise.
One caveat I need to mention, is that by no means and I arguing that Laura Dern should have received a Best Supporting Actress nomination over her Little Women co-star Florence Pugh. If that movie was only going to see one nomination in the category, Pugh absolutely is the one that deserved it, she'll likely be my pick in the Oscar pool as Pugh is having quite possibly the greatest single year of any actress in living memory, especially considering this is the year most people heard her name for the first time.
But Little Women certainly could have seen multiple Best Supporting Actress nominees, and I feel like Laura Dern should have been one. I'm glad to see her nominated, I'm just not sure it was the right role. Am I on the right track, or am I crazy? Let me know in the poll below.
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