Laura Dern is expected to finally win her first Academy Award tonight, the 2020 Best Supporting Actress Oscar for the Netflix film Marriage Story. But she knows, no matter what, she already won the lottery with the part of Nora Fanshaw.
Divorce lawyer Nora is sort of but not completely based on celebrity divorce lawyer Laura Wasser, who represented both Marriage Story writer/director Noah Baumbach in his divorce from actress Jennifer Jason Leigh and Laura Dern in her own divorce from Ben Harper, per THR.
Laura Dern has two movies up for Best Picture this year -- Marriage Story and Little Women -- and she's not the only Marriage Story star nominated. Dern plays the lawyer of Scarlett Johansson's Nicole, and she's already talked about how fashion informed the character of Nora. Nora is definitely a power player and a scene-stealer in a movie filled with scene-stealers (Hello Alan Alda and Ray Liotta).
Laura Dern said she cried for half an hour after reading the Marriage Story script for the first time. There's one scene in particular that she especially appreciated. It's not even the jacket-stripping courtroom scene opposite Ray Liotta. No, it's the big speech that comes about an hour and 40 minutes into the movie after Scarlett Johansson's Nicole talks about her weaknesses. Nora warns her not to actually admit to some of her real flaws.
Here's what Laura Dern told USA Today about that scene:
It was the best Christmas present I ever received. Nicole is in this position to talk about who she really is as a mother, and Nora says, ‘You don't get to be that honest. That's not going to fly. And this is why: This is what history and the law do to mothers who answer authentically,’ which I think is just amazing.
Yes, here's the full text of the speech Laura Dern's Nora gives to Nicole in that moment:
People don't accept mothers who drink too much wine and yell at their child and call him an asshole. I get it. I do it too. We can accept an imperfect dad. Let's face it, the idea of a good father was only invented like 30 years ago. Before that, fathers were expected to be silent and absent and unreliable and selfish, and can all say we want them to be different. But on some basic level, we accept them. We love them for their fallibilities but people absolutely don't accept those same failings in mothers. We don't accept it structurally and we don't accept it spiritually.
Because the basis of our Judeo-Christian whatever is Mary, Mother of Jesus, and she's perfect. She's a virgin who gives birth, unwaveringly supports her child and holds his dead body when he's gone. And the dad isn't there. He didn't even do the fucking. God is in heaven. God is the father and God didn't show up. So, you have to be perfect, and Charlie can be a fuck up and it doesn't matter. You will always be held to a different, higher standard. And it's fucked up, but that's the way it is.
MIC DROP. That's the end of the scene. I can imagine, for an actor, that kind of scene really would be the best Christmas present. It certainly helped Laura Dern get the showcase necessary for Oscars consideration.
Laura Dern has been nominated twice before -- Best Actress for Rambling Rose in 1992 and Best Supporting Actress for Wild in 2015. But finally with the tough-talking character of Nora, she might get her own win. That's if she isn't taken down by Scarlett Johansson herself, who is nominated for two Oscars, including in the Best Supporting Actress category for Jojo Rabbit. Other nominees in the category include Kathy Bates in Richard Jewell; Margot Robbie in Bombshell; and Florence Pugh for Little Women.
Here's the full list of Oscars 2020 nominees.