best film:  Blue Velvet. For cinephiles, Laura Dern will always be connected to the work of David Lynch. Certainly, many movie fans will always think of her as Dr. Ellie Sattler in Jurassic Park (a fine film to be remembered for).  Dern has also been nominated three films in non-Lynch and non-Jurassic films/roles (Rambling Rose, Wild, Marriage Story).  Blue Velvet is currently listed as the 48th best film of all-time so that wins out here. Other films that warrant serious consideration in this category are Wild at Heart (again with Lynch), Little Women, Marriage Story, and, of course, The Master from Paul Thomas Anderson.

 

 

As the daughter of Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd, nineteen (19) year old Laura Dern already had over a decade of film experience and multiple archiveable films under her belt when David Lynch cast her as Sandy Williams in Blue Velvet.

 

 

best performance:  The question of Laura Dern’s best performance makes for a sort of problem for her case. The answer here is Marriage Story, but she gives the third best performance in that film (and though the film is brilliant – it is not on the level of say John Cazale giving the third best performance in a film like The Godfather Part II).  Still, Dern has been excellent in top-tier movies for over forty (40) yeas now and has a whopping nineteen (19) archiveable films- so she is in the elite of elite company in terms of sheer volume of quality work in quality films. The runner-up in this category would be her work as the idyllic girlfriend, Sandy Williams, in Lynch’s Blue Velvet.

 

 

Dern as Nora Fanshaw in Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story (2019). A standout is a scene where Scarlett Johansson‘s character first meets with her lawyer – played by Dern. Dern’s role is the perfect supporting role because she is in a film with Adam Driver and Scarlett (who again give two of the best performances of 2019) and every time Dern is in the scene –  she is the one who wins the scene as an actor. That is really all you can ask for a supporting performance. Dern owns the room.

 

 

stylistic innovations/traits:  As mentioned previously, Laura Dern has been in nineteen (19) archiveable films to date and seems to be going strong (appearing in two of the best films of the past five (5) years or so with Marriage Story and Little Women). She has range – her two characters in Blue Velvet and Wild at Heart could almost not be farther apart (they could almost work as Lynchian doppelgangers in his bizarre universe) and ditto for her work as a convincing paleobotanist in Jurassic Park and the not-so-smart Ruth Stoops in Alexander Payne’s debut, Citizen Ruth.

 

 

directors worked with:  David Lynch (3) – but look at those other directors on the list as well – Martin Scorsese (1), Peter Bogdanovich (1), Clint Eastwood (1), Steven Spielberg (1), Paul Thomas Anderson (1), Kelly Reichardt (1), Greta Gerwig (1) and Noah Baumbach (1)

 

 

Dern as the memorable Lula in Wild at Heart – the second of her three archiveable collaborations with David Lynch

 

 

 

top five performances:

  1. Marriage Story
  2. Blue Velvet
  3. Wild at Heart
  4. Jurassic Park
  5. Citizen Ruth

 

 

 

archiveable films

1973- White Lightning
1974- Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore
1985- Mask
1986- Blue Velvet
1990- Wild at Heart
1991- Rambling Rose
1993- Jurassic Park
1993- Perfect World
1996- Citizen Ruth
1999- October Sky
2001- I Am Sam
2004- We Don’t Live Here Anymore
2006- Inland Empire
2012- The Master
2014- Wild
2016- Certain Women
2017- Star Wars: The Last Jedi
2019- Little Women
2019- Marriage Story