In 2020, Laura Dern celebrated her birthday with her very first Oscar win for “Marriage Story”! It was a fitting gift to the veteran actress, who has starred in dozens of quality films throughout her lengthy career. So let’s celebrate her birthday this year by taking a tour through of her 15 greatest films, ranked worst to best.
Dern began her career as a teenager close to four decades ago. She seemed to initially aspire to a more normal life but her attempts to finish her college degree at the University of Southern California were continually interrupted by obtaining plum film roles. That she’d eventually settle into an acting career isn’t surprising since her father Bruce Dern is a two time Oscar nominee (“Coming Home”, “Nebraska”) and her mother Diane Ladd a three time contender (“Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore,” “Wild at Heart”, “Rambling Rose.”)
Dern would go on to earn two Oscar nominations of her own for “Rambling Rose” (1991) and “Wild” (2014), plus work steadily in both film and television and become one of the rare second generation Hollywood actors who would achieve as much success as her parents. In addition to the independent movies mentioned above (not to mention her many collaborations with David Lynch), she has also had her fair share of blockbusters, including “Jurassic Park” and “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”
She’s also had great success on the small screen, winning an Emmy for playing the fiery-tongued Renta Klein on “Big Little Lies,” which also brought her a Golden Globe victory and a SAG bid. She returned to the role for the show’s second season this past year, which earned her a SAG Awards ensemble nomination.
Her role as a tough-as-nails divorce attorney in Baumbach’s domestic drama also earned her victories at the Golden Globes, SAG, BAFTA and Critics’ Choice. So it seems like the third time was the charm for this Hollywood legend.
Let’s take a tour in our photo gallery above of Dern’s greatest 15 film performances, ranked from worst to best.
– Original text and gallery published in May 2018.