Laura Dern wins best supporting actress Oscar for 'Marriage Story'

Los Angeles, Feb 10 (PTI) Hollywood star Laura Dern couldn't have asked for a better birthday present than an Oscar as she won her maiden Academy Award in the best supporting actress category for her role in 'Marriage Story'.

The actor, who turns 53 on Monday, won the Oscar for playing Nora Fanshaw, a firebrand divorce counsel to Scarlett Johansson's character undergoing separation from her husband, played by Adam Driver.

Dern beat Johansson, nominated for 'Jojo Rabbit', and her 'Little Women' co-star Florence Pugh in the category. Other nominees were Margot Robbie ('Bombshell') and Kathy Bates ('Richard Jewell').

'This is the best birthday present ever,' Dern declared as she accepted her trophy.

'Some say never meet your heroes but I say if you are really blessed, you get them as your parents,' the actor said, dedicating the award to her parents, veteran actors Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd.

A decorated actor who has largely been celebrated for her acting chops both on TV and in cinema, Dern today is at the top of her game.

Her turn as the fierce yet charming and supportive Nora had already earned Dern her fifth Golden Globe, a Bafta, a Critics Choice Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award.

The actor has often talked about her affinity towards unassuming but sticky characters and as Nora she blazed the screen, especially with her much-talked about monologue in the Noah Baumbach-directed divorce drama.

But much before 'Marriage Story' came to the fore, Dern's performance as a wealthy helicopter mom Renata Klein in HBO series 'Big Little Lies' reflected a change in time.

The role of an angry woman on screen during the nascent stage of the #MeToo movement hit close to home and also won the actor her first Emmy for best supporting actress in a limited series or movie.

She kick-started started her career in the 1980s but her official film debut was an appearance in 'Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore' (1974), directly opposite her mother. Dern rose to prominence with David Lynch's 1986 neo-noir mystery 'Blue Velvet'.

She later received an Academy Award nomination for best actress for her portrayal of the titular orphan in the 1991 drama 'Rambling Rose' and Ladd, who also starred in the film, was nominated for a best supporting actress Oscar - a first feat for a mother-daughter duo. The generation of the 1990s still recognises Dern as the soft-spoken, maternal and opinionated Dr Ellie Sattler from Steven Spielberg's 'Jurassic Park' series.

Besides Lynch and Spielberg, she has worked with directing greats such as Martin Scorsese, Jonathan Demme, Paul Thomas Anderson, Clint Eastwood, and Robert Altman. PTI RDS BK MRJ