Different as they may be, there’s one thing that the two buzziest films of the year—Greta Gerwig’s Little Women and Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story—have in common: Laura Dern. In working with the beloved actress, the two directors haven’t just established themselves as front-runners of this coming awards season. They’ve also converted into Laura Dern superfans—to the point that they literally wore their undying affection for Dern on their sleeves at the 2019 IFP Gotham Awards in New York on Monday, where Marriage Story was the night’s clear winner, taking home Best Feature, Best Screenplay, the Audience Award, and Best Actor for Adam Driver.
Together, Gerwig and Baumbach honored Dern with the 2019 actress tribute. “Noah and I have been looking for an excuse to wear our Laura Dern sweaters. Luckily, this came along,” Gerwig said, referencing their looks from Raf Simons‘s fall/winter 2019 collection. The designer, who’s close pals with both Dern and her son, Ellery Harper, rolled out earlier this year a series of sweaters and coats featuring stills of Dern and Kyle MacLachlan in David Lynch’s 1986 film Blue Velvet. (Although Simons may be the only designer to put Dern’s face on runway pieces, Dern has posted Instagrams of herself wearing her own crying face on a T-shirt.)
“Noah and I sometimes get competitive about who loves Laura Dern more, and who Laura Dern loves more out of us,” Gerwig continued. “For this reason, I’m going to read Noah’s speech and he’s going to read mine. That way, at the party afterwards, when we ask her, ‘Whose speech did you like better?’ it’s too confusing to answer.”
It was indeed confusing. But with the help of Baumbach, Gerwig went on to recall how she first became familiar with Dern, a.k.a. her “ultimate girl crush,” through watching Citizen Ruth and Jurassic Park. “I loved her even more than I loved Leonardo DiCaprio, who I sincerely believed I would marry,” Baumbach said for his partner. “Laura Dern does that thing that all great actors do: You feel like you are them, and they are you, and also you want to be best friends with them. As I grew up into a lanky blonde lady who had too many feelings and talked with my hands, I felt that she and I were even more spiritually linked.”
Through Gerwig, Baumbach echoed her sentiments, describing himself as “a 50-year-old man with too many feelings and who talks with his hands,” who now recognizes a scene between Dern and Isabella Rossellini in Blue Velvet as a “perfect cinematic moment.” (Though that wasn’t his initial reaction: “The 17-year-old, however, went out and got a hoop earring to match Kyle MacLachlan’s.”)
When it came to her turn to step up to the microphone, Dern enthusiastically returned the love. “I am so lucky to know them, let alone to get to witness them, work with them,” she said, going on to thank the two “geniuses” for giving her “a sense of true home in this last year and, I pray now, forever.”
Dern also took care to thank a number of her collaborators over the years, including, of course, David Lynch. But it was her mom and dad—and specifically their “passion”—that got the biggest shout out: “I deeply want to thank my independent-spirited, amazing artist parents, Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd, who conceived me on a Roger Corman movie,” she said, pausing to laugh. “Bless them.”