In our Oscar Spotlight series we take a look at rising stars who have this year gained the biggest accolade in Hollywood, an Academy Award nomination. In a year filled with incredible performances, none of our chosen actors were considered a shoo-in. Taken from three of the acting categories, we present …
Jennifer Lawrence Conquers Hollywood
In 2010 Jennifer Lawrence burst onto the scene with indie film “Winter’s Bone“, giving one of the best leading actress performances in recent memory and cementing her status with an Oscar nomination. Two years later, Lawrence once again finds herself a Best Actress nominee – for the equally challenging role of Tiffany in “Silver Linings Playbook” – but this time, she is no longer a fresh face on the indie scene, but a worldwide star.
Even before Lawrence garnered her first Oscar nomination, her captivating portrayal in “Winter’s Bone” of Ree, a young girl living in the Ozark Mountains who tries to keep her family intact while searching for her missing drug-dealing father, had led to her becoming a fan favorite for the role of Katniss Everdeen in Gary Ross‘s adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ bestselling young adult novel series “The Hunger Games“. Katniss is a 16 year old who volunteers to take her younger sister’s place in The Capitol’s annual event, in which two children under 18 from each district are randomly selected and sent into an arena to fight to the death, and fans immediately saw the similarities between the headstrong heroine and Lawrence’s Ree.
Lawrence had already been cast in Matthew Vaughn’s reboot “X-Men: First Class“, but “The Hunger Games” would send her career to a whole new level, which she admits kept her from saying yes to the life-changing role right away – even though Lawrence was Ross’ first and only choice for the role. Used to the low-key, tight-knit indie scene, Lawrence was about to star in a four-film franchise that was all but guaranteed to be a hit and make her a household name across the world, but instead of resting there, Lawrence continued to pick smart and diverse roles. Only months after beating out the likes of fellow rising actresses Abigail Breslin and Hailee Steinfeld for the role of Katniss, Lawrence found herself up against older peers like Olivia Wilde, Andrea Riseborough and Rachel McAdams for another hotly-contested role – and she nailed it again, much to the surprise of the director of the film.
Acclaimed director David O. Russell had been attempting to adapt Matthew Quick’s novel “The Silver Linings Playbook”, which tells the story of Pat, a man who suffers a mental collapse, goes through treatment at an institution and is released with a new found determination to find the silver linings in life, for several years. Russell told The Wrap during a screening of the film that he had Lawrence audition for the part via Skype because he “didn’t think she was really a contender.” Lawrence was up for the role of Tiffany, a depressed woman who goes on a sexual spree in the wake of the death of her husband but soon befriends, and becomes a love interest to Pat – and at the time even we were skeptical because of her age: “Lawrence still seems young for such a role to us, but her acting chops will certainly go a long way to convince moviegoers.” How right we were to be.
“Lawrence plays Tiffany with the right proportions of ironclad determination and self-protectiveness” praised Stephanie Zacherek for NPR, with Empire calling her the standout and Screen Daily describing Lawrence the real revelation of the film, playing “a grownup — as opposed to a self-possessed young person — with incredible flair and steeliness.”
Russell’s decision to allow Lawrence to audition paid off. “We saw [Lawrence] become a woman before our eyes”, said Russell. “She has a presence about her and an emotion that’s very available. She’s a little bit like her character… she’s kind of confident and fearless — but so far, not in an obnoxious way.” Critics had agreed and it was clear that, at the age of 22, Lawrence was in a position to land her second Best Actress Oscar nomination.
More roles soon followed, once more showing off Lawrence’s fearlessness and chameleon-like ability to portray a wide range of women. Lawrence reunited with “Silver Linings Playbook” co-star Bradley Cooper for Susanna Bier’s adaptation “Serena“, entered talks to star in gossip columnist Jeanne Walls’ memoir “The Glass Castle”, decided to travel to “The Ends of the Earth” (which would later also gain Russell as its director), and managed to fit in production of the second in the Hunger Games series, “Catching Fire”.
Then her performance in “Silver Linings” really began to gain awards traction, as she began taking home trophies from major critics’ groups as well as SAG, the Critics Choice and Golden Globes. And on January 10th, Lawrence gained that unsurprising second nomination from the Academy Awards – and in a second piece of Oscar history became the youngest person ever to be nominated twice for Best Actress. She’s the tentative favorite to win the whole thing on Sunday night, but she’s already a winner by our estimation.
Lawrence is without a doubt the hottest actress in the world right now. With a keen eye for smaller, serious dramas and yet not afraid to give herself over to big budget franchises (Lawrence will film the “X-Men” sequel in 2013 as well), Russell had it exactly right when he said, “She has a lot of power coming her way she’s going to have to deal with.”
Source: Up and Corners