Wednesday, February 10, 2016

2012: Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook

Jennifer Lawrence plays a troubled young widow who meets a troubled bipolar man, and they agree to help each other get what they want. For her, that means entering a dance competition; for him, that means getting his estranged wife back, which becomes increasingly hard on her as she falls deeper in love with him.

It's really funny to me because this wasn't incredibly long ago, but it was back when it was really cool to love Jennifer Lawrence. I feel like lately there's been a lot of backlash against her, partly because of this win, and partly because she was so beloved that people felt she must be overrated, and now it's becoming cool to hate her. It always really annoys me when it's cool to hate celebrities for being famous, so I was anticipating defending her win in this post. But after re-watching this movie for the first time since it was in theaters - which, okay, was only like 3 years ago, but I watch a lot of movies - I find that I cannot.

Lawrence's performance in this movie certainly isn't bad. In fact, it's quite good; it's just not that noteworthy. She's not the main focus of the film by any means, so it seems highly unjustified for her to win its only Oscar. Bradley Cooper had a much harder job and pulls it off splendidly, although I think the Academy made the right choice giving Best Actor to Daniel Day-Lewis that year. Anyway, Lawrence isn't in very much of the movie, and when she is she doesn't get to do much except pine after Bradley Cooper and constantly have her hair fall in her eyes (which was really distracting to me). The scene in the diner when she flips out on Cooper doesn't really do it for me, either; it feels forced and over-the-top.

However, she does have a couple of really good scenes in this movie. The part when she tells off Robert De Niro by rattling off sports statistics is fantastic, and I love her delivery of those lines. Then when the scene progresses and the focus moves outward from the two of them to the whole room, she seamlessly integrates into the ensemble, which is unexpected since it's near the end and we've barely or never seen her interact with most of the other characters before. That scene and the aftermath of the dance competition are probably Lawrence's best moments in the film. Beyond that, the performance was mostly good, but not really Oscar worthy. Maybe in the supporting category, but even then I'm not convinced it would have been deserved, and anyway she would never have beat Anne Hathaway. Weirdly, I haven't seen any of the other Best Actress nominated films from that year, but I have to believe at least one of them was more outstanding than this.  But to be fair, it's not anywhere near the most terrible performance to ever win this award, so I guess there's that.

This was Lawrence's second Best Actress nomination, the first being for 2010's Winter's Bone. She was also nominated for Best Supporting Actress for 2013's American Hustle, and is currently nominated for Best Actress for 2015's Joy, for which she has already won a Golden Globe. If she wins this year, she'll finally break the record for youngest winner of a second Best Actress Oscar, which has been held by Luise Rainer for almost 78 years. Even if Lawrence doesn't win in a couple of weeks, I'm almost positive that she'll win another Oscar at some point in her career. I really hope that if she does, it will be for a performance that demonstrates her incredible acting talents better than this one. It's too bad the Hunger Games series got written off as teenage girl movies because personally, I think her acting in that is much better than in this.

Next up: Cate Blanchett, who is also nominated again this year

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