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The Playlist's Woman Of The Year 2012: Jennifer Lawrence

by Oliver Lyttelton
December 19, 2012 11:02 AM
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Last year, picking the woman of the year was a no-brainer. We chose Jessica Chastain, who started 2011 as a virtual unknown, and ended it as the star of critical favorites like "The Tree Of Life" and "Take Shelter," box office hits like "The Help" (for which she earned an Oscar nod), all while impressing with diverse roles across a slate of films including "The Debt," "Coriolanus," and "Texas Killing Fields." And this year, we went with another young actress who also showed tremendous range, with acumen both at the multiplex and arthouse.

Yes, it's Jennifer Lawrence. The actress, who turned 22 in August, has had one of the most meteoric rises we can remember. Her feature film debut, in Guillermo Arriaga's "The Burning Plain," came only four years ago. Two years later, she exploded as a result of her starring role in Sundance flick "Winter's Bone" -- playing the steely, determined Ree deservedly won her, at only 20 years old, a Best Actress Oscar nomination. That led to other indie roles in "Like Crazy" and "The Beaver," as well as a studio tentpole debut as Mystique in "X-Men: First Class," in which she made a character who'd been a cypher in previous films one of the most interesting parts of the movie.

But that was nothing compared to playing the highly sought-after role of Katniss Everdeen in the adaptation of young adult phenomenon "The Hunger Games." The film hit theaters earlier in the year, and proved to be a massive success (unadjusted, the thirteenth biggest of all time), and in another fierce turn, Lawrence proved she can carry a giant tentpole movie pretty much entirely on her shoulders; she dominates it, creating one of the strongest, most badass female heroines of recent years, and almost singlehandedly rebuffing idiot studio executives who claim that audiences won't turn up to see event movies led by women.

But more was still to come (though not, it should be said, from the oh-hey-look-what-we-found-in-a-drawer "House At The End Of The Street"). Lawrence beat out pretty much every one of her contemporaries (including Rooney Mara, Kirsten Dunst, Rachel McAdams and Andrea Riseborough) for the female lead in David O Russell's "Silver Linings Playbook," which premiered at TIFF back in September. The quirky romantic-comedy swiftly became the talk of the festival, a true crowd-pleasing hit that won the Audience Award, and Lawrence was immediately anointed a locked-in Oscar contender.

Her performance as Tiffany, the grieving young widow who befriends, falls for and helps to save Bradley Cooper's Pat, is filled with both electric energy and emotional vulnerability. Taking a part that, on the page, risks flirting with Manic Pixie Dream Girl territory, Lawrence fleshes her out into a maddening, unique, and entirely authentic creation. It's about a million miles away from her turn in "The Hunger Games," allowing Lawrence to show off both a deft comic side and a romantic longing that her previous work had barely touched on. Right now, it seems like there's almost nothing she can't do.

She's also proven, in interviews, to be smart, hilarious, independent, entirely atypical of the Hollywood starlet, and all kinds of adorable (Exhibit A: this wildly endearing photo of her reacting to her Oscar nomination for "Winter's Bone" Exhibit B: the "Late Show With David Letterman" interview below).

A certain amount of the next few years is going to be taken up with franchise duty; she's wrapped on "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," and will shoot its two-part sequel "Mockingjay," as well as "X-Men: Days Of Future Past," next year.  But there's lots more to come too, not least a reunion with Bradley Cooper on Susanna Bier's "Serena," which she shot this year, and could find her back in awards talk in 2013. Plus the Weinsteins have snapped her up to star in period piece "The Ends Of The Earth," from "Argo" writer Chris Terrio, while she's also attached to "Glass Castle" at Lionsgate. And all this at only 22. The future is looking very bright for Jennifer Lawrence.

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  • J | February 26, 2013 3:09 PMReply

    Overrated Jennifer Lawrence: total agreement, Rex. While she's done a range of roles adequately, her acting is predictable. I didn't even notice her til all the mags said she was the bomb. As for the celebrity hype...She 's hyper confident--true true. But fresh? Interesting? The i-don't-give-a-sh*t, sarcasm, cursing and being goofy is actually the most common thing among teens and twentysomethings--look around. In looks, she's the actual girl next door who's kinda a tomboy. Like the type of cute you'd see 30 times a day. Look at her with a little less make up and photoshop. i guess that's why america likes her....cos we love it when ordinary jane (esp. with biggish boobs) gets uber famous.

  • Guest | February 26, 2013 6:47 AMReply

    Wow. Rabid Jennifer Lawrence fans unite! I like the girl, and do think she has talent, but as a few others have stated, she's being overhyped. Mediocre young actresses have overrun Hollywood over the last few years, so when someone like JL comes along, of course people are going to get excited -- the bar has been set so low that to raise it by even a few notches will send critics and viewers into a frenzy.

    Let's see how the story plays out with her, Jen Lawrence lovers. No need to launch an attack just yet.

  • Z. | December 23, 2012 9:58 AMReply

    @FIORA: Jennifer Lawrence does rule. A wonderful actress, great personality and so beautiful....Lawrence looks lovely in the above photo (damn, what a figure!!)...thanks for this article Playlist! (thanks, Oliver!).

  • Fiora | December 22, 2012 1:25 AMReply

    she rules.

  • Arjuna | December 20, 2012 4:49 PMReply

    @LO: Wow....that was long. Step away from the keyboard, go outside and take a long walk and breathe in the fresh air. Jennifer Lawrence has had an amazing year; great box office and critical acclaim and she's well liked. It doesn't negate Stewart as an actress/person nor you as a fan...there's room for all.

  • Lo | December 20, 2012 2:54 PMReply

    No, don't think so. Jennifer Lawrence has not shown any propensity to really reach a worldwide audience. The Hunger Games made the majority of its box office in North America and barely had a foreign box office for the blockbuster it was supposed to be. So far she's just a star on the American shores. Her initial Oscar nomination hasn't made her a legit worldwide star and that was proven with her quick exit from the BAFTA Orange Wednesdays Rising Star voting.

    BO Mojo:
    Domestic: $408,010,692 59.4%
    + Foreign: $278,522,598 40.6%
    = Worldwide: $686,533,290

    If Lawrence is this "superstar" that Indie Wire claims she is, then she needs to show her strength in the foreign box office. The only reason why Catching Fire will even make money in the foreign box office will be due to Sam Claflin who is an already an established face and is British to boot. That's why it will make the money that it will. Also, Sam will be the face for foreign promotion and not Jennifer. If anything, she'll be tagging along.

    She's only been involved in one blockbuster where she is the true lead, however, people were not coming to see the Hunger Games for her solely. The "story" is what attracted people to the film. The premiere was not on the level of a Twilight because they had to announce for fans to come down because it really wasn't a lot of fans there at the beginning of the US premiere. A story that is not told by the press. But those of us who were there saw what it was truly like. Plus, it didn't even crack $700K at the box office.

    She's in a Weinstein production which is like Oscar automatic nomination. She was in a horror film post Hunger Games called House at the End of the Street which should be automatic box office gold of at least a $100 mill, it didn't even reach $40 mill.
    Domestic: $31,609,585 86.9%
    + Foreign: $4,765,055 13.1%
    = Worldwide: $36,374,640

    Again, a domestic heavy box office and released in over 3,000 theaters and that's all it made. Kristen Stewart's Snow White and the Huntsman opened to over 3,0o0 theaters and made almost $400 mil at the box office and has had outstanding DVD and ONDEMAND sales. Had the 6th best opening of the year, plus her Breaking Dawn 2 has almost made $800 million and she is releasing the highly anticipated indie On the Road which her performance has received critical acclaim.

    And speaking of beating others out for a role, Stewart beat her out of a role she really wanted: Lie Down in Darkness.

    No I'm saying that Stewart should be your Woman of the Year but she certainly isn't it considering she really hasn't out done Stewart at the box office this year and has no real foreign appeal like Stewart has. Stewart not only has foreign box office appeal but has won the Rising Star BAFTA and can sell the top magazines i.e. Elle, Vanity Fair, GQ UK etc... She is the face of the fragrance of a major fashion house. Walks the red carpet in the top designers and is the top money earner for Actresses in Hollywood. She's more all around.

    Ann Hathaway should have been your woman of the year without a doubt. Lawrence didn't beat out Stewart with head-to-head box office this year, magazine sales and income. Plus Stewart has more media appeal.

  • REALLY? | December 21, 2012 9:07 PM

    Are you serious? "The only reason why Catching Fire will even make money in the foreign box office will be due to Sam Claflin?" I'm from Europe and who is he? Catching Fire will do more money because now people know about the saga. THG books weren't that known here before the movie came out. That's why it did less money worldwide. And you compare Breaking Dawn(the 5th movie from a established saga) with THG? When Twilight was released did $192,769,854 domestic and $199,846,771 foreign!!! Really? Kristen Stewart is the best actress because she earned more money? It's not all about the money... Jennifer will be known for her talent, not for the gossip and tabloids... She's down to earth and a great role model for young women! She has already won some awards this year and I hope she'll win more!

  • Alan | December 20, 2012 11:26 PM

    Whoa, 'The Hunger Games' ONLY made $278,522,598 internationally. That's all? Jezz, why bother with the sequels, then, when Lionsgate have released such a flop internationally. And who the hell is Sam Claflin?

  • Dear crazy | December 20, 2012 8:33 PM

    Media appeal? You mean tabloid fodder? There is zero inherent likeability with Stewart. So you might want to rethink your definition of appeal. Also, there is no argument to be had between Lawrence and Stewart accolades or talent wise. Stewart was never the "queen" of indie movies- so, sit your delusional arse down. She did a string of indie films, but that in no way creates a throne. Most of Stewart's indie films flew under the radar, meanwhile Lawrence was able to garner an Oscar nod for an indie film. Look child, you clearly have a thing for Stewart and that's cool but there is no comparison between this two actresses other than that they're female and actresses. So... sit down.

  • JD | December 20, 2012 9:56 AMReply

    I would totally agree with Jennifer Lawrence being the woman of the year. She is a talented actress. I loved Winter's Bone. She was great in X Men. I liked The Beaver but found the sub plot involving her to be dull but that wasnt her fault. I also didnt like The Hunger Games but liked her. As for Silver Linings Playbook, she was fantastic. Great chemistry with Bradley Cooper. It is a surprise to me that it hasnt been given a nationwide release in the states considering its in every cinema here in Ireland. Finally she is hot.

  • beverly | December 19, 2012 2:07 PMReply

    Anne Hathaway deserved this year's title. She did the impossible , and wonderfully pulled-off two iconic female characters- Fantine & Selina Kyle. Think about the massive pressure to bring these beloved characters to life , and make it her own. All the haters thought she couldn't do these roles justice, but she did. It really takes extraordinary range and immense talent to pull it off. Plus, Hathaway did a good job hosting Saturday Night Live.

    Remember, Jennifer Lawrence was mediocre in Xmen: First Class. It is not easy to give a good performance in comic book movies, because everything is so heightened , over-the-top, and ridiculous. The New York Times' film critic referred to Lawrence's Hunger Games performance as flat. I couldn't agree more. I never felt her inner struggle, complexity, nor her power. Saoirse Ronan audition for that role. Why wasn't she hired? First, she would have looked the age. Secondly, she would have easily brought so much emotion, intelligence, intensity, and vulnerability to Katniss. Saoirse is one of the few young actresses that can act with no dialogue. She is just unbelievably expressive.

    Now, Jennifer brought no real depth, no humor, nor gravity to the Tiffany role in Silver Linings Playbook. What made matters worst, she is too young for the role, and her lack of maturity hurt her acting. Sadly, Lawrence couldn't handle the script's dialogue well ( her accent was not lousy ) . Her vocal showdown with Robert DeNiro was dull. It should have been a humorous, dramatic, and explosive speech all at the same time, but, again, Jennifer was weak.

  • Ian | December 20, 2012 2:58 AM

    Don't you just love jealous people! JL is both talented and beautiful. I just love people who come out and seem to know far more about people and acting, than the majority of those professional critics. Why do you waste your time reading this or writing negative comments, when you are so clearly just jealous. Get over it and get a life .

  • KT | December 19, 2012 2:06 PMReply

    Look, I think she's pretty cool and all, and there's nothing wrong with her being named PL's "Woman Of The Year", but she's not the once-in-a-lifetime talent people are making her out to be. Yes, she's accomplished a great deal at 22... but she did it in Hollywood (whoopty-doo), and talent-wise the industry has kinda been in the dumps as of late. Tinseltown is always looking to anoint some fresh young face as the next this or that, and although I truly believe she's a strong cut above the usual dreck (*cough* Kristen Stewart *cough*), she just seems like another piece on the board - not a real player. They could have cast a male as Katniss, dressed him up as a female, and that shit would have still put up the same numbers. I mean, 'Winter's Bone' was OKAY. Name a line she delievered in one of her roles that truly moved you, or a scene that she stole... I'll wait. But I do respect her hustle, and wish her the best.

  • kainat | December 20, 2012 4:28 PM

    You Have no Idea... The effect she can have... She is NOT just another random actor.. She has REAL talent! Katniss is a very hard character to play.. only certain people can play that character. I am not making this up, I really do believe she has amazing talent.

  • Lo | December 20, 2012 3:18 PM

    KT, your *coughs* Kristen Stewart *coughs* "dreck" name-calling is totally out of line. Stewart went head-to-head with Lawrence at the box office this year and totally kicked her ass. Snow White and the Huntsman and Breaking Dawn Part 2 have totally crushed Lawrences Hunger Games, House on the End of the Street and Silver Linings Playbook. Dreck or not, Lawrence couldn't stand up to Stewart's box office and Stewart's On the Road hasn't been released yet and it wouldn't matter anyway.

    The Dreckful Stewart is the highest paid actress in Hollywood this year has beat Lawrence out for a role this year too: Lie Down in Darkness was wanted badly by Lawrence. An excuse was used re: filming a Hunger Games sequel but that is nonsense since no filming schedule has been set for LDID. Stewart just beat her out. Oh, by Indiewire must have missed that point.

    Oh yes, Lawrence will get her automatic Weinstein bid for an Oscar...yawns...but with all that said, she hasn't won one and still won't this year either.

    As for the dreckful Stewart, everyone she works with praises her and her work. Let's see Jodie Foster, Sean Penn , Bruce Dern and James Gandolfini just to name a couple all have spoken about how much of an outstanding actress she is. It's only females, Robert Pattinson lovers, paparazzi and Twilight haters like *coughs* Indiewire *coughs* have anything bad to say about her. When you have major established stars who praise you, all the "dreck" name-calling in the world kind of leaves you cold. Stewart was known as the 'Queen of Indie Films' prior to her success with Twilight. Her "dreckful" work got her the role in 'On the Road' at the mere age of 17.

    But maybe you should check out her work before you speak: Into the Wild, Yellow Handkerchief, Welcome to the Rileys were she won Best Actress at the Milan Film Festival, The Runaways, Speak, Adventureland and The Cake Eaters. Once you've viewed these films, your "dreck" description will make you look like the jerkoff that you are.

  • KT | December 20, 2012 10:20 AM

    Her performance in "SLP", while good, wasn't really anything that couldn't be replicated by another young actress. 'Like Crazy' is a film no one knows exists, nor is it a very good one. So, I'll continue to wait... And I never said 'Winter's Bone' was a Hollywood film, so no reaching involved.

  • Brad | December 20, 2012 3:17 AM

    She stole the scene from Robert DeNiro in SLP when he was going on and on about how terrible an influence and person she was because she was corrupting his already batshit crazy son, also she was much more enjoyable as Anton Yelchin's second choice then Felicity Jones's main love interest in Like Crazy, there's two. Also to call Winter's Bone a hollywood film is the definition of a reach.

  • M4 | December 19, 2012 2:05 PMReply

    Oliver, any idea when we might see a trailer for Serena?...I'm really looking forward to that one because the book was excellent.

  • M4 | December 19, 2012 2:02 PMReply

    Wonderful choice!.....Jennifer Lawrence is a terrific actress as well as a breath of fresh air from the usual Hollywood starlets. Lawrence's performance in Silver Linings Playbook is can't take your eyes off of her.

  • Lou | December 19, 2012 1:34 PMReply

    Pretty but uninteresting, fleshy face, similar to that of a nineteenth century ceramic doll.

  • Mads | December 19, 2012 1:21 PMReply

    from all the women out there,you picked the one that's looks good?realy?you could pick lana wachowski,I don't know...anyone but her.

  • DG | December 19, 2012 1:13 PMReply

    Shes awesome. I figured it'd be either her or Chastain again

  • milo | December 19, 2012 12:45 PMReply

    this girl is so overrated

  • David | December 19, 2012 11:38 AMReply

    I guess it is predictable seeing as she is a Weinstein darling but i find her a very overrated. The Hunger Games came with a massive in built audience don't forget, and was marketed very well and towards men, which is what Twilight and Harry Potter were not. Let's not get carried away and say she carried the responsibility of the Hunger Games success or failure on her shoulders.

  • Lo | December 20, 2012 3:24 PM

    I agree with you totally David. Jennifer Lawrence is OVERRATED. Hunger Games marketing and book fans stirred that box office. The box office for Hunger Games was weak. She not an international star...yet. She is a "Weinstein darling" and we know when it comes to Oscars what the "Weinstein" names does to all the Hollywood wimps.

  • Mimi | December 19, 2012 1:49 PM

    Don't forget, The Hunger Games had a hugely popular book fanbase that would have seen the film regardless of who played Katniss. I read the book and saw the film. Did I see the film because of Jennifer Lawrence ? No. I saw the film because I was a big fan of the book. Truthfully, I'm not as excited about the second one, Catching Fire. The book was dreadful.

  • Anon | December 19, 2012 12:01 PM

    If she's so overrated, why are you reading about her? Jennifer Lawrence rise started with Winter's Bone. The critical praise she brought to The Hunger Games is a big reason non fans saw it and took it over $400 million domestically. Silver Linings Playbook proves she's here to play.

  • G | December 19, 2012 11:26 AMReply

    Good choice! But was it ever going to be anyone else...?

  • Nicole | December 19, 2012 11:15 AMReply

    Jennifer Lawrence is the perfect choice. I didn't expect to like THE HUNGER GAMES, but I did. Her best work is in the small independent films that allow her to show the range of an actress far above her age. She is simply the best under 25 actress at the moment. Emma Watson turned heads in PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER, and continues next year with highly anticipated movies from Sophia Coppola and Darren Aronofsky. Might she be next? Time will tell.

  • Oogle monster | December 19, 2012 11:06 AMReply

    Agree with this! Next year, I hope it's Carey Mulligan.

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