(My original post was written for Filmoria, but it has been edited since then.)
With The Hunger Games franchise establishing Jennifer Lawrence as the highest-grossing action heroine of all time, it’s her first roles in the TBS sitcom The Bill Engvall Show and the independent films The Burning Plain and Winter’s Bone, for which she received her first Academy Award nomination, that made her an actress to keep an eye on.
Since then, Lawrence has won an Academy Award, two Golden Globes, and a BAFTA, as well as a number of other awards, with Rolling Stone commenting in 2012 that she is “the most talented young actress in America”.
From stumbling up the stairs after winning her first Oscar for her role in Silver Linings Playbook to her adorable honesty and natural wit in interviews, Lawrence is undeniably one of the best actresses around at the minute. So let’s take a look at five of her best performances.
Here is my ranking of her performances (not of the films themselves) to date:
1. Winter’s Bone (2010)
Winter’s Bone was Lawrence’s break-out performance, although it wasn’t until The Hunger Games that she gained her worldwide recognition. If you haven’t seen her performance in this film, which is also one of her youngest, then I urge you to immediately, because it’s not only an incredible film but Lawrence deserves the nomination for Best Actress wholeheartedly. Winter’s Bone is a chilling drama, and at 19 years old at the time of filming, Lawrence shows off her pure talent early on. It’s a very unique story that, whilst not entertaining or full of drama, is led by intrigue.
2. The Hunger Games franchise (2012-2015)
Jennifer Lawrence not only fits into the role perfectly, but she plays the character almost flawlessly and holds a strong performance throughout the franchise. Helped by the fact that her character is one of inspiration, there was no doubt that Lawrence was going to do well from this.
The franchise itself is a hugely entertaining series of films, which are adapted and cast incredibly well. Ross manages to create the world of Panem so successfully that it is believable enough to provoke an emotional response to both the setting and the people within it. You can really feel the desperation and hatred towards the government for what they are doing, and because of this Katniss becomes a heroine.
3. Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
At 22 years old, Silver Linings Playbook earned Lawrence her first award, winning two in total, the Golden Globe and the Academy Award for Best Actress, making her the second-youngest Best Actress winner at the Oscars.
Directed by David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook was Lawrence’s first on-screen collaboration with Bradley Cooper, and is a role where we got to see her as a twenty-something, stepping into the big world. With the film allowing Lawrence to play her true age, we also got to see more of her natural, playful character, which is a huge reason why many of us are such a big fan of hers.
4. American Hustle (2013)
Lawrence’s second collaboration with Cooper and winning Lawrence two more awards, the Golden Globe and BAFTA for Best Supporting Actress, American Hustle was where we saw Lawrence really shine. Her role as an alcoholic wife-on-the-side was when we all turned around and thought, “Wow”.
We all knew that she had talent and she was an actress that had been impressing us more and more over the years, with three awards to show it, but American Hustle proved her exceptional class, showing that not only was her talent improving, but that it was one that was going to shine for many years to come and build up to an extraordinary career.
5. The Burning Plain (2008)
Jennifer Lawrence and Charlize Theron: two beautiful ladies with exceptional talents. I really like how the intertwining stories were all brought together. Whilst some of the stories were predictable, I didn’t catch on to the link until you were supposed to.
Great performances showing the promise that Lawrence has excelled in over the past couple of years (though Winter Bones is much better for that!), but there is also something very simple about this film.
My ranking continued:
- 6. The X-Men franchise (2010 – 2019) – – The latest X-Men franchise has a host of talent including James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender as the leads in the prequel as a young Professor X and Magneto, respectively. Lawrence fit into the cast perfectly as a young Raven/Mystique, a sexy blue, mutant shape-shifter, and is a role that made us start paying attention to her outside of The Hunger Games franchise. This is now the second big blockbuster that Lawrence is part of, and we know that we’ll get to see a much darker side to her with her role as the slowly evolving villain that is Mystique over the next few instalments. You can read my full reviews here.
- 7. mother! – – I’m very torn about this film. At the time of watching it, I didn’t think much to it. I loved the casting and enjoyed their performances, and I liked the atmosphere and set up of the story. But then I found the invasion scenes somewhat annoying. But after making the connection that Mother is Mother Nature and that Him is God, I found a whole new level to the film which has made me start to think differently about it. You can read my full review here.
- 8. Joy – – David O. Russell is quickly becoming one of the best directors around at the minute, with his latest films, American Hustle, Silver Linings Playbook, and The Fighter, all being among my favourites. It’s especially great news when you hear that he’s collaborating with Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, and Bradley Cooper again, as well. But whilst Joy has the same spark of storytelling and swift camera work, it’s sadly a disappointing addition to what was a fantastic streak of brilliant filmography. You can read my full review here.
- 9. Red Sparrow – – I think I was too distracted by the darker undertones of this story to enjoy anything else about it, but it really put me off that Jennifer Lawrence’s character was constantly being manipulated. Forced to believe that her body is no longer her own, she is convinced that her body can be used by others and by herself to either get something or just to say thank you. I didn’t see her character as powerful, but as exploited and vulnerable. You can read my full review here.
- 10. Passengers – – For the most part, Chris Pratt has a great comedic presence which works really well for his character here, and Jennifer Lawrence has an effortless allure, so the two really work well together and are probably the only reason why this works better than it should. The story is – more or less – well thought out, but there are many flaws to it, preventing it from being the solid sci-fi that we had all hoped for. You can read my full review here.
- 11. House At The End Of The Street – – After the world fell for Lawrence with her performance in The Hunger Games, we all knew that she’d soon be appearing in a horror film whilst she still had her teenage naivety. That and everybody wanted to see her running around in a tight tank top. But these were the days when we weren’t fully aware of the talent that Lawrence had. Sure, we knew she was good, but House At The End of The Street proved that she was a versatile actor. The film itself didn’t do much for her career as it’s your basic run of the mill horror. More of a thriller than a horror as it loses its scariness quite early on, its failure to stick to either genre is where this film goes wrong. However, it does have a couple of decent twists to keep it progressing, although it did need to make a bigger a deal about them. If it wasn’t for Jennifer Lawrence in the lead role then my rating would have been a lot lower, as she gives a decent performance despite the poor material she is working with. What it did do, at least, was to show us that there was definitely a lot more to look forward to from her as an actress.
- 12. Serena – – I bought this book to read knowing that an adaptation was about to be released and that Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper were going to lead. But what a waste of talent that was! I wasn’t a huge fan of the novel; it was written beautifully but, at the time, I felt it lacked any tension. In comparison to this awful adaptation, however, Ron Rash’s novel was a masterpiece. The adaptation lacks any attention to detail and character personalities. Serena is supposed to be threatening yet beautifully mesmerising, yet she is neither of those things here. Cooper is supposed to be a bit of a push-over but a man that gets things done, yet he’s just pretty to look at; of course, they both are eye-catching in their roles and we know they have talent underneath, but their characters lack any depth in this film. Serena is supposed to be a film about power and betrayal, with death and murder on every page, but that’s not what you will see. Not only that, but the story is completely messed up. Galloway doesn’t die because he’s a key part in the ending which is ruined seen as though Serena is supposed to poison him. There’s also supposed to be a big fit between the eagle and a komodo dragon which I thought would be funny to see, and a lot more focus on the snakes.
- 13. Like Crazy – – Felicity Jones won three awards for her performance in the film but I find it hard to comment. With the combination of these actors making up the lines as they go and the lack of any relatable connection with either of them, there wasn’t much in the way to waive this opinion. Jennifer Lawrence, however, I did enjoy seeing. You can read my full review here.
Note: I still need to watch Devil You Know, The Beaver, The Poker House, and Garden Party.