The Hollywood Mystique: Jennifer Lawrence’s Rise to Fame
This week, Jennifer Lawrence returns to the big screen in Darren Aronofsky’s horror film mother!. I’m excited to see Lawrence in a movie that isn’t a franchise entry or directed by David O. Russell. And, she’s working with such an esteemed auteur like Aronofsky, which is especially exciting. But J-Law isn’t just an actress or even just a movie star. She’s a phenomenon whose every move is documented and dissected. J-Law‘s career is a combination of lucrative career choices and the rare success of the Hollywood Hype Machine.
In 2010, a little indie called Winter’s Bone premiered at Sundance, winning several awards. When the film opened in June of that year, it received rave reviews for breakout star Jennifer Lawrence. The young actress had been in forgotten indies, plus a starring role on a sitcom, but she landed an Oscar nomination in 2011 for Winter’s Bone. Five months later, Lawrence appeared in X-Men: First Class, the successful reboot of the X-Men movies. Off that film and her Oscar nomination, she was cast in The Hunger Games, which broke box office records in 2012. Then in winter, Silver Linings Playbook became a big hit and Lawrence won the Oscar f for it in 2013, followed by The Hunger Games: Catching Fire in November (the highest grossing 2013 film in the US). Lawrence stole the show in American Hustle, getting her third Oscar nomination in 2015 for the box office smash.
Just look at that run. From 2010 to 2015, Jennifer Lawrence had a rare meteoric rise to fame And her success wasn’t only in front of the camera; off-screen she was everyone’s favorite cool girl, with her off the cuff interviews and relatable personality. She was a “different kind of movie star,” one who didn’t care about being famous. I can’t talk about Lawrence’s career rise without discussing the misogynist backlash Anne Hathaway received at the same time. Seen as “too happy” or “trying too hard to be liked,” Hathaway was forced to go into hiding after she won her Oscar in 2013, resurfacing for Interstellar, The Intern, and Colossal, each a few years apart. Hathaway has since regained public favor—but now Jennifer Lawrence is facing her own backlash. The actress who “didn’t care” got accused of trying too hard to be cool. Her whole persona, the internet decided, was too calculated.
Why is it so easy to pit these actresses against each other? Not just Lawrence and Hathaway but other Oscar darlings like Brie Larson, Lupita Nyong’o, and Emma Stone, not to mention stars like Shailene Woodley and Chloe Moretz. Hollywood culture only allows for one “It Girl” at a time, forgetting that these are still-working actors who should be allowed to exist once the media is done with them. But the media seems too eager to pit the actresses against each other, especially when one gets a major triumph and another some disappointment (like the middling reactions to Lawrence's last two Hunger Games, Joy, and Passengers).
Jennifer Lawrence isn’t without her share of controversies, like her dumb Hawaii story, being too young for the parts she plays, being the victim of a cyber sex crime, or speaking out against the wage gap. Whatever she does, someone out there has a hot take and wants to throw her privilege as a young white actress in her face. That’s not to say that Lawrence is free from criticism. She never should have told that Hawaii story in public, let alone repeat it years later. Lawrence benefits from Hollywood ageism, and the media decided she should turn down age inappropriate roles. It seems like once the industry takes away her “It Girl” mantle, everything an actress does is problematic, especially when she is as ubiquitous as Jennifer Lawrence is.
If mother! proves to be a hit with critics and audiences, perhaps Lawrence can achieve some of the returned goodwill that Anne Hathaway enjoyed after Colossal. The backlash could reignite if she scores her fifth Oscar nomination over a less-recognized actor. While Jennifer Lawrence did make some mistakes as a household name, her career is something to be admired. Objectively, the combination of talent, business acumen, and sheer luck is remarkable.
Going through two decades of Sony’s franchise-building trials and tribulations.
A modern classic that uses sex comedy trappings to explore deep and personal themes.
Tyler Heberle makes his TFS debut with a deep dive into the work of Debra Granik
Rock icon David Byrne’s lone directorial effort is a unique humanist delight that is worth seeking out.
Ryan Coogler’s film is just as powerful as the one that began the Rocky series 40 years earlier.
On how the sequel is all about the American Dream, for better and worse.
This often derided installment of the Rocky Balboa saga has more to offer than its reputation suggests.
Writer-director Stallone sacrifices character for entertainment in the second sequel in the series.
The Oscar Best Picture winner remains an essential underdog story.
‘Minnesota nice’ is both skewered and praised in what might me the ultimate thesis statement of the Coens.
The Coens’ first screwball comedy ranks among their very best.
As the Coens explored the life of the mind, they created their most personal and terrifying film.
A homage and “painstaking recreation” of the screwball comedies of yesteryear.
Deconstructing the reasons why the 2007 film is one of the Coens’ best.
Hollywood has a bit of an obsession when it comes to adapting stories in the public domain, Joey looks at The Nutcracker to explore how this may be changing.
Romero & King’s Creepshow is a masterwork of style, tone, and scares.
Enjoy this kill list, but also watch out for the electrical shortage!
A movie that asks, “Would that it ‘twere so simple?”
Scream 4, because of its status as a sequel and a remake, deserves a second look.
The Gate offers kid friendly scares that will still get under your skin.
Tobe Hooper embraces the dark and wacky comedy in his second film with Leatherface and his family.
A tale told straight from a 17th century Puritanical pamphlet.
Finding meaning in the meaningless in the Coens’ 2009 masterpiece.
There have been three adaptations of Shirley Jackson’s beloved novel, Mark looks at why two soared while the other failed.
This sequel may be Shapeless but it maintains the spirit of Carpenter.
The Changeling offers a mature look inside the horror genre, especially when dealing with the concept of personal loss.
Alucarda is unlike most horror movies you have seen, but it has a lot to say, particularly about religion, to the point of sacrilege.
How this small horror film managed to become a lasting, cult classic.
A universally acclaimed film that still feels under-appreciated thanks to career high work from all involved.
Suspicious strangers, a mysterious location, and endless twists; a list of single-location thrillers.