Jennifer Lawrence made Oscar history today by becoming the youngest person to garner three Academy Award nominations (she’s just 23) and the youngest to get a nomination after a win. Her performance in American Hustle currently stands as the 5th most rewarded so far this season (just behind Chiwetel Ejiofor, Lupita Nyong’o, Jared Leto and Cate Blanchett), including winning the Golden Globe for Supporting Actress last weekend.
While that would be enough to garner praise she also became the first woman to have the highest grossing film of the year (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire), as the sole lead, since Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music back in 1965. Coincidentally, Andrews had also won the Lead Actress Oscar the year before, for Mary Poppins.
Each of the first two Hunger Games films have grossed over $400 million domestically and with the final film, Mockingjay, being split into two films, Lawrence will be solely in charge of the success of one of the most popular and lucrative film franchises in movie history. Some would say that the source material is owed a large part of that success. Would the Twilight series be as successful if someone other than Kristen Stewart led it? Probably, and they might have been better movies too.
But Lawrence has something that Stewart, and many actresses of her generation, don’t have – personality. Lawrence is consistently showing herself to be a grounded, down to Earth girl with a fantastic sense of humor, heart, humility and a great spirit of adventure. Her tête à tête with Jack Nicholson after the Academy Awards last year was one of legend. It showed her fearlessness and her girlish star struck glee at the same time; a naiveté that isn’t foolish but engaging and charming. It makes her accessible and friendly, like you could know her, be friends with her.
Take, for example, how she talks about her Oscar fall seen ‘round the world:
“I was at the Oscars, waiting to hear if my name was called, and I kept thinking, Cakewalk, cakewalk, cakewalk. I thought, ‘Why is cakewalk stuck in my head?’ And then, as I started to walk up the stairs and the fabric from my dress tucked under my feet, I realized my stylist had told me, ‘Kick, walk, kick, walk.’ You are supposed to kick the dress out while you walk, and I totally forgot because I was thinking about cake! And that’s why I fell.”
It’s that personality that kept her from being labeled with the vaguely disparaging ‘America’s Sweetheart’ moniker that her predecessors Julia Roberts and Sandra Bullock were saddled with. Both Roberts and Bullock have continued their success with Oscar wins and nominations and massive box office hits. They’ve survived criticism and low points and even thrived. Lawrence seems to have a good head on her shoulders to shield herself from the slings and arrows as well, all while still embracing her fans and her fame.
Coming up for Lawrence is a bright future of mega blockbusters (the aforementioned Hunger Games sequels plus another X-Men prequel), Serena, her third film co-starring with Bradley Cooper, directed by Oscar winner Susanna Bier (Selena) and the potentially Oscar-bait remake of East of Eden directed by Gary Ross.