The 2012 Oscar race for Best Actress was a hotly contested battle that continues to spark debate to this day. The winner was Jennifer Lawrence, the it-girl of 2012 who helped start a massive box office franchise and led a major Oscar contender in the same year. While Hollywood and the American public at large fell in love with JLaw at the time, how does her Oscar win stack up now?
A number of factors were in play that likely helped Lawrence win the Oscar for Best Actress. To start, Silver Linings Playbook was one of the most easily digestible, entertaining films of the 2012 Oscar season. It deals with an important subject (mental illness) in a relatable way, with a cast of likable stars like Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, and Robert De Niro, and Lawrence’s performance as Tiffany Maxwell is the kind of scrappy, manic archetype that naturally stands out. On top of that, Lawrence was the lead of a little movie called The Hunger Games, frequently appeared on the cover of magazines, and went viral for her many quirky quotes and habits. How could Academy voters resist?
Now to the woman of the hour, Jennifer Lawrence. Silver Linings Playbook gives her the opportunity to do what she does best: be frank and confident while revealing her inner vulnerabilities. Playing Tiffany Maxwell, a young widow battling depression who turns more than a few heads for her brashness, Lawrence is right in her wheelhouse and stands tall as a strong romantic lead with Bradley Cooper.
Lawrence would go on to use those same tools in her other David O. Russell films, American Hustle and Joy. And why not? She won an Oscar for it, and America fell in love with her. Yet, seeing those other performances does make the Silver Linings performance less special, and I don’t know if history will look kindly upon it. Looking back from a safe distance, can we say in a vacuum that Lawrence delivered an Oscar-winning performance that will stand the test of time? I do not quibble with her nomination at all, but I suspect that future generations who aren’t as familiar with the actress will be surprised that she actually won. Outside the bubble of celebrity and the specific narrative of 2012, her win increasingly feels up for debate.
Lawrence, 22, an early front-runner for the prize, fended off strong competition from Jessica Chastain and 86-year-old French actress Emmanuelle Riva for the Best Actress prize.You guys are just standing up because you feel bad that I fell down, Lawrence said as the Dolby Theatre audience rose to its feet after she tripped on her way up the stairs to the stage where she accepted the award.
But thank you, she added, clutching the statue. This is nuts.Asked backstage what was going through her mind as she stumbled, falling on her hands, Lawrence responded: A bad word that I can’t say that starts with F. Lawrence became the second youngest winner of the award, according to the Academy. The youngest is Marlee Matlin, who won in 1987 for Children of a Lesser God at the age of 21.In Silver Linings, Lawrence plays a young woman who becomes a sex addict after the death of her husband and then strikes up an unlikely romance with a bipolar former teacher, played by Bradley Cooper.
The role proved the versatility of the young actress, whose film work has ranged from independent dramas to big-budget action fare like X-Men: First Class and The Hunger Games, in which she plays heroine Katniss Everdeen.Lawrence also won Golden Globe and Screen Actor’s Guild awards ahead of Sunday’s Oscars, usually predictors of the Academy Awards.Lawrence won her first Oscar nomination for her break-out performance as a teen trying to keep her dysfunctional family together in the 2010 independent film Winter’s Bone.Backstage, she joked with reporters about the stress of Oscar night.
I’m just cross-eyed, she said. The process today was so stressful I felt like Steve Martin from Father of the Bride, watching my whole house being torn apart.Producers of Silver Linings Playbook initially felt Lawrence was too young to play the feisty widow, but she struck up an endearing chemistry with Cooper’s character, Pat.Lawrence was born in Louisville, Kentucky, and started her career at the age of 14 with small roles in film, television, and commercials.Lawrence’s swift rise to the top has made her a hot commodity in the fashion world and celebrity magazines, where she regularly turns heads on the red carpet.