Hindsight: Jennifer Lawrence

Following an Oscar win for her performance in Silver Linings Playbook, Jennifer Lawrence had completed her rapid ascension to super stardom status; she was starring in two popular film franchises and seemed poise to make Meryl Streep fear for her record of most Oscar nominations for acting but she also looked doomed for a derailed career following several high-profile duds. On this edition of Hindsight, let’s look back on how one of the 21st Century’s most successful and bankable actresses nearly became irrelevant but how she has now fought her way back and looks to be back on track.

After winning her Oscar for David O. Russell’s poignant take on love and mental health, Lawrence looked ready to become a multi-faceted star as her leading role in The Hunger Games franchise and the X-Men film franchise were bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars but she was also turning out additional award nominated performances for American Hustle and Joy. Lawrence was not going to be a flash in the pan actress; her first Oscar nomination came when she was just 20 years old for the crime drama Winter’s Bone and then was cast in X-Men: First Class as Mystique and managed to stand out amidst performances from Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy and Nicholas Hoult. In addition to Silver Linings Playbook, she also starred in the first installment of The Hunger Games film series as well as the psychological thriller, The House at the End of the Street. Long title aside, the latter film became a financial success. 

After discovering this sudden and profound success, Lawrence inevitably fell victim to a career slump which would begin in 2016. It seemed like box office magic, Chris Pratt would be paired with Lawrence in the sci-fi romance film Passengers directed by the Oscar nominated filmmaker of The Imitation Game but the finished product left something to be desired. While it is considered a box office success, critics were divided on it calling it “creepy” and “nasty” and recently, Lawrence has expressed regret for starring in the film and even suggested the film would benefit from a different edit. Adding speculation to the publicity was the breakdown of Chris Pratt’s marriage to Anna Faris while rumors swirled of an affair between Pratt and Lawrence. There is no truth to these rumors but the Hollywood gossip wheel never ends. While Passengers was underwhelming, Lawrence’s next films were downright perplexing. While mother! was well received by critics, there were reports of audiences walking out of screenings and it was not the box office that was consistent with Lawrence’s past films plus it did not help that the film’s poster was composed of Lawrence holding her bloody heart in a sort of loving gesture to the viewer. Lawrence’s next film, Red Sparrow, where she plays a Russian spy, seemed more concerned with sexualizing the actress rather than developing a story or its characters. Red Sparrow has the bones to be a good film but it would rather have nudity than proper exposition. 

As if having Passengers, mother! and Red Sparrow under her belt was not bad enough, Lawrence found herself embroiled in one of the worst superhero films ever made in Dark Phoenix. While any deeper analysis of Dark Phoenix will wait for another day, the film’s $200 million budget and paltry $250 million box office return proved to be the end of 20th Century Fox’s X-Men franchise as the Disney acquisition became final in early 2019 and while the X-Men are not yet in the MCU’s immediate plans, they will be soon. After the bomb that was Dark Phoenix, Lawrence took a break from acting and the public spotlight to refocus on her personal life. In 2019, she married Cooke Maroney, a gallery director and began zeroing in on a new project. Citing a desire to work with writer/director Adam McKay, she accepted a role in Netflix’s political satire film, Don’t Look Up and became one of the surprise hits of 2021 after receiving four Oscar nominations including Best Picture and Lawrence even earned a Golden Globe Nomination for her performance. Don’t Look Up also set a new Netflix record for the most viewing hours in a single week and firmly put Jennifer Lawrence back into the celebrity zeitgeist and would prepare her for her next role.

While Lawrence is certainly on pace to get her career back on track, her latest film is gaining Oscar buzz based on her performance in this crowded award season. The streaming service Apple TV+, which gained immediate credibility thanks to its film CODA in 2021, is saving the best for the latter part of the year, as it recently released Causeway, a story about a young veteran who returns home after suffering a traumatic brain injury. Lawrence along with her costar Brian Tyree Henry, who is gaining Oscar buzz for his supporting performance in the film, are enjoying rave reviews for Causeway. Lawrence has been hard at work while locking up her next four projects that look to catapult her back into the position as the premier actress of the 21st Century.

Featured Image Credit: via Syracuse.com

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