Prior to the age of 30, Jennifer Lawrence led a big-budget franchise, was nominated for several Oscars – becoming the second-youngest winner of the Best Actress award – and became one of the highest-paid actresses working. That’s a pretty impressive resume.
Here are the top 10 movies from the career of Jennifer Lawrence.
American Hustle is a funny, exciting, and very enjoyable movie about a couple of con artists who wind up working for the FBI in order to uncover and catch corruption in the political system. At least, that’s how it starts. It gets more complex than that. It’s got a lot of moving parts and a large number of characters, all of whom are interesting in their own ways – many of the actors play against type, at least to a degree. It’s a lot of fun.
The Beaver is a Mel Gibson movie in which a man has a mental breakdown and finds comfort in a sock puppet of a beaver, through which he then decides to converse with the people around him. It “controls him” now, even though we can tell pretty early on that it’s basically acting as a mask. The movie is a pretty nuanced take on mental illness, actually, and Gibson is great. The supporting cast is also pretty solid.
The Hunger Games
Based on the first book in a trilogy that sold millions upon millions of copies, The Hunger Games stars Jennifer Lawrence as a young woman in an impoverished part of the country who winds up participating in a Battle Royale-esque game in which participants try to kill each other before they are killed. The winner gets to live glamorously for the rest of his or her life. The series eventually becomes bigger than that, but the first two movies are pretty much just that. And they’re good!
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is basically the first movie, but better. A couple of characters from the last one have to go back into the games. The filmmaking is better. The characters are better defined. The action doesn’t suffer from as much shaky camerawork or rapid-fire editing. And the small details are more prevalent and begin to matter. It’s a second chance at something that was done pretty well the first time.
The rest of the franchise isn’t quite as good. You can read up on it here.
Like Crazy has a very honest love story. It takes most of the glamour right out of it; we believe these are real people existing in our world. They have flaws and strengths. It was filmed without much of a script, meaning the actors had to become these characters and act how they think they’d act, not how a screenplay dictated. It’s emotionally involving, it’s very funny, and the acting is great. It almost, at times, feel like a documentary just following these people around.
The entirety of mother! is some sort of biblical allegory. It’s thematically challenging, it has some of the most shocking violence you’ll see this year – or any year – and it gets absolutely insane near its conclusion.
If you’re of the belief that art should be provocative – if it’s designed to make you feel something strong, regardless of whether that’s love or hate – then mother! is a must-watch.
The Poker House
The Poker House was released in 2008, and is one of the first movies of Jennifer Lawrence’s career. It might contain her best performance, although since nobody saw it, it didn’t get any awards consideration. Lawrence plays one of the children in a very poor, dysfunctional, house. It’s a heartbreaking little movie that condenses several months worth of awfulness into a single days. And it was written and directed by Lori Petty, who based it off her own experiences. It’s really great.
Silver Linings Playbook
Another dysfunctional family movie, Silver Linings Playbook sees Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence act in a David O. Russell movie – a director who at the time was on a string of getting great performances out of almost his entire cast, and making solid movies because of those performances. Cooper is the lead, and it focuses not just on his budding romance with Lawrence, but also his home life with his parents. Also: mental illness plays a major role. I’m not convinced it’s treated terribly well, but it’s there.
Jennifer Lawrence got her first Oscar nomination for Winter’s Bone. It’s a great performance. Her family in the movie is poor and, in order to escape a potential eviction, she must track down her missing father. The film deals with poverty and family and illegal methamphetamine labs – a pervasive thing in rural Missouri, I guess. It’s a good movie with a great lead performance.
X-Men: First Class
X-Men: First Class is one of only a few good X-Men movies. And a couple of those don’t even have “X-Men” in the title. This one served as a soft reboot for the franchise, taking place several decades before the previous trilogy and allowing for new actors to take over, but also keeping most of the previously established continuity. It’s both a superhero movie and a Cold War thriller. And it’s really good. It’s too bad this level of quality isn’t prevalent in many of the other X-Men movies.