Jennifer Lawrence: Overrated or Underrated?

When she was nominated for her supporting performance in last year’s American Hustle, Jennifer Lawrence became the youngest actress to have received three Academy Award nominations. She’s been named one of the 100 most desirable women; Time awarded her a position on their roster of Most Influential People of 2013. She’s wowed us with her figure, charmed us with her stumbles on (or around) the Oscar stage…and yes, some people have thought her “too fat” for movie roles.

Honestly. Look again.

But here, we’re going to let Irv take the measure of her still-blossoming movie career. Is Ms. Lawrence getting too much acclaim for her work…or not enough? Are we just overly smitten by her good looks…or is that bombshell appeal just getting in the way (or in our way, at least) of our appreciating her rich talents as an actress? Irv, step up to the plate:

Your turn now. And if you’re tempted to casually dismiss Lawrence’s career with one of those automatic “None of today’s actresses are anywhere near as good as the stars of bygone days” responses, do us the honor of demonstrating that you’ve seen and thoughtfully compared her performances to those given by the starlets of the old days. In other words, like they used to say in school: Show your work.

  • Masterofoneinchpunch

    I like Jennifer Lawrence and will watch a film because she is in it. However, I though American Hustle was one of her weaker roles and surprisingly one of the weaker performances in the film (and I loved her character in Silver Linings Playbook though I did think Bale in American Hustle was channeling a bit too much De Niro in facial movements and vocal tone). For me it is a character that needed to be played by an older actress and/or one that is more attune to some of the mental issues that Rosalyn Rosenfeld had. It’s funny though, most of the professional reviews I have read have been very kind to her including Armond White :).

    The waxing and waning of popularity (both critically and mainstream) make me hesitant on describing many as either overrated or underrated. She is a good actress that will continue on in the foreseeable future getting better and expanding her repertoire as long as she accepts challenges and working with top talent.

    • GeorgeDAllen

      As you may or may not recollect, I was a huge Hustle fan, but I was very much at sea with how much praise and ink Lawrence got for that film relative to any discussion of Amy Adams, whose performance/role I found to be absolutely worthy of at least as much attention; I understand the to-do over Lawrence in general, but certainly not w/regard to that movie. My own hope is that as soon as her franchise cash cows run their course, she’ll get some opportunities to dive into some edgy material. Calling Jane Campion!

      • Masterofoneinchpunch

        I thought Amy Adams gave the better performance in American Hustle which surprised me going in because I do like Lawrence overall. I liked American Hustle, I thought it was slightly overrated (this is probably my feelings because certain films like Johnnie To’s Drug War get ignored here) but I was glad to have seen it in the theater and I bought it on BD/DVD. I do feel that whenever you have a more “it” actor, that person gets more press than others that are more deserving. Now I do not want to do a 180 and disparage the “it” person, just that I feel sometimes the adoration is elevated a bit too high.

        It certainly would be interesting to see what Lawrence could do in a Campion movie or say Martin Scorsese (or might that end up being something like her performance in this film or Sharon Stone’s performance in Casino :D). But what will really be interesting is to see her ten years down the line. How will she mature as an actress, who will she work with, what will be the successes and failures down the line?

  • llsee

    I think Lawrence is a terrific actress who has shined in a variety of roles. She has benefited from her collaboration with David O Russell, who writes and directs strong female characters. I could not see any reason why she would want to work with Scorsese, who has not directed a strong female character since ‘Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore’ in 1974! (Cate Blanchett’s 2004 win for the aviator was a fluke, not a strong female role). Better choices for Lawrence would be Alexander Payne or even Woody Allen.

    The entire cast of Hustle was nominated for Academy Awards, and if Lawrence got more press, it was because of her disarmingly candid responses to the usual banal, insipid questions asked of actors and celebrities. There is a charm and innocence about her that lets us know she enjoys her work, and is having fun. Of course, over time, the press, and the public’s insatiable desire to find fault with even the most innocent stars will eventually burn her out. Just look at what happened to poor Anne Hathaway!

    • GeorgeDAllen

      I like what you say here, even though I was not firmly in the camp with Silver Linings Playbook. And Scorsese’s a genius, but correct–though I’d say Michelle Pfeiffer’s character in The Age of Innocence had richer qualities than the ladies in many other Marty pictures (maybe that’s credit to Wharton? Still). When you mention Woody Allen and Jennifer Lawrence working together, the name “Mira Sorvino” springs to mind, for better and worse.

      As for what happened to Anne Hathaway, I’m more inclined to blame the misguided Les Miserables and her collaboration with Christopher Nolan in creating the shockingly un-sexiest Catwoman in Batman history.

      • Masterofoneinchpunch

        I really wasn’t the biggest fan of Les Miserables (shudder to myself.)

        Of late I think Scorsese has been overly dominant with male roles, particularly his overuse of male muse Leonardo DiCaprio. But there was some good to great female roles post-Alice: Cathy Moriarty (Raging Bull), Sandra Bernhard (The King of Comedy), Liza Minnelli (New York, New York). You can argue a couple of others as well. Hmmm, but it would be interesting to see him try to direct a female lead film.

        I made the comment earlier because of Scorsese’s strength as a director overall. I think if she could work with him, she should.

        • GeorgeDAllen

          Of course if JL really wanted to roll the dice, she’d sign on with Lars von Trier. Maybe in some Dark Ages plague movie.