Best Actress of the Decade, Entry No. 21: Jennifer Lawrence

To celebrate the last decade 2010-2019 we are counting down the best actresses and discussing some of their most notable and memorable performances of the last decade. With the help of Film Twitter, the ITOL team have selected 30 actresses. Entry No. 21 is Jennifer Lawrence, and writer Kristy Strouse discusses the actress and her work over the last decade.

By Kristy Strouse

Katniss. Mystique. Those names alone should strike a chord with any movie fan, and yet it doesn’t stop there. Jennifer Lawrence has managed to be a crucial (if not main) character in two franchises, both hugely successful. If that’s not enough to catch your eye, the bold young actress has been in twenty films in the last ten years, many of which have featured her talent as the main draw, and not the lore (books, comics) that support a fan base.

It’s certainly easy to argue why she is one of the best actresses of the last decade. More than that, she’s one of the most influential. Whether it be her energy and passion, or just the sheer volume of what this twenty-nine-year-old actress has been able to accomplish in the last ten years, she’s made a name for herself. She’s been nominated for an Academy Award 4 times and won once. While her time in Hollywood may not be as long as others, her claws are deeply rooted now, quickly progressing into a distinctive and empowering career thus far.

I have a feeling she’s only getting started.

Winter’s Bone (2010)

In Debra Granik’s gritty, bleak drama, Jennifer really showed her capabilities. As the young Ree she’s mature beyond her years, toughened, and insistent on finding her father no matter the personal danger. Despite some of the intimidating characters she meets, she stands her ground, painting a brave and relatable character. One that would give Hollywood a reason to notice.

A Reluctant Hero

While the actress has built a fine-tuned resume of dramatic or comedic features, it’s still difficult not to consider the Mockingjay herself whenever Lawrence comes to mind. It’s one of the best young adult adaptations and with good reason- the story is one of strength and prowess, something that Lawrence is efficient at representing. She proves she can lead a franchise over four separate films spanning from 2011 to 2015, and it became increasingly obvious over the decade that she was only to become bigger.

hunger
Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014) © 2014 – Lionsgate

It’s certainly easy to argue why she is one of the best actresses of the last decade. More than that, she’s one of the most influential. Whether it be her energy and passion, or just the sheer volume of what this twenty-nine year old actress has been able to accomplish in the last ten years, she’s made a name for herself.

With “X-men: First Class” (2011), she joined an ensemble cast and did four films from 2011 to 2019 as Raven/ Mystique, providing us with a backstory on a character previously seen, but not truly felt. Her emotional range was always evident, and even in flashy comic book roles, she resonated. In “X-Men Days of Future Past” (2014) her internal struggle is especially important to the movie and Lawrence didn’t let us down, elevating the film beyond the others in that franchise.

She didn’t lose her indie roots though, in the year 2011 she also had smaller roles in Drake Doremus’ “Like Crazy” and Jodie Foster’s “The Beaver.” Even in her supporting parts, she manages to be intrinsic in their success.

The Russell Collaboration

Jennifer was featured in three of David O. Russell’s films, all of which are some of my favourite of hers, one winning her the Oscar: “Silver Linings Playbook” (2012). Despite Bradley Cooper and Robert Deniro being the marquee players here, her hilarious and yet vulnerable performance as Tiffany makes that movie the odd, but moving picture it is.

silver
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook (2012) © 2012 – The Weinstein Company

In “American Hustle” (2013) she would join a talented cast, and though her role wasn’t as big, it stills remains a redolent part. With “Joy” (2015) she was finally the star with their third collaboration, and while the movie might not be as successful as a whole, her turn as the titular Joy still is. A loose adaptation of the life of Joy Mangano, she captures the determination and fervour of a young woman charging towards what she wants in commendable fashion.

Whether it be pop culture hits or smaller, more intimate pictures, Jennifer Lawrence has proved her ability repeatedly. In many ways, at such a young age, she matured on screen faster than most.

Mother! (2017)

The divisive film by Darren Aronofsky is one of tension and horror, with increasing intensity that unsettles as it explores. It serves as an allegory, further spinning a mysterious web. While not everyone may love the vehicle, it gave Jennifer Lawrence the opportunity for one of her best, with some of the darkest most discomforting material yet.

mother
Javier Bardem and Jennifer Lawrence in Mother! (2017) © 2017 Paramount Pictures.

It’s real and surreal, mesmerizing and yet frustrating, but always provocative. Within the psychological thriller, she pushes herself to an uncomfortable, wrenching place that is worth commending as she remains one of the most riveting and crucial parts.

Quite the Impression

Whether it be pop culture hits or smaller, more intimate pictures, Jennifer Lawrence has proved her ability repeatedly. In many ways, at such a young age, she matured on screen faster than most. Somehow, from 2010 to 2020 we were lucky enough to see her develop into a hero and an expressive powerhouse. Not many actresses will get that sort of trajectory that you can trace, specifically, and think from humble beginnings to worldwide acclaim: “wow, that’s a star.”

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