Jennifer Lawrence

The Hunger Games Mockingjay

Near the opening of the trailer for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss points out that she didn’t set out to cause massive social disruption; she only wanted to protect her little sister from certain death at the hand’s of an oppressive regime. It’s an excellent thematic introduction to a penultimate series entry that should radically change what the franchise is all about. What she did by volunteering was intimate and fiercely personal, but it resonated in a way that opened everyone else’s eyes. When one person stands up, the question is why everyone else isn’t on their feet. Donald Sutherland’s President Snow responds with a poetic zen koan about the things we love killing us. Undoubtedly, he loves power, so we’ll see how that all works out for him. Before you watch the trailer, a fair warning: it shows how one character has significantly changed — altering the lines in the sand and blurring what everyone is fighting for. For some, it’ll be more interesting to watch the transition in the film itself, but, if you need a shot of confident adrenaline to get you going and don’t mind the information, this should do it.

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Hunger Games Mockingjay Snow and Peeta

Have you been good? Obedient? Loyal to your country since the last time we were graced with a Hunger Games film? Well if you haven’t, it’s probably for the best that you keep your mouth shut, for Panem’s dear, dour President Snow (Donald Sutherland) has an important announcement for his many citizens: be good to Panem, keep your head down and don’t ask questions, and Panem will be good to you just the same. The first teaser for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1 has arrived, and if there’s anything to take away from it, it’s to watch your back at all times if you live anywhere within the 12 Districts … and maybe pray a little bit for Peeta Mellark. It’s more of a not-so veiled threat to Panem’s revolutionaries than a presidential address, and if Snow’s faux friendly “I’m a cool leader, come hang out with me, KATNISS” speech didn’t ring any red hot alarm bells right away, the sight of poor little Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) standing calmly at his side might be a suggestion. For those who saw The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, you might recall that at the end of the film, our dashing male lead was separated from Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) — who was on her way to the District 13 headquarters of the new rebellion — and kidnapped and taken to the Capitol. It seems as if he’s found/been forced into a new role as the right hand man of the President — or at least […]

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20th Century Fox

When we last left our mutant friends (in X-Men: First Class) they had just averted a third world war off the coast of Cuba, Professor X was paralyzed from the waist down and Magneto and his posse had teleported off to continue their fight against a fearful and prejudiced human species. X-Men: Days of Future Past picks up some years into the future as the end product of that war is revealed to be the impending extinction of mutants worldwide at the “hands” of giant, adaptive robots called Sentinels. X-Men old and new are dropping dead, and a last ditch plan is formulated to send Wolverine’s (Hugh Jackman) consciousness into the past to prevent an assassination widely regarded as the trigger behind the Sentinels’ creation. Director Bryan Singer has been on a bit of a bumpy road with his last few films, from the underwhelming Superman Returns to the under-appreciated Valkyrie to the joke that is Jack the Giant Slayer, but after starting the X-Men film franchise fourteen years ago he’s finally returned to the mutant fold. And perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s the best X-Men film since the last one he directed.

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Emma Roberts and Jack Kilmer in Palo Alto

There’s a scene in Palo Alto, the new film from writers James Franco and Gia Coppola (also the film’s director), where the gaggle of wealthy, listless teenagers gather for yet another Friday night rager thrown by a nameless jock from their high school. The drunkest of the bunch gather around the kitchen, the girls from the soccer team teetering in their high heels that they think make them look sophisticated as the guys try to inch in closer for a drinking game to make things worse — or “more interesting,” one of the girls in glitter eyeshadow cackles. Our protagonists, the outsiders April (Emma Roberts), Teddy (Jack Kilmer) and Fred (Nate Wolff), ditch the festivities to go hang out in a graveyard and wander their neighborhood like any good weirdos do. It’s an all too familiar flashback to anybody’s high school experience, that intense boredom combined with a need to be something more than just another face at the party, that desire to be anywhere but your small town and a twinge of wanting to be a kid again at the same time. In short, being a teenager sucks, and Palo Alto expresses every miserable moment of it beautifully. But it’s not just good writing and set dressing that creates an accurate high school portrayal on film. By casting actual teenagers (and one very young adult, with Emma Roberts clocking in at age 20 during production) to portray their teen characters, the story was leant an authenticity that just couldn’t be […]

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Jennifer Lawrence House at the End of the Street

In a stirring example of how poisonous the populist view on fame can be, Twitter was bubbling during the Oscars with negative comments about the same actor that made it glow with radioactive sunshine exactly a year ago. Of course, you can find steaming piles of antagonism about anyone on Twitter, but the response to Jennifer Lawrence that night was notable enough that Slate convened its XX writers for a thinkpiece conversation about her downfall that might make you slightly dumber if you read it. As a discussion about and a product of a limited view of celebrity, it reduces otherwise intelligent pundits to waxing poetic on whether we “like” someone we’ve never met. That’s the alien nature of extreme popularity. We don’t know Lawrence or her media-narrative-necessitated rival Lupita Nyong’o, but we have opinions about them beyond the work they produce. We see high profile actors on red carpets giving their opinions, spilling breath mints at press conferences and falling down at major award shows. Yet, apparently, we’ve become so cynical as a culture that even falling in love with naturalistic behavior (amid a sea of practiced, polished fakery) isn’t safe from suspicion that genuineness is also just an act.

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The Hunger Games Catching Fire

At the tail end of 2013, Iron Man 3 received one of the biggest bitch-slaps of the year, courtesy of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. The teen novel adaptation swooped in and eclipsed the Marvel superhero’s spot as the highest grossing movie of the year, at least in terms of domestic box office. While The Hunger Games: Catching Fire didn’t overcome the worldwide box office of Iron Man 3, it had its own victory by besting the first installment by more than $200m worldwide. As the movie-going audience prepares for the first of two final sequels releasing later this year, they can stave off their hunger by checking out The Hunger Games: Catching Fire on DVD and Blu-ray. Included on the discs is a commentary with director Francis Lawrence and producer Nina Jacobson. Lawrence had already been working on the final two films at the time of recording, so his insight goes beyond the production of this film and extends into the grand finale. Even if you’re not a huge fan of these films, you can take solace in the fact that the filmmakers behind them are striving for something better and deeper than the previous box office champs in terms of young adult fiction. (Yes, I’m talking about the thank-god-it’s-over Twilight films.) Now, with that dig against Stephenie Meyer and all things sparkly out of the way, on to the commentary.

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Oscar Predictions 2014: Supporting Actress

Every year, the Academy Awards kick into two extremely important categories quite early, swiftly doling out Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actors statuettes before most people have settled into their seats (both at the ceremony and at whatever shindig viewers are throwing in the safety of their own home). It’s a whirlwind and it’s a hell of way to start off the show, but damn if it doesn’t always feel a bit stilted. These are big awards, you guys, and they so often signal the arrival of new talents to watch out for, the kind of thespians we might soon see going for leading awards. Give them some space! The Supporting section also allows for a great variety of nominees, recognizing performers of every age, from veterans to newbies, and from every kind of performance, from those who appear alongside leads throughout features and those who show up for a memorable minute or so. This year’s Best Supporting Actress field, however, places a premium on heft — at least, on hefty performance time — including five actresses who quite easily helped make their features sing, and a few that might just have squeaked by with a Best Actress nomination instead (sorry, Julia Roberts). But who will win? Oh, we don’t know, but we’ve got some ideas. Keep reading for a look at all five nominees for Best Supporting Actress along with my predicted winner in red…

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David O Russell and Jennifer Lawrence

Scorsese and De Niro. McQueen and Fassbender. Tarantino and L. Jackson. Sometimes the forces of filmmaking are so profound that director and actor are willed into a state of artistic BFFship; a bond that cannot be broken unless some homewrecker named Leonardo DiCaprio saunters into Gangs of New York with the intention of stealing away another man’s bestie. Now, the latest pair of cinematic buds seems to be David O. Russell and Jennifer Lawrence. They’ve spent Russell’s last two films together (Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle), and today Deadline reports their intent for a three-in-a-row teaming. It seems Russell is in talks to direct a biopic of Joy Mangano, the world’s leading pioneer of self-wringing squishy mop-thing technology, and he’s looking at Lawrence to star.

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gravity-sandra-bullock-10

Following the announcement of any year’s Oscar nominations, the search for records and other interesting trivia among the contenders is expected. One of this year’s most notable findings has to be that the 86th Academy Awards has broken the record for average age among the best actress nominees: 55. That’s not just interesting, it’s possibly even important. For all that’s said about Hollywood favoring young women and how actresses’ careers are done by the time they reach 40, this could be used as further evidence that older ladies are not unwelcome on the big screen. But is it really relevant to the businesspeople in Hollywood that the leading actresses of prestige pictures are veering older, their average this year being even higher than the best actor contenders (47)? The true measure for whether last year’s movies prove that not older women but women in general deserve more respect in the film industry is instead with the box office. And, well, the grosses of the nominated movies is pretty notable in this case, too. Thanks mostly to Gravity, the average domestic take for the movies nominated in the best actress category is $90M compared to that of the best actor nominees’ $34M. Nearly three times as much.

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wows12

Martin Scorsese is one of the best directors to work for if you want an Oscar nomination for acting. Over the past 40 years, he has helped his stars earn a total of 20 nominations spread out over the performance categories, and you may be surprised to hear that half of those went to women. Yes, the filmmaker who has occasionally been accused of being a misogynist and who tends to make movies led by men (often undoubtedly misogynistic men), is pretty good at finding strong actresses for his leading ladies — or he’s good at making them appear to be very talented, whether they are or not. Margot Robbie, who plays the dynamic trophy wife of Leonardo DiCaprio’s scumbag stock broker in The Wolf of Wall Street, ought to be the next in line in this tradition, and yet she’s not being talked about for an Academy Award at all. Robbie’s performance in the movie is one of the standouts of the year for me, though I have to admit this is partly because I’d never heard of nor seen her before. The actress isn’t quite as out of nowhere as 12 Years a Slave breakout Lupita Nyong’o (pretty much a sure thing for the supporting actress win at this point), especially if you’re a fan of the Australian soap opera Neighbours or if you gave the American TV drama Pan Am a shot, but she is a fresh face in Hollywood, and between WoWS and About Time she’s […]

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review american hustle

It’s 1978 in New York City, and Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) is working hard to perfect the mother of all comb-overs. It’s an elaborate and time-intensive endeavor, but if he’s going to do it he wants it done right. He treats his businesses the same way, both the dry cleaning front and the illegal scams he runs on the side, and he’s a success because he works hard, does the job right, and never gets greedy. Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams), his partner both in crime and in the bedroom, is a fan of v-necks and faux British accents, but she’s not too hot on Rosenfeld’s wife, Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence). Trouble arises in the tightly-coiffed form of F.B.I. agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) who busts one half of the criminal duo with the intention of coercing them into helping him take down some far bigger fish. Target number one is the easily corruptible Mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner) from the nearby New Jersey shore, but as DiMaso’s eyes grow at the thought of nabbing even higher profile targets the entire operation threatens to spiral out of control. It doesn’t bode well for Irving’s tenuously-constructed combover either.

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lawrence

For a variety of reasons, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is considerably unlike its predecessor. Structurally the sequel isn’t a 180-turn, but the world itself, while keeping in touch with what director Gary Ross achieved with the first film, has a different texture to it. When the girl on fire is on fire, it actually looks like fire. It’s a sequel, but also a new direction for the franchise, in both small and major ways. That’s what clearly piqued director Francis Lawrence‘s interest. Catching Fire is only Lawrence’s fourth film, but he’s faced considerable storytelling and technical challenges in the past, making him an obvious choice for the franchise. From his films, music videos, and television work, the director behind I Am Legend and Constantine is more than up to the challenge of adding new shades to an already established world. We discussed adding new building blocks to author Suzanne Collins’s creation, along with fandom, subversive blockbusters, and more:

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hungergamestruth-1

Whether you’re been a fan of the books from the beginning or constantly find yourself grumbling “Battle Royale ripoff” under your breath, it’s hard to deny the pop culture phenomenon that is The Hunger Games. However, there’s a lot to the series – especially as it is committed to film – that is left unexplained. The premise is simple: After an uprising and war that wiped out much of the North American population, the oppressive government of Panem now demands that two tributes a year are chosen from each of the sparsely-populated districts to compete in the Hunger Games, a battle to the death with a single victor. The story opens in the poverty-stricken District 12 where our heroine is marched into the town square to be part of this annual Reaping. However, knowing that District 12 makes up a large portion of Appalachia and supposedly is larger than the modern state of West Virginia, it seems this Reaping is like the people struggling to survive: a little thin. Do they have the Panem equivalent of draft dodgers? Do the THX-1138 stormtroopers not notice that the ranks are a bit small? How are they getting away with this? In the interest of fairness, this got us thinking: Were the good folks in District 12 scamming the Hunger Games?

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review hunger games catching fire

It’s been nearly a year since Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) captured the hearts of the people of Panem by winning the 74th Hunger Games in extremely unorthodox fashion. Where there should have only been a single victor the two illusory lovebirds stood together as champions in defiance of both expectations and President Snow (Donald Sutherland). Fearing that seeds of rebellion are breaking through the hard earth outside of the Capitol, Snow carts the two from district to district pimping their celebrity in the hopes that it will distract the people from their day to day drudgery. Instead, the trip spurs more unrest and unruliness leading Snow to make a change for the upcoming 75th Games. In direct conflict with the life of wealth and peace their previous victory had earned them, two past winners from each district, one male and one female, will once again be chosen as tributes to fight until only one remains. Katniss and Peeta are forced to continue the charade that is their love affair as they reunite with their Capitol entourage and attempt to make allies amid the roster of past champions and imminent threats. The games are still about life and death, but this time it’s the heart of the rebellion that the pair are hoping to keep thumping in addition to their own. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is the second film in what has quickly become one of the biggest YA franchises yet, and while it features many of the […]

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Burial Rites

If you’ve ever lived in a city that has an active public transportation system, you may be able to sympathize with a growing issue I have been facing lately – the overwhelming and keen possibility that I am going to miss my subway or bus stop because I have my nose buried in a book so engrossing that I have significant, measureable trouble putting back in my bag when it’s time to move about like a normal person. Published back in September, “Burial Rites” is Aussie Hannah Kent’s first novel, a historically based tale of murder and mystery in isolated Iceland that may sound dry and wonky, but is one of the most enthralling novels I’ve read all year. Based entirely on my personal experiences reading it slack-jawed on the 6 train, it’s entirely unsurprising that Kent snapped up a hearty seven-figure deal from Little, Brown for the book (seven figures! That’s like movie money!) and that it’s now set to hit a movie theater near you with some big name talents attached.

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X-Men Days of Future Past Trask

X-Men: First Class was a genuine shock — not because of the people involved or the story they chose, but because Fox managed to get out of its own way to deliver a solid comic book movie. X-Men: The Last Stand in 2006 had been cringe-worthy, they’d punted on X-Men Origins: Wolverine in 2009, and going back in time for a prequel seemed desperate. Fortunately, the clean slate worked. The anticipation leading to X-Men: Days of Future Past is now completely different. No longer the slumping underdog, Xavier’s gifted students are coming off a hell of an introduction, and the latest Wolverine-focused installment was a success at the box office, while 5/6ths of it was a triumph of storytelling. Bringing in old faces like Ellen Page and Hugh Jackman alongside new players like Peter Dinklage to share time with Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence and James McAvoy is a potent power play that has stacked the cast being led by director Bryan Singer. It’s still only potential at this point, though. This was a massive undertaking, so the question still looms large as to whether they’ve pulled off a difficult, fan-loved story, but the first full trailer might just have an answer:

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crettin:lawrence

Pretty much as soon as it was announced that Jeannette Walls’ memoir, “The Glass Castle,” was going to be adapted into a feature film, it was also announced that Jennifer Lawrence was attached to star in the prospective project, and the pairing of performer with material made perfect sense. Walls had a strange childhood, consisting of constant moving, dealing with poverty, and having to take care of her siblings due to the extreme irresponsibility of her parents, which basically makes her just the sort of strong-willed, self-reliant character that Lawrence has already been believable playing in things like Winter’s Bone and The Hunger Games. It’s been over a year since this project first started to get put together though, and we’ve heard bupkis about it since, so what gives? Is Jennifer Lawrence going to be the new Jeannette Walls or what? Take a deep breath, there’s no need to panic, because Variety is reporting that a director for the film is currently being locked down, and the guy they’ve got in negotiations to helm could be just as good a fit for the material as Lawrence. Word is that Short Term 12 director Destin Cretton is in talks to not only come on board to direct the film, but also to give the screenplay—which was originally adapted by Joss Whedon disciple Marti Noxon—a rewrite alongside Andrew Lanham.

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american hustle poster bradley cooper

During the production of David O. Russell‘s American Hustle, the public was been concerned with one thing, and one thing only: Bradley Cooper‘s perm. And rightfully so. Though the trailer and some stills have shown it off in context of the film, new character sheets are letting us get a look at the thing up close and personal, along with rest of the cast in all their seventies glory. American Hustle focuses on the infamous ABSCAM operation, in which a con artist (Christian Bale) and his mistress/partner in the scam (Amy Adams) are forced to team up with a federal agent (Cooper) to catch other criminals. But because this is the seventies, there is a whole lot of debauchery and side-boob going on to distract them from their goals.

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Ross and Lawrence

Following the success of their partnership on The Hunger Games franchise, director Gary Ross and star Jennifer Lawrence are teaming up again to remake the classic John Steinbeck tale that we all skimmed/just watched the movie instead, “East of Eden.” For those upset that Lawrence and co. will tread on the memory of the 1955 James Dean classic, the new adaptation appears to be different enough to not make too many comparisons (or to the 1981 miniseries either). While Dean’s movie, directed by Elia Kazan, focused on the second half of the novel, East of Eden: 2013 Edition will encompass the entire novel’s material; so much so that Deadline reports Ross is planning on telling the story in two films. Which…is an inspired choice. Brace yourselves – there’s a whole lot of Steinbeck coming to a theater near you. Lawrence will be playing Cathy Ames, the cold and calculating mother of Cal and Aron, whose role was greatly diminished in the first film by cutting down the source material to the second half of the book. She was portrayed to conniving perfection by Jane Seymour in the 1981 miniseries, however. Lawrence is very talented, and as we’ve all seen (and The Academy has confirmed) can do crazy like nobody’s business. But I’m curious to see how a 23 year-old is old enough to play the mother of these brothers. Am I mixing up my Steinbeck here?

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The Hunger Games only has so much time left before Harry Potter rises from the dead to reclaim the YA crown. But Hunger Games isn’t going down without a fight, and the series has just announced the newest, biggest name to sign on to the series- Julianne Moore. Deadline Hollywood reveals that Moore will be playing Alma Coin, one of the rare characters with a genuine human name and not something like “Haymitch,” “Plutarch,” or “Figginsbottom.” In the books, Coin is the President of District 13, and the leader of a major rebellion against the Capitol. Coin is only a part of “Mockingjay,” so Moore will only be present in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Parts 1 & 2. It looks like one of the selling points of Mockingjay (besides being a Hunger Games movie) will be the interplay between two well-known, well liked actresses – one coming off an acclaimed performance in Game Change, the other (Jennifer Lawrence) coming off an acclaimed performance in Silver Linings Playbook. And Mockingjay will give both the opportunity to ham it up ever-so-slightly in performances meant to stand alongside explosions and bow-and-arrow violence rather than awards statuettes. Both actresses are definitely up to the task.

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