Jennifer Lawrence

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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dormer

Natalie Dormer seems to be intent on making herself an icon in the eyes of fans of genre entertainment. Many may know her for turn as Anne Boleyn on the period drama series The Tudors, or from her small role in Marvel’s superhero blockbuster, Captain America: The First Avenger, probably if you’re already on the Dormer bandwagon, your love affair was started because of her perfecting of the art of showing off cleavage as Margaery Tyrell on HBO’s Game of Thrones though. That was a star-making turn if there ever was one. Not content to just be adored by those of us allowed to watch all of the sex and violence on HBO, however, Dormer has just made a new career move that’s likely to bring her to the attention of a whole new generation of fans of young adult literature. According to a report from Variety, she’s the latest name to join the cast of the third installment in the Hunger Games series, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, which is currently scheduled to hit theaters in November 2014.

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American Hustle

Yesterday gave us our first glimpse at the sweet ‘dos of David O. Russell‘s latest film – American Hustle. Today, we have the opportunity to witness all that greased-hair goodness in motion, and I strongly implore you to take that opportunity. Those who hit “play” on this trailer without knowing what American Hustle is about probably won’t know that much more by the trailer’s end. So here’s the scoop – Hustle is a fictional account of the ABSCAM sting operation from the ’70s-’80s, wherein the FBI and a con artist (Christian Bale) team up to take down both thieves and corrupt public officials. But if the trailer didn’t want us to know that, then it’s probably not super important right now. What is important is the performances, the style, the haircuts, the costumes and the music (which tells us everything we need to know – there will be both good times and bad times). And there’s plenty of goodness within that series of flashing images. Be on the lookout for a menacing Jennifer Lawrence, Bale playing a butt like a bongo drum, and a Quentin Tarantino-style trunk shot. There are also a few peeks at the juicier bits – guns and weeping and a bag-over-the-head-style kidnapping. American Hustle is definitely one to keep your eye on. Check out the first trailer after the break.

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Angelina Jolie

Two weeks ago, I told you that Robert Downey Jr. was the real Tony Stark when it was revealed that he was the highest-paid actor in Hollywood after having made a unfathomable $75m between June 2012 and June 2013. Now, Forbes has released their list of highest-paid actresses, and it appears that Angelina Jolie is supreme queen, raking in $33m in the same time period. Despite not having a huge film in theaters for over three years (2010’s The Tourist with Johnny Depp), Jolie’s starpower is apparently enough to keep her at the top of the chart. She was able to nab a paycheck north of $15m for next summer’s Maleficent, and did well with her writing and directing venture, the Bosnian war drama In the Land of Blood and Honey. Jolie is a bonafide movie star in that she even outranks The Girl on Fire by $7m. Jennifer Lawrence had an insane 2012, and with $26m in her pocket 2013 is probably looking even better. Lawrence won the Best Actress Oscar for Silver Linings Playbook, and ushered in a new era of Hunger Games mania as Our Lady of Badassery, Katniss Everdeen. The Hunger Games made $690m off a $80m budget, and though Lawrence made less than $1m for the first film, her paycheck was promptly bumped up following its success. Go girl. Not to mention, Lawrence is also part of the X-Men franchise as young Mystique, and received earnings from those films as well.

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Catching Fire: Katniss

Unlike some of the earlier teases for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, this theatrical trailer seems intent on showing you some action. It opens as the first teaser did, with a lot of political talk. In the wake of the events of the first film, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) has become a symbol of hope for people around the country, the spark of a coming revolution. So Donald Sutherland must get rid of her in a spectacular, not-at-all suspicious manner. The solution: have a big 75th anniversary Hunger Games with the most deadly previous winners they can find. In the middle of it all: Katniss. Will she overcome the plots against her? Will she lead her people to revolution? Will her family pay the price? Will Stanley Tucci’s character ever stop going to whatever bizarro hair salon he obviously frequents? Are there more ridiculous character names in the third book than what we’re going to see in this one? I’m looking at you, Cashmere, Beetee, Wiress, Enobaria, Finnick, Gloss and Johanna. Wait, not that last one. Readers of the books know the answers to these and many other important questions, but the rest of us will have to wait for the movie. For now, lets enjoy the setup for one of the most anticipated sequels of the year.

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published: 04.17.2014
B-
published: 04.17.2014
D+
published: 04.17.2014
B-
published: 04.16.2014
B+

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