While I’ve found that Jennifer Lawrence continuously slays the box office, award shows and, quite frankly, life in general—many people haven’t seen all her movies. Before her new blockbuster “X-Men-Apocalypse” hits theaters on May 27, check out the films she does best: indies.
“The Poker House” (2008)
A powerful coming-of-age story, “The Poker House” portrays a day in the life of 14 year-old Agnes, played by Lawrence, who cares for her sisters Bee and Cammie in their mother’s brothel. As troubling as Agnes’ life seems, the story does struggle to establish any clear conflicts in the beginning, which makes the first half of the film quite dreary. Luckily, Lawrence’s poetic narration of the tale and the poignant scenes in the second half speed up the pace.
Although it was her first leading role in a film, Lawrence’s performance in “The Poker House” is by far one of my favorites from her. She captures the vigor and the evils of teenage naivety, Agnes’ longing for her mother’s love and, the most signature of her acting, a female’s defiance of obstacles.
“Silver Linings Playbook” (2012)
A perceptive and darker spin on the romantic comedy genre, “Silver Linings Playbook” manages to combine a problematic yet humorous family dynamic, the tragedies of mental illness and the beauty of hope into an artistic masterpiece that hits me with all the feels. While the film depicts the life of Pat, a man in his 30s struggling to cope with bipolar disorder and a recent divorce, it still manages to maintain an overall uplifting message. The film also captures an endearing love story that can make even the coldest people warm and fuzzy inside, thanks to Lawrence and Bradley Cooper’s incomparable chemistry.
It’s no surprise that Lawrence won her first Oscar for her performance in this film. After watching the film for the first time, I actually felt blessed to be alive at the same time as her. I should have questioned my sanity, but her ability to make her character Tiffany such a multilayered individual simply through her acting initiated my career as a fan of hers for life.
While the film’s odd structure made “Joy” not as joyous as it would seem to be, I found it to be an inspirational biopic of entrepreneur Joy Mangano, who invented, among other things, the Miracle Mop. The dramedy is classic David O’ Russell filmmaking, but its comical family quirks sometimes get in the way of illustrating Mangano’s path to success. Despite what may seem hard to mop up, the cast livens the script, with Lawrence leading the pack. Lawrence’s portrayal of Mangano’s development from a struggling mother to the Beyoncé of the QVC Channel is surprisingly raw and moving. So, regardless of a wavering story, I was rooting for Joy until the very end.