Each year, a handful of new faces, and occasionally old ones, revel in the celebratory season known as the Oscar race. It’s either a celebration or a nightmare, depending on how badly you want it. Many are unprepared to do what it takes — to Marion Cotillard and Jeff Bridges your way to a win. You can sometimes get away with Monique-ing, if you turned in that kind of performance — so thoroughly good that your non-campaign can be your campaign.
That said, there are several names being bandied about now and the difference between whether they win or not could end up boiling down to how many times they smiled and pressed the sweaty palms of would-be voters.
The Oscar race wasn’t front-loaded this year — in fact, it’s been profoundly back-loaded. With all of the Big Oscar Movies yet to open it is a tough call to even predict anyone for anything. However, to that end, here are the names so far that are going to have to step up and Jeff Bridges it in the coming months.
1. Jennifer Lawrence — On the heels of her $400 million dollar franchise, The Hunger Games, Lawrence, along with Kristen Stewart, is one of the women who owned the box office in 2012. Lawrence has been smartly gathering cred with her first Oscar nomination already in Winter’s Bone, but always managing to turn in a performance of note in whatever movie she happens to star in. She has navigated every terrain necessary — indie cred, blockbuster cred, red carpet cred. She is the girl of the moment, hard working, drug- and scandal-free. Lawrence knocks it out of the park in the Silver Linings Playbook, and the one-two punch of that and The Hunger Games puts her at the top of the list. She’s more Helen Hunt in As Good as it Gets than Halle Berry in Monster’s Ball in Playbook. If she weren’t such a rising star she would be in the supporting category for her work here, as her function in the film is mainly to support Bradley Cooper’s character arc. What makes this an award-worthy performance is that Lawrence elevates it beyond what’s written on the page. She makes it deeper, richer, more compelling than it otherwise would be — it’s a male fantasy, yet Lawrence finds the truth in who the character is and that makes the difference.