This year’s Best Actress race is a peculiar one. The year started out with the pipe-dream expectation that Jennifer Lawrence might win her second lead actress Oscar for Joy, David O. Russell’s first film featuring a woman at the center. Well, be careful what you wish for because critics of Russell’s choice of lead then criticized the film once he took the risk that everyone has been carping about for years. Now, with the reception Joy has received, he’s likely to go back to doing what he knows will land better — films with central male protagonists. What a shame. Joy is getting way too harshly treated, I think, and probably because — I’m guessing only because — the expectations on it were way too high. It is his best film since Flirting with Disaster, in my opinion. The difference here, though, is that no one really wants to see Jennifer Lawrence not being bubbly and funny. (Adults, anyway – younger girls seem to prefer her warrior fierce). Remember when Julia Roberts tried to get serious? Everybody wanted her to unleash her big loud laugh to bring in ticket sales. So bravo to David O. Russell for finally taking a risk and making a movie about a woman. I think Joy is brilliant in so many ways – I’m sorry no one else did. But we’ll see how audiences respond on Christmas Day to the best Christmas movie in years.