Jennifer Lawrence

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While the men characters are doing things like cutting off their arms to survive, creating a social networking revolution, learning to give speeches and becoming king of England while doing so, winning boxing matches, robbing banks and getting the girl – the women are coming apart. Many of them, anyway. There are a few strong oaks in the mix – Ree from Winter’s Bone and Nic from The Kids Are All Right (note that these are both written and directed by women). The stronger female leads, where the women are kicking ass and taking names, don’t seem to be featured as prominently as the crazy ones – Naomi Watts in Fair Game, Hilary Swank in Conviction. This year, we like them shaking and crazy.

Herewith, the top five craziest female characters in the Oscar race:

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As has become the norm lately, the Toronto Film Critics Association chooses David Fincher’s The Social Network for Best Picture, Director, Actor (Jesse Eisenberg) and Screenplay. But surprisingly, graffiti artist Banksy’s subversive Exit Through the Gift Shop walks away with two prizes, Documentary and First Feature. Meanwhile, the BP runners-up include not only Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan, but Palme d’Or winner Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, which also takes home the Foreign Film prize.

Best Picture: “The Social Network”
Runners-Up: “Black Swan” and “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives”

Best Actor: Jesse Eisenberg, “The Social Network”
Runners-Up: Colin Firth, “The King’s Speech” and James Franco, “127 Hours”

Best Actress: Jennifer Lawrence, “Winter’s Bone”
Runners-Up: Natalie Portman, “Black Swan” and Michelle Williams, “Blue Valentine”

Best Supporting Actor: Armie Hammer, “The Social Network”
Runners-Up: Christian Bale, “The Fighter” and Geoffrey Rush, “The King’s Speech”

Best Supporting Actress: Hailee Steinfeld, “True Grit”
Runners-Up: Amy Adams, “The Fighter” and Melissa Leo, “The Fighter”

Best Director: David Fincher, “The Social Network”
Runners-Up: Darren Aronofsky, “Black Swan” and Christopher Nolan, “Inception”

Best Screenplay: “The Social Network”
Runners-Up: “The King’s Speech” and “True Grit”

Best First Feature: “Exit Through The Gift Shop”, Directed By Banksy
Runners-Up: “Get Low”, Directed By Aaron Schneider and “Monsters”, Directed By Gareth Edwards

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Correcting the HR paragraph below. It turns out that Winter’s Bone won 4¬†prizes at Torino: Best Film,¬†Best Screenplay, the Achille Valdata audience award, and Best Actress shared by Jennifer Lawrence¬†for WB and Erica Rivas for Por Tu Culpa, directed by Anahi Berneri. (Thanks to Eduardo Grinovero for the correction.)¬†¬†Additional winners are listed at the TFF website.

Adding to its swag from Sundance, the Gothams, the NBR, the Seattle and¬†Palm Springs Film Fests,¬†not to mention¬†its 7 Spirit nominations, Winter’s Bone has won the main prize at the 28th Torino Film Festival, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The festival’s five-member jury headed by director Marco Bellocchio chose Winter’s Bone out of 16 main competition films, making it the first U.S. production to take home the main prize since David Gordon Green’s George Washington in 2000. The award carries a cash prize of ‚Ǩ25,000 ($32,500).

Jennifer Lawrence, the protagonist in Winter’s Bone, split the best actress award with Anahi Berneri, who was honored for her work in Port u Culpa. Omid Djalili was given the best actor prize for his role in The Infidel.

It’s quite something to see this little slice of Americana with its dark mood and big mythological themes winning acclaim not only here in the US, but in Europe as well. BIFA nominated it for Foreign Film, filling the same slot as last year’s The Hurt Locker. I doubt if Winter’s Bone can go all the way to a best picture win, but it’s looking like a real contender for several nominations, including best picture, Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes, adapted screenplay and possibly even Debra Granik as director.

lesleymanville

My Oscar Poker partner, Jeff Wells, is worried that Lesley Manville won’t make the cut if they run her as Best Actress. He thinks she has a better chance of getting in in the Supporting Actress category. It probably isn’t going to matter what bloggers think about it – if the AMPAS wants her in lead, they will nominate her in lead. Although we keep talking up actresses, here is how I envision a scenario with Manville in:

Natalie Portman
Annette Bening
Jennifer Lawrence
Nicole Kidman
Lesley Manville

And then, you’d go:
Michelle Williams (all of this NC-17 business is great for her, actually, publicity-wise)
Naomi Watts
Julianne Moore
Sally Hawkins

The bottom line is that there IS room for Manville in the lead actress race simply because they will make room. Hers is, without question, one of the best of the year. She plays a character who is coming apart but was only barely there to begin with. Completely self-centered, unrealistic and neurotic, Manville’s portrayal could have slipped into caricature. But somehow, she keeps it grounded. The truth is, you can’t take your eyes off her. So, though it’s appreciated, I don’t see the need for a “Save Lesley Manville” campaign.

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It’s been said before, but let it be said again, 2010 is marked by an uncharacteristic tsunami of women. Sure, there are still some male-driven films that have risen to the top of the pile, namely Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush in The King’s Speech, Jessie Eisenberg/Andrew Garfield/Justin Timberlake in The Social Network, the brilliant James Franco in 127 Hours, (though I haven’t yet seen it) Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale in The Fighter, and the upcoming True Grit with Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon and Josh Brolin. But let’s face it, this year it’s raining women.

The Oscar for lead actress is going to be competitive this year, which always makes for an exciting Oscar run. Even before I’d seen Black Swan, I felt like three women had a real shot at taking it: Natalie Portman, course, Annette Bening and Jennifer Lawrence.

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Nathaniel, over at The Film Experience, has done some exhaustive research that proves being younger isn’t always better when it comes to winning. We silly Oscar bloggers have been debating privately whether or not we think Jennifer Lawrence has the stuff to win. This, because Nathaniel sent us the link to his page. Basically his point is that Lawrence, and newcomer Hailee Steinfeld would be in the “probably too young to win” category.

Two of us, Guy Lodge and me, think it’s possible she could win the whole thing. My reasoning for this is as follows: hers is the only truly selfless and heroic contender in the pack. Sure, there are other factors and other contenders – there is Natalie Portman (who may end the year with the most lauded performance) and there is beloved Annette Bening. I don’t think Lawrence is in the same position that Carey Mulligan was last year because Mulligan, though lovable indeed, was not caring for her younger siblings, her sick mother, trying to save their home — all the while delivering a spectacular performance. She’s a big threat. Make no mistake about that.

Jennifer Lawrence has been quietly accumulating an array of¬†festival honors for her strong performance as Ree Dolly in Winter’s Bone.¬†Now she is¬†tapped¬†to receive the Rising Star Award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival’s 2011 awards gala.¬†Last year this¬†award went to Anna Kendrick for Up in the Air.

“Call it a gift for us all when a young performer comes along, demonstrating such natural theatrical instinct,” said Harold Matzner, chairman of the Palm Springs International Film Society board. “Jennifer Lawrence has delivered an Oscar-quality performance in her latest role, in the jarring, critically-acclaimed ‘Winter’s Bone.’”

Prior to this latest honor, Lawrence¬†received kudos as Best Actress¬†at the Seattle International Film Festival,¬†as well as the¬†New Hollywood Award from the Hollywood Film Fest and a nomination for Best Breakthrough¬†Actor from the Gotham Awards.¬†Meanwhile, Winter’s Bone has racked up an impressive list of its own: Sundance Grand Jury, Screenwriting and Humanitas Prizes, CICAE and Readers’ Prizes at the Berlinale, Jury Prize at Deauville, a Best Director win for Debra Granik in Seattle and two additional Gotham nominations, for Best Feature and Best Ensemble, among others… and the season is still young!

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It is being said that this is the Year of the Actress. It very may be, and if it is, it’s a long time coming. As we head out of the bulk of the year and into a very heated next four months, there are some things we know for sure. We know that Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right) and Natalie Portman (Black Swan) are the two strongest contenders right now to win. We know that Jennifer Lawrence emerged with one of the year’s best performances in Winter’s Bone, and she will likely also be nominated. That leaves two open slots. And for those two spots, things might get a little heated.

There are many reasons why Bening and Portman lead, and only one of those is that their performances were memorable. Bening is a Hollywood fixture by this point, and though she came close to winning, has never won. Portman is a hard-working actress who also has yet to be recognized. She takes things to a whole new level with Black Swan, however, and though she really had nothing to prove, this performance will be one of the few, I figure, that lives up to the hype.

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winters bone gotham

Debra Granik’s Winters Bone Receives Three Nominations:

  • Best Feature, Breakthrough Actor (Jennifer Lawrence) & Best Ensemble Performance

The Kids Are All Right and Tiny Furniture both receive two nominations

Best Feature:

  • Black Swan
  • Blue Valentine
  • The Kids Are All Right
  • Let Me In (!)
  • Winter’s Bone

Best Documentary:

  • 12th & Delaware
  • Inside Job
  • The Oath
  • Public Speaking
  • Sweetgrass

Best Ensemble Performance:

  • The Kids Are All Right
  • Life During Wartime
  • Please Give
  • Tiny Furniture
  • Winter‚Äôs Bone

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mattiejennifer

It’s a good thing that 2010 is bringing to the big screen positive role models for teen girls in at least two films. As the mother of a 12 year-old, this gives me hope that teenagers don’t just have truly shallow vessels out there to look to for guidance. In the same year we have “16 and Pregnant” on MTV, we also have Winter’s Bone and True Grit.

I can’t take credit for this combining of central themes, since it was first tossed my way by Craig Kennedy from Living in Cinema. He is the one who first thought up this idea that the two characters could be compared. I spoke with director Debra Granik last week — part of that interview will be included in our podcast next week — I forgot to ask her about this, but since then, I’ve been thinking about it some. Since I haven’t read either book, I look forward to both Ryan and Craig’s comments on this — however, I have at least seen Winter’s Bone and I don’t think I’ve seen a more heroic young female character put to screen this year.

Two significant things the films have in common. One, they feature strong teenage girl protagonists, and two, they are both adaptations of stark, brilliantly plain prose.

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Every year the Oscars have the ability to wave the magic wand over a fresh young ingenue, an exciting debut director, or a brilliant new writer. Some of these newcomers light up the season for a moment of glory and then are never heard from again. The lucky ones move on to successful careers in the business, launched with the priceless boost of an Oscar victory. There is no doubt that winning an Oscar still has the potential to alter the course of a career. At the very least, there’s always that gold statue sitting on the mantle for validation, even if the early promise was never entirely fulfilled. But for every Oscar winner whose award is only the beginning of greater things to come, there are just as many winners who never reached that level of success again. An Academy Award can’t guarantee superstardom or power in the industry, but it’s a hell of a strong place to start. And besides, it supposedly extends your life.

An Oscar can mean the difference for some filmmakers between finding financing or going unfunded. It can mean the difference between getting a part or not even getting a reading. Winning an Oscar confers instant name recognition, and that alone could be worth its weight in gold, even at a time when anyone can become famous for little more than sacrificing their privacy and, in some cases, their dignity.

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beningportman

Writing for the Daily Beast, Nicole LaPorte quotes others saying that the Best Actress race could be down to Natalie Portman for Black Swan and Annette Bening for the Kids Are All Right. This is one of the many post-Toronto and Oscar pieces floating around this morning. We can’t say for sure yet whether this is a big Toronto year or not; we’ll have to see how the biggest get out of there, The King’s Speech, ultimately does.

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Thanks to Ryan’s post, our thoughts turn to Nicole Kidman, who is said to do brilliant work in Rabbit Hole, a tough sell all around but given Kidman’s popularity and star power, a strong possibility.

Pete Hammond, new awards writer for Deadline, writes:

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Debra Granik’s second feature film, Winter’s Bone, is the kind of movie that gets progressively better & better as you delve deeper and deeper into it. It is filled with humane, real characterizations of a society that is rooted in evil and people that have lost all hope in life and succumbed to shadiness & drug dealing. There are memorable scenes that linger (the gutting of a squirrel, the taking of a girl, a final -ambiguous- mumbling sentence) & a sense of dread that will turn the most primitive of moviegoers off. It is through and through a product of Independent film and we should be very appreciative of its existence. Continue reading…

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