Alas, the news came out Jan. 16 that many movie junkies had been waiting for — the announcement of nominations for the 86th Annual Academy Awards. There were, like always, surprises and snubs that had people talking.
All categories of this award ceremony have garnered my strong attention, but let’s talk about the awards that everyone seems to care about: acting.
A big name appearing on the Best Supporting Actress ballot was actress Jennifer Lawrence. Everyone these days seems to be in love with Lawrence, whose highly vocal attitude but sincere acting have earned her a special place in fans’ hearts.
I had just seen the film for which she was nominated, “American Hustle” (which is pretty good by the way), the previous week, and while the acting in the film was relatively good, no one particular performance by an actor struck me as brilliant. This includes Lawrence’s. Now that is simply one man’s unsupported opinion and nothing really more. But for some reason, this young star in particular made me ponder a little bit more.
Lawrence is a three-time Oscar nominee, and the youngest person to have the achievement at a mere 23 years old. I would have to say that she is a prominent figure in Hollywood society too, with her constant coverage in the media, as it seems that every time I turn on a late night talk show, she is a main guest.
When I happen to see all these things online and on television, I simply ask, “Why?”
Being a movie fanatic, I have seen her portray all three roles that earned her Oscar nominations, starting from “Winter’s Bone,” which in all honesty was her best Oscar effort in a role, not her portrayal as a bipolar widow in “Silver Linings Playbook.”
This brings up an issue that is to me of pressing urgency. Lawrence is getting more love from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences than she deserves. This, however, is not the issue that needs to be brought up. The issue is with the Academy itself.
I have always believed the Academy has shown an extensive capability for manipulation over the course of the past decade or so.
Voters in this film institution don’t just look at the quality of the works presented to them, but also seem to think about other factors such as popularity and influence from outsiders. Popular actors and actresses, such as Lawrence, have lots of support and popularity and this body of influence intimidates the Academy, I believe, into leaning to their favor when deciding who wins the Oscar.
If that isn’t food for thought, ponder how social influence affects the decision of the Academy as well. Think of Halle Berry, who won her Best Actress in a Leading Role Oscar for her performance in “Monster’s Ball” in 2002. Her performance was good, but many criticized the Academy for the decision, stating that the roles of other actresses that year were better.
Look back only a few months before that, I found that some in the black community pressed hard on the Academy that a female black actress has never won the Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role, claiming that prejudice as a factor. Now while there is no way to prove that was the reason Berry won the Oscar that year, the proximity of these two events was very close.
The same thing is going on here with Lawrence. Just a few years back, I believe there was a slew of complaints from young Hollywood, that younger actors and actresses don’t get enough consideration with the Academy. Right after, a slew of nominations come in that are guided toward younger actors and actresses, a situation I believe opened the door for Lawrence to enter the scene.
In the end, my words need to be represented in the right manner. I think many blacks and young Hollywood had points when they made their arguments, but that doesn’t mean the integrity of fair judging should be abandoned to appease an angry crowd. That, in a way, is selling out. There are other ways the Academy could have handled those situations, including having more interest in the roles of black or young actors over time.
Is Jennifer Lawrence a bad actress? Of course not. She is pretty good, especially in comparison with her contemporaries. However, no matter how much “Entertainment Weekly” or Conan O’Brien like her, the Academy needs to keep a level playing field. Form your own opinions and stand by them, regardless of outside pressure. That right there is honesty.
Correction: A prior headline of this article misspelled Jennifer Lawrence’s last name as “Lawerence.” In fact, it is “Lawrence.”