David O. Russell‘s highly anticipated Christmas release “Joy” with Jennifer Lawrence headlining as a woman who rises from humble beginnings to head her own business empire got its first screening on Saturday. Lawrence — who won an Oscar for her first collaboration with Russell (“Silver Linings Playbook,” 2012) and a nomination for their second (“American Hustle,” 2013) — is a slam-dunk to reap another bid. In the demanding role of a Long Island housewife turned inventor she delivers one of her best performances to date. Along for the ride are Robert De Niro as her less-than-understanding father, Edgar Ramirez as her supportive ex-husband and Bradley Cooper as a home shopping channel exec who believes in her dream.
And what of the writer/director? While Russell directed Lawrence as well as “The Fighter” (2011) supporting players Christian Bale and Meilissa Leo to Oscars, he has yet to win himself despite five bids. He contended in directing for both those films as well as “American Hustle” and for co-writing the “Siliver Linings” and “Hustle” scripts. Expect him to be a double nominee again this year for his helming and original script, co-written with Oscar nominee Annie Mumolo (“Bridesmaids”).
Three of our Oscar experts were in attendance and tweeted their reactions:
Sasha Stone (Awards Daily): “Please Hollywood keep making movies around women like this. They are so worth it.”
Jeff Wells (Hollywood Elsewhere): “Joy doesn’t quite sing dazzling arias or ascend to stratospheric heights but it’s real and direct and very touching and nicely inventive.”
During the post screening Q&A that took place in New York but was beamed to the L.A. audience on the Fox lot, Russell admitted,“it was my first film with a woman protagonist at the center.” As he elaborated, “It’s the story of that woman’s journey from the time she’s ten to the time she’s 43. I got to do the magic of that young age, I got to do her nightmares, and I got to see what it was like how she handled success.”
For Lawrence, the appeal of the part was two-fold: working for a third time with Russell and getting “to play a woman across four generations, which is incredible for an actor.”
Does “Joy” look like an Oscar-winner to you? Watch the trailer below, then make your predictions beginning with Best Picture.
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Photo Credit: Moviestore Collection LTD/REX