Ten years ago, in March 2012, Jennifer Lawrence became one of the biggest stars on Earth. The actress, an Oscar nominee in 2011 for her breakout turn in “Winter’s Bone,” starred as Katniss Everdeen in the film adaptation of “The Hunger Games,” and led the franchise starter to a then-record $152.5 million in opening weekend ticket sales. But Lawrence wouldn’t stop there: in November of the same year, she starred opposite Bradley Cooper in David O. Russell‘s “Silver Linings Playbook.” For that film, another box office smash, Lawrence was awarded an Oscar for Best Actress at the 2013 Academy Awards ceremony. (“Silver Linings Playbook” was the first of three highly celebrated collaborations with Russell, all of which resulted in Oscar nominations.)
At 22, her Best Actress win made her the second-youngest star to capture the award, right behind Marlee Matlin, who won the award for “Children of a Lesser God” at age 21. But Lawrence found her own place in the Oscar records book thanks to her prolific run with Russell: she managed to amass four acting nominations by the age of 25, a feat no other star has accomplished.
Lawrence remained one of the busiest actresses in Hollywood through 2018. Then she consciously slowed down, appearing in only “X-Men: Dark Phoenix” — the third of three X-Men films in which Lawrence starred — before 2021’s “Don’t Look Up.” During that time away from the screen, Lawrence got married and became pregnant with her first child.
“I was not pumping out the quality that I should have,” she told Vanity Fair in 2021 of her work following her last Best Actress nomination, for 2015’s “Joy.” “I just think everybody had gotten sick of me. I’d gotten sick of me. It had just gotten to a point where I couldn’t do anything right. If I walked a red carpet, it was, ‘Why didn’t she run?’… I think that I was people-pleasing for the majority of my life. Working made me feel like nobody could be mad at me: ‘Okay, I said yes, we’re doing it. Nobody’s mad.’ And then I felt like I reached a point where people were not pleased just by my existence. So that kind of shook me out of thinking that work or your career can bring any kind of peace to your soul.”
Lawrence returned to the screen in 2021 for “Don’t Look Up,” Adam McKay‘s satire about the end of the world. The filmmaker wrote Lawrence’s part specifically with her in mind.“I wanted to cut loose with a strong, funny truth-teller woman and that’s Jen Lawrence. I mean, that character poured out of me,” McKay said to Vanity Fair. “I would just picture Jen and you knew exactly what she would say…. She’s going to be the one who doesn’t play the game. And, of course, she’s going to be pilloried for it, which will be heartbreaking, but she’s never going to play the game.”
Tour our photo gallery featuring her 11 greatest film performances, ranked from worst to best.
10. LIKE CRAZY (2011)
Director: Drake Doremus. Writers: Drake Doremus, Ben York Jones. Starring Felicity Jones, Anton Yelchin, Alex Kingston.
Lawrence had a supporting role in this film that won the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize. The film depicts the complicated relationship between two college students who are separated when the woman overstays her US student visa. Lawrence plays the other woman in the love triangle whom the young lead takes up with when he can’t be with the British woman he loves.
9. PASSENGERS (2016)
Director: Morten Tyldum. Writer: Jon Spaihts. Starring Chris Pratt, Michael Sheen, Andy Garcia.
Mixed reviews greeted this science fiction film about a ship carrying sleeping passengers into space to colonize another planet. Chris Pratt plays a crew member who is awakend to deal with a ship’s problem. Feeling lonely he awakens Lawrence who must decide whether to stay with him on the ship’s journey and continue to age or to reenter hyper sleep to remain young for the ship’s eventual arrival at its destination.
8. RED SPARROW (2018)
Director: Francis Lawrence. Writer: Justin Haythe. Starring Joel Edgerton, Charlotte Rampling, Mary-Louise Parker.
Lawrence stars in this espionage thriller about a Russian ballerina who is forced to enter a Russian military task force where she is forced to seduce an American CIA officer. The film received a great deal of negative reviews and was a disappointment at the box office.
7. X-MEN: FIRST CLASS (2011)
Director: Matthew Vaughn. Writers: Jane Goldman, Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz, Matthew Vaughn. Starring James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Kevin Bacon.
After her first burst of success on film Lawrence was rewarded with a role in the second group of X-Men films from the Marvel universe. She did this film and its sequels playing the mysterious character Mystique.
6. THE HUNGER GAMES (2012)
Director: Gary Ross. Writers: Gary Ross, Suzanne Collins, Billy Ray. Starring Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Wes Bentley.
Based on a series of popular novels “The Hunger Games” is set in a dystopian future (the future in movies is almost always dystopian) where young people are forced to enter into a series of games where they fight to the death. The enormous popularity of this films and its many sequels made Lawrence a huge box office star. For our rankings, we are combining all of the “Hunger” films into one slot since it’s the same character she plays.
5. JOY (2015)
Director and writer: David O. Russell. Starring Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper, Edgar Ramirez.
A film about a woman who invents a mop doesn’t exactly sound like Oscar material but this true story of a woman brought Lawrence her fourth Oscar nomination. She also won her third Golden Globe for the film. Brie Larson would take home the Oscar as Best Actress this year for “Room.”
4. MOTHER! (2017)
Director and writer: Darren Aronofsky. Starring Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer.
Hated by some and loved by others, “Mother!” was perhaps the most divisive film yet from Darren Aronofsky who has a penchant for pushing audiences’ buttons. This film casts Lawrence as a young pregnant woman whose house is increasingly invaded by more and more strange people culminating in outright chaos. The film features a notable supporting performance from Michelle Pfeiffer.
3. AMERICAN HUSTLE (2013)
Director: David O. Russell. Writers: Eric Warren Singer, David O. Russell. Starring Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams.
The year after she won the Best Actress Oscar, Lawrence almost took home the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for this film. She won the Golden Globe and BAFTA awards as Best Supporting Actress but lost the Oscar to Lupita Nyong’o for “12 Years a Slave.” Lawrence plays the naïve young wife of a con artist who has a great deal of trouble with normal kitchen tasks often to strong comedic effect.
2. WINTER’S BONE (2010)
Director: Debra Granik. Writers: Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini. Starring John Hawkes, Garret Dillahunt.
This small independent film took Lawrence from a supporting player on an obscure sitcom to the record books as the second youngest Best Actress Oscar nominee ever at the time. The film takes place in the poverty laced Ozark Mountains and casts her as a young woman trying to hold her family together while dealing with her drug dealer father. Natalie Portman (“Black Swan”) beat Lawrence for the Oscar this year.
1. SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK (2012)
Director and writer: David O. Russell. Starring Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver.
Lawrence would win the Oscar for this film at age 22 making her the second youngest woman (behind Marlee Matlin of “Children of a Lesser God”) to ever win the Best Actress Oscar. Lawrence plays a troubled young woman who becomes fixated on an equally troubled young man. The film would mark the beginning of her highly successful collaborations with director David O. Russell and costar Bradley Cooper.