In 2010, Jennifer Lawrence was nominated for the Best Leading Actress Oscar in Winter's Bone for her taut, tough performance as an Ozark mountain girl navigating a menacing social terrain of meth-dealing biker clans to track down her father and save her family. Critically speaking, it was a firecracker start for the 21-year-old actress that predicted more of the same--gritty, meaningful performances from an up-and-comer with Melissa Leo caliber talent.
Of course, in a much younger, more marketable body—the tousled golden locks, the pouty lips, the come-hither doe eyes … Which may explain why Jennifer Lawrence Oscar-nominee seems well on her way to becoming Jennifer Lawrence big-budget star. Her turn as Raven/Mystique (X-Men: First Class) may have been the first sign, but Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games) may seal her fate—especially since The Hunger Games is a trilogy. After two weekends, part one has already earned hundreds of millions at the box office.
So will a taste of blockbuster bucks sour her on edgier independent fare? Will the dramatic muscles she flexed in Winter's Bone turn into romcom or teen-film flab? Well, we we're cautiously optimistic. Though the object of another (groan) love triangle, Katniss Everdeen is no Bella (thank heavens). She's far more independent, resilient and courageous. Someone who wouldn't be a bad choice for your teenage daughter to emulate (versus waiting around for a dark, handsome supernatural beau to carry her everywhere and ignore what an annoying nitwit she is). So it's blockbuster, but not full blockbuster (because you never want to go full blockbuster). Lawrence's upcoming projects include the horror thriller House at the End of the Street, Oscar-nominated David O. Russell's The Silver Linings Playbook (the story of a former teacher who leaves a mental institution to reunite with his family) and Serena (a Depression-era tale of a timber baron with a wife who cannot bear children.) Two out of three films of substance seems pretty good. Or maybe three out of three, horror doesn't have to be campy, right?
Clearly Lawrence can have her blockbusters and critically acclaimed cinema too. The real question is where she'll end up as a mature actress. Will Katniss be a drop in the bucket of decades of Oscar-worthy roles, or will she stray too far off that path and end up a shriveled up romcom star? Or worse, playing a paranoid ex-CIA parent in a series of mediocre comedies or herself as twins in a Razzie-sweeping family farce? Perhaps she can successfully balance both worlds. May the odds be ever in her favor.