So who tops the Hollywood A-list for 2013?

There were many contenders, but Jennifer Lawrence is the undisputed boss of 2013

Jennifer Lawrence (right) and Amy Adams promoting American Hustle

Jennifer Lawrence (right) and Amy Adams promoting American Hustle


Who won 2013? We snooty critics hailed the likes of Joshua Oppenheimer, director of The Act of Killing, alongside other auteurs such as Abdellatif Kechiche and Paulo Sorrentino. Such is the resurgence of Matthew McConaughey that Oscar voters are currently confused as to which of three performances deserves their vote (he’ll almost certainly get in for Dallas Buyers Club). Everyone admires Alfonso Cuarón’s work on Gravity.

These all look like plausible candidates. But only one person has earned the title boss of the year. Step forward, Jennifer Lawrence.

It’s not just that Lawrence is an impressively unaffected actor. It’s not just that she’s made money for the studio. The Kentuckian has managed these feats without appearing smug, arrogant or insolent.

Just last week, in a conversation with Barbara Walters, she made great sense on the casual abuse meted out to women on the red carpet: the circling of any milligram of fat, the raised eyebrows at any bottom the size of a bottom.

“Why is humiliating people funny?” she asked. “And the word ‘fat’! It should be illegal to call someone fat on TV. If we’re regulating cigarettes and sex and cuss words because of the effect it has on our younger generation, why aren’t we regulating the word fat?” A very fair question.

Consider how the year has panned out for Lawrence. In February, she not only managed to win an Academy Award for Silver Linings Playbook, but, by falling on the way to the podium, assured herself of an everlasting place in any compilation of great Oscar moments. The year ends with The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – in which she stars as the indomitable Katniss Everdeen – sitting at No 5 in the 2013 box-office charts.

And there’s more. Her turn as a flamboyant con artist in David O Russell’s American Hustle seems certain to secure her a best supporting actress nomination. It is by no means out of the question that Lawrence could follow Luise Rainer and Katharine Hepburn into the exclusive club of female actors to have won successive Oscars. Proof that she appeals across the demographics – men, women, old, young – comes with the news that hers was the most searched name on the Internet Movie Database in 2013.

What is it about our Jen? There is a temptation to reference antique firecrackers such as Jean Harlow or Judy Holliday. But Lawrence has done something those great stars never managed (or perhaps attempted): she squeezes out neon sparks while still seeming very much like an ordinary person. If she’s faking this effortless normality, then she’s an even better actor than we had hitherto suspected.

With X-Men and Hunger Games episodes in 2014, plus Susanne Bier’s promising Serena, Lawrence is sure to sparkle for at least another year. Oh, and she’s still just 23. We could be recycling this column for many years to come.

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