Jennifer Lawrence accepts her first SAG Award on Sunday (Photo: John Shearer/Invision/AP)J. Law is the best thing to hit the awards season in years. Why? Because, walking down the red carpet with her from our comfy couches, it's like we're experiencing the events for the first time all over again through her eyes. She's fresh. She's irreverent. She's unexpected. She can wear a frock – but she refuses to be worn by it.
We should have known from her first Oscar race for that gritty little indie "Winter's Bone" that she had the potential to surprise us. Sure, she played Ree, a straightforward, tough as rehab, meth cooker’s daughter who could kill and eat squirrel without flinching. But, then, when it came time to hit the red carpet, she learned fast. She had poise to burn. She went from grungy flannels to couture. On the big day when the then 20-year-old strode down the 2011 Academy Awards red carpet filling out that Calvin Klein red maillot gown, the whole tired, jaded enterprise perked up and took notice. It was as if she was saying, "this may be old for you, Hollywood, but not for me. It’s my party and I’ll enjoy it if I want to."
Just tonight, while she was talking live to Giuliana Rancic of Eonline, Lawrence owned the interview by making it her own. She teased first and set the tone with her deadpan discussion of the recent flu that kept her from accepting an award yesterday, and worried stargazers that she would be a no-show tonight. She told Rancic that she felt fine, but that everybody was scared of her, asking 'are you still sick?"' It turns out that she had walking pneumonia, but could still rock Dior Haute Couture while sending out a jab to her older brothers, saying that she wasn’t a tomboy but that "her family forced her to wear men's clothes." Wanna piece of me now?
She didn't get huffy when the press totally took her to task for allegedly trash-talking Meryl Streep in her Golden Globes acceptance speech. All she was doing was quoting a line from "The First Wives' Club." Don’t you get it? She just couldn’t be bothered to justify herself. What was there to justify? It was a joke!
So, how did she deal with that joke – she built on it. She went on "SNL" and trash-talked all her current Oscar rivals, from Jessica Chastain to Quvenzhane Wallis. Sure, I got on her case because the comedy writers just didn’t give her the lines to match her talent, and support her out on that career limb on which she balanced. But that’s not the actress’s fault.
Lawrence seems best when she ad-libs because, when it’s live, she doesn’t know what frogs will fly out of her mouth. "I get excited and scared and I never know what I’m going to say or do," she confessed to Rancic on the red carpet tonight. And that's what makes her so watchable.
The other thing that makes her watchable, whether she’s Tiffany or Katniss Everdeen (yeah, that!) or Ree, is that we are discovering a young actress in her prime that can do drama, action or romantic comedy and surprise us as much on screen as she does on the red carpet – or "SNL."