Did Gotham Steal Jennifer Lawrence's Oscar?
Though Winter's Bone stomped the competition for best feature at both Monday's Gotham Awards and Tuesday's competing Film Independent's Spirit Awards, Gotham startlingly left female lead Jennifer Lawrence out in the cold. Granted, Lawrence shared the Gotham prize for best ensemble performance, but in an upset victory, Ronald Brownstein won breakthrough actor for Daddy Longlegs.
Lawrence fans began dark mutterings against the Gothams, and breakthrough actor jurors Josh Brolin, David Gordon Green, Peter Sollett, Amber Tamblyn and Monty Ross. Some charge that Lawrence was punished for ruining her indie mystique by playing Mystique in X-Men: First Class, though I personally feel it behooves her to do blue (she got in trouble for blabbing that her character's skin is blue in part of that film). Did Josh Brolin figure he had to pay dues for 22 years -- two years longer than Lawrence has been alive -- before fame's lightning struck with No Country for Old Men? So he wants to give success to a talented nobody, not an overnight somebody like J. Law? David Gordon Green and Monty Ross would always go with the outlier, right? Were Amber Tamblyn's panties in a bunch because J.Law didn't have to do Traveling Pantses before attaining indie sainthood (as Tamblyn at last has done in 127 Hours)?
Does the Gotham snub mean Lawrence's Palm Spring Rising Star Award is doused and falling? Is it a West vs. East Coast thing, like Biggie Smalls' assassination? Are Ronald Bronstein and the Winter's Bone ensemble Cassavetes-ish enough for the Gothamites, but a rising star getting more than her fair share of the attention is not? Many critics feel that John Hawkes's achievement in the film has been overshadowed by Lawrence's spotlight.
One longtime independent film figure who writes under the pen name Iris Ireland, Indie Insider offers this take: "All I can say is that it's gotta be an East-West thing. I mean come on, Jenn Law is this year's indie darling, and deservedly so. When you look at the outcome of the winners, you've got to be scratching your head." Iris says she'll always have her Palm Springs honor. "No way [Palm Springs International Film Festival director] Darryl Macdonald is going to change his feelings cuz a bunch of NY auteur film snobs decide to get uppity and righteous. I say give the girl her due, upgrade her to an Oscar nod! And if she was punished for doing X-Men, what the hell are they gonna do to poor January Jones next year [in X-Men: First Class]?"
"I love awards season," concludes Iris. "It brings out the worst in all of us!"
A less bitchy observer than Iris might note that Winter's Bone got a double boost from the dueling indie awards groups, which can't hurt Lawrence's chances, and mainstream Oscar voters might not think that hard about internecine feuds in the indie community. They won't remember which gave who what -- only the general buzz, like a murmuring of innumerable bees. "Does one award cancel the other out? I don't buy into that theory," says influential Twitterer nyindieguy, who freely gives his real name, Ira Deutschman, a seasoned producer and assessor of indie films. The fate of Lawrence, her film, and her competition may be nudged by this week's news, but the real test is coming up. "It's all going to be about what the critics' awards recognize."
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Scott Feinberg, the lead awards analyst for The Hollywood Reporter, is one of the entertainment industry's most experienced and trusted experts about the Oscars, Emmys and Tonys. He started on the awards beat in 2001, writing for independent websites including his own ScottFeinberg.com before joining the Los Angeles Times and then THR, for which he writes “The Race” blog, which won the LA Press Club’s National Entertainment Journalism Award for best entertainment blog of 2012-2013. A voting member of both the Broadcast Film Critics' Association and Broadcast Television Journalists Association, he is also writing a book about film history for young people for which he has interviewed more than 500 high-profile Hollywood figures whose careers span the silent era through the present.
Follow Scott on Twitter at twitter.com/scottfeinberg.
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