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Jennifer Lawrence wraps up her first franchise with “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2”

It’s going to be a busy end of the year for Jennifer Lawrence. Not only does she have another shot at an Oscar with the December release of Joy, she’s also wrapping up her first franchise with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2, which hits theaters on Friday. Lawrence is also a part oft he X-Men franchise, but this is the series she’s headlined and has now seen through from start to finish. What’s interesting to me is that this now could open her up to taking more Academy Award friendly jobs, outside of the projects she makes with David O. Russell, of course. That potentially will make her an even bigger force to be reckoned with in the years to come…

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In case you’ve been living under a rock, this franchise is set in a dystopian future where a battle to the death is used to keep citizens in line. Katniss (Lawrence) inadvertently becomes the face of the revolution, and as Part 2 of Mockingjay begins, the rebels are planning an all out assault on the capital. Of course, this will result in things changing forever, though Katniss has gone from being an almost incidental partner to a battle hardened warrior. Francis Lawrence again directs, while the script is also done again by the duo of Peter Craig and Danny Strong. In addition to Lawrence, the cast consists of Elizabeth Banks, Sam Claflin, Woody Harrelson, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jena Malone, Julianne Moore, Donald Sutherland, Jeffrey Wright, and more.

The hope is that Lawrence can now double down on her dramatic work. The Hunger Games clearly made her a star, and she’s quite good in the films, but things like the upcoming Joy are more what I appreciate most from her and want to see more of. She’s rumored to be pairing with Darren Aronofsky on an independent film next year, and that’s incredibly exciting to hear. I would have loved her to have stayed on with the romantic comedy The Rosie Project (it’s a great book), but perhaps she’ll find something else to pair up on with direct Richard Linklater and scribes Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber? At the very least, I expect this new opening in her calendar to enable to her to continue working with Russell indefinitely. She’s as big an A-lister as there is in the business, so the cinematic world is her oyster. I have no doubt that even more movie offers are about to roll in…

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Here’s a bit about her that I penned last year when the first part of Mockingjay hit theaters. Lawrence first got her start, like many young up and comers, on television. Guest spots on Cold Case, Medium, and Monk began her career, though I first noticed her when she landed one of the main roles on The Bill Engvall Show. It hardly gave her a strong outlet for her talents, but she was compelling to watch even then. There were also supporting parts in films like The Burning Plain and Garden Party, but Lawrence was still clearly someone you didn’t pay too much attention to. That was about to change though, and in a really big way too.

She became a star on the rise with Winter’s Bone, a small indie that wound up being nominated for a quartet of Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actress for Lawrence. Her personality and newcomer on the scene vibe made her an instant A-lister in the making, which doesn’t even take into account how great she is in the movie. She was not only well deserving of that Actress nomination, she also wasn’t far off from being deserving of the win. Her Oscar glory wouldn’t be too far away, but it was a great launch to her leading actress career.

Lawrence then shined in key supporting parts in would be awards contenders The Beaver and Like Crazy before breaking through to the masses with her scene stealing turn in X-Men: First Class. That put her in her first blockbuster, though that next year would really be the one to make her the Jennifer Lawrence we know today. She ably led the horror flick House at the End of the Street, but it was a pair of other roles that really made her an A-list star with a capital A.

With the combination of The Hunger Games and Silver Linings Playbook, Lawrence not only proved that she could be a box office draw (both became absolute smash hits), but a trusted leading lady as well. The former is a strong blockbuster that succeeds in large part to her screen presence, while the latter shows off her talents in a whole new realm. She won many a heart, including those of the Academy, as she scored a Best Actress win at the Oscars for that part. She was officially in the stratosphere.

The last few years have seen her work somewhat selectively, with sequels The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, X-Men: Days of Future Past, and another big awards player in American Hustle chief among them (American Hustle got her a third Academy Award nomination, one she came within an eyelash of winning for too). There’s also been Serena as well as of course The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1. Particularly with those blockbusters, she’s managed to only increase her power and status in the business. You’d be hard pressed to find a bigger A-list actress these days than Lawrence.

This week, she again delivers as Katniss Everdeen in the latest Hunger Games franchise outing, this one called The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2. It’s the second half of the conclusion to the Hunger Games franchise, and even more so than ever before, it features her front and center. Without an actual game this time around, it’s almost a straight dramatic role in this two parter, one that she seems to ace without a problem. Her charisma is toned down but still evident in these movies, so it’s a different sort of performance for sure. The movie franchise itself is very solid, but once again she’s easily the best part of it. There’s no question there about that.

"The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1" World Premiere - Arrivals
Be sure to check out The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2, in theaters everywhere this weekend!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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