Let me tell you a tale. Once upon a time, Anne Hathaway and Jennifer Lawrence were enchanted by an evil witch’s spell that turned both of them into little tiny dots on a line graph. The graph was for the past twelve months, and it was very interesting, very interesting indeed, because it pointed out that these ladies, while both receiving an Academy Award this past Sunday, have had exactly opposite trajectories this year. One went up and the other went down…but I’ll let you decide who is who. They both came into 2012 pretty much exactly the same way — both on their way up, both with an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress under their belt (Anne for Rachel Getting Married in 2008 and Jennifer for Winter’s Bone in 2010), but no win. They were both media darlings, with highly anticipated franchise projects coming up. Anne was Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises, and Jennifer was Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games. They were both widely heralded as the best parts of the movie…and it is here, with their Oscar-winning projects looming in the near future, that their fates begin to diverge.
To be clear, I didn’t always dislike Anne Hathaway. I loved The Princess Diaries, thought she was outstanding in Rachel Getting Married, and mentally thanked her profusely for making TDKR vaguely watchable. I thought she was a sweet, down-to-earth girl getting measurably more talented as she got more and more work and started getting taken more seriously. She was America’s sweetheart, the humble, blushing girl-next-door…and then, suddenly, she got hip to her own reputation. With the heady aroma of Oscar-buzz wafting off of Les Miserables in great clouds, Anne caught the scent and was off like a hound. All of a sudden you couldn’t pick up a magazine without there being a self-deprecating Anne Hathaway interview in it. At first it was charming; reading about how she thought she looked like her gay brother or how miserable her diet was for Les Mis when she had to look ‘simultaneously radiant and emaciated’.
“I had to be obsessive about it—the idea was to look near death. Looking back on the whole experience—and I don’t judge it in any way—it was definitely a little nuts. It was definitely a break with reality, but I think that’s who Fantine is anyway.”
And then after a while it was like she ran out of material or patience and had to start doing an imitation of the humble girl who couldn’t believe her luck. A stereotype of herself. Even before anyone saw Les Miserables, they were saying Anne was a shoo-in for the Oscar, and after they saw it, it was all over. But good luck getting Anne to admit she’d even heard the Oscar buzz or knew what they were or ever seen a movie or thought she was special. It was all blushing and batting of eyelashes over big starry eyes, ohgawshandgawlly, every interview and talk-show appearance and SNL hosting striking me as less genuine than the last. And sometime during the middle of all this, she got married to Adam Shulman, the love of her life. More on that later.
In Jennifer Lawrence land, things were slightly different. There was Oscar buzz for Silver Linings Playbook, but not as much, and it was clear that even though there’s no doubt she wanted to win, she wasn’t stressing herself out about how to behave. She routinely pointed out the amount of makeup she had on, admitted her own awkwardness, and thanked people genuinely when they congratulated her on her work. Where Anne was smooth and polished and carefully calibrated, Jennifer was rough and open and accessible. Plus, unlike Anne, she had a healthy body image and refused to starve herself for Hunger Games, saying:
“I don’t want little girls to be like, ‘Oh, I want to look like Katniss, so I’m going to skip dinner.’ That’s something that I was really conscious of during training, when you’re trying to get your body to look exactly right. I was trying to get my body to look fit and strong, not thin and underfed.”
Jennifer wasn’t careful about the way she portrayed herself, so even as criticism and backlash against Anne started piling up, all anyone could ever say about Jennifer was how refreshing her attitude was. Even as Anne’s posturing as ‘a normal girl’ became more and more grating, Jennifer actually was that normal girl, against all odds. She’d rather look normal in real life and weird onscreen than normal onscreen and emaciated in real life. And she had no problem sharing that information with anyone.
And then came awards season. It’s been rehashed in the media so many times lately that I’ll just put some of Anne’s acceptance speeches in here for you to peruse at your leisure. Suffice to say, she gets annoying. Really annoying. Annoying enough that I’m not the only asshole blogger calling her annoying anymore. In each, she breathlessly thanks the cast and crew for even allowing her in the room while the movie was shot, tearfully thanks her husband for being her rock who loved her when all others blah blah blah, expresses complete shock, and feigns humility. Every. Single. Time.
GOLDEN GLOBES. Oh and she’ll be back later when the film itself wins to take up more time before the producers can speak by thanking someone she forgot to thank during her own overly-long speech. Perfect.
BACKSTAGE AT THE OSCARS
The backlash built up over the entire award season, culminating at the Oscars, where, in true, beautiful juxtaposition, Anne gushed that “I had a dream and it came true, and that can happen. And that’s wonderful. And that’s all I was saying is that it can and it did. Excuse me, that’s not articulate”…and Jennifer did something on accident that Anne would’ve done on purpose if it had occurred to her…she fell up the stairs. Case closed.
(Image: Apega / WENN.com)