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Oscars winners 2013: Jennifer Lawrence is just hitting her stride

The lead actress winner may have stumbled on her way to the stage but not in her performance.

February 25, 2013|By Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times Film Critic
  • Jennifer Lawrence is congratulated after winning the lead actress Oscar.
Jennifer Lawrence is congratulated after winning the lead actress Oscar. (Robert Gauthier, Los Angeles…)

It's hard to believe that it was only two years ago that Jennifer Lawrence, at 20, was in the running for her first Oscar. As Ree in "Winter's Bone," Lawrence cut a swath through the bloody Ozark mountains that no one will soon forget. The film, and her Oscar nomination, was an extraordinary coming-out party.

Just as hard to believe that in such a short time — and seven films later — Lawrence is back for another round. This time with the win, taking home an Oscar for her off-kilter and impossibly energetic young widow in "Silver Linings Playbook." To breathe life into Tiffany — feisty, funny and fractured — Lawrence cut a different kind of swath. And yet another as Katniss the invincible in "The Hunger Games," though the Oscar doesn't officially credit that, or "X-Men," "Like Crazy" or the rest of her good work.

Oscars 2013: Nominee list | Red carpet | Highlights

She may have stumbled briefly on her way to the stage, but those moments are rare. It was as if the academy wanted to recognize the entire range and depth of her work, remarkable for one so young. There is a fierceness that runs through all of her performances that is refreshingly brash.

 As strangely charming, as authentic, as original as her "Silver Linings" turn was, it still feels as if Lawrence is only beginning to come into her power as an actress.

I'm not convinced hers was "the" performance of the year. Did she deserve to win? Yes. But I have a suspicion that the best is yet to come.

betsy.sharkey@latimes.com

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