Awards Profile: Joy

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jennifer-lawrence-david-russellDirector: David O. Russell

Writers: David O. Russell and Annie Mumolo

Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Edgar Ramirez, Robert De Niro

Synopsis: The life of a struggling Long Island single mom who became one of the country’s most successful entrepreneurs.

Why It Might Succeed:

The last time I was given a Jennifer Lawrence film for awards consideration, I had little nice to say about it. Thankfully, Joy has far more positives going for it. David O. Russell has found massive success with Lawrence as his muse, and while I haven’t enjoyed their past collaborations, they weren’t necessarily Lawrence’s projects despite her stealing the show. Joy is Lawrence’s picture, pure and simple and that might yield something new from Russell whose work has been even more divisive than it usually is. Lawrence is Hollywood’s darling, and it’s almost a given she’ll be nominated considering this is her film. Bradley Cooper’s success with Russell, and especially in light of American Sniper, the reteam with Lawrence will certainly increase their cache.

The story of Joy Mangano and the creation of the Miracle Mop could become a feminist film if Russell’s script is sound. It helps that he’s co-writing with Annie Mumolo whose script for Bridesmaids was fresh, female friendly, and hysterical. Russell’s dry wit could blend well with Mumolo’s more broad style of humor.

Russell’s also reteaming with several members he worked with previously on American Hustle, including cinematographer Linus Sandgren, editor Jay Cassidy, production designer Judy Becker, and costume designer Michael Wilkinson. It helps that Cassidy, Becker, and Wilkinson were all nominated for their work on Hustle, increasing the odds of nominations happening.

Why It Might Fail: 

Jennifer Lawrence enjoys playing characters wiser than her years (and her cherubic good looks). By the time Mangano found success, she was in her mid-30s (Lawrence turns 25 this year). Although audiences don’t seem tired of Lawrence yet, this is the second time she’s played a character that doesn’t seem age appropriate. Am I the only who doesn’t easily envision Lawrence as a 33-year-old woman with three children. I know that’s the miracle of acting, but is Lawrence spinning her wheels continuing to play these characters with Russell; and after the divisive reaction American Hustle in general and to her character in particular, will audiences tire? It doesn’t help matters that the last Cooper/Lawrence teaming, an adaptation of Ron Rash’s Serena, struggled to get distribution before going to VOD.

Russell and Lawrence have certainly had their own personal struggles since American Hustle, but it’s doubtful that would affect the outcome. Reservations have been raised in light of gossip reports regarding fighting between Russell and Lawrence – not odd considering Russell’s tempestuous directing of other actors – as well as cries of overspending, script changes, and executives being barred from the set.  All of this could imply a lack of confidence from the studio, as well as confusion on where the story’s going and excessive changes.

Awards Speculation: 

Because so many people from Hustle are retained, I’d say expect several nominations. The acting nods for Cooper and Lawrence are a given, as well as nominations for those returning that I mentioned above. If the script is progressive, I’d say there’s a possibility it might make it in. Since it’s a period piece, it’s safe to say technical elements like production design and costume nominations are expected. If the crop of movies this awards season is strong, I unfortunately can’t see it making Best Picture.

Oscar Potential:

Best Actress (Lawrence)

Best Actor (Cooper)

Best Supporting Actor (De Niro)

Best Screenplay

Best Editing

Best Production Design

Best Costume Design