Jennifer Lawrence’s Best Indie Movies, Ranked

Jennifer Lawrence – or “JLaw” as she’s known to many – stole our hearts before she could even get her hands on that Oscar trophy at the 2013 ceremony. It might have happened when she tripped while walking on stage. She’s been a powerhouse in Hollywood ever since. In fact, Lawrence would go on to appear on Time’s 100 most influential people in the world list back in 2013, but in the years leading up to her bigshot status, she appeared across numerous smaller, independent movies. Even Silver Linings Playbook was made on a rather tight budget. She’ll surely go on to appear in more blockbusters besides the X-Men franchise.

At the moment, we can not wait to see Lawrence’s upcoming gangster movie Mob Girl, directed by Academy Award-winner Paolo Sorrentino and based on Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Teresa Carpenter’s true-crime story from the early ’90s. As we count the days until that hot-ticket item’s release, let’s take an extra moment to appreciate Lawrence’s other indie efforts from over the years. Here’s a closer look.

Related: Best Jennifer Lawrence Movies, Ranked

5 The Burning Plain (2008)

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The Burning Plain is a gripping film about regret and crippling loss. Charlize Theron plays Sylvia, a woman on the verge of suicide, dealing with the mistakes of her past. When a man with connections to a life she left long ago contacts Sylvia with shocking news, she’s forced to come to terms with a life she’s been running from for decades. In an early on-screen appearance for her career, Lawrence plays Mariana, who later changes her name to Sylvia and is played years later in the storyline by Theron. Interestingly enough, it was on the press tour for this film that JLaw made a joke to the press that Kim Basinger was dead, which sent the internet swirling.

4 The Poker House (2008)

Phase 43 Films

The Poker House is a period drama set in 1976 that explores a typical day in the life of a decidedly atypical teen named Agnes (Lawrence). For her, every day is a grueling struggle for survival, as her mom (a reliably superb Selma Blair) is strung-out on drugs, her home has been overrun by degenerates, and her only father-figure is a pimp. Lawrence’s daughter-mother chemistry with Blair is not to be missed.

“She’s always giving me her eyes and was always listening and reacting to everything you’re saying, even when she’s not on camera,” Lawrence once told Collider, regarding her scenes with Blair. “The emotional scenes, that’s all a part of acting. So I did not get scared of any of it. She makes it a lot easier. When you work with an actress of that caliber, it just brings you up as well.”

3 Like Crazy (2011)

Indian Paintbrush

Also starring the late, great Anton Yelchin, Like Crazy follows a young American man and a young British woman (Felicity Jones) who fall for each other, until she is deported back to England after overstaying her visa. Now, they must face the challenges of a long-distance relationship. Lawrence plays Samantha, a girl who falls in love with Yelchin’s character after he grows apart from Jones’ Anna. Lawrence’s supporting turn here reveals star-making qualities, even if she’s not necessarily the female lead in Like Crazy.

Related: Robert Pattinson’s Best Indie Movies, Ranked

2 Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Jennifer Lawrence Bradley Cooper Silver Linings Playbook 2012 Weinstein Company
The Weinstein Company

“I’m just the crazy slut with a dead husband!” You could say it was this outrageously delightful scene from Silver Linings Playbook that earned Lawrence her Oscar at the young age of 22. Alongside a stellar cast including Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, Jackie Weaver, and even Chris Tucker, Lawrence stars as Tiffany, a young widow in Pennsylvania who befriends Pat (Cooper) ,, a man with bipolar disorder, who just moved back in with his parents. Pat is determined to win back his estranged wife, so he and Tiffany start training for a dance competition. JLaw steals the show, hence the Oscar, and there’s only one other performance of hers that could possibly top it …

1 Winter’s Bone (2010)

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Enter Winter’s Bone. “Is this our time?” asks Oscar-nominated John Hawkes’ character in a climactic scene with police during the film. Well, it was certainly JLaw’s time to shine with her first awards-caliber turn that opened doors to bigger splashes including The Hunger Games and Silver Linings Playbook. This small indie effort follows a girl in the Ozarks of Missouri whose childhood has been marred by family tragedy. Lawrence’s portrayal of a determined, resilient young woman seeking out her father is not to be missed.

“My mom read the book [by Daniel Woodrell]five, some six years ago, “Lawrence said to Interview Magazine. “And when she read it she said, ‘Jennifer, if they ever make this into a movie, you’d be perfect for it.’ And you know, I did not listen to her, because she’s my mother, but five years later I got the script and the audition. ” The rest is history.

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