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Every week through the remainder of 2014, Yahoo Movies is counting down Hollywood's 50 very best working actors and actresses. Come back to Yahoo Movies every Thursday to see who makes the cut.
Greatest Actor Alive (No. 37): Jennifer Lawrence
Stating the Case: True, the artist known as J.Law may not have the most expansive body of work, but show us another actor with such consistently bravura performances over the past five years.
It was her rough-and-tumble performance in "Winter's Bone" (2010) that first got everyone wondering who this remarkable young actress was — and where she was going. In no time she was playing a superhero (2011's "X-Men: First Class") and, in 2012, Lawrence become an international superstar — and the highest-grossing action heroine of all time — as Katniss Everdeen in "The Hunger Games." That year also had Lawrence proving she could still impress the Academy while also being a bona fide movie star with her Oscar-winning performance in "Silver Linings Playbook."
Following last year's double header of "American Hustle" (which earned her a Golden Globe and another Oscar nom) and "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" (which earned roughly a bajillion dollars), there's just no stopping this ultra-talented beauty who's known as much for her charming (and admirably oddball) off-screen persona as she is for her brilliant on-screen characterizations.
Breakthrough Role: 2008 was a triple threat for Lawrence as she made her big-screen debut in three feature films: "Garden Party," "The Poker House," and "The Burning Plain." But a collective "Who is that?" could be heard across Park City, Utah, when "Winter's Bone" had its world premiere at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. Retroactively referred to as a grittier, more realistic "The Hunger Games," Debra Granik's hard-hitting drama-mystery had Lawrence tearing up the screen as Ree, a dirt-poor Ozark Mountains girl fighting for her supper and trying to keep her family together while searching for her missing ne'er-do-well father.
The Best of the Best:
5. "X-Men: First Class" (2011): One of J.Law's most underrated performances has her bringing a simmering anger and not-so-innocent sexuality to the role of Raven, a shape-shifting mutant later known as one of Magneto's most trusted comrades, Mystique.
4. "Winter's Bone" (2010): What Lawrence's early performance perhaps lacks (a little bit) in polish and nuance is more than made up for in raw emotion and physicality — and that was more than enough for the Academy, which bestowed her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress.
3. "The Hunger Games" (2012) and "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" (2013): J.Law brings the compassion and the kick-ass (a lot of it) to her role as Katniss Everdeen, the rural District 12 "girl on fire" whose victory in the nefarious annual death match sparks a nation-wide revolution against the corrupt Capitol.
2. "American Hustle" (2013): Lawrence won a Golden Globe and earned her third Oscar nomination for her jaw-dropping portrayal of Rosalyn Rosenfeld, the "Picasso of passive-aggressive karate," a '70s Long Island housewife who falls asleep under the tanning bed, puts metal in "the science oven" even though she (sort of) knows better and belts out "Live and Let Die" better than Paul McCartney could ever dream.
1. "Silver Linings Playbook" (2012): Arguably Lawrence's greatest performance to date, an energetic, unpredictable, and passionate turn as Tiffany, a young widow and live wire who dances her way to romance and redemption with a recently released mental hospital patient (Bradley Cooper).
The BIGGEST Hit: "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" set fire to the box office as the No. 1 domestic earner of 2013, raking in $424 million. Its worldwide total came in north of $864 million. Close behind is its 2012 predecessor, "The Hunger Games," which earned $408 million domestic and $691 million worldwide.
With Honors: Earlier this year, the 23-year-old Lawrence became the youngest actor ever to earn three Academy Award nominations. Prior to her Best Supporting Actress nod for "American Hustle," she was nominated for Best Actress for "Winter's Bone" and won Best Actress for "Silver Linings Playbook."
Fun Fact: J.Law is a big Jeff Bridges fan. Watch her geek out over being in the presence of The Dude at last summer's San Diego Comic-Con:
Best Fan Tribute: "What would this world be without a little bit crazy?" A Belgium fan recreates her favorite Lawrence scenes. Dig those flash-frame transitions!
Most Underappreciated Achievement: She played the "other woman" role in the romantic drama "Like Crazy" (2011), but Lawrence turned what's often a thankless kind of part into something complex and dynamic as she brought a lot more than just, well, "other woman" kind of conflict to the scenario. You've got to feel for a guy (Anton Yelchin) who's stuck in a love triangle that involves both Jennifer Lawrence and Felicity Jones... feel like punching him, that is.
Nobody's Perfect: Hey, a lot of actresses have at least one horror movie in which they wear a tight white T-shirt throughout most of the running time on their resume. It's just too bad the one on J.Law's is one as lame and derivative as "The House at the End of the Street" (2012), a truly bizarre B-movie anomaly in an otherwise impeccable filmography.
Moonlighting: J.Law has made appearances on several television shows, including "Monk," "Cold Case," "Medium," and 31 episodes of "The Bill Engvall Show."
Lawrence is also an official ambassador of the Special Olympics and has created the Jennifer Lawrence Foundation, which supports charities such as the Screen Actors Guild Foundation and Do Something.
And for Her Next Acts: J.Law will reprise her role as Raven/Mystique in "X-Men: Days of Future Past," opening May 23, and as Katniss Everdeen in "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1," opening Nov. 21. She'll play those roles yet again in "X-Men: Apocalypse," opening May 27, 2016, and in "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2," opening Nov. 20, 2015.
Also on the docket is her third collaboration with Bradley Cooper, "Serena," a Southern melodrama set during the Great Depression. Lawrence is also attached to "East of Eden," an adaptation of the John Steinbeck novel that will reunite her with original "Hunger Games" director Gary Ross, and she'll make a cameo appearance as a younger version of Fraida Felcher (Kathleen Turner) in "Dumb and Dumber To," opening Nov. 14.
See Who Else Has Made ‘Greatest Actors Alive’ List So Far:
#50 Brad Pitt | #49 Sigourney Weaver | #48 Joaquin Phoenix | #47 Paul Giamatti | #46 Forest Whitaker | #45 Matthew McConaughey | #44 Viola Davis | #43 Michael Douglas | #42 Jodie Foster | #41 Ben Kingsley | #40 Javier Bardem | #39 Sally Field | #38 Robert Downey Jr.
What qualifies actors for a slot on Yahoo Movies’ running list of the 50 Greatest Actors Alive? First, we limited the pool to actors who are still currently working. Other factors taken into consideration: Pure skill in the craft; their ability to disappear underneath the skin of the characters they portray; versatility and the range of their roles; ratio of strong performances to weak ones; quality of films acted in; strength of recent work; awards and accolades from peers.