Well, if you’re like most people, we probably know the answer already. But why have moviegoers reacted so differently to Anne and Jennifer?
Let's take a look at the facts...
Jennifer Lawrence won Best Actress last night. She tripped on her gown on her way up the stairs, and everyone went “aww!” or chuckled sympathetically. She admitted to taking a shot before her press interview following her win, sassed the reporters who asked her about the fall and whether or not she’s peaking too soon, and admitted that the “F” word was running through her mind during her tumble. She even caught the eye of a former Best Actor winner in a major way.
Meanwhile, Anne Hathaway was perfectly poised all evening. She didn’t take any tumbles, nor did she accidentally flash any genitalia. (Intentionally baring her nipples? Well, that’s another story.) She said she hoped those in poverty would stop suffering in her acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actress and beautifully performed in a medley of Les Miserables music.
Everyone came away from the evening loving Jennifer, but not the case with Anne ― people tweeted about hoping the Jaws theme would strike up and drown out her acceptance speech, and there are all sorts of pieces online about how annoying she is. Her well-intentioned comment about poverty prompted plenty of jokes about how we need to help 19th century French hookers before it’s too late.
It seems Anne can’t catch a break from the public, while Jennifer seems to get a free pass no matter what she says or does. So why the split? Perhaps examining five key components of their careers can help us uncover the answer?
1. Their Personas
Anne has proven herself to be an intelligent and charitable woman over the years, championing gay rights amongst other causes. She’s been an A-list star for years now, with enough time to settle into a groove as a capable performer in everything from studio romcoms to gritty independent dramas. It’s almost a surprise that Les Miserables is her first Oscar, she’s such a fixture in Academy-caliber movies.
Jennifer, meanwhile, is relatively new on the Hollywood scene, even if this was her second nomination. She’s known for being relatable, no-frills, and down-to-earth, even when wearing a gigantic gown. (In fact, the fact that she tripped in it just makes us relate to her all the more.) She doesn’t have the poise or sophistication of many of her peers, and that rough-around-the edges quality makes her seem like someone we could hang with, not just someone we expect to see at the Oscars every year.
2. Their Oscar Roles
Can you get any more Oscar-baity than Les Miserables? The all-sung adaptation of a beloved stage musical, featuring a cast filled with numerous previous Academy Award nominees and a director who recently won one, too? Anne’s raw vocal performance was wonderful, but playing a poor prostitute on her deathbed in a prestige pic is exactly the sort of role that garners Oscar attention. The fact that she was a shoo-in to win since the movie’s release didn’t raise Anne-haters’ tolerance any.
Meanwhile, Jennifer played the self-proclaimed “crazy slut” of Silver Linings Playbook, a widow suffering from depression who manipulates a bipolar man into entering a dance contest with her. Certain elements of the role might seem to make sense in the Best Actress category, but Jennifer is genuinely edgy as Tiffany and dares to allow the audience to hate her character, at least in certain moments. Tiffany isn’t a character we’re meant to pity, as Fantine is. The fact that Jennifer was able to play it in such a way that got awards attention is all the more impressive, whereas Anne’s role had Oscar buzz built in.
3. Their Past Roles
Strangely, both Anne and Jennifer had a huge year as strong, ass-kicking women in major blockbusters. Everyone seems to have forgotten that Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman was one of the best things about The Dark Knight Rises ― and, in fact, the dark and sassy role features Anne playing against type (and acting more like Jennifer Lawrence, actually). Meanwhile, Jennifer played Katniss Everdeen the same way she played Ree in her Oscar-nominated Winter’s Bone performance, despite a huge difference in target audience. Both earned good reviews, even if the films themselves were met with a mixed response.
But Anne’s been around awhile, and is probably better known as the upbeat star of The Devil Wears Prada, Bride Wars, and The Princess Diaries than she is for her darker turns. Jennifer, on the other hand, doesn’t really any black marks on her resume with her slimmer body of work, so people are coming to her pretty fresh, without Anne’s rom-com baggage.
4. Their Looks
Both Anne and Jennifer are attractive ladies ― we can’t deny that. But since Anne had to chop off her locks to play Fantine, her ensuing short-cropped hair has been more “cute” than “sexy.” And as a dirty hooker selling her teeth and hair in Les Miserables, she isn’t likely to get too much blood pumping you-know-where. Jennifer’s role as a recovering nympho is a lot sexier, and outside of her films she’s also rocking the sex appeal a little stronger. She’s younger, she’s single, and she’s the hot new thing in town ― whereas we’re all used to Anne Hathaway by now. (As Seth MacFarlane pointed out, we “saw her boobs” ages ago.)
Of course, it’s not all about looks, because plenty of actresses earn our respect even if they’re not the most attractive women in the room. And like we said, Anne is certainly a looker. But the red carpet is a good place to see the divide between the two winners ― Jennifer nailed it in an attention-grabbing dress that poofed out everywhere, while Anne’s straight and slim number felt more appropriate for a tween attending her first spring formal. Anne’s recent fashion choice haven’t been helping the general public dig her lately.
5. Their Backgrounds
Here’s probably the most crucial difference between the two, and perhaps the root cause of it all. Part of Jennifer’s relatability stems from the fact that she was raised in Kentucky to two very average parents. She got ahead based on the merits of her talent and quickly moved up the ladder to be one of Hollywood’s most sought-after performers.
On the other hand, Anne’s mother was an actress who also played Fantine in the stage version of Les Mis. She received nominations for her stage work even as a high school actress, studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and performed at Carnegie Hall before her first screen role. That “Most Likely To Succeed” aura follows Anne wherever she goes, and it’s nearly impossible not to think of her as that actress girl in high school who stars in every musical theater production. (Witness her hosting the Oscars for proof.) It doesn’t take away from her talent any, but perhaps, to Anne’s detratractors, it all feels a little too… predictable. She is, after all, a very actressy actress, whereas Jennifer just seems like a cool girl who happens to be super talented at being in movies and decided to roll with that.
Whether or not these perceptions have any merit in terms of these girls’ real personalities, who knows? All we do know is that Anne has received major backlash lately and an Academy Award isn’t helping, while Jennifer is the golden girl of Hollywood that almost nobody has a harsh word for. Now it's time for you to weigh in.
Is Jennifer more Jen-uine? Is Anne really that Anne-oying?
Comment and tell us what you think!
Photos Courtesy of Fameflynet and Getty Images