Jennifer Lawrence BAFTA Slammed As ‘Popularity Contest,’ Lupita Nyong’o Deserved It, Critics Say

While to may be difficult to imagine Jennifer Lawrence not being the favorite for anything at this stage in her meteoric career, her Best Supporting Actress honor at Sunday night’s BAFTA Awards in London was unexpected — and not well received by many critics.

The problem is not that anyone feels Jennifer Lawrence gave anything less than a stellar performance in American Hustle as Rosalyn Rosenfeld, the beleaguered, high-strung wife of con man Irving Rosenfeld, played by Christian Bale. The problem is that Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o gave not only an even better performance, but a more important one, critics said.

Lupita Nyong’o portrayed “Patsy,” a horrifically mistreated and exploited slave woman in the movie that won the BAFTA for Best Film, 12 Years A Slave. Where Jennifer Lawrence played a character who was largely comedic, Nyong’o played a role that was heartbreaking.

The BAFTAs are Britain’s equivalent of the Academy Awards, and 12 Years A Slave is considered the clear favorite to take home Best Picture at the March 2 Oscar ceremony. Nyong’o was also favored to win the Best Supporting Actress Oscar, but the Jennifer Lawrence BAFTA win changes that equation.

Because she’s still reportedly busy filming the final installments of The Hunger Games movie saga, Jennifer Lawrence was not even on hand in London to collect her BAFTA trophy. American Hustle director David O. Russell picked up the award on her behalf, also winning his own BAFTA for Best Original Screenplay.

While Jennifer Lawrence, 23, remains a fan favorite, critics did not take kindly to her edging out the bid by 30-year-old Lupita Nyong’o, who appeared in only her second film. She turned in a widely accalimed performance in the 2008 indie movie East River.

The Guardian film critic Peter Bradshaw remarked that “Jennifer Lawrence’s stock price has now peaked,” while critic Robbie Collin called the win “a baffling choice,” and that Nyong’o “should have been a shoo-in.”

Andrew Ellard, a British TV writer who has written for Red Dwarf and other popular programs, lamented, “Lawrence won a We Love Jennifer award, basically. Who’s shocked that these things are popularity contests not pure art appreciation?”

Jennifer Lawrence won the Best Actress Oscar last year for her role in another David O. Russell film, Silver Linings Playbook. There’s no chance she’ll miss that ceremony this year. Not only is Jennifer Lawrence up for an Oscar, she has been named a presenter as well.