Movie: Joy
What it’s up for: Leading Actress

David O. Russell lays out his intentions for Joy from the beginning. As the introductory text states, it draws inspiration from strong women everywhere, but most notably from Joy Mangano. Joy’s story is a rags to riches tale – a struggling single mother who invents a new type of mop which launches a career as an inventor. This is not technically a biopic, as Russell wanted to create a fictional version of Joy that could communicate an overarching theme.

Although the film is enjoyable, Jennifer Lawrence truly is the saving grace. Through a somewhat awkward and bumpy script, Lawrence keeps the story going by subtly showing us Joy’s growth as a person. This role feels slightly different than previous roles for Lawrence. I can’t quite put my finger on what’s different though. She creates Joy’s persona convincingly and with great emotion. However, nothing spectacular happened that made her acting stand-out. She is a great actress and this role was simply par for the course.

The story, despite the bumpiness, is impactful and significant. Joy’s relatable struggles keep you rooting for her and crying for her when things don’t work out. It’s worth a watch if only for the moment when Joy finally lands in a successful place and she uses that success to help others. That message – helping those who are struggling if you have the resources – is one our society needs to hear more often. I would recommend Joy if you’re looking for inspiration, encouragement, or just a good pick-me-up.

Leading Actress – Really unlikely