I saw a headline in my twitter newsfeed today that read, if I may paraphrase, "Lupita Nyong'o Loses BAFTA to Jennifer Lawrence." It made me sad. Not because of any particular investment in who wins or loses the BAFTA — though I do have that. And yes, Jennifer Lawrence did win the BAFTA for Best Supporting Actress this Sunday. But can't we be nicer to Lupita Nyong'o? And maybe do our best to restrain ourselves from turning this into some sort of blood feud between two actresses?
It's hard to deny that there is a mighty projected competition waging in the Oscars race between Lupita Nyong'o and Jennifer Lawrence for the Best Actress statue. Lawrence won the Golden Globe, Nyong'o won the Screen Actor's Guild Award, Lawrence the BAFTA, etc. It's a dead heat, it's gonna be a close race, it's anyone's game, the other nominees in their category don't stand a chance, etc.
And yes, awards season is defined by competition, but the rhetoric surrounding that of the race between Lawrence and Nyong'o seems so rooted in our desire to hail a winner and write off a loser, or villainize a winner so to better grieve with the loser. And it feels, as I said above, like pure projection of what we're looking for from these two women at the moment.
Both Lawrence and Nyong'o gave masterful performances in their respective films. They were also very different performances. It's this, combined with the fact that Nyong'o is the shining beacon of bright new talent and Lawrence now the vet whom the media is slowly transplanting out of the "overzealously admired" role, that makes this both a win-win and a lose-lose situation. If Nyong'o wins there will undoubtedly be at least three think-pieces in the following days declaring the "end of the Jennifer Lawrence era." People are itching for a backlash due pretty simply to a case of prolonged overexposure that has little to do with Lawrence herself. It'll happen. If Lawrence wins, this backlash is likely to be worse — it'll be her second win in a row, and nothing says overexposure like two consecutive Oscars; if Lawrence wins, people will use Nyong'o's loss as an excuse to rip into Lawrence's public profile in the name of retribution.
Narratives of competition have, of course, long been present in Hollywood, both on-screen and off. And it's really anyone's guess who's gonna take Oscar home on Academy Awards night March 2. It'd just be really nice if we all made a pact not to be huge dicks about it to whoever wins and/or loses. Does no one else desire the Nyong'o-Lawrence bromance that I do?
We should also remember here that when it comes to awards season, the Oscars, and specifically the BAFTAs, Lawrence and Nyong'o are not the only people in the game. Here's who took home some of the other big awards of the night.
- Best Actor: Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 years a Slave
Best Actress: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
- Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
- Best Supporting Actor: Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
What do you think it all means for Oscar night?