Why Jennifer Lawrence Losing the Oscar Was The Best Thing For Her Career

Usually, it's the Best Picture or Lead Actor/Actress categories that are the most contentious, but for this year's awards, the Oscar race most up in the air was none other than Best Supporting Actress. For months, countless critics and fans debated over who would take home that particular prize, with half of the commentators rooting for 12 Years a Slave's breakout Nyong'o and the other half voicing their support for American Hustle's Jennifer Lawrence. While contenders like Sally Hawkins and June Squibb offered solid opposition, nearly all pundits agreed it was truly a two-way race between Nyong'o and Lawrence. On Sunday night, the debate was settled when Nyong'o won the Best Supporting Oscar, and while fans of Lawrence might be disappointed she lost out, it's actually the best thing that could have happened to the actress' career.

Why? Because if Lawrence had won instead of Nyong'o, she'd have faced immediate, harsh backlash. Nyong'o, a novice actress who made her film debut in Slave, became the darling of this year's awards season, wowing audiences with her eloquent acceptance speeches and stunning red carpet gowns. Over the last several months, Nyong'o has garnered incredible support, with many critics arguing that if her performance in Slave wasn't recognized come Oscar night, it'd be one of the biggest upsets in Academy Award history.

And so fair or not, Lawrence, despite giving a hugely impressive performance in American Hustle, would have faced major criticism if she'd won instead of Nyong'o. Add this to the backlash the Hustle star is already at the verge of facing for being America's Sweetheart two years running, and winning Best Supporting Actress would've hurt her career, not helped it.

So while it's disappointing for Lawrence fans that she didn't take home the Oscar, it might actually have been the best thing that could have happened to her. Letting Nyong'o be America's current favorite ingenue allows Lawrence to take a much-needed step out of the spotlight, at least for a couple of months. The time away will allow audiences to miss her, and when she returns, they'll focus on the reasons they loved her in the first place — her wit, her clumsiness, her talent — rather than her unfortunate timing of being in the same race as Nyong'o. Lawrence may not have won the Oscar, but the benefits she'll get from losing far outweigh the backlash she'd inevitably get from "stealing" an award away from a newly-loved star.