Winning an Academy Award, or even landing a nomination, it’s perhaps the pinnacle/ defining moment in an actor’s career. The most prestigious award in the industry can take a lifetime to attain, and many actors and actresses never receive such selected recognition. For 22 year-old Jennifer Lawrence flirting with Oscar glory came very early in her career. At age 20 in 2011, she became the second youngest actress to be nominated for the Best Actress award with her performance in a small independent film, and only a handful of titles in her filmography.

Most critics knew it was unlikely for her to win the award that year; however the nomination propelled her career, giving her the chance to jump from the indie scene to major studio films. Today, just short of two years since her nomination she has starred in a huge franchise blockbuster film, and is the critic’s lead choice to win the Academy Award next year for her job in the upcoming movie Silver Linings Playbook. Here is a short look at the defining films in this young prodigy’s short career.

Winter’s Bone (2010)
This is definitely her breakthrough role, as Ree Dolly, a teenager living in a rural town ruled by illegal meth cooks. She must defend her family’s honor and land against the town’s thugs, as she is certain they are responsible for her father’s disappearance. Lawrence plays a young girl that is forced to take on the world on her own, restrained but with an unbreakable will to get to the bottom of things. For her performance she earned a score of nominations in all major critic circles, as well as a Golden Globe nominations, and her first Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. She surely is the relentless driving force of the film, which went on to get a Best Picture nomination as well. There is certainly a before an after divide in her career after Winter’s Bone became such a success for a small picture, but in the next year and half her milestone would keep piling up.

X-Men: First Class (2011)
After a couple of small roles in films such as the independent drama Like Crazy and The Beaver, Miss. Lawrence got the comic-book treatment being casted to play chameleon-like Mystique. As the form-shifting mutant the actress got the chance to be part of a much more mainstream film, gaining more exposure and expanding her repertoire. Unlike in previous X-Men films, in which Raven/Mystique was mostly a secondary character, in First Class Lawrence had the chance to portray a more complex individual with a challenging dichotomy between her superhuman state and her vulnerability. Overall a great follow up in her career. The film was well received by audiences and critics, and went on to get a handful of nominations at the always-fun MTV Movie Awards, besides earning Lawrence a new following of hardcore X-Men fanboys. The actress also has signed up to repeat he role in the upcoming sequel in these newly revived X-Men franchise.

The Hunger Games (2012)
Having a very fruitful streak, the actress achieved the stardom status with this film based on the popular teen-oriented novel. One the most anticipated novel adaptations in recent memory, The Hunger Games seems to be the role that skyrocketed Lawrence into a profitable actress. Winning the role of Katniss Everdeen from a field of more than 30 other actresses is a very impressive feat. The story revolves around a tradition in a not so distant future, in which 2 young civilians from each of the different nations in this society are sacrificed in a battle to the death. Reminiscent of her role in Winter’s Bone, Katniss volunteers as tribute in order to save her younger sister. The film was critically acclaimed and kept fans satisfied, many praised the strength and solemnity of Lawrence’s performance, making this again a great step for her. She will repeat this role in the upcoming sequel The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. However, unlike starts in popular teenage saga films e.g. Harry Potter/ Twilight, she by no means will be typecasted, as she has been smart enough to alternate roles and choose interesting projects that enhanced her appeal as a well-rounded actress.

The House at the End of the Street (2012)
As in any brilliant career there is always a couple missteps. This horror flick received terrible reviews from the press and failed to become a hit in the box office. Probably these unfavorable results were due not to the actress’  talent but the weak storyline. Nevertheless, one should note that it is a worthy decision in her career to try to explore a different genre. Lawrence’s Elissa Cassidy is a typical horror-film teen. In the middle of high school preoccupations, she develops a stranger relationship with her less-than-imbalanced neighbor who surely is hiding some spooky secrets. The film is bland and with not much redemptive scare, but at least the actress was able to give the genre a try.

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
As Award Season approaches some performances, films, and directors start generating certain buzz. The speculators usually have a frontrunner in each field. This year the one performance that critics and industry moguls seems to have as a lock for all major awards is that of Jennifer Lawrence in David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook, “dramedy” that stars Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro as well. Lawrence plays a troubled young woman named Tiffany, who finds comfort in befriending Pat (Cooper), a thirty-something man whose life seems to have escaped him. They seem like an odd couple indeed, but charming enough to win over the press, and position the cast as serious contenders for the major accolades.

Most major contenders will open by mid-December, and then the field might be much more defined. Although some things can change and the trends may shift, Lawrence seems to be grounded in a precious spot that will make her the one to beat. Once the critic circles and Globes announce their verdicts we will know how close is this amazingly young and talented actress, to Oscar gold.