Is American Hustle better than The Hunger Games? Which films would Jennifer Lawrence herself rather forget? Ranking the Mockingjay star's roles, from worst to best

13. Devil You Know (James Oakley, 2013)

Ignore the year. Everyone has to start somewhere, and Jennifer Lawrence started here, in a tiny role, in a botched indie melodrama that was shot and shelved in 2007, then opportunistically released when she hit the big-time. She plays the young Rosamund Pike, slinking around in flashbacks looking coolly dangerous, aged 16.

Credit: Roger Films

12. Garden Party (Jason Freeland, 2008)
Given the actors in major roles (Willa Holland, Tierra Abbott, Vinessa Shaw?) and an exceptionally limited release, this LA-set drama is unlikely to be remembered for much, save perhaps Lawrence’s ill-advised perm in the insignificant supporting role of Tiff.

11. The House at the End of the Street (Mark Tonderai, 2012)
“The critics have been very kind to me thus far in my career,” Lawrence wrote to the New York Film Critics Circle on receipt of one of her American Hustle trophies. “But I guess I’m not receiving this for The House at the End of theStreet, so you guys must have missed that one, right?”.

This entirely derelict suburban psychothriller (think Nancy Drew meets Psycho), directed by a former Radio 1 DJ, is easily Lawrence’s ropiest vehicle since she made it big. She looks embarrassed even during it.

10. The Poker House (Lori Petty, 2008)

The directorial debut of Tank Girl star Lori Petty hardly seems like fertile ground for any novice actress to thrive in, and the garish overacting of Selma Blair as a strung-out prostitute, not to mention Chloë Grace Moretz as heryoungest daughter, are grim warnings indeed.

Credit: Everett Collection/ REX

But Lawrence managed to get across some subtle anguish here in her first dramatically testing part, as well as projecting an underage sexual curiosity not unlike Juliette Lewis’s in Cape Fear. There’s a tough rape scene which she was brave to do.

9. The Beaver (Jodie Foster, 2011)
Her screen time is modest as Anton Yelchin’s high-school crush, but Lawrence made something here of a role that could easily have gone for nought. She seems, surprise surprise, like the coolest girl in school, and certainly not the easiest to go out with.

She’s carrying herself with already impressive confidence opposite the biggest co-stars she’d yet experienced - particularly a puppet-toting Mel Gibson. You wonder what tips Jodie Foster had to impart from behind the camera, given the intrepid acting career she’d already carved out for herself as she rounded 20.

8. Like Crazy (Drake Doremus, 2011)

Paired for a second time with Yelchin, Lawrence here played The Other Girl – the colleague Yelchin’s Jacob falls in with romantically when visa issues keep him an ocean apart from his real soulmate. It’s a small but quite special performance, unusually doting for Lawrence, who resists the urge to make Samantha any kind of nuisance or headcase. She quietly and tearfully absorbs the obvious truth that her boyfriend’s heart is elsewhere, and slips out of the movie with a sad grace.

7. X-Men: First Class (Matthew Vaughn, 2011) and Days of Future Past (Bryan Singer, 2014)

Lawrence’s Mystique, a shape-shifting mutant fatale in head-to-toe blue body paint, is such an arresting, provocative and boldly sexy characterisation you wish she'd had more to do in both these films.

Credit: Alan Markfield

She’s somewhere between angry and ravenous at all times, a surprisingly relatable villainness-to-be who’s caught in a love triangle between Michael Fassbender’s Magneto and Nicholas Hoult’s Beast. She succeeds pretty niftily in giving Mystique an aura of instability that registers emotionally, not just in her chameleonic cycling through other guises.

6. Serena (Susanne Bier, 2014)

This odd-duck historical tragedy can’t possibly live up to the pitch – J.Law as a ruthless, Lady Macbeth-like lumber baron in jodhpurs and silk gowns! Still, a lot of what she’s doing here is compellingly brazen and worth digging out. It proves she can carry off a period look as a kind of Barbara Stanwyck siren of the Depression-era North Carolina mountainside: an odd test to put her through, perhaps, but one she passes with flying colours.

5. The Burning Plain (Guillermo Arriaga, 2008)
Lawrence got her first serious critical attention, and even a Venice Film Festival award, for her crucial part in this neglected, off-puttingly self-serious melodrama from the writer of Babel and Amores Perros. As Kim Basinger’s morose daughter, who grows up to become a fiercely miserable Charlize Theron, she has a sullen verve, and keeps some mystery in play before the hideous mistake that’s about to blight her life.

4. The Hunger Games (Gary Ross, 2012) and Catching Fire (Francis Lawrence, 2013) and Mockingjay (Lawrence, 2014/15)

Credit: Murray Close

Katniss Everdeen was the big one: the part that propelled Lawrence on to magazine covers everywhere, inside teenage bedrooms and right to the top of every casting director’s wish list.

Being this tough and resilient at the service of a massive global franchise has never seemed like her trickiest acting gig – sometimes, it feels like handling the boost in profile has been the harder part. The Hunger Games is not quite a Sigourney-Weaver-in-Aliens-level triumph, but she’s unquestionably the rule-breaking, quick-thinking action heroine de nos jours here.

3. American Hustle (David O. Russell, 2013)

There’s a touch of the dress-up box – she’s at least a decade too young for the role of crazy-volatile housewife Rosalyn as written.

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But it’s quite a thrill watching her surmount that obstacle through sheer force of talent. It’s her most unplugged performance, and wild fun to behold, even when she’s being hugely indulged by a director who’d clearly watch her do anything. Her wig-out to Live and Let Die, bafflement over a microwave, and bathroom bitch-off with Amy Adams are greatest-hits moments which nearly got her a second Oscar.

2. Silver Linings Playbook (David O. Russell, 2012)

This one was the trophy role – a gold statuette for just Being Jennifer Lawrence, as much as for her impressively lively, prickly, damaged and flushed portrait of widowed dance competitor Tiffany Maxwell. It never felt like an awards-tailored part, more an acting opportunity she grabbed between her teeth before flinging herself into the tango. Somehow, she was the front-runner from season’s start, and not even Emmanuelle Riva’s sensational work in Amour thwarted Hollywood’s desire to crown her as its new darling.

1. Winter’s Bone (Debra Granik, 2010)

Credit: Roadside/ Everett/ REX

Lawrence’s best performance and film handily converge here. 17-year-old Ree Dolly, in this hardscrabble Ozarks drama, was her first chance to carry a whole picture on her shoulders, thanks to the trust Debra Granik placed in her – and what a robust, physically credible and confidently contained performance this was. It was Ree, more than Tiffany, Rosalyn, Katniss or the rest, who proved Lawrence had the chops to get inside a young woman’s headspace and intuitively figure out the fight she had to win. Megastardom was just a matter of time.