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oscars 2013

Jennifer Lawrence’s Fall: An All-Time Great Oscar Moment

Actress Jennifer Lawrence reacts after winning the Best Actress award for "Silver Linings Playbook" during the Oscars held at the Dolby Theatre on February 24, 2013 in Hollywood, California.

Really, it was just a trip. When Jennifer Lawrence recounts her Oscars stairs drama on countless talk shows this week (and next week, and in the many years to come), she will play it up, moan about how she fell flat on her face and say charming, self-deprecating things about high heels and wax floors. There will probably be an SNL skit that launches a rag-doll Jennifer Lawrence eight feet in the air. But the real thing was just a bobble, and it was her reaction that made it magical — J. Law catches herself with her hands and then stays there for an extra beat, one part embarrassed, one part "holy shit I just won an Oscar." It was the kind of unscripted, extra-human moment that makes Jennifer Lawrence so Jennifer Lawrence. Please understand: This is not to mock her. That trip was one of the most wonderful Oscar moments we've seen in years.

This awards season has been a J. Law lover's dream — it's a wonder we don't have a Quote Generator already — but the ceremonies presented a more subdued Lawrence, respectful and reined in. There was the infamous Meryl Streep joke (funny but kind of swallowed, as if she were afraid to land it), and her sincere but understated (save a Harvey Weinstein joke) SAG awards speech. Recall her first trip to the stage last night. She introduced Adele, and she looked so nervous that you thought she might throw up her nonexistent lunch. The trip changed all that. She was looser, necessarily self-deprecating, overwhelmed but still genuinely enthused. ("Happy birthday, Emmanuelle!") It was like the entrance freed the lovely screwball actress inside her.

It was also, as all the Best Oscar moments are, totally unplanned. (For a counterpoint, consider Anne Hathaway's baby-voiced, obviously rehearsed "It came true.") Like Adrien Brody's Halle Berry make-out and Sally Field's "You like me," the J. Law trip will be parodied and referenced to death. We will roll our eyes, probably. But when it happened, and when Lawrence swept herself back up the stairs to a standing ovation, it felt like she (and we) had managed to escape the overproduced fanfare and the bad jokes and the theatricality of the whole affair. It felt real. Which is why we loved her in the first place.

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images