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Jennifer Lawrence highlights an Oscar night full of ups and downs

POSTED February 26, 2013 8:52 p.m.

Jennifer Lawrence is a live wire. The "Silver Linings Playbook" Oscar winner livened things up back in the press room Sunday night after winning her award as Best Actress. As those who watched the 85th Academy Awards show know, Lawrence tripped and fell on her way up the steps to retrieve her statuette. A reporter with a thick accent asked her what happened and if she meant to do that.

"Was it on purpose? Absolutely," scoffed the 22-year-old, stunning in a strapless ice pink Dior gown that featured a lavish, patterned skirt. "What do you mean, what happened? Look at my dress. I stepped on the fabric, they just waxed the floor."

Then she was asked, "What was going through your mind?"

"A bad word I can't say," responded feisty Lawrence, to laughter, "that starts with F."

A reporter asked her feelings on becoming so successful at such a young age, and whether it's a good thing to get honored so early in her career. "I guess so, yeah. Who knows? I guess we'll see." Then the reporter persisted: was she fearful of peaking too soon?

"Well, now I am," she answered.

Looking over the crowd of media from around the world seated at tables before her, holding aloft their numbers in hopes of being called upon to ask their question, Lawrence noted, "It's like an auction, right? ... I feel like I'm picking people to make fun of me."

In the middle of describing her day, as chaotic and nerve-wracked as Steve Martin in "Father of the Bride," she stopped herself and apologized. "Sorry. I took a shot before I came out here."

But it wasn't all joking around. Lawrence took the opportunity to talk about mental ailments, now that "Silver Linings Playbook" is helping to bring public attention and understanding to them. "I don't think we're going to stop until we get rid of the stigma of mental illness. I know David won't," she said, referring to "Silver Linings Playbook" filmmaker David O. Russell, whose son has bipolar illness. She pointed out that taking medicine for asthma and other ailments is something people take for granted, "but as soon as you take medicine for your mind, there's such a stigma about it."

Lawrence's backstage banter accounted for some of the more entertaining moments in an Oscar night that was uneven in the extreme, both on camera and off.

The split personality of the evening — part traditional Oscar show, part frat boy joke fest — didn't work. It was like one of those zany Food Network fusion challenges, where chefs are asked to make a dish out of peppermint and chives or some such weird duo. From the opening number on, host Seth MacFarlane ping-ponged between good and bad, the worst being his "joke" about John Wilkes Booth being the actor who really got into Lincoln's head. The feeling extended into the press area, too, where David Arquette had a seat as a Howard Stern Show plant (remember when Arquette had a career himself?) and disingenuous questions mingled with real ones. Like beginning Best Actor winner, Daniel Day-Lewis' interview with a question about how it was to wear that beard in "Lincoln," was it uncomfortable?

Day-Lewis answered questions cordially. (The beard was his own, of course.)

Day-Lewis, who holds passports from both Ireland and the U.K., was asked within which style he'd celebrate. "I'd be happy with either one. I guess because I'm here, I'll celebrate L.A. style." What a great finish to a role that began with the "paralyzing" prospect of getting Lincoln wrong and then never being able to show his face in America again — Day-Lewis making history as the only three-time Best Actor Oscar winner.

Anne Hathaway almost started to cry in the press room when she talked about her dream coming true — then was asked about the cynical responses she's had for being open with her emotions. Does that get to her?

"It does get to me," she admitted. "But you have to remember in life that there's a positive to every negative and a negative to every positive ... The universe is said to be 51 percent matter and 49 percent antimatter, so things tip in the scale of the possible." She added, "I live my life with love. I live my life with compassion, hoping for the best for everyone, no matter how they feel about me."

She also spoke of her "Les Miserables" leading man, Hugh Jackman, as uncynical.

"Tom Hooper, my director, has gone on record as saying without [Hugh] this film could not exist. He has strength and soul, and artistry and fun. We do live in a world that can tend toward the cynical. This film — it's inherent to the film's success that we believe in the goodness of this character. Hugh has that. People believed in him, and it made the film soar." Playing the unfortunate soul Fantine, she said, had made her "connect with the darkness of life; and more to the point, to the unnecessary suffering human beings inflict on each other all over the world. It made me more aware."

 Hathaway glowed when asked about her husband, actor and jewelry designer Adam Shulman. "He just made everything better and clearer and more real. And that's all I'm going to say."

At more than three and a half hours, this year's Oscar show didn't come close to producers Neil Meron's and Craig Zadan's pronouncement that they would "really try" to bring it in on time. Nor did we see any evidence of their scientific-sounding scheme to take out wasted moments in order to have more time for entertainment. What we did see was a lot of "Chicago" — a film from a decade ago that was showcased mainly because it was produced by Zadan and Meron. And the "Dreamgirls" section of their 11-minute tribute to musicals showcased Jennifer Hudson, who has been appearing on "Smash," which is produced by Zadan and Meron. How long would the show have run without the Zadan and Meron material, one wonders. Isn't the idea to celebrate films of this year?

What a disappointment.

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