Presenting: The Jennifer Aniston Award and the Top 4 Contenders

Sometimes I wonder if life would have been different for Jennifer Aniston if the internet in its current state — aka one giant list of Buzzfeed GIFs — had been around during her prime.

Today, we’re quick to flood all social media outlets with lavishing praise for stars like Beyonce and the like for doing simple, unremarkable things like wearing a pretty dress to an awards show, but in the 90’s we were forced to praise our favorite female celebrities within the confines of our own homes and office breakrooms. We all adored Aniston of course, but we didn’t have the resources to globally publicize that love like we do today, and I think that may have done a number to her psyche.

I mean, do you remember how much she was unanimously loved?

We loved her for being Rachel on Friends. We loved her for her cute hairstyles. We loved her for that scene in The Break Up where she flaunted her naked body with all the confidence in the world. She was the girl next door that we not just respected, but believed in.

And after Brad Pitt left her for that jezebel Angelina Jolie, all we as a country wanted was for her to meet a nice guy, settle down, have kids, and grow old together with us. But after constant emotional turbulence with temporary flames like Vince Vaughn, John Mayer, and Gerard Butler, we just couldn’t handle the roller coaster anymore and Aniston lost her sacred status as our #1 boo (plus she released a murderer’s row of shitty films). Since then we’ve been lacking a female movie star that is both wholeheartedly respected for her talents and unanimously adored by men and women alike. Actresses like Cameron Diaz and Natalie Portman showed some signs of hope, but none of them have really come close to actually grabbing that golden ring.

That is until recently.

In the past few years, there has been a strong surge of talented, beautiful, endearing women working their way into audiences’ hearts. Grantland’s Juliet Litman called out Rachel McAdams specifically as someone that’s due for a big year, but I think we can go deeper with this/make it much more absurd. Thus I present to you…

THE JENNIFER J. ANISTON AWARD!

Much like The Heisman, The Aniston isn’t tied to any specific parameters or statistics; it’s more aligned with the vague description of The Heisman as being meant for the candidate who “best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity.”

It doesn’t matter if one actress is the most attractive or even the most talented; we’re looking bigger picture here. The Aniston is meant for the actress that we’re anointing as our new queen for all to worship and admire.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the top candidates:

 

Jennifer Lawrence

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JLaw is an obvious front-runner and who I personally would vote for.

She’s unquestionably talented, having conquered a variety of genres; she already has one Academy Award under her belt; she’s attractive in that way that she can somehow be seen as cute, pretty, beautiful, and HOT all within the same scene. Most importantly though, she connects with us commoners in an otherworldly way. Whether she’s championing self-acceptance, falling down stairs while winning major awards, or letting us know just how much she has eaten or wants to eat, we fall all over ourselves when it comes to Jennifer Lawrence.

Throw in the fact that she’s only 23, and she’s got a pretty unbeatable case. We might have the makings of a dynasty here.
 

Rachel McAdams

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As I mentioned before, Grantland’s Juliet Litman is putting her money on McAdams in 2014.

After reminding us of the cinematic heat check she was rocking during the Mean Girls/The Notebook/Wedding Crashers streak, Litman points out that McAdams has a pretty stacked year ahead. She’s in A Most Wanted Man with Philip Seymour Hoffman, she’s in a new Cameron Crowe film that also stars Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, John Krasinski, and Danny McBride, and she has more than a few dalliances with James Franco in place for the near future.

I would never count out someone that is in 3 of the seminal movies of the 2000’s, but McAdams will have to make the most of these opportunities if she’s going to take home The Aniston.
 

Emma Stone

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America loves this wide-eyed redhead (who isn’t actually a redhead, fun fact).

She stole our hearts playing opposite Jonah Hill in Superbad, but from there, she exceeded all expectations and started landing roles in a variety of films both comedic and dramatic including Crazy, Stupid, Love, Gangster Squad, and The Help– all of which she shined in.

She’s got The Amazing Spider-Man 2 coming this Spring, and that might be just the reminder we need that Emma Stone is one of the best young female talents out there.
 

Anna Kendrick

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Anna Kendrick has quietly been putting together an amazing career resume.

Did you know that she was nominated for a Tony all the way back in 1998 for a musical she starred in? Do you remember that she was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for her role in Up in the Air?

Take a look at how she’s balanced mass-appealing blockbusters like Twilight and Pitch Perfect with indie films like the underrated 50/50 with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and then realize that the music video for her song “Cups (When I’m Gone)” from the Pitch Perfect soundtrack has 98 million views on YouTube.

If this were the Heisman, Kendrick would be the candidate that all the advanced metrics gurus love. She’s well-rounded, efficient, and let’s face it, an absolute cutie pie.

 
 
Originally published on The Daily Banter on January 8, 2014.