By Karen Valby
March 17, 2011 at 07:12 PM EDT
Sebastian Mlynarski

Lionsgate confirmed this afternoon that 20-year-old Jennifer Lawrence, whose blisteringly fine work in Winter’s Bone earned her an Oscar nomination, has landed the coveted role of Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games. In director Gary Ross’ adaptation of the first installment to Suzanne Collins’ beloved trilogy, Lawrence will play the 16-year-old tribute from District 12 who’s forced by a vicious government to participate in an annual reality TV death match. “Jennifer’s just an incredible actress,” praised Collins in a statement. “So powerful, vulnerable, beautiful, unforgiving and brave. I never thought we’d find somebody this perfect for the role. And I can’t wait for everyone to see her play it.” Filming is set to begin later this spring with Lionsgate planning a March 23, 2012 release date.

Read more:

‘Hunger Games’ director Gary Ross talks about ‘the easiest casting decision of my life’ — EXCLUSIVE

‘The Hunger Games’: Is Jennifer Lawrence the Katniss of your dreams?

‘The Hunger Games’ gets a release date

‘Hunger Games’ exclusive: What the movie will be rated, and how it feels to be called the next ‘Twilight’

‘Hunger Games’ exclusive: Why Gary Ross got the coveted job, and who suggested Megan Fox for the lead role

‘Hunger Games’ exclusive: Director Gary Ross talks about casting Katniss

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