Tag Archives: Silver Linings Playbook

Bradley Cooper’s 10 Best Movies

Bradley Cooper

Bradley Cooper’s best role may be as an weapons-obsessed, semi-homicidal raccoon, but the actor has put together a solid list of performances in which he is not knee-high and betailed.  When Alias exploded on ABC, everyone thought Jennifer Garner was going to be the breakout star from the cast, but, over the years, Cooper has emerged as the most talented member of that fantastic ensemble cast.  He’s hit or miss as a leading man, with his best solo performance undoubtedly being sniper Chris Kyle in American Sniper.  Where Cooper shines is as part of an ensemble.  He works best when paired with other high caliber actors (American Hustle, Silver Linings Playbook) and can easily do drama, comedy, or action.  His achievement with Rocket is not glib praise.  Cooper completely transforms his voice to play one of the MCU’s most popular characters and manages to make a character that is silly in concept, a hysterical, often moving example of voice acting at its finest. With A Star is Born, Cooper added A-list director to his repertoire, taking his career in a direction akin to that of Clint Eastwood. Cooper has a bright future in front of the camera and behind it.

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Jennifer Lawrence’s 10 Best Movies

Jennifer Lawrence

Jennifer Lawrence has been the most in-demand actress in Hollywood this decade, and also the highest paid (until recently passed by Emma Stone).  Still in her late 20s, Lawrence already has four Oscar nominations for outstanding performances in films like Winter’s Bone, Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle.  She’s also been a gigantic box office draw in two franchises, helping to reboot the X-Men as Mystique and in the adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games novels.  She is in a bit of a slump the last few years, but with a legion of fans and undeniable dramatic skills, that could change at any time.  She was so young when Winter’s Bone put her on the map that it’s hard to remember how young she still is, but this is an actress who has decades of work ahead of her, so an off year or two (unless it becomes four or five) isn’t going to stop audiences from keeping her in demand, despite her performance in the recently divisive mother!.
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Trailer Time: Joy (2015) *Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and David O. Russell Again*

Joy is the story of a family across four generations and the woman who rises to become founder and matriarch of a powerful family business dynasty.

Alright, that’s not terribly descriptive, but at this point you kind of just have to know that the last two times David O. Russell directed Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, all three were nominated for Oscars and Lawrence won once (and should’ve won twice).  Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle and now Joy.
Jennifer Lawrence, Joy

Movie Review: American Hustle (2013)

American Hustle is an acting clinic.  In a year bereft of signature performances, Hustle has at least five.  David O. Russell has an ability to draw out of actors  the kind of brilliant performances that win Oscars and define careers.  So why is it that I never actually love his movies as a whole?

Hustle is a very loose retelling of the 1970’s ABSCAM scandal in which several members of Congress were caught by the FBI taking bribes to smooth the building of casinos in Atlantic City.  Christian Bale and Amy Adams are a team of con artists who get stung themselves by an FBI agent played by Bradley Cooper.  His offer: bag four cons for him and his bosses and they can walk.  The cons get out of control, though, as the targets get bigger and bigger encompassing the Mayor of Camden, NJ, (Jeremy Renner), Congressmen, Senators and the mafia.

Though Bale and Adams are partners in crime and in bed, Bale has a wife and a child.  In a film where the all the principals have been nominated for Oscars and three have already won, Jennifer Lawrence steals this movie in maybe five scenes as Bale’s beyond-description sexy psycho wife.  She’s so good it’s frightening.  In my profile of Angelina Jolie, I said there were no actresses that would pull me into a theater on project attachment alone, but that Lawrence was getting close.  She’s there.  I’ll see whatever she’s in.

Hers is not the only amazing performance though.  Can Amy Adams please have her Oscar now?  As Bale’s partner, Adams plays an insecure chameleon of a woman, adapting to any situation to survive.  She changes characters and accents sometimes multiple times in a scene seamlessly and despite trying desperately to project a fearless persona, makes her character extremely vulnerable and frightened to an almost child-like level.  Adams and Lawrence have one big scene where they go toe-to-toe and you are just watching two of the best women in the world in an acting showcase.

That Christian Bale was Batman last year is inconceivable to me, because the guy he plays in this movie can barely walk a flight a stairs without popping a nitro pill for his heart.  He’s fat, schlubby and has the most elaborately composed comb-over in cinematic history.  How many times can he drastically change his body weight for film roles?  I’m a little worried for his health, but the commitment he brings to the table permeates his work.  He’s the core of the film and he turns in a performance every bit as good as the one  that won him a statuette in The Fighter.

To say that Bradley Cooper is a step below the other three leads seems like a knock, but it’s just that he’s playing with giants and he’s just a really tall guy (metaphor getting away from me there).  Cooper’s FBI agent sees glory in ABSCAM and will not be denied in running the operation right through his supervisor (Louis CK).  I’m not sure why American Hustle is touted as a comedy, because it’s not as funny a movie as I think it wanted to be.  To me, it’s an overlong character showpiece that doesn’t quite gel as an overall story.  Despite the raves I’ve given the principals, I have really no desire to ever see it again, but I would watch every scene between Cooper and CK a hundred times just to watch CK try to tell his ice fishing story.

It’s easy to see why there’s so much hype surrounding this film.  Russell puts together a fantastic ensemble and places you firmly in the look and feel of the 1970’s.  To me, though, these amazing performances exist in a vacuum because the overall story never really coheses into something that hammers all of it home.  Do not miss the chance, though, to see some of the best performers in film, turn in quite possibly the four best performances of the year.
8.5/10 (on acting alone, phenomenal).

Top 5: Actresses Who Won Best Actress For the Wrong Movie

top5This is a bit of a series we’re doing based on a simple fact of Oscar logic: people don’t usually win their Oscars for the movie they should have.  A few weeks back we looked at the Best Actors; today we’ll look at Best Actresses who picked up the little gold guy for the wrong film. Continue reading Top 5: Actresses Who Won Best Actress For the Wrong Movie