Awards Profile: The Silver Linings Playbook

Directed by: David O. Russell
Written by: David O. Russell

Synopsis (from After spending four years in a mental institution, a former teacher moves back in with his mother and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife.

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Robert DeNiro, Jennifer Lawrence, Jacki Weaver, Julia Stiles, Chris Tucker, Anupam Kher

Award Speculation:
Fresh off his Oscar nomination, David O. Russell has finally broken thorough the barriers and has been embraced by Hollywood and all its hidden treasures.  Russell has had some modest, and often cult hiccups throughout his career.  In the mid-to-late 90s, Russell had a string of great films like Flirting with Disaster (1996) and Three Kings (1999).  His debut, Spanking the Monkey (1994), was a Sundance favorite when it premiered.  Russell seemed to have a keen eye for different and obscure comedies, on the brink of commercial and financial success.  One of his most ambitious and eclectic efforts was 2004’s I Heart Huckabee’s featuring an all-star cast of Jason Schwartzman, Jude Law, Dustin Hoffman, Lily Tomlin, and Mark Wahlberg.  The film was a uniquely split film but with not enough feeling the need to reward it with any type of awards attention.  Russell crossed the dramatic line in 2010 with the Academy Award nominated film, The Fighter.  The film garnered seven Oscar nominations and took home two for Supporting Actor and Actress, Christian Bale and Melissa Leo.  The bar has been set extremely high for Russell following the success of the film which raked in $93 million dollars at the box office.

His follow-up film, The Silver Linings Playbook, has Russell returning to his comic roots and placing Bradley Cooper in the forefront for possible awards attention.  The film is based on the serio-comic novel by Matthew Quick and has its strong following around the world.  The film has undergone some changes throughout its lifespan.  Mark Wahlberg was attached to the lead role at one point but Russell decided to go with Bradley Cooper instead.  Cooper has been an up-and-comer for years.  Getting off to a great start at the beginning of his career, Cooper showcased his comedic chops in Wedding Crashers (2005) and later on the successful, box office mega-hit, The Hangover (2009).  Cooper has decided to capitalize on some of his success and attempt more demanding, diverse roles for himself including Case 39 (2009) and Limitless (2011).  This year Cooper will star in Derek Cianfrance’s The Place Beyond the Pines with Ryan Gosling and Outrun co-starring Kristen Bell.  Cooper has showcased some promise with his performances in the past.  His “celebrity-ism” in the spotlight hasn’t worked well for him as an actor.  There’s a line that one can/must cross in order for an audience, especially an awards body, to accept the actor as a serious thespian.  The closest that Cooper has come to awards attention in his career is a possible Golden Globe citation for The Hangover which he couldn’t even muster.  If Cooper is looking to transition to the latter part of his career, he cannot “Matthew McConaughy” himself into existence.  Playing the role of ‘Pat Peoples,’ a recently released mental patient looking to reconnect with his family and ex-wife, could give him an emotional edge if blended with the right mixture of comedy and tears.

Co-star Robert DeNiro has not returned to form in quite some time.  DeNiro is a two-time Oscar winner who has not allowed himself to become picky with his choices of roles or performances.  DeNiro’s last Oscar nomination was in Martin Scorsese’s Cape Fear (1991), a powerful and gut-wrenching performance that DeNiro has not been able to replicate since then.  As ‘Pat Peoples Sr.,’ DeNiro may be given an opportunity to regain some of his lost talent and showcase and incomparable interpretation of a stern yet loving father.  DeNiro delivered one of his most tender works in Kirk Jones’ underrated Everybody’s Fine (2009), a performance that gave glimpses and images back into a man that has dedicated himself to the craft and hopefully will be making a return.  This year DeNiro will also star in The Wedding co-starring Diane Keaton and Katherine Heigl, a role that could add to his awards prospect.

Academy Award nominee Jacki Weaver catapulted into our lives back in 2010 with her interpretation of viciously loving mother in David Michod’s Animal Kingdom.  Weaver illuminated an outstanding presence in a film full of testosterone and gritty dialogue.  Can Weaver capitalize on her success and perhaps become this decade’s Judi Dench, a late comer who Hollywood fully embraces?

Co-stars Julia Stiles and Jennifer Lawrence will have each other possibly standing in their way to awards attention.  Which bombshell beauty will upstage the other to get noticed by the statues?  Or maybe neither will because Jacki Weaver trumps those scenarios.  A strong critic’s reception along with audience warmth will land Russell in the forefront of major categories; however, the film’s success will rest solely on Russell’s shoulders with his writing and direction.  He often has interesting concepts but at times, as we’ve seen in the past, execution isn’t always well received. Call this a “wild-card.”

Award Possibilities:
Best Motion Picture
Best Director – David O. Russell
Best Actor – Bradley Cooper
Best Supporting Actor – Robert DeNiro
Best Supporting Actress – Jacki Weaver, Jennifer Lawrence, Julia Stiles
Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Film Editing
Best Original Score

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