At the inception of his career, Bradley Cooper looked set to be typecast as the quintessential pretty boy oozing charm and enamouring the viewers with his slapstick comic chops. Over the last decade, however, Cooper has proved his potential for moulding into a repertoire of characters across all genres is limitless. With eight Academy Awards nominations and two Grammys and a BAFTA, Cooper has compounded his commercial success with critical acclaim. His breakout role in Silver Linings Playbook espoused his attempt to break out of the jock mode and dig into poignant vulnerability and pulled him back from the precipice of being yet another redolently regular attractive face on TMZ. “Fall in Love with my looks, fine, but stay with me for my talent,” Cooper clarified in an interview with Esquire.
Cooper started his career in 1999 with a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it stint opposite Sarah Jessica Parker in Sex And The City. One can be forgiven for forgetting his big-screen debut in Wet Hot American Summer, but it’s the 2009 film Hangover which made Bradley Cooper a household name and a regular pinup. It is, however, Silver Linings Playbook a few years later in 2012 for which he received his first Oscar nomination. Now, of course, it is the most recent Oscar-nominated smash hit A Star is Born that ultimately propelled his status to new artistic heights. While A Star is Born launched the auteur face of his career, Oscar-bait Silver Linings Playbook launched his unofficial trilogy of David O. Russell films that added depth and dimension to this otherwise cut from the same hack cloth roles.
He joined the Marvel Universe as the raucous voice of Rocket – the Racoon in Guardians of the Galaxy. While his off-screen press persona is still reiterating the frat boy image somewhat reminiscent of Wedding Crasher’s Sack Lodge. (“I think we’re going to fucking get in a fight, bro,” he told GQ in 2013) his screen deliverables have come a long way from machismo Phil in Hangover to Jackson Maine in A Star is Born.
The following list takes a look at the phenomenal trajectory of Bradley Cooper’s career in chronological order.
Bradley Cooper’s 10 best films ranked:
10. Wedding Crashers (David Dobkin – 2005)
A classic “boys will be boys” dramedy Wedding Crashers is pretty self-explanatory in its nomenclature.
The film is about two guys John Beckwith (Owen Wilson) and Jeremy Grey (Vince Vaugh) who, you guessed it right, crash weddings to seduce women. Cooper as Jackary (Sack) Lodge plays the guy you are supposed to hate for his sanctimonious privileged spouting, ivy-league super jack avatar but end up wondering if he is the victim. After all, Beckwith is trying to make a play for his fiance (Rachel Adams).
Sack Lodge is a tool but he is a detailed tool. He throws his tie over his shoulder before throwing a punch. Cooper is convincing as the textbook jerk who decks out to hunt quails so much so you mistake it for his personality (the jury is still out on that one) until he shows you he can be so much more in the Silver Linings Playbook.
9. The Hangover (Todd Phillips – 2009)
The 2009 Hangover and its subsequent reprisal into a three-part franchise established Bradley Cooper’s box office worth and commercial acclaim. The movie is a comedy of errors and could have easily been renamed ‘What happens in Vegas’ (of course without the sex appeal of Cameron Diaz).
From drunk marrying skippers to blackjack carol counting to stealing Mike Tyson’s pet tiger, the film is a hyperbole of the Vegas Trope. Cooper owns the skin of metaphoric chest-thumping macho alpha male Phil. Cooper’s character is profane, irrelevant and gut-wrenchingly funny in a role that put the spotlight on him as an actor.
8. Limitless (Neil Burger – 2011)
Breaking out of the comic mode, Cooper plays Eddie Morra – a writer whose brain activity is increased to 100% by a new pill in this 2011 sci-fi.
Eddie’s limitless brain activity enhancement comes at a dark and dangerous cast. While the storyline leaves a lot to ask for, a cast of Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper makes the film worth a watch. Cooper as a struggling actor is a far cry from the frat boy hangover of his previous films.
7. Silver Linings Playbook (David O. Russell – 2012)
As Pat Solitano, Cooper delivers what could arguably be his most layered character, his Oscar nomination for the film proves as much.
Cooper plays a bipolar former teacher who ends up in a mental health institute following his wife’s affair. The poignant recovery and rehabilitation of Pat are replete with the cadence and vulnerability Cooper brings to the role. In his debut David O. Russel vehicle, Cooper derives from the verity of Russel’s words and screenplay.
Pat Solitano is combating mental illness and a searing desire to win his wife’s heart back when he meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) and equally perturbed, soul-grappling with the grief of her husband’s death. Their unfolding camaraderie in pain paves the way to his recovery.
6. American Hustle (David O. Russell – 2013)
As the uncouth, lewd, hot-headed FBI agent with a questionable moral dilemma and a shiny perm, Bradley Cooper manages to shine through the ensemble cast of American Hustle.
Starring Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Jennifer Lawrence along with Cooper, American Hustle has Cooper playing Richie DiMaso, an FBI agent, who recruits conman Irving Rosenfeld (Bale) and his partner-in-crime Sydney Prosser (Adams) for an undercover operation investing New Jersey’s political elite.
Cooper’s snide comments and snarly berating of his superior saved Richie DiMaso from becoming both critical acclaim and box office numbers.
5. Guardians of the Galaxy (James Gunn – 2014)
Bradley Cooper joined the Marvel Universe as the voice of a profanity-spewing racoon called Rocket.
The acerbic personality of Rocket in this James Gunn space epic is largely attributed to Cooper’s irreverent tone for the wise-cracking mutated mammal is a departure from his usual charismatic voice. Joining Cooper at the sound booth on this Marvel cinematic undertaking were Chris Pratt and Vin Diesel as the actor revealed yet another string to his acting bow.
4. American Sniper (Clint Eastwood – 2014)
Seeing Bradley Cooper in Wedding Crashers few would have anticipated the lethal stealth of Kyle- the deadliest sniper assassin in the US Military history with 255 kills.
Directed by Clint Eastwood, American Sniper is the story of Kyle and his conflict between his combat and civilian life. Largely dealing with war veteran P.T.S.D, the film is a socio-political commentary on the psychological impact of war.
It’s one man’s battle with his demons embroiled in the battle of nations. Suffice to say, American Sniper was not a hit-and-miss and earned Cooper his second Best Actor Oscar nomination
3. Burnt (John Wells – 2015)
Bradley Cooper relapses into his incorrigible jerk forte and takes it to a pinnacle as American chef Adam Jones.
Up and coming chef Adam Jones burns his shot at culinary stardom and attempts to recoup a restaurant to 3-star Michelin status in an attempt to salvage his reputation. His attempt at redemption and reformation is thwarted by his self-sabotaging behaviour. While the storyline is scarcely short of falling flattered than an ill-conceived souffle. Cooper’s portrayal of Adam puts the audience in a love-hate dilemma.
2. The Mule (Clint Eastwood – 2018)
Directed by Clint Eastwood, the Mule has Cooper headlining with Eastwood in a story that delves into the murky world of Mexican drug-trafficking and drug mules.
A retired horticulturist is inadvertently flung into the drug racket as a drug mule for a musician cartel. Cooper plays Agent Collin Bates investigating the drug mule. In classic Eastwood style, The Mule is rife with tension and nail-biting anticipation. Cooper shows remarkable restrain as a straight-laced authority figure with effortless stoicism.
1. A Star Is Born (Bradley Cooper – 2018)
A Star is Born is the crowning jewel of Bradley Cooper’s filmography.
In his debut directorial venture, Cooper also doubles up as an actor and a singer playing the role of Jackson Maine, a country-rock musician whose slow decline into alcoholism and addiction is contrasted by the ascent to stardom of his effervescent protege and lover, Ally.
In the fourth remake of this story that was conceptualised in 1932, Cooper’s rendition of A Star Is Born is as indelibly heartfelt and revealing as its predecessors. Variety called it a “total emotional knockout”. Manohla Dargis for the New York Times wrote: “A Star is Born brings gorgeous heartbreak.”
Cooper drew on his struggles with an addiction to imbue Maine with the authenticity of a declining musician. The film gained Cooper three Oscar-nominations and enormous critical acclaim.