First things first, as a die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan, there is no team I despise of more than the Philadelphia Eagles. This is no secret to anyone that knows me, but a fact I have to mention considering where the story in this film takes place. Truth is, there was a moment when I thought of passing on this film simply because it centered on or around fans of the Philadelphia Eagles. That’s how much I loathe this team, so it’s a good thing I was able to put my personal feelings aside and go watch it, for it truly was one of the best films of 2012. That might be an understatement given it’s the only film this year nominated in all seven major categories, but trust me when I say that “Silver Linings Playbook” was not on the map for ordinary moviegoers. Nope, this film is here by ‘word of mouth’ and the pure ‘will’ of its writer/director David O. Russell. Sure, the cast was spectacular which I will get to shortly, but let’s face it, without its writer/director I would not be highlighting this film as viable contender only days from Oscar Sunday.
Its one thing to direct a big budget action flick, getting support from places you never expected. It’s a whole other ballgame to have a film shot in just over a month’s time with little to no money and a script that has been re-written over 20 times. But, that’s the reality that faced writer/director David O. Russell, who really wanted to make this film. Well, I’m glad he did, for it might be the most honest and inspiring film of the bunch. Now, maybe that’s because of the cast, which seemed to be perfect for this film, or maybe it’s the creative and improvisational camerawork of Russell ("The Fighter"). Either way, you became more intrigued the longer you watched this chaotic story unfold; one that should easily win the Academy Award for ‘Best Adapted Screenplay.’ Sure it is up against some fierce competition like “Lincoln,” “Life of Pi” and “Argo,” but knowing it probably will not win the Academy Award for ‘Best Picture,’ this is another way of rewarding it for just being here among the best. It’s almost like a consolation prize, one without all the notoriety, but one that still is considered a huge achievement. I mean, it’s like I have said before, an Oscar is still an Oscar and despite the politics, I doubt Russell will be upset if his name gets called Sunday night for writing or directing.
There’s no doubt that the cast in “Silver Linings Playbook” was the best collaborative effort from all of 2012. It’s been awhile since I have been this impressed from a cast overall, so kudos to David O. Russell for ensuring his story would not be misunderstood or underplayed. He did his homework and it paid off, for this cast fit together like they were family. And it’s all because of his two leads, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. For Cooper, no one expected this guy to do anything but comedies given his success in “The Hangover” series, but he really showed another side with this role. It was unnatural given his pedigree, but he fought through it and the result screams an Oscar win, had this film come out a different year. But, it didn’t, so Cooper will watch Daniel Day Lewis walk up and accept yet another 'Best Actor' award this Sunday night. But, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still lift this performance of Cooper’s up. And sure, there were some humorous moments to which Cooper managed with ease, but it’s the more serious moments that get to you; especially with how up and down his character was in this story. I was impressed and I was already a fan of his, so I think for those that haven’t seen Cooper before, they will want to go back and watch him in “The Hangover” series and “The A-Team,” complete reversals of what you would normally expect after seeing him in this film.
Lending a hand, however, was the unflappable Jennifer Lawrence, who I’ve become a huge supporter of after only a few movies. Lawrence is young, beautiful and savvy, a combination that is not as popular as you might think in Hollywood, yet one that has earned her some street credit. And this all coming after her Oscar nomination for her amazing work in “Winter’s Bone,” a film I encourage anyone reading this to see. She just seems real and watching her on screen is almost too easy, so I hope she pulls off an upset this year with the Academy Award for ‘Best Actress,’ given how wide open this category tends to be. If not, she will still walk away with two Oscar nominations at the age of 22, a truth not many actresses can claim. And speaking of previous nominees, I would hate myself if I failed to mention the great Robert De Niro. Here’s a guy who after all these years managed to surprise me all over again, like he did when I first saw him as Jimmy Conway in “Goodfellas,” a performance I still can’t believe was left off an Oscar ballot that year. Yeah, I know he had already won for his role in “Raging Bull” by then, but I was only 3 years old when that film was released. So, forgive me if I tend to look forward in his career, one that I never would have expected to include a role like the one played in “Silver Linings Playbook,” which could easily be covered in Oscar gold if all the ‘chips’ go his way.
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