The RetroLight Awards | Bradley Cooper

If you have spent any time in theaters lately, you have noticed a certain man — or voice — every big movie going season. That man — or raccoon — has been Bradley Cooper.

He stormed onto the red carpet scene making people snort-laugh out loud to the point soda was bubbling out their noses in the theater. Immediately refusing to be typecast, his latest effort is making us cry right there in our seats with the undeniable remake of A Star is Born. Cinephiles, film aficionados, and others who just can’t get enough of his piercing blue peepers (we’re confident…we can say it) all agree on one thing.

Bradley Cooper is one of those most versatile actors to come out of Hollywood in quite some time.

And to think, it all began with him on Inside the Actors Studio questioning one of the former “most versatile actors to come out of Hollywood in quite some time,” Sean Penn. This month’s RetroLight Awards goes to… 

Mr. Bradley Cooper

 

The Hangover

bradley_cooper_the_hangover

Back in 2009, audiences all over the world fell in love with “The Wolf Pack.” A surprise hit for sure, The Hangover stormed into theaters and is now considered arguably one of the greatest comedy films of all time.

Cooper portrayed Wolf Pack member — the narcissistic and egotistical Phil Wenneck. Phil is the kind of guy who has many insecurities and feels the need to belittle others to make himself feel better. Yet, when push comes to shove, he would put his life on the line for his friends.

(As it turns out in the movie, he almost did.)

Cooper himself even said after completing filming of The Hangover 2, that Wenneck is his favorite character he’s ever played and regards Phil as the “coolest role ever.”

By in large, this is a character the audience should root against. Instead, the audience can’t help but to love him. Without a doubt, that role reversal is because of Cooper playing Phil with an almost effortless likeability and turning him into one of the numerous bright spots of the film.

Cooper has great comedic flair and terrific timing with every joke he delivers. His confidence in this role showcases his natural charm and charisma. It’s impossible to hate him, even when he delivers the crudest of insults towards his friends. Through all the insults and cockiness, Cooper does a great job in changing gears to show the audience that Phil truly does care deeply for his friends and the insults are just to cover up his own insecurities.

Cooper is fantastic in this role. He delivers a multi-layered performance for a character that could have been very predictable. And thanks to Bradley, Phil will always be memorable. 

Review by: Chad Hirsch

 

American Hustle

bradley cooper american hustle

In American Hustle, Cooper portrays FBI Agent Richie DiMaso (with easily the best hairdo to his the big screen since Samuel L. Jackson’s righteous Jheri-Curl in Pulp Fiction).

DiMaso’s FBI career when we meet has been unremarkable, to say the least. To make matters worse, he lives in a small NYC apartment with his demanding mother and his nagging fiancée. Yet, despite his circumstances, he’s determined to make a name for himself no matter what.

DiMaso gets more and more confident as we go along on this journey with him. He takes the lead on a big investigation that could result in the arrests of high-ranking mafia members, as well as some corrupt U.S. congressmen. When not focusing on his career as an FBI agent, DiMaso is only concerned with his appearance.

Back to that do, DiMaso curls his hair into a tight perm and spends a considerable amount of time in front of the mirror making sure his appearance is just right. Determined and self-absorbed are the best ways to describe Richie. He feels such an intense desire to be respected and adored that it borders on the side of pathological at times. He’s also very obsessive over things he deems his, such as, his investigations and the women with whom he is smitten.

The role of DiMaso was a terrific fit for Cooper, even earning him an Oscar nod for best supporting actor. Cooper has shown a knack for portraying these self-absorbed, overly confident guys who are so insecure they over compensate in other aspects of their lives to hide those insecurities. DiMaso is no exception.

Cooper portrays DiMaso with an intense determination. You can really get a feel for just how badly DiMaso wants to be adored and respected, even if that means taking on challenges that are too big for him to handle. On the same side of that coin, Cooper is able to also let the audience know that DiMaso is one bad break away from a massive emotional breakdown.

While Cooper portrays him with this sense of arrogance and overconfidence, the audience can always tell that DiMaso really isn’t in control and he feels suffocate by the probability of failure. This is thanks to Cooper’s extreme versatility as an actor. He’s able to showcase various emotions all at once. The thought of failure, the tiny apartment he lives in with his mother, and his engagement to a woman he’s not too happy about all weigh on his mind and through Cooper’s brilliant performance. 

The audience tends to sympathize with DiMaso despite his extreme self-absorbance. This is just another example of how Cooper is able to get the audience on his side despite his character having a lot of unattractive qualities. A true testament to Cooper’s acting ability.

Review by: Chad Hirsch

 

Silver Linings Playbook

silver linings playbook

Funny, harsh, charming, romantic, dramatic — this has it all, so does Bradley Cooper in David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook. He plays Patrizio “Pat” Solitano, Jr. and instantly appears comfortable with the other big guns in the film, Robert DeNiro & Jennifer Lawrence.

The damn movie was nominated in all four Academy Award acting categories, with Jennifer Lawrence winning her golden statue, so yeah, it was a very good movie.

Since this spotlight is on the performance by Mr. Cooper, let’s discuss Pat, who when we find him, has a bipolar disorder, recently released from a psych ward, and in with his parents, played by Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver.

He’s desperately trying to reignite the fire with his estranged wife, but a decent distraction pops into his life. Tiffany Maxwell (JLaw) is a recent widow and comes off as bat-shit crazy as Cooper (which is a compliment), but when you mix their effed-up personalities, lives, and drugs all together, their chemistry becomes pure cinema gold!

Long story short, Tiffany convinces Pat she can help him win his wife back. One catch though: he has to partner with her in an upcoming dance competition … of which, he agrees. Cut to training montage … but, oh what a montage, the romance, humor, harshness, realism, and most of all, they convince the audience, something is really brewin’ between the Pat and Tiff.

Bottom line: The casting in this film produced magic. Bradley was better for being with Jen, and vice versa. They seemed to play both characters with such charisma, passion, angst, but also, seemed so easy for them, that folks, is simply great acting! In the end, you can’t help but fall in love with both of them, but do they indeed fall for each other? Gotta watch it to find out!

Review by: Todd Proctor

 

American Sniper

American Sniper Bradley Cooper

This Clint Eastwood product is the work of a hero — not necessarily Eastwood (although a cinematic one he is definitely). U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle is one of most decorated and revered war heroes in modern military history. His dedication to his team. His determination to serve his country. And his diligence to be the lone gunslinger in a sea of many. These are the things of legend we have read and heard via third-party accounts.

The one thing before American Sniper we never knew is what mattered most to Kyle — his moral direction to serve his family. That’s why this becomes less war movie, more a relational one, skewing slightly western with one man versus the world, only we see his soul instead of shootouts.

Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle bears all, in ways we never expected to see of this American Sniper. And as we travel through the dogs of war in this film, we witness all those tugs on Kyle’s heart become an amalgam of who the soldier is throughout his after-military work with soldiers fighting a battle on the homefront — PTSD. As we learn, Kyle’s work is never done, which ultimately leads to why he is no longer defending us at all.

Cooper is convincing in matters of war and matters of the heart. In an interesting Eastwoodian twist (it’s a word), we learn Kyle’s pinpoint accuracy is the reason many soldier’s lives were saved while at the same time, Cooper’s brilliant accuracy in this script saves us all from having to question what really motivates the best of the best.

Through four harrowing and horrifying tours of military duty, Kyle lives the SEAL credo: Leave No Man Behind. And while Cooper dazzlingly portrays that creed with every fiber of his being, we learn vividly that Kyle left no family member behind either as we are mesmerized with his earnest personal creed found in his favorite book, the Bible.

Cooper says in the film, “I’d carried a Bible with me. I hadn’t read it all that much, but it had always been with me [since SEAL training].” As we later learned, he didn’t need the book with him because the verses were written on his heart, just as the ideas of his family and the memories of his fallen brothers and sisters in war lived there. This was a man of faith and fear, a man of power and painstaking delicacy, a man of love and hate. And only a man as diverse and versatile as Cooper could have balanced it all.

Review by: Shawn Paul Wood

 

Limitless

limitless bradley cooper

In LimitlessBradley plays the disheveled Eddie Morra, a struggling author with a bad case of writer’s block and a whole set of life’s challenges facing him head on. He’s lost his girlfriend, his apartment, and his social life is in tatters. Dude is as down-and-out as they come, but Eddie’s life takes a drastic and dramatic turn after crossing paths with his former brother-in-law, Vernon.

The aforementioned in-law offers Eddie a miracle drug, NZT-48, the latest super-smart drug for which everybody yearns that unlocks the other 98 percent of our thinking power. We soon are faced with the question if the benefits are worth the shitty side-effects and constant push to get more. Plus, what’s with forgetting 18 hours at a time and being linked to murder?

Well, Bradley does an admirable and convincing job playing Eddie the loser and all-around douche guy with some serious psychological and behavior issues, but that all turns around with the little clear pill, right?

After Eddie gains a large supply of the wonder drug, he instantly becomes the super heightened, intelligent, and charismatic jerk he always was, but this time, he’s cleaned up, kicking ass with the stock market and even impressing Carl Van Loon (Robert DeNiro) as a genius whiz man-child that passed his initial test from Van Loon, but now has to proves himself under pressure and jonesin’ off the miracle pill at the same time?

Does Bradley pull off the transition from loser to lover to lucrative business man and eventually even running for political office. Is he still on NZT or is he truly off it? That’s the decision you need to make for yourself. Bradley Cooper is the ultimate man’s man, women want to be with him and so do some men, but sometimes lost among his machismo are Cooper’s immense acting chops and dedication to the duality of Eddie’s rise from zero to hero to whatever.

Cooper’s performance dangles on the insane and absurd to refined and classy — some actors can pull this feat off, Bradley does it in spades in ‘Limitless.’

Review by: Todd Proctor

 

Guardians of the Galaxy

bradley cooper rocket raccoon2.jpg

Guardians of the Galaxy still stands as Marvel’s biggest gamble to date: Can a superhero film succeed with a team of unknowns? Since the audience will have no preconceived notions, the actor’s performance will define the character.

Bradley Cooper’s voice work for Rocket Raccoon can be credited with turning a robotic, neurotic, violent mammal into a household name. Rocket’s sordid backstory is sold in a drunken monologue delivered atop a casino table. In many ways, he is Wolverine, but with much more hair and much less adamantium. He is; however, a victim of experimentation so he drinks to forget.

Rocket holds no loyalty to the team, continuously undercutting everyone with the funniest lines in the movie. His only attachment is to Groot, the gigantic and remarkably alive tree, who reminds him of forest life before his abduction. That relationship allows Rocket to be Groot’s translator and, thanks to Cooper’s introspection of this role, this character provides the only tearjerker scene in the movie as Groot dies. Guardians of the Galaxy’s gamble paid off in dividends and probably made a profit on Rocket Raccoon toy sales alone.

Screaming in film is an artform we rarely appreciate until an actor can’t do it effectively. Cooper spends a good part of the film screaming whenever the raccoon into his endless bag of guns. His performance merits consideration for best male scream queen.

Surprisingly, Cooper was not used for the motion capture of Rocket Raccoon; that duty was held by the director’s brother, Sean Gunn. This was most likely a relief to Bradley Cooper as Zoe Saldana (Gamora) was his ex-girlfriend. Really. This fun fact adds a different layer to the Rocket’s spark, much like when fans found out Fisher and Ford had a tumultuous affair on the set of Star Wars. 

The impact of Bradley Cooper’s performance in the MCU cannot be understated. Four years later, when the Avengers gathered for Infinity War, this new and absurd character was given the same screen time as any of the more iconic characters.

Cooper might be used more in the future as Rocket is the only Guardian still alive. And what was will he most likely be doing? Screaming. But to him, it’s an art.

Review by: Gunnar Radel

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