First of all, Happy Holidays everyone. For this week’s new spotlight piece, I wanted to cite a modern A-lister who also happens to have some classical charm to him. It’s Bradley Cooper, a newly minted leading man who’s continuing to impress the more we get to see from him. He was once considered a pretty boy of sorts, someone you’d never expect to be an Oscar favorite, but in the span of less than a decade, he’s gone from a lightweight to an absolute A-list star, one who’s now considered basically due for an Academy Award. As such, he’s more than a perfect candidate for the spotlight today.
Cooper got his start mostly on television (though he did appear in the film Wet Hot American Summer), showing up in things like Sex and the City, where he made his debut. There were also parts on a few different versions of Law & Order as well as on short lived shows such as Jack & Bobby and Kitchen Confidential, though he really broke through with the series Alias. There were other movie parts, like The Comebacks, Failure to Launch, The Midnight Meat Train, New York I Love You, The Rocker, Wedding Crashers, and Yes Man, but that spy show opposite Jennifer Garner really set him up to be a star.
He had parts in misfires All About Steve and Case 39, but that same year he also became a future A-lister with his part in the massive success that was The Hangover. That comedy was a huge hit, paving the way for Cooper to get a chance to branch out and explore his talents a bit. Initially, it didn’t go too well, with The A-Team and Valentine’s Day underwhelming, but Limitless proved he could be a leading man, while The Hangover 2 cemented that franchise’s bankability, and in turn…his. He took that industry sway and began to essay the second act of his career. The Words was an attempt at straight drama, while Hit and Run had him steal scenes in a comedy he didn’t lead. They were set up though for what would be the last few years, when he dominated Hollywood.
Cooper not only changed a lot of minds about him with David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook, he also scored his first Academy Award nomination. The citation in Best Actor really let people know that he was something special, which Cooper seemed to take to heart. The smash hit success that the dramedy was really set him off on the exciting path that he’s on today. His chemistry with Jennifer Lawrence fueled both of their winning performances, enhancing both of their star power as well.
Last year, his one two punch of American Hustle and The Place Beyond the Pines really blew folks away, more than making up for the failure of The Hangover 3. The former reunited him with Russell (as well as Lawrence) and got him a second Oscar nomination (this time in Best Supporting Actor), while the latter features perhaps his best performance to date. Earlier this year he stole the show with his voice work in Guardians of the Galaxy, further endearing him to audiences.
This week, he disappears into a part like never before with American Sniper, a biopic of Chris Kyle, the military’s deadliest sniper in history. He’s being heavily praised for his work in the Clint Eastwood film, hanging on at the fringe of the Best Actor race. A nod this year seems hard to come by, but if he does wind up with the nom, a win might actually be possible then. An Oscar will wind up on his mantle before too long though, even if American Sniper isn’t the one to do it.
Overall, Cooper is an exciting A-lister who appears determined to do continually interesting work going forward. Next year, he has another team up with Lawrence in Serena as well as projects with filmmakers Cameron Crowe and John Wells. Plus, he’s rumored to have a part in Russell’s biopic Joy, which also would feature Lawrence (hey, if it isn’t broken, right)? Cooper is going to win an Academy Award one day, that’s a given. It’s just a matter of when…