Movie Review: Silver Linings Playbook

December 9, 2012

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
122 minutes
Rated – R
Directed by David O. Russell
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, and Jacki Weaver.


Grade: A-

One of my favorite drama-comedies in recent memory was Little Miss Sunshine in 2006. This year, the Hoovers have competition from the Solitanos as the most dysfunctional, yet hilarious, family on the silver screen. Set in Philadelphia, the film begins when Pat Solitano (Cooper) is released from a mental hospital after a domestic incident involving his wife, who now has a restraining order against him. Pat’s mother (Weaver) is a caring woman who is sometimes naive when dealing with Pat’s inability to cooperate. Meanwhile, Pat’s father (DeNiro) seems to care about two things: his family and the Philadelphia Eagles.

Pat is very eager to return to his old life, making amends with his wife, Nikki, and is willing to do anything in his power to make that happen. Whether that involves reading books that Nikki teaches in high school or by getting into better shape by jogging daily, Pat is committed to the task. But there are clearly things still wrong with Pat’s head and he’s vulnerable to certain things that remind him of the past he wishes he could forget. His main problem is getting in contact with Nikki, but he eventually finds a way.

The way comes in the form of an attractive young woman, Tiffany (Lawrence), who is just as troubled as Pat is. Her policeman husband has recently passed away and Tiffany has been dealing with the anguish by sleeping around, giving her a bad reputation she’s trying to fix. But all that matters to Pat is that she occasionally sees Nikki and says she could pass along a letter to her for Pat. His eyes glow wide like a child being told he’s going to Disney World, but Tiffany reminds him that she wants something in return, which happens to be a dancing partner at an upcoming competition.

The film is adapted from the Matthew Quick novel of the same name by David O. Russell, whose last film (The Fighter) was met with great success. Silver Linings Playbook is a lot lighter than The Fighter, but they both contain the struggle inside of a family and how they attempt to deal with it. At the center of Silver Linings Playbook is Bradley Cooper, who hasn’t had a very impressive career thus far but does a nice job here portraying the internally problematic Pat Solitano. His co-star, Jennifer Lawrence, steals the movie whenever she’s in a scene with her short-tempered, blunt attitude.

Jennifer Lawrence continues to delight since taking the scene by storm with her Oscar-nominated performance in Winter’s Bone. With her face on the incredibly successful The Hunger Games franchise, there is no stopping her success. Oh yeah, that’s going to include another Oscar nomination for Silver Linings Playbook. She is, without a doubt, the number one actress in the world, and she’s only 22 years old.

While the film doesn’t really take many risks, the characters and their interactions are fresh and intelligent enough to easily separate it from your ordinary romantic comedies. There is a rough feel and tense tone throughout and when the two leads are characters that can snap at any moment, it keeps you guessing what will happen next. Credit everyone involved in the making of this film, from the director to the casting because everything is executed to near-perfection. And even though at the end, Silver Linings Playbook will be remembered as a crowd-pleaser, there were plenty of emotional scenes that will keep it memorable for years to come.


Oscar Talk 2012: Argo in Lead?

November 14, 2012

They’re called the Gurus o’ Gold and they are a group of critics who closely follow the Oscar race all year round. At Movie City News, they update their predictions and their opinions on where each Oscar contender stands. I’ve been keeping watch of the race as well, but before I start ranting about my opinion, let’s take a look at the chart.

While there are up to ten nominees for Best Picture, it’s really going to come down to two or three serious contenders that have a legitimate shot at winning. Right now the Gurus are placing Argo as their front-runner, with Lincoln and Silver Linings Playbook not too far behind. This has been crystal clear of late since all three of those movies have been seen by the critics and all have been highly acclaimed. We still have to remember there are a few movies that haven’t been released yet such as Les Miserables, Django Unchained, The Hobbit, and Zero Dark Thirty, that could play a major role down the line for a Best Picture contender. They’re merely listed because of expectation.

Right now I believe that Lincoln has the best shot to win, but keep in mind that because Lincoln is behind Argo (and even behind Silver Linings Playbook to other people), it’s beneficial to its chances to win since it’s not the front-runner. It’s extremely hard to keep up all the momentum throughout half of the year until February, and being in that #2 or #3 spot right now could very well be better than #1.

It’s still very early in the race and every week there are high-quality films being released to the public. Don’t overestimate the power of the public and how they could sway the events leading up to the Oscars (though probably only slightly). But I do expect Les Miserables to be an enormous contender come the end of December. But as of now, Argo is the film to beat and to be honest, I would be very happy if it stayed that way through February.

Early Oscar Chatter

September 18, 2012

It’s the middle of September and in the movie world that means that the chatter for awards season is slowly getting louder. From a whisper to a polite noise, word-of-mouth is beginning to make its way around the entertainment world and through the blogosphere. I’m no different. Every single day we get closer to The Oscars, I get more and more excited. While this summer contained plenty of summer hits and blockbusters, only a few indie films stood out that can really be considered Oscar-worthy. Those films include Moonrise Kingdom and Beasts of the Southern Wild. There is also The Dark Knight Rises, Christopher Nolan’s conclusion to the darker Batman-trilogy and one that has really set the bar high for future superhero films. While many considered it a snub for The Dark Knight to be left off the list of nominees, there’s a chance for The Academy to make it up to Nolan, but will they bite?

Two films that are making a big splash in the early awards season are The Master and Silver Linings Playbook. Both films are directed by talented individuals who are no strangers to The Academy Awards, and both are on completely different sides of the movie spectrum. The Master is Paul Thomas Anderson’s follow-up to There Will Be Blood and has been praised by critics even though a handful cannot explain exactly what the movie is about. Meanwhile, Silver Linings Playbook stars two very hot actors, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. But even though the film won the people’s choice award at Toronto, the fact it’s a dramatic comedy will hurt its chance as being a serious contender for Best Picture.

There are plenty of strong films that will end the year of 2012 and will most definitely result in an intriguing Academy Awards. Right now, everything is still up in the air. There are a handful of movies everyone expects to be in the running for Best Picture and there will certainly be some surprises. For now, here is my early overview of how I see things playing out.

– Lincoln
– Argo
– The Master
– Les Miserables
– Silver Linings Playbook
– Django Unchained
– Beasts of the Southern Wild
– Anna Karenina

Second Tier:
– Amour
– Moonrise Kingdom
– Zero Dark Thirty
– Life of Pi
– Flight
– The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
– The Impossible

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