Not many actors make the jump from bit part players in TV shows to starring in Oscar worthy films – but Bradley Cooper is certainly one of the lucky few. Thanks to his vast talent as well as his impressive versatility (and I’m sure his good looks didn’t hurt either) Cooper has become one of Hollywood’s biggest stars.
His latest film, the cooking drama Burnt (which you can read my review for here) sees him play Adam Jones – chef in Paris who is on top of the culinary mountain. However his self-destructive nature causes him to lose everything he has worked for. When a shot at redemption comes along, Adam must use his skills and the help of others to earn back everything he lost.
To celebrate the release of Burnt here’s a countdown of Cooper’s five best performances.
5. Phil Wenneck – The Hangover (2009)
Prior to The Hangover, Cooper had done many film and TV roles in his career but it was the role of the wise-cracking Phil in this raucous comedy which put him on the mainstream map. Phil is an arrogant loud mouthed jerk who causes nothing but trouble for his friends. Instead of hating him though, we root for Phil due to Cooper’s effortless likeability.
Cooper could have easily been overshadowed acting alongside two comedy actors Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis but his own natural comedic flair and timing meant that he was an equally integral part of The Hangover’s hilarity.
4. Richie DiMaso – American Hustle (2013)
Cooper plays FBI agent Richie DiMaso in David O.Russel’s slick crime caper set in the 70s. The smooth-talking DiMaso thinks he’s on to something major when he tries to use two con artists to capture corrupt politicians. When it comes to the case though, he’s a bull in a china shop as his arrogance, hunger and naivety leave him way in over his head.
Cooper’s simmering tension with Christian Bale and red-hot chemistry with Amy Adams are among American Hustle’s many highlights. You probably won’t like the egotistical DiMaso but Cooper’s dynamic performance makes him a character you can’t take your eyes off. He earned Oscar, Bafta and Golden Globe nominations for his brilliant performance. And who can forget those permed curls?
3. Avery Cross – The Place Beyond the Pines (2012)
In this powerful crime drama, Cooper plays the beat-cop Avery Cross, who’s fateful meeting with Ryan Gosling’s bank robber has serious repercussions for both characters and their families down the line. Cross is a good natured and intelligent officer who struggles to come to terms with his fateful decision as well as the corruptness of his fellow policemen.
Cooper portrays Cross’ guilt and his fractured relationship with his rebellious teenage son A.J brilliantly which makes for compelling viewing. The show could have been easily stolen by the excellent Gosling but Cooper delivers a stirring performance which is on par with his co-star.
2. Pat Solitano Jr – Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
In David O. Russel’s romantic comedy drama Cooper plays the former teacher Pat who at the start of the film is released out of a mental hospital. Pat’s bipolar disorder means that he’s prone to the odd outburst of rage and has no filter when comes to saying inappropriate things – which is hilariously delivered in deadpan style by Cooper.
His chemistry with co-star Jennifer Lawrence is absolutely electric and paved the way for them to work together on two more films with a fourth collaboration, Joy, coming in 2016. Cooper’s sensitive performance of a man in conflict with his inner demons rightfully earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor.
1. Chris Kyle – American Sniper (2015)
Cooper’s best performance to date is undoubtedly in the Clint Eastwood-directed war drama American Sniper, where he plays Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. In a brilliantly nuanced and committed turn, Cooper loses himself in the character as his portrayal of the patriotic every-man with a skill for killing is utterly magnificent.
In the battlefield, Kyle’s superior shooting makes him a legend among his fellow soldiers while back on US soil, he struggles to adapt to home life and to open himself up to his wife and children. With every kill that he makes, Kyle loses some of his humanity and this slow transformation is expertly displayed by Cooper. His dedication to the role led him to put on 40 pounds of muscle which made for an even more convincing portrayal. Cooper’s powerhouse of a performance earned him his third Oscar nomination for Best Actor.