Two years ago, helmer David O. Russell relaunched his once-promising career with "The Fighter," which netted him his first Oscar nod and won the supporting prizes for both Christian Bale and Melissa Leo. That film's star, Mark Wahlberg, a long-time Russell fan, was to star in his adaptation of "Playbook" but took a pass, freeing up the role of a recovering mental patient for Bradley Cooper.
"The Hangover" star proves he has the acting chops to handle this complicated character and is a strong contender in the Best Actor race. And his co-star, Jennifer Lawrence, wowed with her portrayal of a young woman with issues of her own who becomes his unlikely ally.
Lawrence, a 2009 Best Actress nominee ("Winter's Bone"), also headlined the box office juggernaut "The Hunger Games" this year, proving she has commercial as well as critical appeal. Our pal Pete Hammond(Deadline) said, "Lawrence leaps to the front of the pack with a revelatory performance that seemed to knock most observers out."
Steve Pond (The Wrap) called the film, "a perfectly calibrated comedy that is also deeply moving; it's another major step in Russell's comeback from movie limbo, and a mainstream film with enough heart and clout to immediately figure into a number of Oscar races, definitely including Best Picture."
And Jeff Wells (Hollywood Elsewhere) writes, "Nobody knows who's going to win anything at this stage, but you can count on the following for sure. One, it's a lock for a Best Picture nomination (and is way more promising in this regard than Argo, Sasha Stone!), Russell is a likely nominee for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay, Jennifer Lawrence is a cast-iron lock for Best Actress, Bradley Cooper delivers the richest and most naturalistic performance of his career and may be in line for a Best Actor nom, Robert DeNiro gives his most touchingly emotional performance since you-tell-me and is almost certain to be nominated for Best Supporting Actor, and....I've said this already, right?...the film is going to make money hand over fist."