In just over two decades, Bradley Cooper has become one of the most acclaimed actors, producers and filmmakers of his peer group. Cooper – who famously studied at the Actors Studio in New York and once even asked two-time Oscar winner Sean Penn a question from the audience on “Inside the Actors Studio” – made his feature acting debut in 2001’s “Wet Hot American Summer,” and later broke out in comedies like “Wedding Crashers” and television hits like “Alias.”
But starting with 2012’s “Silver Linings Playbook,” Cooper reached another level. That film from David O. Russell landed Cooper his first Oscar nomination and put him on the map of serious filmmakers. In the nine years since the success of “Silver Linings,” Cooper has received seven additional Oscar nominations, including as co-writer and producer of “A Star Is Born” and producer of “American Sniper” and “Joker,” and worked with top filmmakers such as Russell, Clint Eastwood, Todd Phillips, Guillermo del Toro and Paul Thomas Anderson. He’s also parlayed his fame into a place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, where he provides the voice for Rocket Racoon.
His 2021 output brought him a lead role in del Toro’s “Nightmare Alley” and a scene-stealing supporting part in Anderson’s “Licorice Pizza.” He’s already one of only 10 men who have been nominated for acting Oscars three years in a row (for “Silver Linings Playbook,” “American Hustle” and “American Sniper”) and his nine total nominations are even one more than fellow A-list leading men like Leonardo DiCaprio and the aforementioned Penn.
Take a tour of our photo gallery featuring his 15 greatest films, ranked from worst to best.
Some original text by Tom O’Brien.