Since his small screen debut in a 1999 episode of Sex and the City —which my Grandparents used to think was mainstream pornography— Bradley Cooper has risen through the Hollywood ranks, becoming one of the most acclaimed actors, nigh, filmmakers of all time. Following big-screen roles in Wet Hot American Summer and Wedding Crashers , Cooper’s role in David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook (2012) landed him his first Oscar nomination. Then, it was off to the acclaimed races. In honor of his latest critical darling, Guillermo del Toro’s Nightmare Alley , we’ve ranked the best of Bradley Cooper. Honorable mention: Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza starring Cooper is supposedly amazing. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen it yet.
Cover Photo: Searchlight Pictures
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Bradley Cooper Movies
10. Wedding Crashers (2005)
Wedding Crashers is Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn’s show, but every comedy needs an insufferable douchebag to impede the hero’s quest to get the girl. In this case, Coopers excels as Slack Lodge, the maid-of-honor Claire’s (Rachel McAdams) hothead boyfriend.
9. The Hangover (2009)
While Todd Phillips may be making gritty art pieces like Joker these days, back in 2009, he made The Hangover —which propelled Cooper superstardom thanks to his role as Phil Wenneck, the unanimous leader of “The Wolfpack.”
8. Limitless (2011)
When Limitless came out, Adderall scripts and nootropic orders went through the roof, and Cooper is to blame. His portrayal of Eddie Morra, a slacker suffering from writer’s block who decides to take NZT-48, which grants him access to the entirety of his brainpower, makes an otherwise average movie a shot of espresso. There’s (obviously) something to be said for besting Robert De Niro.
7. American Sniper (2014)
Cooper’s transformative role of Chris Kyle in Clint Eastwood’s 2014 hit earned him yet another Oscar nomination. And he deserved it. Really.
6. American Hustle (2013)
Fresh off of Silver Linings Playbook , David O. Russell told Cooper to rock a perm in American Hustle . And it worked.
5. The Place Beyond the Pines (2012)
Derek Cianfrance’s ( Blue Valentine ) thriller pits Cooper’s cop against Ryan Gosling’s bank robber, which results in a generational beef worthy of being responsible for Gosling and Mendes’ off-screen union.
4. Nightmare Alley (2021)
In Nightmare Alley , Cooper plays con man turned carny, Stan Carlisle, who forms a very destructive partnership with a psychiatrist, Dr. Lilith Ritter (Cate Blanchett). Dark, twisted, and featuring yet another phenomenal performance from Cooper.
3. A Star Is Born (2018)
Well, if you’re going to make your directorial debut, you might as well do starring alongside Lady Gaga in A Star Is Born . Cooper’s performance as alcoholic country singer Jackson Maine was a career-best in one of 2018’s best films. Side note: turns out, all that off-screen chemistry with Gaga was PR bullshit...stars do that.
2. MCU Movies (2014-2019)
Who knew Cooper was such a fantastic voice actor. Back in 2014, the average person probably didn’t realize that he was the voice of Guardians of the Galaxy ’s Rocket the Raccoon. To this day, it still only kind of sounds like him. Regardless, he’s given the MCU one of its best characters (and easily the best Guardian).
1. Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
Cooper churns out his best performance in David O. Russell's Silver Linings Playbook. Playing a bipolar man who has recently been released by a psychiatric hospital, Cooper (and Jennifer Lawrence), somehow manages to portray extraordinarily complex and realistic characters (depending upon who you are) in what is essentially the romantic comedy of 2012. Sorry, Tom Hardy. No one has seen This Means War.