Ranked: Bradley Cooper's 15 Best Movies

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Newsweek

2018 was Bradley Cooper’s year, thanks to his much-lauded directorial debut, A Star Is Born. Playing grizzled rock star Jackson Maine opposite Lady Gaga’s pop ingenue, Cooper went from being just regular-famous to powerful Hollywood heavyweight.

Born in Philadelphia on January 5, 1975, Cooper studied at the Actors Studio in New York. He got his frst break at the age of 24 when he played one of Carrie Bradshaw’s flings in a 1999 Sex and the City episode. But it took him several years to make his mark in Hollywood. He did land a role in Wet Hot American Summer (2001), but although the movie was a hit with the critics, it was doomed to become a sleeper hit.

His fortunes picked up when he was cast in Wedding Crashers (2005), which would see him gain a foothold in the Hollywood stoner bro crowd. They would give him his next big role, in 2009’s The Hangover, which would spawn two sequels.

Although his boyish charm meant he could pull off frat boy humor, there was clearly something more to his on-screen presence that was yet to be explored. Then, more than ten years after his Sex and the City debut, he was paired with Jennifer Lawrence in two David O. Russell films that would mark a dramatic upturn in his career.

His role as a bipolar divorcé in Silver Linings Playbook (2012) allowed him to explore his sharp emotional edges, which had only previously been glimpsed on screen. The following year, he played an FBI agent in American Hustle. Both movies gained rave reviews and earned him two Oscar nominations—Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor, respectively.

More success followed, including parts in American Sniper and the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise. Then came A Star Is Born, quashing any doubt that Cooper is a major talent both behind and in front of the camera.

The year ahead looks likely to be a quiet one for Cooper. He'll be back as the voice of Rocket Racoon in the new Avengers movie, and he's producing—but not appearing in—Joker, starring Robert De Niro and Joaquin Phoenix.

To fill the gap, Newsweek has ranked his top 15 movies (we've cheated slightly by including a TV show) by their overall critical response, using review data from Metacritic, Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb. 

01 Joy
Fox 2000 Pictures

15. Joy (2015). Total score: 61.67%. IMDb users: 6.6. Metacritic: 56. Rotten Tomatoes: 6.3. 
Directed by: David O. Russell. Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper, Diane Ladd. 
Plot summary: The title character rose to become founder and matriarch of a powerful family business dynasty.
What the critics said: "If the title American Hustle weren't already applied to another David O. Russell movie, it could easily work for Joy, which plays like the less memorable B-side to that earlier effort." Eric Kohn, indieWire. 

02 War Dogs
Warner Bros.

14. War Dogs (2016). Total score: 62.67%. IMDb users: 7.1. Metacritic: 57. Rotten Tomatoes: 6. 
Directed by: Todd Phillips. Starring: Jonah Hill, Miles Teller, Steve Lantz, Bradley Cooper. 
Plot summary: Loosely based on the true story of two young men, David Packouz and Efraim Diveroli, who won a three hundred million dollar contract from the Pentagon to arm America's allies in Afghanistan.
What the critics said: "The fingerprints of The Big Short, American Hustle and The Wolf of Wall Street are evident in the storytelling style. But War Dogs isn't in the same league." Linda Barnard, Toronto Star. 

03 The Mule
Warner Bros

13. The Mule (2018). Total score: 63.33%. IMDb users: 7.2. Metacritic: 58. Rotten Tomatoes: 6. 
Directed by: Clint Eastwood. Starring: Clint Eastwood, Bradley Cooper, Taissa Farmiga, Michael Peña, Laurence Fishburne, Andy Garcia, Dianne Wiest. 
Plot summary: A 90-year-old horticulturist and Korean War veteran is caught transporting $3 million worth of cocaine through Illinois for a Mexican drug cartel.
What the critics said: "This movie is as much a eulogy for a country that Eastwood sees as slowly crumbling as it is for the life Earl chose to lead." David Sims, The Atlantic

04 Limitless
Relativity Media

12. Limitless (2011). Total score: 65.33%. IMDb users: 7.4. Metacritic: 59. Rotten Tomatoes: 6.3. 
Directed by: Neil Burger. Starring: Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, Anna Friel, Abbie Cornish. 
Plot summary: With the help of a mysterious pill that enables the user to access one hundred percent of his brain abilities, a struggling writer becomes a financial wizard, but it also puts him in a new world with lots of dangers.
What the critics said: "You could pick the script apart for impossibilities. But why bother? It's much more enjoyable to shut your brain off and have a good time." Christy Lemire, Associated Press. 

05 Wedding Crashers
New Line Cinema

11. Wedding Crashers (2005). Total score: 67%. IMDb users: 7. Metacritic: 64. Rotten Tomatoes: 6.7. 
Directed by: David Dobkin. Starring: Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn, Rachel McAdams, Christopher Walken, Isla Fisher, Bradley Cooper. 
Plot summary: John Beckwith and Jeremy Grey, a pair of committed womanizers who sneak into weddings to take advantage of the romantic tinge in the air, find themselves at odds with one another when John meets and falls for Claire Cleary.
What the critics said: "The most exhilarating entertainment to emerge this year from the failed, forlorn factory town of Hollywood, largely because of Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn, the best high-low comedy team since the hey-hey days of Paul Newman and Robert Redford." Andrew Sarris, Observer. 

06 American Sniper
Warner Bros.

=9. American Sniper (2014). Total score: 71.33%. IMDb users: 7.3. Metacritic: 72. Rotten Tomatoes: 6.9. 
Directed by: Clint Eastwood. Starring: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Kyle Gallner. 
Plot summary: Navy S.E.A.L. sniper Chris Kyle's pinpoint accuracy saves countless lives on the battlefield and turns him into a legend. Back home to his wife and kids after four tours of duty, however, Chris finds that it is the war he can't leave behind.
What the critics said: "American Sniper has a perspective that's recognizable from the classic Westerns Eastwood has long been associated with, both as an actor and a director. It's an existential critique of violent machismo that doubles as a celebration of violence." Dana Stevens, Slate. 

07 The Place Beyond the Pines
Focus Features

=9. The Place Beyond the Pines (2012). Total score: 71.33%. IMDb users: 7.3. Metacritic: 68. Rotten Tomatoes: 7.3. 
Directed by: Derek Cianfrance. Starring: Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Ray Liotta, Mahershala Ali. 
Plot summary: A motorcycle stunt rider turns to robbing banks as a way to provide for his lover and their newborn child, a decision that puts him on a collision course with an ambitious rookie cop navigating a department ruled by a corrupt detective.
What the critics said: "An ambitious drama about the ways in which one bad decision can reverberate across generations." Calvin Wilson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 

08 Guardians of the Galaxy Vol
Marvel/Disney

8. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017). Total score: 72%. IMDb users: 7.7. Metacritic: 67. Rotten Tomatoes: 7.2. 
Directed by: James Gunn. Starring: Chris Pratt, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana, Karen Gillan, Dave Bautista. 
Plot summary: The Guardians must fight to keep their newfound family together as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill's true parentage.
What the critics said: "Like many a sequel to a slam-bang, much-liked mega-hit, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 isn't quite as much fun, not quite as clever, not quite as fresh as the original—but it still packs a bright and shiny and sweet punch." Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times

09 The Hangover
Warner Bros.

7. The Hangover (2009). Total score: 72.67%. IMDb users: 7.7. Metacritic: 73. Rotten Tomatoes: 6.8. 
Directed by: Todd Phillips. Starring: Zach Galifianakis, Bradley Cooper, Justin Bartha, Ed Helms, Heather Graham, Ken Jeong. 
Plot summary: Three buddies wake up from a bachelor party in Las Vegas, with no memory of the previous night and the bachelor missing. They make their way around the city in order to find their friend before his wedding.
What the critics said: "The Hangover remains unrepentantly irresponsible and hilarious throughout, culminating with what could be the funniest montage ever to grace a picture's end credits. The summer's first sleeper hit has arrived." Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald

10 Wet Hot American Summer- First Day of Camp
Netflix

6. Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp. Total score: 74.13%. IMDb users: 7.4. Metacritic: 74. Rotten Tomatoes: 7.44. 
Directed by: Michael Showalter, David Wain. Starring: Paul Rudd, Bradley Cooper, Amy Poehler, Lake BellJason Schwartzman. 
Plot summary: Follows the counselors and campers on their first day at Camp Firewood in the summer of 1981.
What the critics said: "Bizarre and brilliant." Sarah Rodman, Boston Globe

11 Avengers- Infinity War
Marvel/Disney

5. Avengers: Infinity War (2018). Total score: 76%. IMDb users: 8.5. Metacritic: 68. Rotten Tomatoes: 7.5. 
Directed by: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo. Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Don Cheadle, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Holland, Chadwick Boseman, Zoe Saldana, Karen Gillan, Chris Pratt, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Idris Elba. 
Plot summary: The Avengers and their allies must be willing to sacrifice all in an attempt to defeat the powerful Thanos before his blitz of devastation and ruin puts an end to the universe.
What the critics said: "Never has the Marvel Cinematic Universe seemed like more of a universe, in ways both good and bad. Infinity War—the title is almost too apt—is far from a perfect movie, but it is probably close to the best movie it could have been." Christopher Orr, The Atlantic