As I work my way through all the nominees for Best Picture, they keep getting better and better! First, why are there so many? There used to only be 5 or 6 nominees, and the last few years there’s been 10! And second, how will I ever choose my absolute favorite?
If I had to put my vote in for one so far, I’d pick Silver Linings Playbook. Nominated for 8 Academy Awards including Best Directing and Writing by David O. Russell, you may recall his work from the previously nominated film, The Fighter, as well as the existential comedy I Heart Huckabees. Silver Linings Playbook stole my heart. If I had to compare it to anything, it reminded me of Zach Braff’s Garden State, because it is a story about finding oneself again after dealing with depression.
In this film, SLP tells the story of Pat Solitano (played by Bradley Cooper – who, if anyone was going to steal an Oscar from Daniel Day-Lewis, it should be this man!). Pat has just been released from a mental institution after a breakdown and diagnosis of bi-polar disorder have overtaken his life. Moving back in with his parents, and facing a restraining order from his ex-wife, he tries to put his life back together. To help him along, comes the most unusual of friends, a girl by the name of Tiffany, who is dealing with her own struggles, but finds a way for them to help each other.
The cast in this movie blew me away! It’s no wonder with all the acting nominations this film received. Bradley Cooper, of course, is nominated and I’m so impressed with his dramatic role. I already adored Jennifer Lawrence, and at only 22 years old, this is her second nomination for Actress in a Leading Role! She was previously nominated for Winter’s Bone. She has already taken the Golden Globe for Lead Actress in a Musical/Comedy genre. I truly hope the “Curse of the Golden Globes” does not take her out of the Oscar running! I would weep!
To round out the supporting cast, we have two additional heavy hitters, the biggest being THE Robert De Niro, playing Pat Sr. and nominated for Best Supporting Actor. He is brilliant as a father who doesn’t know how to communicate to his grown boys beyond watching baseball. And funny! In an entirely different way from Meet the Parents comedy.
My favorite performance of the film goes to Best Supporting Actress nominee Jacki Weaver! This is her second nomination, you may remember her role in Animal Kingdom, which was a violent story of a boy trying to get by in his criminal household. Playing Dolores Solitano, Weaver is the typical mom who is trying to keep everyone together. Keep the peace, and you keep the family kind of mentality. “C’mon, stay! I made crabbysnack and homemades!” I love this woman! She is brilliant. I’m rooting for Weaver to take home an Oscar!
Though he wasn’t nominated, I give nods to Chris Tucker who plays Danny, a friend and recovering drug addict that Pat befriends in the hospital. His performance lent much to the comedic value of the movie. And, I will forever love Tucker who played Ruby Rhod in the sci-fi cult classic, The Fifth Element.
To give you more of the meat of the story, while marketed as a comedy, be aware it’s a dramatic comedy, a dramedy, if you will. But I tend to love those. Sometimes life is so heavy, all you can do to lift yourself up is laugh! Yes, Pat is a man who must deal with a lot. His undiagnosed bi-polar disorder is something he and his family aren’t use to. He must find new ways to control his anger. We see the uphill and downhill battle that is medication. We see him lose control at seemingly harmless circumstances. What helps him is his belief in a “silver lining.”
noun – a sign of hope in an unfortunate or gloomy situation; a bright prospect
His motto for life becomes Excelsior, a latin word meaning “ever upward.” So as much as life became difficult and trying for Pat and his family, his story was a message of hope. The belief that things will always get better, and that those who try to get better, will.
I’m betting each of us has experienced a period, or more, in our lives where life was not what we thought it would be. For me, it was my sophomore year of college. I was living with a girl who I thought was my best friend. A girl I wanted to someday be in my wedding, go get our dream jobs, and laugh about the funny things our kids did. During the school year, I noticed she was depressed. She had gone once or twice to a counseling group, but didn’t or couldn’t connect with the individuals there. I tried to be there for her. I listened to her, offered advice, suggestions for other groups or questions to ask. She wasn’t ready. In the end, it seemed I was caring too much and so her anger came out at me. She would pick fights with me all the time, drawing hurtful things and placing them by my bed. I began avoiding our dorm room altogether. I did it for months. Just going from class to class, hanging out in study areas and sometimes sleeping in a friend’s room. It got so bad I moved out. And shortly after that, I also got dumped by my long distance boyfriend, who I thought I was going to marry. Was I naive? Yes. Was I blaming myself for her behaviors? Yes. It was an awful end to the year. I lost a bunch of weight and didn’t even notice til I went home and my dad and old boss asked me if I was eating ok at school. I lost a bunch of friends in that move because she lived on the same floor with them, so they usually asked her out and didn’t come to see me, when I was one floor down.
It was an incredibly hurtful time. Even though the move was difficult, it was for the best. I was able to focus on school and earned some great opportunities working with literary journals. I joined the women’s student organization that I would later lead as president. And six months after all the drama, I met the wonderful man I’m still with today, 6 1/2 years later.
I thoroughly loved this film. I am hoping that it earns many awards. It is incredibly well written, and exceptionally well acted. I think Pat’s story is one all of us can relate to. And each of us is responsible for finding our own silver lining. And who knows, we could also be the silver lining for someone we least expect.
Have you seen Silver Linings Playbook yet? Do you want to?
Share with us a time you felt set back in life. What was your silver lining? Are you feeling down right now? Let me be your silver lining! I wish nothing but hope and excitement for life for each of you! Ever upwards, friends! Say it with me, “Excelsior!”