As some of you may know, the Oscar race has officially begun. While we’re still months away from countless best and worst dressed lists, teary-eyed acceptance speeches, and bragging rights for the studio behind the year’s most lauded film, “Silver Linings Playbook” is already a frontrunner. Produced by the Weinstein Company, “SLP” stars Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro.

Pat (Cooper) returns to his parents’ Philadelphia home after an eighth month stint in a mental institution; which he agreed to enter after he brutally beat the man having an affair with his wife. While in the institution, Pat is diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Rather than take his medication as prescribed, Pat relies on exercise and positive thinking. As Pat struggles to reconnect with his ex-wife and overcome his illness, he meets an odd widow named Tiffany (Lawrence). The two soon become unlikely friends, helping each other in conquering their issues.

The film’s synopsis makes it sound like a drama, but it’s actually more of a dark comedy. The film, written and directed by “The Fighter’s” David O. Russell, deals with mental illness and abandonment issues without turning into a melodramatic mess. There are moments where the mood turns somber, but it never feels contrived, which is why the film works on both a deeply personal and entertaining level.

Pat isn’t the only one suffering here. After losing her husband, Tiffany begins having promiscuous sex with both men and women. Meanwhile, Pat Sr. (De Niro) has crippling bouts of OCD. He is so obsessive that he has every single Eagles game videotaped, labeled, and neatly organized. His need to have all the remotes face the same direction during a football game is yet another indication of his obsessive personality. Still, Pat Sr. is unable to see the similarities he shares with his some, which results in some of the film’s tensest moments.  However, it is Pat’s relationship with Tiffany that makes the film fun and heartwarming, especially their hilariously bad dance routine at the end of the movie.

Cooper and Lawrence have great on-screen chemistry, complementing each other’s quirks nicely. The banter between Pat and Tiffany is both playful and provoking, all the more reason why you’re rooting for two to get together at the end.

The reason why I think that “Silver Linings Playbook” has a good shot of taking home Best Picture is because of a scene towards the end of the film where Pat, his whole family, and Tiffany are in the same room. To spoil the scene would be terrible of me, so I won’t give you too much insight into the scene’s genius. I will say, however, Lawrence sparring with De Niro is one of the greatest acting exchanges I’ve seen in a long time. If she doesn’t win Best Actress for this performance, my faith in the Oscars will be forever lost. She’s that good. I’ll be less upset if “SLP” doesn’t take home Best Picture.

Of course it’s difficult to predict the Oscars three months before the nominees are announced, but if I had to place a bet today, I’d put my money on “SLP” and Jennifer Lawrence taking home Oscar gold.


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