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The 10 Best Bradley Cooper Movies You Have to Watch

Over the past decade, Bradley Cooper has emerged as one of the defining actors of his generation. He’s starred in everything from bawdy comedies to awards season fare, and he’s proven that he’s capable of carrying virtually any type of project. Cooper has even tried his hand at directing, and he’s proven that he can direct a movie even as he plays one of the film’s lead characters.

Bradley Cooper is a serious actor. He studied at the actor’s studio before he became a professional, and he clearly believes in the craft behind the work that he does. Cooper’s belief in his craft has translated into a number of truly excellent performances and a number of extraordinary movies where he’s at the center.

If you’re looking for more, we’ve also found the best Netflix movies, Hulu movies, Disney+ movies, and documentaries to stream right now.

A Star Is Born (2018)

A Star Is Born
88 %
7.6/10
136m
Genre Drama, Romance
Stars Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Sam Elliott
Directed by Bradley Cooper
Rarely has an actor bet bigger on themselves than Bradley Cooper did when he decided to star in and direct a remake of A Star is Born. Working alongside Lady Gaga, Cooper created a beautiful, modern version of one of Hollywood’s most enduring stories. Cooper also sings and plays some guitar in the film, and he is entirely believable as an aging, alcoholic rock star who falls head over heels for Lady Gaga’s younger ingenue. Cooper’s direction is even more impressive, and the combined work of his performance and direction turned A Star is Born into one of the best directorial debuts of all time.

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Silver Linings Playbook
122m
Genre Drama, Comedy, Romance
Stars Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro
Directed by David O. Russell
Perhaps more than any other performance, Silver Linings Playbook really showcased what Cooper is capable of. Cooper plays Pat, a bipolar man who has just had his life upended because he got violent after discovering his wife in the shower with another man. Jennifer Lawrence rightly gets a lot of presence for her domineering work in the film, but it’s Cooper who grounds the entire enterprise. In spite of his struggles, Pat is just a regular guy trying his best to make a good life for himself, and Cooper plays Pat with a sense of joy and abandon that is often absent from even the best screen performances.

The Hangover (2009)

The Hangover
73 %
7.7/10
100m
Genre Comedy
Stars Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis
Directed by Todd Phillips
The Hangover is not the most logical jumping-off point for Cooper’s entire career, but that’s exactly what it was. Cooper is not the singular star of The Hangover, and he’s not even really the funny man. Instead, his role is to be exasperated and cool, and he pulls it off to perfection. The sequels were increasingly tiresome, in part because Cooper seemed to have evolved past the franchise by the time it was over, but the first movie was truly groundbreaking, often due to just how raunchy it was willing to be. Cooper has gone on to much more dramatic work since, but The Hangover is when many people first began to understand who he was.

American Hustle (2013)

American Hustle
90 %
7.3/10
138m
Genre Drama, Crime
Stars Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper
Directed by David O. Russell
Bradley Cooper’s hair in American Hustle is ridiculous and insane, but it’s also one of the best things about him. As an FBI agent intent on cracking open a major case, Cooper is all mania and energy in American Hustle, and David O. Russell is able to tap into that vein to create some of the film’s most hilarious moments. Cooper’s role is definitely a supporting performance in the film, but it’s crucial to the overall tone of the movie. Christian Bale and Amy Adams are much more subdued, and Russell lets Bradley Cooper dominate almost every scene that he’s in.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
67 %
7.6/10
137m
Genre Adventure, Action, Science Fiction
Stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista
Directed by James Gunn
One would not think that an actor with eight Oscar nominations to his name would have delivered one of his very best performances as a CGI raccoon, but here we are. The first Guardians of the Galaxy was shocking for a number of reasons, and just one of them was how committed Cooper was to his performance as Rocket Raccoon. That only gets more true in the movie’s sequel, which centers Rocket’s emotional story more explicitly. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ends with a CGI raccoon shedding a single tear, and it is one of the most moving things to ever happen in the MCU.

American Sniper (2014)

American Sniper
72 %
7.3/10
133m
Genre War, Action
Stars Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Kyle Gallner
Directed by Clint Eastwood
American Sniper certainly didn’t seem like it would be the biggest hit of its year when it was quietly released at the end of 2014. That it ultimately became just that speaks to the work that Cooper did in tandem with director Clint Eastwood to make the story of Chris Kyle thoroughly compelling. Kyle, who was the deadliest marksman in U.S. history across his four tours of duty in Iraq, is thoroughly human in Kyle’s portrayal, which shows the toll that his military successes took on his life at home. It’s a moving portrayal of a complicated, deadly man.

Licorice Pizza (2021)

Licorice Pizza
90 %
7.3/10
134m
Genre Drama, Comedy
Stars Alana Haim, Cooper Hoffman, Sean Penn
Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
It’s a tiny part, but Bradley Cooper’s work as Jon Waters in Licorice Pizza is a perfect encapsulation of what he’s capable of as an actor. Cooper’s Waters is really just a passing character in a movie that has very little to do with him, but he is blissfully unaware of that. Cooper perfectly captures the kind of manic, terrifying energy of the character, and proves what a gifted comedian he is in the process. It’s not his most moving performance, but it may just be his funniest, and given the career he’s had to date, that’s really saying something.

Nightmare Alley (2021)

Nightmare Alley
70 %
7.1/10
150m
Genre Crime, Drama, Thriller
Stars Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara
Directed by Guillermo del Toro
Cooper is not a natural fit for the lead role in Nightmare Alley. He doesn’t play weirdos, and weirdos are exactly the kinds of people that director Guillermo Del Toro loves most. In spite of the strange casting, though, Cooper turns out to be a great choice for the part of Stan Carlisle, a grifter who becomes far too confident in his own ability to trick those around him. Stan’s journey over the course of the movie is long and winding, but it allows Cooper to flex a wide array of muscles. He’s compelling throughout, even during a prolonged early stretch when he doesn’t get to say a word.

Limitless (2011)

Limitless
59 %
7.4/10
105m
Genre Thriller, Mystery, Science Fiction
Stars Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, Abbie Cornish
Directed by Neil Burger
Limitless was Cooper’s first true lead role, and he didn’t let the opportunity go to waste. The movie was somewhat divisive among critics, but it was a big enough hit that it propelled Cooper through the next decade of his career. Cooper plays Eddie Morra, a regular guy who takes a pill that allows him to access the parts of the brain that typically go unused. It’s a fairly silly premise, but Cooper plays Eddie’s rise and fall with gusto, and Limitless was more than enough proof that Cooper was a movie star worth watching.

The Place Beyond the Pines (2013)

The Place Beyond the Pines
68 %
7.3/10
140m
Genre Drama, Crime
Stars Ryan Gosling, Eva Mendes, Bradley Cooper
Directed by Derek Cianfrance
As one part of a sprawling ensemble, Cooper may not have seemed like the most interesting element of The Place Beyond the Pines, but the bifurcated story at the heart of the movie allows Cooper to lead one-third of this epic crime thriller. Cooper plays Avery, an ambitious police officer who is determined to confront the corruption in his department head on. Ryan Gosling gets the flashier part in this particular tale, but Cooper gets a lot of his more straight-laced role. Avery wasn’t the best part in the script, but Cooper proved that he knew exactly how to make the character compelling.

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