Only two to go! David O. Russell’s “Silver Linings Playbook” is something unusual this year: the sole romantic comedy in a Best Picture list that’s otherwise fairly grim. It’s an odd sort of rom-com, though; its main characters struggle with mental illness, in a way that often isn’t cute and charming, and there are plenty of moments in this film that you can’t picture Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks enacting. Nonetheless — or perhaps because of it — “Silver Linings Playbook” has an uncanny way of winning over audiences; I’ve met few who didn’t like it, and when it premiered at Toronto last fall I remember a warm reception rare from an audience of press and industry types. This isn’t Russell’s first time at the Oscars — he was nominated for Best Director in 2011, for “The Fighter” — but it’s definitely his biggest splash. And his film might have a little-mentioned advantage over its competitors: It’ll screen well on DVD (unlike such epics like “Lincoln” and “Life of Pi,” which are at their best on the big screen), which is how many older Academy voters will view it.
Total U.S. box office: Just topped the $100 million milestone this week, thanks to a post-nomination expansion
Total Oscar nominations: Eight, including best picture, director, actor (Bradley Cooper), actress (Jennifer Lawrence), supporting actor (Robert De Niro), supporting actress (Jacki Weaver), adapted screenplay, film editing.
Best chance for a win: I’m thinking Lawrence, who’s been charming Hollywood throughout this awards season (she’s delightfully uncensored when talking to the press, or to anyone, apparently), might take best actress, partially as a triumph of miscasting. (She’s too young for the role — but you forget that, watching her.) De Niro has a good shot at supporting actor, unless Tommy Lee Jones edges him out. Otherwise I think “Silver Linings” will have that fate of being a movie everyone loves but that doesn’t quite finish on top.
Odds of this film creating some fabulous Oscar-night weirdness: Well, I mentioned that Lawrence is famously uncensored, so she might give a pretty memorable speech. Russell, likewise, should he surprise and win the screenplay award, should be entertaining. (I interviewed him once, a few years ago. Very funny guy.)
Fun fact: “Silver Linings Playbook” is the 14th film in Oscar history to receive nominations in all four acting categories — and the first in more than 30 years. (The other 13? Oh, all right. “My Man Godfrey,” “Mrs. Miniver,” “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” “Johnny Belinda,” “Sunset Boulevard,” “Streetcar Named Desire,” “From Here to Eternity,” “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” “Bonnie and Clyde,” “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?,” “Network,” “Coming Home,” “Reds.”) None of these won all four awards; “Silver Linings” likely won’t, either.
Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper in “Silver Linings Playbook” (photo courtesy of The Weinstein Company)