September 20, 2023

Bradley Cooper: Directing self to Oscar nomination for Maestro


Bradley Cooper was once the bad guy in “Wedding Crashers” (a great film, to be sure). Now, he’s a nine-time Oscar nominee who could be in for a record-breaking year on a number of fronts for his new movie “Maestro.” “This Netflix release tells the story of famed composer Leonard Bernstein and his marriage to Felicia Montealegre (Carey Mulligan). Cooper took on directing duties for the second time, co-wrote the script with “Spotlight” Oscar-winner Josh Singer, produces with Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese, and stars as Bernstein.

He made his directorial debut with “A Star is Born” and landed a Best Actor bid but was snubbed by the directors branch (more on Cooper’s Oscar history later). This time, however, it looks like he could snag bids in both of those categories. Currently, we predict that Cooper will be nominated for Best Actor alongside Cillian Murphy (“Oppenheimer”), Leonardo DiCaprio (“Killers of the Flower Moon”), Colman Domingo (“Rustin”), and Paul Giamatti (“The Holdovers”). Cooper’s nomination would fall in line with recent trends in the category. He’s portraying a real person, it’s a transformative role, and it’s sure to be an emotionally charged performance. There have been plenty of recent Best Actor nominees who have earned bids for such roles: Austin Butler in 2023 for “Elvis,” Christian Bale in 2019 for “Vice,” Gary Oldman in 2018 for “Darkest Hour” (he won), and Eddie Redmayne in 2016 for “The Danish Girl.”

Cooper looks to have tougher competition in what is a STACKED category this year with Best Director. Our current predicted nominees are Christopher Nolan (“Oppenheimer”), Scorsese (“Killers of the Flower Moon”), Yorgos Lanthimos (“Poor Things”), Greta Gerwig (“Barbie”), and Jonathan Glazer (“The Zone of Interest”). Cooper is on the precipice along with the likes of Celine Song (“Past Lives”), Alexander Payne (“The Holdovers”), Justine Triet (“Anatomy of a Fall”), Blitz Bazawule (“The Color Purple”), and Emerald Fennell (“Saltburn”). Like I said… stacked. However, if Cooper hits it out of the park again with “Maestro,” as early reviews suggest he has, then voters will view Cooper as the real deal. They may also feel obligated to vote for him to make up for that “A Star is Born” snub.

If Cooper were to land both of these nominations, he would become just the ninth person in Oscars history to be nominated for both Best Actor and Best Director for the same year. It would be the 11th occasion it has happened as Warren Beatty and Clint Eastwood both pulled off this double act twice. Here’s the breakdown.

  • Orson Welles, “Citizen Kane” (1942)
  • Laurence Olivier, “Hamlet” (1949) — won for Best Actor
  • Woody Allen, “Annie Hall” (1978) — won for Best Director
  • Warren Beatty, “Heaven Can Wait” (1979)
  • Warren Beatty, “Reds” (1982) — won for Best Director
  • Kenneth Branagh, “Henry V” (1990)
  • Kevin Costner, “Dances with Wolves” (1991) — won for Best Director
  • Clint Eastwood, “Unforgiven” (1993) — won for Best Director
  • Roberto Benigni, “Life is Beautiful” (1999) — won for Best Actor
  • Clint Eastwood, “Million Dollar Baby” (2005) — won for Best Director

Welles and Branagh are the only two to have failed to win either award for their films, while Beatty went home empty-handed in 1979 but won Best Director in 1982. Three others also won Best Director — Allen, Costner, and Eastwood on both occasions. Only two won Best Actor — Olivier and Benigni. No one has ever won Best Actor and Best Director for the same film. Could Cooper pull that off? It would be one hell of a way for the academy to turn Cooper from an Oscar bridesmaid to, uh, well, an Oscar bride, I guess. Anyway, so far, he’s had nine nominations and zero wins.

Cooper has reaped three Best Actor bids: “Silver Linings Playbook” in 2013, “American Sniper” in 2015, and “A Star is Born” in 2019. He’s also picked up a Best Supporting Actor nomination (for “American Hustle” in 2014) and a Best Adapted Screenplay bid (for “A Star is Born”). Surprisingly, the category he has received the most nominations in is Best Picture — with four so far. His first came in 2015 for “American Sniper” and he was nominated in 2019 for “A Star is Born,” which he also wrote and directed. He contended in 2020 for “Joker” and in 2022 for “Nightmare Alley.” “Joker” is the only one of the four Best Picture bids in which he did not appear.

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