While American Hustle garnered more Oscar nominations and Joy was made on a budget three times the size, in our opinion, Silver Linings Playbook (Sunday, January 24 at 9:00 p.m. ET on Bravo) remains Jennifer Lawrence and director David O. Russell‘s best movie. Why? Chalk it up to magic sparked between first-time collaborators or credit it to a superior script. Whatever it was, Russell and Lawrence haven’t managed to replicate the recipe since (ever-expanding collection of shiny statuettes notwithstanding). Silver Linings just has something that other Lawrence/Russell projects are missing—11 things, to be precise. Here’s why it’s our favourite:
1. J-Law and B-Coop’s chemistry
Despite the age difference (she was 21, he was 38) casting Lawrence opposite Cooper didn’t come off as creepy—due in large part to her performance. But had she been paired with, say, Christian Bale? Same age difference, much higher creep factor.
2. Because it managed to make us care about who won a football game
Go Eagles! (Did Joy make you care about mopping floors? Didn’t think so.)
3. You could see how much the actors cared about the script in their performances
While promoting the film, Russell talked about his family’s own experiences with mental illness, and Robert De Niro was moved to tears in an interview with Katie Couric. It was obvious that Silver Linings was way more than a paycheque for the people involved.
4. Zero dull moments
When Cooper’s character isn’t yelling, Lawrence’s is saying whatever awkward, uncomfortable-making thought that pops into her head.
5. Because it portrays depression and mania as the messy business that they are
In Silver Linings, characters relapse, their problems aren’t immediately resolved with a stay in a mental hospital or a simple prescription, and the therapy they prescribe themselves is unconventional and doesn’t always work. The message the movie sends is that that’s okay.
6. Chris Tucker
If anyone out-charmed Lawrence in this movie, it was him. Politest, most apologetic escaped patient of all time.
7. Because Bradley Cooper in a garbage bag
It beats Bradley Cooper with an American Hustle perm any day of the week.
8. For the best use of a Stevie Wonder song in a film ever
The way “My Cherie Amour” sends Cooper’s character into a magazine-stand-destroying rage every time he hears it manages to be both touching and hilarious at once.
9. Because Lawrence’s Best Actress Oscar win for Silver Linings actually meant something
Remember when people didn’t just automatically hand her awards? In 2011, Lawrence was robbed after she lost out to Natalie Portman when Winter’s Bone went up against Black Swan. Many said her Silver Linings win was, in part, compensation for the earlier loss. Either way, she’d earned the recognition. But for Joy? Has the Academy seen that movie or did their members just really enjoy the naps they took during the screening?
10. That dance scene
Russell brought in a choreographer from So You Think You Can Dance. It didn’t help—and that’s why the scene works. The resulting routine made us cringe, cry, and laugh all at once, while rooting for Lawrence and Cooper’s characters to succeed on their own terms.
11. Because in Russian, the translated title of Silver Linings Playbook is My Boyfriend Is A Psycho
Joy is just Joy.
Catch the cable premiere of Silver Linings Playbook on Bravo on Sunday, January 24 at 9 p.m. ET.