Bradley Cooper is the prime example of an actor who started out in comedy in a seemingly cemented typecast before totally transforming his career. Now, in 2024, Cooper is considered a serious actor who receives rave reviews from critics with each movie he stars in, directs, or produces. But of course, that wasn't always the case. The Pennsylvania native appeared in many raunchy comedies and fun rom-coms in the 2000s and 2010s, including The Hangover series, Wedding Crashers, He's Just Not That Into You, and others. But somewhere along the way, he also started picking up parts in well-reviewed dramas and began working with well-regarded directors.
From his roles in David O'Russell's Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle to his directorial debut with A Star is Born, Cooper is a favorite amongst critics and tends to be recognized by all the big award shows with nominations. That all said, he has yet to win a Golden Globe or Academy Award, and many believe this might just be the year that all changes.
Bradley Cooper's Golden Globe history might mean a win in 2024
Cooper has been nominated for major awards for his work in front of the camera as an actor as well as behind the camera as a director and producer, but the competition has always been stacked against him. For his first Golden Globe nomination in 2013, he lost to Hugh Jackman for Best Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy, who starred as Jean Valjean in Les Misérables. That was also the year of Daniel Day-Lewis, who had just played Abraham Lincoln in Lincoln. Unfortunately for Cooper, those two performances were stronger and more impactful, though I did love him as Pat in Silver Linings Playbook. Good movie and good performances all around.
Cooper's second Golden Globe nomination came a year later in 2014 for his role as Richie DiMaso in American Hustle, when he was up for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama, Musical or Comedy. That year, Jared Leto won the award for his performance as Rayon in Dallas Buyers Club, and other actors in the race were Barkhad Abdi for Captain Phillips, Michael Fassbender for 12 Years a Slave, and Daniel Brühl for Rush. Again, while Cooper was a strong point in American Hustle, it just wasn't enough for him to beat out the others.
After that, Cooper's life changed forever when he directed and starred in A Star is Born. Acting alongside Lady Gaga in the adaptation of the classic love story, this marked Cooper's directorial debut and landed him multiple Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations. To be completely honest, I thought this movie was a tad overrated, but I can't deny the cultural impact it had. Not only were Cooper and Gaga applauded for their performances, but Cooper's directing received positive reviews and the soundtrack was also huge. The movie's success culminated at the 2019 Academy Awards when "Shallow" won Best Original Song and Cooper and Gaga made headlines for their extremely close and personal performance.
Cooper was nominated for both Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama, which he lost to Rami Malek for Bohemian Rhapsody, and Best Director, which he lost to Alfonso Cuarón for Roma, at that year's Golden Globes. This one is interesting for me; while Cooper's performance as Jackson Maine in A Star is Born wasn't my favorite of that year, I did think he was much better than Malek as Freddie Mercury. If Cooper ever truly deserved a Golden Globe or Academy Award, it should've been in 2019.
Now, fast forward to 2024 and Cooper is a double nominee at the Golden Globes for Maestro — one for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama and another for Best Director. And yet again, it's another big year for both categories with a lot of strong competition. While Maestro has received generally positive reviews, it's not difficult to understand those who call everything Cooper does now "Oscar bait." Film Twitter has been debating Cooper's years-long preparation to play real-life Leonard Bernstein, with some calling it incredible and others saying he's doing too much. Cooper no doubt looks the part, but his performance, again, is just pretty good to me. His co-star Carey Mulligan is much stronger as Bernstein's wife Felicia Montealegre.
But what do award voters think? Well, despite disagreeing with it, I do think Bradley Cooper has a real shot at winning the Golden Globe and the Academy Award for his performance in Maestro. In my eyes, Cillian Murphy deserves the awards for Oppenheimer, but he only has one other Golden Globe nomination under his belt. If Murphy gets an Oscar nomination this year — which I have no doubt he will — it'll be his first time. As much as it might be disappointing to admit, it's not unreasonable to think there are politics behind these big award shows. Because Cooper has been nominated multiple times for Golden Globes and Academy Awards without any wins, 2024 might be his year despite other actors giving better performances.
Cillian Murphy should win Best Actor, but Bradley Cooper probably will
For Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama at this year's Golden Globes, Cooper is competing against Murphy for Oppenheimer, Andrew Scott for All of Us Strangers, Barry Keoghan for Saltburn, Colman Domingo for Rustin, and Leonardo DiCaprio for Killers of the Flower Moon. Cooper's performance in Maestro wouldn't even be in my top three favorites of the nominee list — Murphy was perfect in the role of J. Robert Oppenheimer, Scott was absolutely devastating in All of Us Strangers, and Domingo gave an inspired performance in Rustin. I promise I'm not a Cooper hater, but his fellow nominees simply are stronger.
The same goes for the award for Best Director at the Golden Globes. At the 2024 ceremony, Cooper is in the running with Celine Song for Past Lives, Christopher Nolan for Oppenheimer, Greta Gerwig for Barbie, Martin Scorsese for Killers of the Flower Moon, and Yorgos Lanthimos for Poor Things. I mean, woah. 2023 was a fantastic year for cinema and that means the competition for directing awards is incredibly high. Cooper winning this award would, frankly, be very disappointing.
As it stands, Gold Derby is predicting Cooper will win the award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama at the Golden Globes, with Nolan winning Best Director. I certainly wouldn't be surprised by this outcome.