In a season filled with Oscar-courting epics like Cloud Atlas, Life of Pi, and the upcoming Les Miserables, director David O. Russell’s quiet, quirky romantic comedy Silver Linings Playbook, which hits theaters today, has earned almost universally positive reviews, with several critics pegging it as a surprise Best Picture frontrunner. The film tells the story of a former teacher (Bradley Cooper), recently ejected from a psych ward, who moves in with his parents and attempts to reconcile with his estranged wife (Brea Bee) assisted by a mysterious new friend (Jennifer Lawrence). (Watch the Silver Linings Playbook trailer below.) Could this "little film that could" really take Hollywood's top prize?

Silver Linings Playbook is a serious Oscar contender: Silver Linings Playbook “is earning some Oscar buzz, and rightfully so,” says the Seattle Observer’s Tim Hall, awarding the film a rare “A+” rating. Its clever storyline and marvelous performances makes it “one of the year’s best films" — a refreshing, revisionist take on the tired old “boy meets girl” story. It may be less conventional than other likely Oscar contenders, but this is “the type of film Hollywood studios should make more often.”
“Review: Silver Linings Playbook

Silver Linings Playbook is a great, crowd-pleasing film — but Best Picture might be taking things too far: Yes, Silver Linings Playbook could possibly "follow Slumdog Millionaire and The King’s Speech into Oscar history,” but there’s also a serious “risk of overhype” here, says Liam Lacey at The Globe and Mail. The film “sparkles with eccentric charm and off-rhythm performances,” but it’s also a “safer, more sentimental” film than the earlier, edgier work of David O. Russell. In the end, this is just “a better-acted version of any number of Sundance-style films about quirky outsiders who find a common bond.”
Silver Linings Playbook is a touchdown for Lawrence and Cooper”

Silver Linings Playbook deserves an Oscar — but for Best Actor, not Best Picture: Silver Linings Playbook is a bit of a mess, with “the structure of a romantic comedy and the paralyzing sadness of an indie drama,” says Aaron Mettey at Philly Magazine. The reason the film works at all is Bradley Cooper, playing a character who remains “utterly likable” despite his many flaws. From Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln to Joaquin Phoenix in The Master, the Best Actor category is likely to be unusually competitive this year — but Bradley Cooper's "astonishing" performance deserves serious consideration.
“Bradley Cooper gives Oscar-worthy performance in Silver Linings Playbook

Consensus: As the hype fades, Cooper's turn as a magnetic if broken man may be the film's strongest Oscar hope.