The Movie Stardom of Bradley Cooper

One of Hollywood's perennial second fiddles has been moved up to first chair, and it'll be interesting to see if he can stay there. Elsewhere in movies, Johnny Depp soldiers on and Matthew McConaughey gets serious.

1) Limitless — $19M
Bradley Cooper's adventure into leading man land has gone well! This thriller, about Robert De Niro's magic brain pills, only cost about $27 million to make, so it's well on its way to recouping after this strong opening weekend. I guess this means Bradley Cooper's a certified movie star now? Is that what this means? Or does it just mean that someone involved with the movie has been secretly taking Robert De Niro's brain pills, so the film's success isn't really real? Cooper can't be that big of a movie star yet if one's first reaction to hearing that a movie he's starring in has done well is "Oh, was it brain pills? That would make sense." If it's more reasonable to assume that Bob De Niro's brain pills had a hand in making a film a success than to assume the lead actor did, that lead actor isn't Limitless Too.

2) Rango — $15M
That an animated film starring Johnny Depp would do well in 2011 continues to be shocking. It's just so antithetical to everything we know about modern moviemaking. No complicated, European moral quandaries, no eccentric auteur director filming in black and white, no lingering shots of gay sex. Those are the foundations of most successful films these days, and yet here comes the untested Johnny Depp acquitting himself in a niche genre like "animated family film," and somehow it does well. The world is full of surprise and mystery!

3) Battle: Los Angeles — $14.6M
After opening strong-ish last weekend, this poorly reviewed alien invasion flick dropped about 60 percent in its second go-around. It's almost made back its budget, but don't expect to see Battle: Milwaukee or Battle: Tampa any time soon.

4) The Lincoln Lawyer — $13.4M
A rare shift away from romantic comedy lothario mode for Matthew McConaughey yields only decent returns. I wonder if there were people who went to see this having not read anything about it or seen previews and about ten minutes in started saying "What the hell is going on here? Where's Kate Hudson? Why isn't McConaughey wearing loose twill shirts and relaxing on a sailboat? I don't understand!!" Much in the same way that, on set, the director had to keep saying, "No, Matthew, I don't think the Lincoln Lawyer would do a sexy/embarrassing karaoke number while courting a harried fashion buyer right now. I just don't think that's germane to this story." It's hard to turn off the McConaughey machine!

5) Paul — $13.1M
Simon Pegg and Nick Frost's alien road trip buddy comedy opened decently. Certainly better than Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz, though this one had a higher budget and the vocal presence of Seth Rogen to help it into the mainstream. EW.com says that kids under 18 absolutely loved the movie, so it'll likely turn into some kind of high school cult classic for a few years, everyone bringing the DVD of it to college like they did with Austin Powers or Pulp Fiction when I was but a lad. And then by the time they're seniors they'll be kind of embarrassed by it just because it's so obvious and freshman.

[Photo via Getty]