My first experience was 1999's Three Kings which, coincidentally, I viewed a month after I joined the fleet as a United States Marine, and six from my first deployment to the Middle East. Written and directed by Russell, the formative experience of the film was threefold for me.
As an impressionable nineteen year old boy (we were boys, I promise you), it expanded my very narrow perspective of why nations go to war; Three Kings made me want to ask questions where previously I didn't even know to do so. It also exposed me to wildly imaginative cinematography, and how the shooting of a film can, in the right hands, be as much a character in the final product as the stars. It also introduced me to voice, and what it means to be a screenwriter who can step out of their characters and give each a genuinely unique perspective on their lives and their experience on the page.
In short, I am a fan, and David O. Russell's current place in the elite strata of Hollywood writer/directors comes as no shock.
Currently, David is staggering under the weight of award nominations, and wins, for Silver Linings Playbook. He is up for a WGA, BAFTA, and Academy award for Best Adapted Screenplay, as well as an Academy and Independent Spirit award for Best Director. It's also noteworthy that Russell's stellar casting, and the response to his direction from the actors that star in his films, have led to a swath of awards as well.
Currently, , , , and all stand to pull in Oscar wins for their roles in Silver Linings Playbook, and have already won sixteen acting awards between them. David is the first director since 1981 to have nominated actors across all four Academy Award categories in a film.
This is hardly a fluke, with 2010's The Fighter garnering nine performance awards between , , and , two of which were Academy Award wins.
Russell began his career nailing dark, indie comedies like I ♥ Huckabees (where I first realized was a king of subtle comedy, long before he went broad for Ted), and 1994's complicated, funny, often nervous twitch-inducing Spanking the Monkey. Russell has never shied away from complicated subject matter, and as his budget and profile have grown in tandem, his output has remained firmly entrenched in the human condition. It's what makes stories like Silver Linings Playbook and The Fighter so deeply engaging. Films about drug abuse and mental illness often turn into blunt instruments, even at their best. Bradley Cooper's Pat clearly has a cornucopia of neuroses to deal with, but the real richness of Silver linings comes not from his familie's immediate reaction to his condition, but the average interactions that suggest they've been coping for a very long time with a variety of familial disorders. It's average life, that folks deal with regularly, wrapped in a a unique narrative. Conversations at the dinner table are just as engaging as the big payoffs that pepper the film. This is what David O. Russell does, and does exceptionally well.
Currently, Russell is prepping for the final lap of award season like many of his colleagues, and as is often the case, he remains tight-lipped about upcoming projects. Accidental Love still remains in perpetual limbo, and the American Hustle, an FBI thriller set in the '70s, also starring Bradley Cooper, is well over a year away and slim on details.
History has begun to suggest that, whatever comes next from David O. Russell, it's highly likely to further cement his status as a writer, director, and producer that will take the meandering, interesting path to status as a legendary contributor to the world of cinema.