A rousing screening of Silver Linings Playbook (Weinstein Co., 11.16) happened last night at the American Cinematheque’s Egyptian theatre with director David O. Russell, star and Best Actor contender Bradley Cooper (giving his career-best performance) and costar John Ortiz posing for photos, etc. I went because I wanted to take a couple of friends, and because I wanted to feel a positive reaction after that awful Aidikoff Screening Room experience and that raging argument in the downstairs garage.

Backstory.net‘s Jeff Goldsmith, who sat just to my right, called it “great.” David Ehrenstein sat to my left. Devin Faraci sat three or four rows in front of me, and a post-screening tweet indicated he’s the latest arrival on Silver Linings Sourpuss Island.

I can spot a cerebral dweeb frowner from 100 yards off, and there’s something about the last 25 minutes of this film (which are formulaic but satisfying because so much emotional and mental fervor and skillful spadework has led up to it) that irritates the pissheads to no end. I’m speaking (and I mean no offense) of a microscopic critical sub-culture here. It’s not a crime that they can’t feel the cumulative effect of this film. But it is short-sighted if they try and dismiss how expertly fused and feverishly acted and directed this thing is…crackling, hilarious, and yet sometimes dark and unstable and despairing. And then not.

I’m fully convinced that SLP is going to ride into theatres on a tsunami when it opens two and a half weeks hence. It really, really works, and is the only film of the season (besides Anna Karenina) that has truly lifted me up and over.

There was an Academy-members-only screening Thursday night at the Laurel Canyon home of sound editors Michael and Nancy Ross (who also hosted that Not Fade Away screening & after-party that I attended a few weeks back), and I’m told that someone called it Capra-esque. Maybe, yeah…but Capra Redefined for the 21st Century and a Culture of Edge and Anxiety. I hate Capra myself. I think people who fall for It’s A Wonderful Life are easy lays and overly susceptible. But if you want a fairly good explanation how and why SLP comes together, read Brian Ondorf’s 10.24 review on Bluray.com.

Favorite Ondorf line: “When Russell calls on cliche to dig out an ending, he does so with extraordinary skill and euphoric cinematic energy.”

Before the showing Russell told the crowd how Matthew Quick‘s book first came to him from Anthony Minghella and Sydney Pollack, who of course are both gone now. But still with us through this film.

A veteran director friend who attended the Ross screening texted as follows this morning: “Silver Linings Playbook was terrific…has to be the front-runner [now]. Jennifer Lawrence must be favorite for Best Actress Oscar…she hits it out of the park…movie comes doubly alive when she’s on-screen. Bradley for a Best Actor nomination but no win. De Niro probably. Lawrence dead certain. Stand-room-only with Academy voters fighting each other for seats. Cheers at the end.”

The Ross screening was co-hosted by Colleen Camp, Nancy Meyers and Lisa Tomei, I’m told. and was presided over by Oscar strategist Lisa Taback.