A Star is Born is a story that seems to be revived every couple decades. The first film was in 1937. A remake with Judy Garland and James Mason came in 1954. And another came to be with Barbara Streisand in 1976. Now, with Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper stars and has made his directorial debut with his new, updated version of the story. Here, instead of discovering a young actress, his aging star of a character discovers a young singer/songwriter. Bringing this story into the modern music industry breathes new life into it and uses the opportunity to bring amazing original songs into the film. The music is so central to the film it is nearly a musical.
The soundtrack to this film is phenomenal. Each song is not only beautifully performed within the film but adds to the story. It’s hard for me to pick a favorite. Shallow, nominated for best song, is a perfect duet that helps establish our characters and their budding love story. Is That Alright is a sweet emotional declaration of love and Lady Gaga kills it. I’ll Never Love Again is a moving ending tribute that secretly reveals Jack’s intentions. And sometimes I just can’t stop listening to Always Remember Us This Way. I’m looking forward to seeing Cooper and Gaga perform on Oscar night.
Cooper and Gaga are awesome together, I imagine there will be talk of Oscar nominations, but we’ll see how thick the competition grows. Cooper portrays his fading rock star with so much charisma that the audience can’t help but fall for him as Gaga’s Ally does. He stumbles drunk and gravels his voice so convincingly that he could be Sam Elliott’s brother. And Gaga steals the show growing from a meek young woman singing in a drag bar to a superstar as bright on screen as Gaga is in real life. She seems so perfectly cast for this role, she makes it all look so natural. Her greatest moment for me was first singing Shallow on stage, she looks so perfectly determined, nervous and overwhelmed to shine in such a big and unexpected moment.
My biggest gripe with A Star is Born is that there seems to be no sense of time. We can assume this story takes place over years, but it feels like such a whirlwind that it could all be in a few weeks. Yes, I know it takes time to record albums and get to the Grammy’s and get in and out of rehab but it all it just thrown at us with nothing in the background to help us stay grounded in time. But perhaps that’s how this love story is, a whirlwind with time not factoring in. But I doubt that’s how Cooper meant it.
Also, he is not very subtle with foreshadowing is he? If you’ve seen any previous versions of A Star is Born, you know what happens, but if you don’t, just look for a few clues. There’s some bright, neon ones hanging in the background for a little too long in the beginning. But let’s give the guy a break, for his first time directing he does a great job.
A Star is Born has been nominated for eight Academy Awards including best original song, sound mixing, adapted screenplay, cinematography and Best Picture. While Bradley Cooper was shut out of a directing nomination, he did receive one for best actor, his fourth acting nomination. Sam Elliott is nominated for best supporting actor and Lady Gaga for best actress, both of them their first Oscar nominations.
Among the eight Best Picture nominees announced yesterday, A Star is Born feels a bit out of place. I agree that it’s a very well done film, but it just seems to be lacking that certain something to send it over the edge. Many of the other nominated films are about race, politics or boast multiple female leads. Bohemian Rhapsody already has the musical aspect covered. And yet, here stands A Star is Born, a remake or a remake featuring white leads in heterosexual roles and a lot of lens flare. Maybe the Academy was afraid to lose their main viewers. Or Cooper knew what he was singing about.
“Maybe it’s time to let the old ways die.”