Cast: Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Sam Elliott, Dave Chappelle
Director: Bradley Cooper
Synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes: In this new take on the tragic love story, Bradley Cooper plays seasoned musician Jackson Maine, who discovers–and falls in love with–struggling artist Ally (Gaga). She has just about given up on her dream to make it big as a singer… until Jack coaxes her into the spotlight. But even as Ally’s career takes off, the personal side of their relationship is breaking down, as Jack fights an ongoing battle with his own internal demons.
You know it is truly awards season when the first big-name release comes out that you know in your heart will be a major player in February. Lucky for us, A Star is Born is this year’s early October frontrunner and I film I think we will see in theaters for a long time. Whether it is the incredible acting of everyone regardless of how long they are on-screen for, some of the most popular songs from a movie in years, or a timeless story that has been given a fresh perspective, A Star is Born has the legs to make a deep awards run this year and would deserve every win that it gets.
The film follows Jackson Maine (Cooper), a famous musician who is on the final stages of his career due to alcoholism and hearing problems. When Jackson comes across Ally (Gaga), a young impressive singer in a bar one night, Jackson takes Ally under his wing and helps develop her into a famous singer while they also fall in love with one another. A Star is Born details the trials and tests of their relationship as well as the impact of fame and alcoholism on the two of them. The first thing that stands out about this film is the level at which these actors perform at. This is Cooper’s directorial debut, and I was stunned how he did not face the usual pitfalls that first time directors face. He was able to successfully capture the mood and tone of every scene and was essential to getting these actors, including himself, to act in the most complimenting way possible. The best performance of the film was far and away Gaga, who really established herself as someone who can dominate any field that she chooses to tackle. Gaga completely steals every scene she is in and gives a performance that can swing you from the verge of tears to cheering out of your seat in a moment’s notice, something I very rarely see. The chemistry between Cooper and Gaga is phenomenal and you actual believe that the two of them are truly in love throughout the movie. Even actors who have less screen time such as Elliott, Chappelle, and Andrew Dice Clay all fill their roles beautifully and show us the depths at which this film can go. Moving on to the music, Gaga is one of the most talented musicians in the industry right now and that was on full display in this movie. She could very easily have three or four songs get nominated for Best Original Song, and while this will not end up happening, the fact that she will have so many to choose from is a testament to just how impressive her songs are. On the other end, I was impressed that Cooper could hold his own with Gaga on his songs. Cooper trained extensively to prepare for this role and I have to say all his training paid off. While he obviously not as good as Gaga, he impressively holds his own with one of the best active singers. Finally, I was surprised with just how fresh this movie felt given where the source material came from. I had never seen any of the previous installments of this film, and I believe going in blind created the best atmosphere for me as I did not see this film going the way it did. When I looked up how previous iterations of the film were made, I appreciated many of the updates that Cooper made to the film. I would suggest watching this movie with no background of how others were made, but if you are familiar with the previous films, you will not be disappointed.
Overall, A Star is Born is probably going to be the frontrunner of awards season for a long period of time. The acting, music, and story are some of the strongest of the year and are an excellent start to what should be a very interesting end of the 2018 movie calendar. While there are certain backstories I would have liked to learn a little bit more about, but this is not a big enough issue to take away from a movie that is an epic film on a multitude of levels.
Overall Score: 9/10