The latest version of A Star is Born caught my attention for two reasons: Bradley Cooper in the directors chair and Lady Gaga in title role. Both are intriguing ideas, and judging by the box office this previous weekend, I wasn’t alone in thinking this. I can say confidently that both of these prospects are successes. For a movie on its fourth run, it feels surprisingly original and fresh thanks to it’s inspired performances by Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, and another I’ve seen omitted from much of the conversation around the film, Sam Eliot, it’s simple, yet effective directing, and it’s catchy soundtrack. All these pieces form a film that will not only keep you entertained, but enthralled and interested in the characters presented to you.
I previously mentioned the films soundtrack. It serves not only as a plot device, but almost as a character itself. It truly is the life-force of the film, this aided by expert scoring, sound designing, and especially sound mixing (a sure shoo-in for the Oscar). Cooper made key choices like filming scenes performing in front of live audiences which greatly benefits the film. Scenes of Jackson Maine (Cooper) performing are not only epic in scale, but masterfully directed to show the man at the podium and the emotion behind the rock-star and this continues later in the film with the coming of Ally (Gaga).
Another laudable element of the film is the performances. While Cooper delivers a career-best performance as Jackson Maine, Lady Gaga truly is a shining star in this movie. Given the opportunity I would make a pun about a star being born, but as we all know Gaga is a star already of the greatest degree, and she shows here that doesn’t only apply to music, but acting as well. Supporting performances by Sam Eliot as Maine’s childhood care-taker and brother and Andrew Dice Clay as Ally’s father compliment the already top-notch performances of the stars.
I’ve talked very positively about A Star is Born so far, and I wouldn’t want to reduce that, but it isn’t a flawless film. Some misplaced character moments and a bit of bloat in the second and third acts clipped the films wings a bit, but not by much. Running at 2 hours 17 minutes, it isn’t an especially long film, but the contents sometimes feel misplaced, slow, deductive of the overall plot, or plainly unneeded.
If you haven’t seen the film yet, or additionally don’t plan to, it’s no doubt that you’ll be seeing it come award season. If I had to guess, I would say there’s a good chance we see Bradley Cooper nominated for Best Director and Best Actor, Lady Gaga for Best Actress, Sam Eliot as a shoo-in for Best Supporting, Best Sound Design and Best Sound Mixing, and a solid chance at Best Picture depending on how the rest of this Oscar season goes.
Overall, phenomenal performances, effective directing and incredible sound usage make A Star is Born truly shine. Despite some fat that could be cut off, the film functions efficiently and is worth your time.
I give A Star is Born an 8.5/10