Opening Up the Oscars: ‘A Star is Born’ Brings the Classic Romance to a New Generation

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Opening Up the Oscars: ‘A Star is Born’ Brings the Classic Romance to a New Generation

"A Star is Born" received eight Academy Award nominations. courtesy Flickr.

"A Star is Born" received eight Academy Award nominations. courtesy Flickr.

"A Star is Born" received eight Academy Award nominations. courtesy Flickr.

By Marshall Falkner

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Warning: This review contains spoilers for “A Star is Born.” 

“A Star is Born,” directed by Bradley Cooper, has been nominated for a number of Oscars, including Best Picture, Lead Actor (Bradley Cooper), Lead Actress (Lady Gaga), Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography and Original Song (for “Shallow”).

This remake is the fourth version of “A Star is Born,” after the 1937 film, a 1954 version and a 1976 remake starring Barbra Streisand. The new “A Star is Born” is the same basic romance movie, with some details, like career choices and names, changed.

For this round of stars, we have Lady Gaga as Ally, a small town club singer that falls in love with a famous, alcoholic country singer named Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper). Jackson takes Ally to one of his shows and goads her into performing on stage with him. She then begins working with a producer, Rez (Rafi Gavron), who tells her she can make it big and follow her dreams by performing pop music.

This plays out how you think it will, for the most part: they fall in love, Ally drifts away because of her career, Jack is unhappy because of the music that she ends up playing, Jack thinks that Rez is a bad influence and Jack fights off his demons as best he can until his dependence on booze becomes impossible to overcome.

This is where the film breaks off into a sadder, more realistic movie (once again, spoilers are ahead). Jack does go to AA meetings and therapy in hopes of getting better, but after he embraces himself in a drunken stupor at the Grammys, he fights with the last few friends he has left and basically loses his hearing to tinnitus. Jack commits suicide. To me, the movie is less about Ally and her rise to fame but Jack’s fall from grace. His storyline was the most poignant and authentic part of the movie. For this alone, I think it deserves its nomination for Best Picture, but maybe not the win. Both the screenplay and Cooper’s performance, however, should be serious candidates to win.

One thing that I still can’t get over is Lady Gaga singing country. Now, maybe it is a bad opinion, but I can get down with some country music — I’m definitely picky, but I like it overall. Plain and simple Lady Gaga is not a country singer. Her voice is just too … Gaga. She is suited for and is well-received in the pop genre, which may be why Raz had her doing pop music. This does not ruin the movie per se, but I just don’t believe Gaga will be winning an Oscar this time around.

Overall, it was an okay romance movie with a very realistic depiction of what fame can do to people. The cinematography was great and the music was enjoyable. It may not be Best Picture material, but we’ll see.

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@FalknerMarshall