“It’s the same story told over and over. All the artist can offer the world is how they see those 12 notes.”
The character who utters this line in A Star is Born is talking about music, but he may as well be talking about the movie he’s in. This is the third remake of an 81-year-old movie, one whose beats are so familiar that you’ll recognize them even if you’ve never laid eyes on any of the other versions.
There’s the sad celebrity self-medicating with booze and drugs, the talented ingenue who becomes an overnight sensation, the whirlwind romance threatened by the cold, hard light of day. You can see where all of it is headed from two miles away.
But that doesn’t matter, not when Bradley Cooper is executing the formula so well. From the view at TIFF, A Star is Born looks to be a commercial and critical success that’ll have people buzzing all fall, and maybe even into this winter’s awards season. Here’s what you need to know.
1. Lady Gaga is a movie star, baby
That Gaga had pipes worthy of a movie musical was never in doubt. But A Star is Born proves she’s a hell of an actor, too. Her Ally has the more dramatic arc of the movie, evolving from bright-eyed nobody to glamorous pop star, and Gaga’s performance rings true every step of the way. For large swaths of the movie, I forgot that I was watching at one of the most famous musicians in the world – she was just Ally.
2. Bradley Cooper has a bright future as a director
A Star is Born is Bradley Cooper’s debut as a director, but you’d never know it by watching. This film has the surefootedness of someone who’s done this a dozen times before, and made me curious to see what he might get up to next.
Oh, and another of Cooper’s gifts as a director? He’s very good at directing one Bradley Cooper. Jackson Maine is one of Cooper’s most riveting performances – Cooper knows exactly how to bring out the nuances playing across Jack’s face in the many scenes he spends gazing at Ally.
3. The chemistry between Cooper and Gaga is
When Jack and Ally meet for the first time, it’s not immediately apparent just how hot this connection is going to run. Cooper gives his characters time to warm up to each other, letting them goof around and reveal their personalities before they fall for each other – so that when they do finally connect, it feels like watching a house catch fire.
4. The music might give you chills
The best moment in A Star is Born is also the best moment from the A Star is Born trailer: The absolute wail that comes from Gaga’s throat during the song “Shallow,” the first time Jack and Ally perform together onstage. It’s such a transcendent moment that I swelled up before realizing I was about to cry, and started crying before I really figured out why.
The rest of the soundtrack is pretty solid, too. Gaga does a fun cover of “La Vie en Rose,” and Cooper reveals himself as a surprisingly affecting singer with numbers like “Maybe It’s Time.” Get used to these songs. You’re going to hear them a lot for the next few months.
5. This is going to win so many awards and make so much money
Let me reiterate what I said before: A Star is Born is going to be huge. It looks like the kind of broadly appealing crowdpleaser that’ll have long legs at the box office, like Crazy Rich Asians or The Greatest Showman. Your parents will love it. So will your roommate, and your significant other, and your co-workers, and just about anyone else you might go to the movies with.
Including that one friend of yours who’s always going on about awards season, because A Star is Born also looks poised to get a bunch of nominations – for the soundtrack, for Gaga and Cooper’s performances, for Cooper’s work behind the camera as co-writer and director, and maybe even for the Best Picture categories.