It might seem like an impossible feat, but with his version of “A Star Is Born,” Bradley Cooper both puts a fresh spin on a decades-old movie staple and transcends its very place in cinema history by fixing the story, turning a classic role, finally, into a tragic figure you actually care about.
For that and many more reasons (like a field that isn’t as competitive as usual), the lead actor Oscar race might be over and done with. Cooper is that good as the kind-hearted but haunted Jackson Maine, and the screenplay — from Cooper, Will Fetters, and Oscar winner Eric Roth — finely tunes his story, serving the character far better than any previous version of the tale has for Fredric March and James Mason’s Norman Maine, or Kris Kristofferson’s John Norman Howard.
That you can get two paragraphs into spelling out the virtues of this film before even mentioning Lady Gaga is a testament to its density. She is, of course, sensational in her first starring role — an absolute natural. And when her version of the discovered talent, here called Ally, first steps onto a stage early in the film to perform one of her own songs for the first time — already a highlight from its positioning in the trailer alone — I’ve rarely seen so arresting a moment in cinema.
Cooper’s crew, across the board, nailed this project. Cinematographer Matthew Libatique’s work, particularly in capturing the intimacy of performance numbers, is such a remove from the kind of high-gloss work you might expect from a studio production such as this. Jay Cassidy’s editing moves the story more swiftly even than William A. Wellman’s 111-minute original while giving it a singular identity in how certain sections are constructed. High marks, too, go to the sound mix and editing of the aural elements, courtesy of Oscar-winning talents like Michael Minkler and Alan Robert Murray (Cooper tapping pal Clint Eastwood’s regular).
Including best picture and director, where are we now? Nine nominations? Let’s push a little more…
The costume design deserves a mention for Ally’s metamorphosis in the film to a full-blown pop sensation. Sam Elliott’s supporting performance as Jackson’s much older brother (it’s explained), meanwhile, was a big source of the emotion for me, particularly in one moment that so tenderly captured the stifled affection between the two men. Those are on the table as well. And we haven’t even talked about the songs.
Expect the enforced maximum of two nominations, assuming Warner Bros. decides to promote as many; often studios will opt to consolidate their campaign power behind just one track for films like this that have an array of possibilities.
“Shallow” is the one that represents everything this category ought to be about. You witness its birth as whispered lyrics that come to Ally in a parking lot one night, as well as its explosion onto the world stage accompanied by an arrangement by Jackson and Ally’s big trailer moment. But “I’ll Never Love Again” is the closing performance track before the credits that will send you out of the theater wiping your eyes. A few others include Cooper as a songwriter, so it’s possible he could receive upwards of five nominations for this film if one of those make it in instead.
So. Yes. “A Star Is Born” (2018) is an across-the-board Oscar contender. More than that, and assuming this is even still possible in the modern era, it has the muscle to achieve what only three films in movie history ever have: Win all five major Academy Awards (picture, director, actor, actress, and screenplay). It’s that kind of accomplishment, and even more, it makes you realize what this well-worn, Oscar-winning material was capable of all along.
That’s a special magic trick.
Bradley Cooper may be reuniting with Clint Eastwood for his next film.
Sources tell Variety that Cooper is in talks to join Eastwood in “The Mule,” Eastwood’s next directing gig that he also plans to star in.
The film is a co-production between Warner Bros. and Imperative Entertainment, and will mark Eastwood’s first time acting since the baseball drama “Trouble With the Curve.” This could be one of his last on-screen appearances.
The movie follows 90-year-old drug courier Leo Sharp, an award-winning horticulturist and decorated WWII veteran known for his prized daylilies who is busted for running drugs for Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel, and sent to prison at the age of 90. He was transporting $3 million worth of cocaine through Michigan in his beat-up old pickup truck when he was arrested by the DEA. Sharp was sentenced to just three years in jail after his lawyer argued that his client’s dementia sent him down the wrong path.
Cooper will be the DEA agent who arrests Sharp.
Eastwood will also produce via his Malpaso banner along with Imperative’s Dan Friedkin and Bradley Thomas.
Cooper has been busy putting the finishing touches on “A Star Is Born,” but sources say he had been weighing what would be his next project.
Cooper had been linked to “The Mule” for some time as Eastwood is a big fan of Cooper’s after working together on “American Sniper.”
Cooper is repped by CAA.
DEADLINE EXCLUSIVE: Paramount Pictures and Amblin will co-finance Bernstein, a film about iconic composer Leonard Bernstein that Bradley Cooper will star in and direct, and he will write the script with Josh Singer, who shared the Best Original Screenplay Oscar with Tom McCarthy for Spotlight. Cooper, through his Joint Effort banner, will produce with Fred Berner, Amy Durning, Kristie Macosko Krieger, Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese. Paramount/Amblin have confirmed and they closed an exclusive rights deal with the Bernstein estate, which gives them exclusive access to his songs and life rights.
This becomes the second film with towering creatives taking on the life of Bernstein and his rise from prodigy to such acclaimed works as West Side Story. Deadline last week revealed The American, a Bernstein film that will star Jake Gyllenhaal with Cary Joji Fukunaga directing a script that Michael Mitnick wrote from the Humphrey Burton biography Leonard Bernstein. That film is one of the hot titles here in the Cannes market, with Sierra/Affinity and Endeavor Content selling. It is fully financed by BRON and international sales are taking place as we speak, and the film has a firm start date in the fall.
The Paramount/Amblin project is a surprise contender. Sources said that Berner and Durning have worked on this one for about a decade to secure the rights with the Bernstein family. At one time, Scorsese was interested in directing before committing to The Irishman. Singer came on board to write the script five years ago. The rights lapsed due to delays on the script, but those producers kept at it and Singer turned in his draft last September. They re-engaged with the estate when Spielberg and Cooper came aboard.
Gyllenhaal and his Nine Stories partner Riva Marker have been developing their project for years, also. They are producing with Fukunaga and BRON’s Aaron Gilbert, and they have also been engaged with the Bernstein estate. Gyllenhaal and Marker just went through a competitive project situation with Stronger, in which he played Boston Marathon bombing victim Jeff Bauman in an acclaimed performance.
Cooper takes this one after completing his directorial debut on A Star Is Born, in which he stars with Lady Gaga for Warner Bros. He has been nominated for four Oscars, the last coming on American Sniper.
Cooper is repped by CAA.
A brand new Teaser Trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has just been released.
A teaser and poster for Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2 have been released. And it’s awesome. Obviously.