In my mostly positive 9.7 Toronto Film Festival review of Bradley Cooper‘s A Star Is Born, I said that Variety‘s Kris Tapley had oversold the situation when he wrote that the Warner Bros. release has “the muscle to win all five major Academy Awards (picture, director, actor, actress, and screenplay)…it’s that kind of accomplishment.”
Since then three things have happened. One, A Star Is Born not only failed to win the Toronto Film Festival Grosch People’s Choice Award, but it didn’t even come in second or third. (I was told the other day that it came in fourth.) Two, a critic friend who recently saw it was fine with the first half but not the second, and was dismissive of Lady Gaga‘s performance. (I don’t agree — I think she’semotionally affecting and believable as far as it goes.) And three, a person who attended a recent screening of 50-plus types says that “it played great and they loved it,” but “I’m not sure they Best Picture-loved it…we’ll see.”
In other words, A Star Is Born is playing well, as it ought to. I said in my review that it’s the best of the four versions, and I’ll never back off from that. But it’s not playing super-gangbusters, and therefore it (a) doesn’t have the muscle to win all five major Academy Awards, and (b) is not that kind of accomplishment.
I don’t have a case against the film, but it’s clearly been over-hyped, and the over-hypers, I believe, need to man up and admit to their readers that maybe they should have taken two steps backward and re-thought things a bit before going ape-shit.
Last four paragraphs of my 9.7 review: “So what am I saying? A Star Is Born is a very well-done musical drama, and will wind up being nominated in a few categories, but it’s not (to use a classic Steve Pond term) ‘the one.’ It’s an expertly assembled film for what it is, but keep in mind that it’s basically big-studio schmalz of a very high, very hip and musically pleasing order.
“Kris Tapley wasn’t wrong about a certain kind of Academy member falling for this film, but after everyone sees it they’ll need to step back and take a breath. They’ll need to look in the mirror and ask themselves, ‘Do I really think that a reconstituted high-end romantic tragedy that works all around the track as far as it goes…do I really think this is the absolute cat’s meow?’ Some people will say ‘yes!’ without thinking, but others will think twice.
“Said it before, saying it again: everyone needs to calm the eff down.
“What grade am I giving A Star Is Born? Somewhere between an A-minus and a B-plus. It’s very good but it’s a remake that throbs with wall-to-wall music, for God’s sake. Control yourselves.”