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My Favorite Movies- "A Star Is Born" (2018)

***SPOILERS AHEAD***

I didn't know what to expect from "A Star Is Born" when I first saw it. The trailers looked fine, but something about it screamed like it was trying too hard to be the next great love story. I've always been somewhat indifferent towards Lady Gaga. She's a fine performer with some good songs, but I was never a little monster nor an adamant supporter of mama monster. This movie blew me away the first time I saw it. It was my favorite film of 2018 and one of my favorite films of the decade. I rewatched it recently, expecting to view it through a more critical lens, but I came away with a greater appreciation. It's one of those films that has its cliché and corny moments, but as a whole, I think it's far and away one of the most memorable movies of the 21st century. It's a bold film with the backbone to handle some weighty themes. This was Bradley Cooper's directorial debut. He just knocked it out of the park. Outside of Damien Chazelle's "Whiplash," which is a movie I will be happy to talk about here real soon, I would argue that "A Star Is Born" is the best directorial debut of the 2010s. This movie features some unique lighting and superb cinematography. The concert sequences feel very immersive—the famous scene in which the two sing "Shallow" for the first time is masterfully directed. Much like the song, the moment builds and builds to a beautiful crescendo.

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Cooper's biggest strength as a director here is what he gets out of his actors. This movie feels incredibly intimate even though it stars multiple A-list actors. You almost feel intrusive looking into these people's lives. It's a movie about completely broken people, but you never find yourself not rooting for them despite their flaws. Lady Gaga is fantastic in this. We know she can sing her ass off, and she does quite a few times in this movie, but she has a remarkable way of being vulnerable at all times. Cooper made sure to play to her strengths and gave an excellent performance. This is a love story, and the number one thing you need out of a good love story is you need to have good chemistry between the lead actors. You get the impression from the movie's first scene that these two are flat-out smitten with one another. It's some of the best romantic chemistry I've ever seen in a film. It makes the argument scenes much sadder because you know that both people are trying to come from a good place. One day Bradley Cooper will win an Oscar for a movie he probably doesn't deserve, and it'll make up for the fact that he should've won the Academy Award for "A Star Is Born." This is his finest hour as an actor. It feels like he forced himself to step up his game, knowing he would also be in the directorial chair for this one.

There are issues that I have with this movie. Ali's journey to stardom does play out in a somewhat clichéd way. You even have the record producer character/Simon Cowell rip-off, who's a very one-dimensional scruffy British hotshot. But I've said before that I'm willing to overlook flaws if the movie makes me care about the characters and brings emotions out of me. Few movies make me cry the way that this one does. I have to give a shout-out to Sam Elliot, who got a much-deserved Best Supporting Actor nomination for this. He's in this movie for five minutes and has some of the most emotionally powerful scenes in the entire flick. The scene after Bradley Cooper returns from rehab is devastating.

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The last time I watched this movie, I was at my brother's place in Chicago the day before I went to Omaha. A lot had changed in my life since I last saw it. I don't think I've ever seen a piece of media dealing with addiction like this movie. Again, it feels so human. The scene in which Cooper has to apologize to Lady Gaga in rehab after fucking up her night at the Grammy's is probably one of the five most heartbreaking scenes I've ever watched in a movie. Cooper flawlessly captures the guilt that comes with addiction. This scene should've won him the Oscar. Cooper himself has been open about his own addiction issues. I'll probably never be fortunate enough to meet Bradley Cooper, but if I could, I would say three words- "God bless you."

"A Star Is Born" is ultimately a tragedy. For that reason, I can't recommend it to everyone. On a filmmaking level, it's sensational. But if you're someone coming into this movie looking for your basic love story, that's not what you'll get. That enhances the experience for me. As far as tragic love stories are concerned, this is to the 2010s what "Titanic" was to the late 90s. This film is something of a classic for a lot of people. It is instantly recognizable.