Bradley Cooper was once the darling of the pre-Oscars season — but yesterday, it all came crashing down.
Five months ago, it would have been a practical move to redub the Oscars the Bradleys.
A Star Is Born, Bradley Cooper’s freshman directorial effort, scored smashing reviews out of the Venice and Toronto International Film Festivals, with critics (myself included) lauding his assured aesthetic and natural storytelling ability.
Suddenly, he was the frontrunner for the Best Director Oscar.
Oh, and like Clint Eastwood with a guitar, Cooper did double duty as the male lead — Jackson Maine, a troubled rocker who discovers Lady Gaga’s Ally.
That performance was the best acting of his career so far, albeit a career that included three Hangover films and TV’s Alias. With A Star Is Born, Cooper became a major Best Actor contender.
A headline on the well-regarded awards prognostication website GoldDerby read: “Bradley Cooper will be 9th Director, Actor Oscar nominee for same film”. Not “might be”. Not “could be”. Will be.
Well, save for a swag bag at this year’s Academy Awards, Cooper went home empty-handed (although he sang the winning song Shallow, he was not part of its writing or producing team). He didn’t even score a nod for Best Director, with Poland’s Paweł Pawlikowski (Cold War) taking the coveted fifth slot.
What happened? If you ask me, hype, time and ’tude.
First, hype. Recently, an anonymous Oscar voter told The Hollywood Reporter, “A Star Is Born is a fourth remake with nothing new to say — it was massively overhyped.” That’s because the movie debuted amid low expectations.
Lady Gaga had never done any serious acting before, and Cooper hadn’t directed so much as an episode of Law and Order: SVU. It could’ve easily been a disaster. But the film turned out to be excellent on all fronts — performances, camera work, singing — and the resulting excitement was greater than any other Best Picture nominee.