Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga could be the first duo from the same film to win Best Actor and Best Actress Oscars in 21 years, but there’s an even more elite group “A Star Is Born” could join. If they and their co-star, Best Supporting Actor contender Sam Elliott, prevail, “A Star Is Born” would only be the third film to win three acting Oscars.
The remake would join “A Streetcar Named Desire” (1951) and “Network” (1976) in going 3-for-4. The former won Best Actress for Vivien Leigh and supporting statuettes for Kim Hunter and Karl Malden, while leading man Marlon Brando fell to Humphrey Bogart (“The African Queen”). “Network” won a posthumous Best Actor trophy for Peter Finch, Best Actress for Faye Dunaway and Best Supporting Actress for Beatrice Straight. The film also received a second Best Actor nomination for William Holden and a Best Supporting Actor bid for Ned Beatty, who lost to Jason Robards (“All the President’s Men”).
No film has ever won all four awards, but unlike “Streetcar” and “Network,” “A Star Is Born” won’t even have the chance to go 4-for-4 since it doesn’t have a viable Best Supporting Actress contender; the only one is Rebecca Field, as Jackson’s (Cooper) reassuring stage manager Gail, who whisks Ally (Gaga) and Ramon (Anthony Ramos) into the country star’s show, but the appearance and role are all too slight and brief. That means if “A Star Is Born” wants to pick up a trio of acting Oscars, it’s going to have to bat a thousand.
For now, two of the three are predicted to win their categories. Cooper has been perched atop our Best Actor Oscar predictions for a month, and the category seems like the easiest place to reward the actor-director-producer-co-writer for his efforts in bringing the long-gestating project to life. Cooper, who learned to play guitar and dropped his voice an octave, also has a “due” narrative working for him, following three consecutive acting nominations for “Silver Linings Playbook” (2012), “American Hustle” (2013) and “American Sniper” (2014), along with a Best Picture bid for “Sniper.”
Riding a wave of strong support and acclaim, Gaga moved into the Best Actress top spot last week, displacing season-long frontunner Glenn Close (“The Wife”). It certainly wouldn’t be the first time an musician-turned-actor won an Oscar (just ask Close), but it would be the first time the female lead in “A Star Is Born” won; Janet Gaynor (1937 version) and Judy Garland (1954 version) lost — the latter quite infamously — and Barbra Streisand wasn’t nominated for the 1976 remake. However, Gaga is basically a shoo-in for Best Original Song for “Shallow,” so Best Actress could go elsewhere.
Elliott is sitting in the second spot behind Timothee Chalamet (“Beautiful Boy”) in our Best Supporting Actor odds. The gravelly voiced, mustachioed actor has never been nominated before and checks all the boxes for a veteran star triumphing in this category. As Bobby, Jackson’s brother and manager, Elliott doesn’t have a ton of screen time, but he makes the most of it and has a couple of key, moving scenes. (Plus, Straight won with five minutes of screen time.) Elliott is also in an open category, which is a good and bad thing — while he’s chasing down Chalamet, he’s being chased down by Mahershala Ali, who’s gunning for his second Oscar with “Green Book.”
Clearly, it’s very difficult to win three acting Oscars — winning two is more doable and the third (or fourth) nominations are usually coattailers who don’t have a shot. Chances are “A Star Is Born” won’t claim three, but it is the best positioned film in years to accomplish it.
Be sure to check out how our experts rank this year’s Oscar contenders. Then take a look at the most up-to-date combined odds before you make your own Oscar predictions. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before nominations are announced on January 22.