Some singers turned film actors hit a high note by playing a version of themselves, such as Whitney Houston in “The Bodyguard,” bolstered by a safety-net soundtrack of surefire hits. Then there is Cher, who dropped the glam act and proved herself worthy of the silver screen in 1983’s “Silkwood,” 1985’s “Mask“ and especially 1987’s “Moonstruck,” the source of her Best Actress Oscar. As for Madonna, she started out with a bang riffing off her taboo-eschewing personas in 1985’s “Desperately Seeking Susan.” But save for her sexpot ball player in 1992’s “A League of Her Own” and her dedicated effort to nail the musical intricacies of 1996’s “Evita,” for which she won a Golden Globe, the Material Girl was not all that adept at picking her own big-screen material.
But when I first saw the trailer for the latest version of “A Star Is Born” when it arrived in June, I knew that it would turn out to be Lady Gaga’s coming-out party as a legit film star. Judging from her current No. 2 spot, right below “The Wife’s” Glenn Close among the combined predictions of Experts, Editors and Users, others must think she has the goods, too. Like Madonna and David Bowie, who also dabbled as a movie actor, she has an uncanny ability to reinvent herself. And she certainly does that as Ally, a gifted chanteuse who pays the bills by being a waitress — until Bradley Cooper’s alcoholic country legend discovers her. Gaga strips herself of artifice, her hair mousy brown and makeup minimal, while daring to bare her own artistic soul. But that is just one reason I knew she would succeed in movies.
Now that the movie has arrived in theaters, here are five more.
1. She is already a drama queen. Some music videos are just a string of poses and suggestive dance moves. Gaga’s videos are meticulously choreographed mini-movies that allow her to assume a variety of personas. “Bad Romance” from 2009 is jammed with kinky visual delights as she plays a sex slave emerging a white coffin in a Dali-esque bathhouse, first masked and then with enlarged anime-style eyes while engaging in spidery dance moves. But “Telephone,” a 9-minute and 30-seconds of cinematic grindhouse chic, even features opening and closing credits as Gaga and her gal pal Beyonce hit the road in a truck bearing the slogan “Pussy Wagon” and end up committing a mass homicide in a roadside diner.
2. She knows how to make an entrance. Ever since she landed on the scene, the artist formerly known as Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, no ingénue these days at 32, seemed destined to be far more than just a pop diva. Anyone who dares to wear a meat dress, beret and boots to the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards has chutzpah to spare. Similarly, Gaga’s anything-goes rendition of “La Vie En Rose” early in “A Star Is Born” for patrons of a drag-queen nightclub is a perfect introduction to just who her working girl really is.
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3. She has already been bestowed with acting gold and was nominated for an Oscar. Before “A Star Is Born,” she had roles in two action flicks directed by Robert Rodriguez, “Machete Kills” (2013) and “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” (2014). But it was her vampy TV role as the blood-sucking Countess of the Hotel Cortez on Ryan Murphy’s “American Horror Story: Hotel” that earned her a Golden Globe as best actress for a limited TV series. While at the podium, she sobbed, was photographed smooching her trophy and graciously thanked those who gave her the opportunity to show off her acting chops. Gaga also admitted that, “I wanted to be an actor before I wanted to be a singer. But music worked out first.” She also has experience with what is required when you are up for an Academy Award, having been nominated along with Diane Warren for the song “Til It Happens to You” from “The Hunting Ground,” the 2015 documentary about rape crimes on college campuses.
4. She made the hills come alive and then some at the 2015 Oscars. This more than anything should have proven to Hollywood casting agents that Gaga has the goods to be an actress. She took Rodgers and Hammerstein’s beloved Broadway tunes, including the title song, to new full-throated heights while dressed in an angelic white gown on a stage filled with faux birch trees and violinists. Then she launched into “My Favorite Things,” “Edelweiss” and the uplifting “Climb Every Mountain” backed with a choir. She not only received a standing ovation, but also shared a hug from the star of 1965’s Best Picture, Julie Andrews.
5, She knows how to pick a male performing partner. Before there was a Bradley Cooper, her “A Star Is Born” co-star and director, there was Mark Kanemura, a Hawaiian native who competed in 2008 on Season 4 of “So You Think You Can Dance.” The jazz and contemporary performer did well on the show but he had an unusual aura about him, both sexy and slightly sinister, which proved to be effective in the Emmy-winning hip-hop dance number with Chelsea Hightower that employs Leona Lewis’ hit “Bleeding Love.” He made it to the Top 6, but leave it to Lady Gaga to swoop in and hire Kanemura as her muse for her Monster Ball Tour. He also appears in her music videos, such as “Telephone,” “Alejandro,” “Born This Way” and “Marry the Night.”
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.