Whatever you think of “A Star is Born,” you cannot deny that the acting is at the highest level. While Lady Gaga and Sam Elliot thoroughly deserve their Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor nominations, respectively, I believe it is Bradley Cooper who most deserves to turn his bid (for Best Actor) into a win. Here’s why:
It will make up for the Best Director snub
Along with Peter Farrelly (“Green Book”), Cooper was snubbed for Best Director. Even if you’re not a fan of the film, you’ve got to at least appreciate Cooper’s vision in bringing this ambitious it to life. Cooper became a multi-hyphenate for this film as he also co-wrote it and several of the songs he sung.
He’s been nominated three times for acting and has never won
Cooper is, at heart, an actor. He transitioned from comedy films like “The Hangover” to three prior acting bids at the Oscars before this one. But he’s still not won. In 2013, he lost Best Actor to Daniel Day-Lewis (“Lincoln”). The following year, he lost Best Supporting Actor to Jared Leto (“Dallas Buyers Club”), and the year after that he lost Best Actor again, this time to Eddie Redmayne in “The Theory of Everything.”
With seven nominations, he is overdue
We’ve spoken at length about Amy Adams and Glenn Close being long overdue for Oscars having lost five and six races respectively. Cooper has lost those three acting bids plus one for producing “American Sniper.” He is likely to lose for producing and writing “ASIB,” which would bring his record to 0 and 6. And if Cooper doesn’t win Best Actor, he will be a seven-time Oscar also-ran.
It is time to reward an actor for playing a fictional character
Of the last 10 Best Actor winners, seven of them have won for playing real-life people in biopics, including last year’s champ Gary Oldman (“Darkest Hour”). Cooper is the only Best Actor nominee to play a fictional character. Christian Bale portrays Dick Cheney (“Vice”), Rami Malek channels Freddie Mercury (“Bohemian Rhapsody”), Viggo Mortensen is Tony Vallelonga (“Green Book”), and Willem Dafoe embodies Vincent Van Gogh in “At Eternity’s Gate.” We get loads of those performances. Surely we should try and celebrate the rarer, fictional ones?
It’s the best way to reward “ASIB” if you don’t want to give it Best Picture
“ASIB” deserves some sort of recognition. Currently, it’s going to win only Original Song, but that isn’t recognition enough. It’s Cooper, the captain of the ship, who deserves the recognition. Voters won’t want to give Best Actress to Lady Gaga, when they can reward the long-overdue Glenn Close and Gaga is already winning that Oscar for her song. And it looks like they’ll give Spike Lee a competitive Oscar for the first time by handing him Adapted Screenplay if not Picture as well. The only nomination left for Cooper is Best Actor, so that is the best way to reward a filmmaker who has achieved so much this year. Besides, Bale has already won an Oscar (Supporting Actor for “The Fighter” in 2011) and Rami Malek is on his very first nomination – for a film with poor reviews and mired in Bryan Singer-led controversy.
Degree of difficulty
This is a phrase often used by Anne Thompson to describe a performer having to learn difficult new skills in order to portray a character. Well, Cooper does that in spades. He learned how to play the guitar and took singing lessons so that he could sing absolutely everything in the film himself. And on top of this and crafting his own performance, Cooper had to produce the music, write the script, produce the film, AND direct. That’s a whole lot of difficulty.
His performance is great
Above all else, Cooper’s performance is, simply, really, really good. Transforming himself into Jackson Maine with a mane of hair, a beard, and a carefully-developed southern drawl for a voice, Cooper’s performance is a far cry from his usual slick, short back and sides, clean-shaven self. Make-up and prosthetics do a lot of the work in transforming other actors in character, but Cooper does every bit of that himself – entirely organically. Critics agree, too, with Variety saying that he avoids all cliches and pulls off things rarely done so exquisitely in a powerful performance. And Empire declares that “the star of the film is undoubtedly Bradley Cooper. He’s astonishing as a man crippled by life-long emotional trauma.”
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