Oscar season is upon us, and that is very apparent after watching “A Star is Born.”
After spending the last nine months watching Tom Cruise jump off buildings, Jason Statham punch a shark and Josh Brolin play a pair of CGI villains — both performances were better than they had any right being, for what it’s worth — Bradley Cooper’s (“American Sniper,” “Silver Linings Playbook”) directorial debut serves as a reminder of what makes movies great.
“A Star is Born,” a fourth remake of the 1937 film, forgets the fluff of summer popcorn flicks, and brings the human experience to the forefront. Cooper, who also stars alongside singer-turned-actress Lady Gaga, isn’t afraid to go wherever the story needs to, and that freewheeling approach produces some of the most uncomfortable and organic moments in cinema this year.
Cooper plays Jack, a troubled and alcoholic rockstar trying to survive through an era of music that seems to care more about butts than the art itself — at least in his eyes. After stumbling into a bar following a sold-out gig, he lays eyes on Lady Gaga’s Ally, an undiscovered and meek yet talented singer. The two hit it off, and begin a journey of ups and downs that are all-too familiar in today’s pop culture.
Cooper is, well, Cooper. He’s often left out of the best-actor-working-today conversation, but he deserves to be mentioned in the same breath with Damon, Leo, Oldman, Bale, Hanks and Denzel. He and Gaga have a natural chemistry that carries the movie, and makes the musical portions hit. Sam Elliot, Anthony Ramos and Dave Chappelle also give solid performances and never overstay their welcome.
“A Star is Born” is not a new concept, but that does not stop it from feeling fresh. It’s not hard to predict the twists and turns Cooper wants to take from scene to scene, but the delivery hardly ever feels forced. A five-minute conversation between Ally and Jack in their bathroom carries as much weight — if not more — as Iron-Man trying to stop the end of the galaxy. I missed this.
BOX OFFICE REVIEW
1. “Venom”: $80,255,756 (opening week); Sony.
2. “A Star is Born”: $42,908,051 (opening week); Warner Bros.
3. “Smallfoot”: $14,402,559 (week 2); Warner Bros. Total gross: $42,263,504.
4. “Night School”: $12,514,925 (week 2); Universal. Total gross: $46,991,280.
5. “The House With a Clock in its Walls”: $7,332,665 (week 3); Universal. Total gross: $7,332,665.
“Venom” — When Eddie Brock acquires the powers of a symbiote, he will have to release his alter-ego "Venom" to save his life.
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Cast: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed
R-P rating: NA
“A Star is Born” — A musician helps a young singer and actress find fame, even as age and alcoholism send his own career into a downward spiral.
Director: Bradley Cooper
Cast: Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper, Sam Elliott
R-P rating: 4/5
“Night School” — A group of troublemakers are forced to attend night school in hope that they'll pass the GED exam to finish high school.
Director: Malcolm D. Lee
Cast: Tiffany Haddish, Kevin Hart, Megalyn Echikunwoke
R-P rating: NA
“Smallfoot” — A Yeti is convinced that the elusive creatures known as "humans" really do exist.
Directors: Karey Kirkpatrick, Jason Reisig
Cast: Channing Tatum, James Corden, Zendaya
R-P rating: NA
“The House With A Clock In Its Walls” — A young orphan named Lewis Barnavelt aids his magical uncle in locating a clock with the power to bring about the end of the world.
Director: Eli Roth
Cast: Jack Black, Cate Blanchett, Owen Vaccaro
R-P rating: NA
“First Man” — A look at the life of the astronaut, Neil Armstrong, and the legendary space mission that led him to become the first man to walk on the Moon on July 20, 1969.
Director: Damien Chazelle
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler
“Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween” — Two young friends find a magic book that brings a ventriloquist's dummy to life.
Director: Ari Sandel
Cast: Wendi McLendon-Covey, Jack Black, Madison Iseman, Ken Jeong
“Bad Times at the El Royale” — Seven strangers, each with a secret to bury, meet at Lake Tahoe's El Royale, a rundown hotel with a dark past. Over the course of one fateful night, everyone will have a last shot at redemption — before everything goes to hell.
Director: Drew Goddard
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm
“Beautiful Boy” — Based on the best-selling pair of memoirs from father and son David and Nic Sheff, "Beautiful Boy" chronicles the experience of survival, relapse and recovery in a family coping with addiction over many years.
Director: Felix Van Groeningen
Cast: Steve Carell, Timothée Chalamet, Maura Tierney, Christian Convery
“Halloween” — Laurie Strode comes to her final confrontation with Michael Myers, the masked figure who has haunted her since she narrowly escaped his killing spree on Halloween night four decades ago.
Director: David Gordon Green
Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, James Jude Courtney
“Can You Ever Forgive Me?” — When Lee Israel falls out of step with current tastes, she turns her art form to deception. An adaptation of the memoir "Can You Ever Forgive Me?", the true story of best-selling celebrity biographer Lee Israel.
Director: Marielle Heller
Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Richard E. Grant, Dolly Wells, Ben Falcone
“Mid90s” — Follows Stevie, a 13-year-old in '90s-era LA who spends his summer navigating between his troubled home life and a group of new friends that he meets at a Motor Avenue skate shop.
Director: Jonah Hill
Cast: Sunny Suljic, Lucas Hedges, Na-kel Smith, Olan Prenatt
“What They Had” — Bridget (Hilary Swank) returns home at her brother's (Michael Shannon) urging to deal with her ailing mother (Blythe Danner) and her father's (Robert Forster) reluctance to let go of their life together.
Director: Elizabeth Chomko
Cast: Hilary Swank, Michael Shannon, Robert Forster, Blythe Danner
Editor's Note: For the Love of Flicks is a weekly movie column written by Sports Editor Tony Nunez. Contact Nunez at [email protected]