A Star is Born: When Music and Movie Become One 

A blow-the-roof-off-the-theater performance from Lady Gaga

On Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, this year's Best Actor Oscar-winner Gary Oldman will walk onstage at Hollywood's Dolby Theatre and say to a global audience, "And the Oscar for Best Actress goes to..."

Spoiler alert: It will be Stefani Germanotta. Without question. Bet the house, the farm and your first born on it.

Even the mildly curious have by now watched the trailer for A Star is Born, one of the most buzzed-about teasers in recent memory. It looks pretty great, right? But here's the real headline: It's even better than you think. There are a hundred ways a retread of A Star is Born (this the fourth go-round) could have gone sideways, but this film beats all expectations, beginning with the force of nature that is Germanotta—known as Lady Gaga to her millions of fans.

"Let me tell you, little Stefani is quite humble tonight," Germanotta told Boise Weekly minutes before A Star is Born premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.

It has now been nearly a full month since that premiere, and looking at my notes from the evening, here are some things I jotted down: "Thrilling." "Extraordinary." "Electrifying." In the first 15 minutes of A Star is Born, Germanotta sings a dazzling cover of Edith Piaf's anthem "La Vie en Rose," a track sure to drop jaws across the theater. About a half-hour later, she and co-star Bradley Cooper (in a career-best performance) sing "Shallow," which will undoubtedly win the Best Song Oscar. And in the film's final moments, Germanotta launches into "I'll Never Love Again," leaving viewers speechless. It's a movie that practically dares you not to fall in love with it. The opening night audience I sat with nearly blew the roof off of Toronto's massive Roy Thomson Hall as the lights came up and a tearful Germanotta surfed a wave of seemingly endless ovations to center stage.

"When I was a young girl, I dreamed of being an actor," she said, choking back tears. "But, I can't tell you how often it happened to me that I was in a room with 1,000 people and 999 of them didn't believe in me. But then..." Germanotta turned and looked at Cooper, her co-star and director. "Then, there was you. I wouldn't be here without you. You were the one out of a thousand."

Indeed, Cooper's direction of A Star is Born is certain to secure him a Best Director Oscar nod. But for me, his performance as the downward-spiraling singer/songwriter was as distinguished as Germanotta's was dazzling. His was a nearly thankless task. In celebrated iterations, A Star is Born has been a showcase for its lead actresses: Janet Gaynor (1937), Judy Garland (1954) and Barbra Streisand (1976). But in Cooper's A Star is Born, he has found a way to walk a thin line, keeping the spotlight on Germanotta while concurrently crafting a masterwork performance of his own.

Also basking in some of that opening night's magic was comic genius Dave Chappelle, who Cooper cast as a retired, under-the-radar musician valiantly trying to save his old friend (Cooper) from a life of addiction and self-loathing. Chappelle, one of the funniest people on the planet, is astoundingly understated in A Star is Born.

"It's hard to explain," an emotional Chappelle told Boise Weekly following the opening night screening. "Sure, I've done some comedy films before, but I thought I was out of my element here, working with these heavyweights. But Bradley made it all it all possible. Honestly, I hadn't seen the movie before tonight. Good God. I need a drink."

Another unexpected treat in A Star is Born is Sam Elliott, whose performance should certainly secure him a long-deserved Oscar nod for Best Supporting Actor.

"I had never crossed paths with Bradley before. I had always been a fan of his work, so I was intrigued that this young man was going to be a first-time director and that it was going to be A Star is Born," said Elliott. "He convinced me in five minutes that he could be trusted."

The word "trust" would be repeated often following the premiere. And it's a good word to end on. Trust me on this one: A Star is Born is a must-see for anyone who seriously loves movies, loves music and particularly loves that singular moment when the two become one. Indeed, there are a handful of musical masterpieces that transcend this rarest of art forms. A Star is Born joins that very short list.

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A Star Is Born
Rated R · 135 minutes · 2018
Official Site: www.astarisbornmovie.com
Director: Bradley Cooper
Producer: Bill Gerber, Jon Peters, Bradley Cooper, Todd Phillips, Lynette Howell Taylor, Ravi Mehta, Basil Iwanyk, Niija Kuykendall, Sue Kroll, Michael Rapino and Heather Parry
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Sam Elliott, Andrew Dice Clay, Rafi Gavron, Anthony Ramos, Dave Chappelle, Alec Baldwin, Marlon Williams, Brandi Carlile, Ron Rifkin, Barry Shabaka Henley, Michael Roberts, Michael Harney, Rebecca Field, Derek Jones, Willam Belli, Dennis Tong, Joshua Wells, Greg Grunberg, D.J. Pierce, Eddie Griffin, Drena De Niro, Sanaa Chappelle and Leandro De Niro Rodriguez

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