Months before Lady Gaga (whose real name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta) parted the waters of the Venice canal to debut her highly anticipated first lead role in A Star is Born, she had already been shortlisted as an awards contender.
How did we get here?
Like she sings in the first single released from the soundtrack, “we’re far from the shallows now.” The trailer for A Star is Born, written, directed and starring Oscar perennial Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook, American Sniper) debuted over the summer to a rapturous welcome. Fans of the LBGTQ advocate, also dubbed “little monsters,” even those vaguely familiar with the artist, marked A Star is Born as a movie to see come fall season.
Hailed as one of the best trailers of the year, the conversation quickly turned to awards potential. After all, the three previous versions of A Star is Born were all Academy Award nominees. The 1976 version won best original song, Judy Garland’s 1955 version landed six nominations including best picture and lost them all. Same goes for the 1938 original, nominated for 7 Oscars, only took home one for writing.
Can Lady Gaga win best actress?
If A Star is Born hits as big as predicted, it’s likely to score nominations for picture, adapted screenplay, Cooper for best actor, Gaga-actress, and Sam Elliott in supporting actor, song (one or multiple). Oscarologist Tom O’Neil over at GoldDerby.com is already predicting A Star is Born as the one to beat.
This won’t surprise Gaga fans or awards pundits, but this won’t be Gaga’s first Oscar nomination. She co-wrote a song with Diane Warren in 2016 for the documentary The Hunting Ground, and they shockingly lost to surprise winner Sam Smith for his ballad “Writings on the Wall” for James Bond flick Spectre. Warren, a nine-time Oscar loser and Gaga collaborated again for the song “Why Did You Do That” on A Star is Born soundtrack, but it’s one of the weaker entries. “Always Remember Us this Way,” is likely the other song to be nominated.
All of the original songs, which there are many, are predominately written by Gaga, meaning she could be nominated 2-3 times this year. It’s best actress that will be the biggest feat, and the odds are so far in her favor as it’s shaping up to be a weaker race. Sure, Gaga can win, The Golden Globes will very likely land in her favor (she already won a Globe back in 2016 for her performance in American Horror Story). The 1976 version starring Barbara Streisand and Kris Kristofferson ran in the comedy/musical, winning all five of its nominations. Ironically that film was not nominated for best picture at the Oscars.
Awards season might be rough for Gaga fans
The exhaustive awards season, which starts in September (Venice Film Festival) and ends with the Academy Awards in Feb, is much like a political campaign, rarely fair, and can often offer surprises. Lady Gaga fans have already been accused of creating fake reviews for Venom during A Star is Born’s opening week competitor at the box office. Twitter is already chock full of “little monsters” rebuking any critic giving negative reviews to the film or Gaga.
This doesn’t feel too different from what happened last year with Timothee Chalamet fans when the young actor from Call Me By Your Name blasted into awards season in a two-person showdown losing all televised award shows to Gary Oldman the eventual Oscar winner for Darkest Hour. The same could happen this year with Gaga versus Glenn Close in The Wife or Olivia Coleman for The Favourite. Gaga fans will be on a crash course to understand the politics of awards season, and most assume their star will prevail without having seen the other nominated films.
It’s not unheard of that a first time best actress contender could win, in fact, it happens more than you might think. The best example is Barbara Streisand who won an Oscar for Funny Girl (1969) her debut film performance. It’s important to note that Streisand, however, was not even nominated for her performance in A Star is Born, yet won her second Oscar for writing that films original song.
The Oscars are not a popularity contest
If you ignore the international pop star has sold over 30 million albums, won 6 Grammy’s, she is coming into the season as a newcomer. Gaga and the press tour have advertised Gaga’s performance in A Star is Born as her “first movie,” but that’s actually not true, she appeared briefly in Machete: Kills, Men in Black 3 and Muppets Most Wanted. Recent best picture winners Moonlight (2016) and The Hurt Locker (2008) have proved that box office gross doesn’t mean anything when it comes to winning Oscars. A Star is Born is likely to be a sleeper hit at the box office with great word of mouth, it will have staying power and lots of repeat viewings.
The backlash towards the film has already started even before it’s first weekend hitting theaters. One controversial aspect of the film is producer Jon Peters who was accused of sexual harassment and paid over $3 million to his accuser. You can bet competing studios will use this as a smear campaign towards the film. The problem with becoming the frontrunner so early is you become the biggest, most obvious target.
Of course, before you can win or lose anything, you have to nab the nomination and that’s where fans and pundits should focus their attention before predicting any wins, isn’t that right Ben Affleck?
The Golden Globe nominations announced Dec 6th, Oscar nominations Jan 22nd.