A Star Is Born. . .Or Is It?

Is the film deserving of its hype? Two editors debate

By Andrew Millman and Christian Decker

Opinions Editor and News Editor

(Artwork by Maddie Rizzo – Instagram @rizzo.art)

FOR

Andrew: This was a great year for movies, something Christian would know if he ever watched anything besides superhero movies. As he will later argue, Into the Spiderverse and Black Panther were amazing movies. Those movies are great and you don’t need to disparage other movies to praise them. The movies that are considered prestige or “Oscar-bait” like the ones that Christian hates on later in this article may have smaller stakes than the latest Marvel blockbuster but that doesn’t automatically make them bad. Some of the smallest movies in recent years have been the best, like Moonlight, for example. Unlike my former co-editor, I’ve seen both these types of movies and the comic-book adaptations. Like with anything else, the genre doesn’t make something good or bad, but how artists use the genre to tell a story and convey a message. Ryan Coogler did a brilliant job of this with Black Panther, setting up a great intellectual debate underlying the competition of T’Challa and Killmonger. The two had very different visions of black liberation and using the MCU as the forum for this debate was a stroke of genius.

From music to television to the Super Bowl halftime show to movies, Lady Gaga has been performing at a very high level for a long time. Even before ASIB, she proved herself as an actor in American Horror Story and her musical talents have few contemporary parallels. I’ve been a Lady Gaga fan for probably a decade, so I was so excited when I found out she would be starring in this movie. It may be the fourth version of this story to make it to the big screen, but as someone who’s watched them all, this one definitely brought a fresh and bold perspective to an eternal tale about fame, love, addiction, and sacrifice. The soundtrack alone was amazing and featured a diverse array of musical genres. Then, of course, there’s “Shallow.” This song made Bradley Cooper a Grammy winner before an Oscar winner, which is hilarious to me for some reason. You’ve probably heard this song like a million times and if you hate it you’re dead inside, or Christian, I guess. Besides Cooper and Gaga, Sam motherfucking Elliot was in the movie (that’s the “Coors, the banquet beer” guy) and so was Andrew Dice Clay and Dave Chappelle. Is there anything more I can say?

I thought A Star is Born was the best movie of the year, but there were tons of great movies in the past year that didn’t get enough attention. Yes, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz were in a love triangle with Olivia Colman in certified batshit crazy director Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Favourite. Alfonso Cuaron directed Roma, about an indigenous domestic servant in 1960s Mexico City that was visually stunning. Toni Collette in Hereditary and Ethan Hawke in First Reformed were amazing performances. Spike Lee’s Blackkklansman felt so prescient, especially because of its Charlottesville closing scene. Barry Jenkins adapted James Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could Talk and it was beautiful, like the book. Eighth Grade felt like I was back in the most awkward phase of my life. Can You Ever Forgive Me and Boy Erased were also great and I would definitely recommend. 2018 had a lot of great movies, first among then was A Star is Born. In closing, expand your movie-watching palette, Christian.

AGAINST

Christian: My opponent is convinced that A Star is Born should have one the Oscar for Best Picture. In fact, he, and many others of this godforsaken country have convinced themselves that it was worthy of being nominated at all. That it is a good movie. With respect, I dissent.

Full disclosure, I have not seen the movie. To be honest, I don’t need to see it. It’s another boring, white bread, rags to riches story about a girl finding her song-writing dreams, writing mediocre coffee house sad songs that could win a Grammy just for existing. I mean, did we have to give Lady Gaga a goddamn Oscar. There are actresses busting their asses off every year and imagine their shock when the fucking pop star with the outrageous costume wins an award they’ve been working for years to come. Honestly, the fucking One Direction and Justin Bieber documentaries about their rise to stardom have more fucking personality than this movie.

Who would have even wanted to see this movie? I mean, who sees a poster for a movie about becoming a star, and says “You know what, I’ve never in my life seen movie like this before, I’ll bet it’s so completely original and not at all boring as hell.”? I can’t even begin to tell you how disappointing it is that these kinds of movies are what we consider art. As much of a nerd as I am, Into the Spiderverse, should have received much more awards for the cinematic masterpiece that it is, with the use of so many different animation styles and incredible voice acting and storytelling. Instead, we get a nomination for the movie with Emma Stone going down on the fucking Queen, and Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s affair movie.

I suppose something is to be said for the popularity of the movie. I mean, it did do pretty well, and many people seems to like it. But I can’t comprehend how much of a shit personality you must have if you think the movie deserves to be held up to the standards of movie greats like, Sophie’s Choice, or Saving Private Ryan. This is the third fucking remake of this movie. One has to ask what the hell was wrong with the first two that they had to remake it, again. Was it just that bad? Was it not bland enough for them? Sure, let’s spice it up with Lady fucking Gaga. Big whoop. It’s so infuriating that such boring, low effort movies can beat out so many great filmmakers who tell actual compelling narratives and aren’t just remakes of movies we’ve all seen before. I mean, Black Panther was a cinematic marvel (no pun intended), that broke huge boundaries and actually had a compelling and original story. I think at this point I’ve made my message clear. I will let the uncultured and disgraceful worship of this movie live on in movie history. It is so ordered.

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