The UnPopular Opinion: A Star Is Born

THE UNPOPULAR OPINION is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATHED. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Enjoy!


With the Golden Globes in the rear view mirror, it is time for the Oscars. The hype for all of the contenders for Best Picture nominations will continue to grow to the point that you and I will not be able to turn around without hearing the merit every blockbuster and studio darling has in deserving the highest honor in American film. With GREEN BOOK and BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY taking the top honors at the Globes, no one has batted an eyelash with many still expecting Bradley Cooper's directorial debut to win the big prizes at the Academy Awards. Custom built for awards season, A STAR IS BORN is still one of the favorites to land on the podium multiple times next month. There is just one problem: A STAR IS BORN is not that good.

Languishing in development for years, A STAR IS BORN is the third remake of the original 1937 film. The first three movies have all won numerous awards (none of which have been Best Picture at the Academy Awards) with the 1954 film being widely regarded as the best of the bunch. That Judy Garland version has been hailed as one of the best musicals of all time, an honor that has been bandied about multiple times for the 2018 version. Unfortunately, this latest film suffers from being uninspired, poorly edited, and just plain boring. Bradley Cooper's lethargic direction is clearly inspired by his time working with Clint Eastwood who was once attached to the project back when Beyonce was poised for the Lady Gaga role. I am not sure how much better that movie would have been, but it could not have been worse than this one.

Drama, bradley cooper, lady gaga, Will Fetters, bradley cooper, bradley cooper, Dave Chapelle, Sam Elliott, A Star is Born, 2018, The UnPopular Opinion

Watching A STAR IS BORN left me singing the music but ambivalent towards the drama. While not a fan of Lady Gaga's music, I don't particularly hate it either. Her penchant for big ballads and pop music feels scaled down here in the best way possible. Like the trailers, the best part of A STAR IS BORN is the music, especially "Shallows" which is an awards-worthy tune. But, strip away the music and what are you left with? The entire movie lack any sort of energy or anything resembling drama. Even if you have never seen the three prior versions of the movie, you will assuredly see every narrative twist and turn coming from a mile away. A STAR IS BORN is a story as intrinsic to Hollywood as anything and yet it is also as cliche as you can get. Jackson Maine is an alcoholic who succumbs to his disease as Ally's star rises. At no point did I sit up and take notice that this story was doing anything hundreds of films before it have not already done.

When remaking a film, especially a classic, you owe it to the audience to deliver something special and distinct from it's predecessors. With this being the first version in four decades, there should have been plenty of material to mine to make this story unlike any other. Unfortunately, the cliche melodrama relies far too heavily on misognistic and abusive behavior to ever feel worthy of being a romantic story. Bradley Cooper's Jackson Maine is one of the most unlikeable leading men in movie history and we are supposed to view him as an Adonis. He is deeply flawed and broken as a person, yes, but he demonstrates how broken in the least romantic way possible. Pissing his pants and making Ally feel less than worthy as a singer and a woman continues the trend of her overprotective father, played by Andrew Dice Clay, who wants the best for Ally but goes about it in the least endearing way possible.

Drama, bradley cooper, lady gaga, Will Fetters, bradley cooper, bradley cooper, Dave Chapelle, Sam Elliott, A Star is Born, 2018, The UnPopular Opinion

The music industry is an incredibly misogyinstic place and news comes to light regularly of young singers who are forced into virtual servitude to producers and managers who manipulate them for their own gain. That is shown here, vaguely, in Ally's relationships with Jackson as well as her manager Rez, but Cooper fails to explore it in any meaningful way. A STAR IS BORN was a perfect opportunity to show a singer who came from nothing, defied the odds, and became a star. Instead, we see a woman who cowtows to the men in her life because she lets herself be overrun by fear. Even the end of the film, where Ally is supposedly now one of the biggest stars in the world, is still crippled by her passive-aggressive relationship with Jackson. There is even a scene where Jackson is in rehab and Ally visits him and calls him "daddy" in the creepiest manner possible.

Nothing about A STAR IS BORN feels earned. The movie plods along to the inevitable conclusion and features unexplained time jumps that we are just supposed to accept as explaining how Ally goes from waitress to superstar. On the merits of Lady Gaga's performance, which I found to be highly overrated, this story could have been so much more. But Bradley Cooper instead wants to barrel the story to the crashing final act to drive home to waterworks and earn those Oscar nominations that it will undoubtedly get. Cooper definitely shows a spark for doing something as a director, but nothing near the acclaim he is getting for this debut effort. I am interested to see what he makes next but I just hope that the kudos don't go to his head. A STAR IS BORN is nowhere nearly as good a filmmaking example as the trophies Cooper is accumulating make it out to be.

Drama, bradley cooper, lady gaga, Will Fetters, bradley cooper, bradley cooper, Dave Chapelle, Sam Elliott, A Star is Born, 2018, The UnPopular Opinion

A STAR IS BORN started out as a promising film. The chemistry between Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga looked like it could blossom into an interesting story but by the halfway point of the film, the story instead shifts into neutral and coasts to the expected ending. When analyzed more deeply, this version of A STAR IS BORN is too literal of a remake and keeps the antiquated male-female dynamic between the stars as seen in the original movie eighty years ago: the fragile male ego and the anxious and scared ingenue are tropes we no longer need to see played on screen as we have seen them hundreds of times before and handled much better than here. For a movie with such good original music, it plays better when you skip everything in between. So, save yourself the two hours and just put on the soundtrack.

Oh, and if you have any suggestions for The UnPopular Opinion I’m always happy to hear them. You can send along an email to [email protected] or spell it out in the comments below. Provide me with as many movie suggestions as you like, with any reasoning you'd care to share, and if I agree then you may one day see it featured in this very column!


About the Author

5916 Articles Published

Alex Maidy has been a editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. A Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic and a member of Chicago Indie Critics, Alex has been's primary TV critic and ran columns including Top Ten and The UnPopular Opinion. When not riling up fans with his hot takes, Alex is an avid reader and aspiring novelist.