It’s that time of year again folks. Oscar season. Or at least it almost is. Which means that the trailers for those Oscar-bait movies are out! This past weekend, I traveled all the way into Boston with my girlfriend and my roommate to see Searching. While this movie was great, it’s also not even close to the subject of this column. What is the subject of this column was a part of my movie-going experience that came before the actual movie. The trailers. One trailer in particular.
Coming to theaters for the fourth (or arguably fifth) time, is A Star is Born. What I find interesting about this is that it’s clearly marketing itself as an “Oscar-bait” movie, but it’s also a remake. Initially it seems like these two things don’t go together. Remakes are usually reserved for the likes of horror movies, action movies, and action-horror movies. Such celebrated members of this hall of fame include Carrie, The Grudge, Total Recall, Robocop, and Death Wish. So why would they be remaking A Star is Born and marketing it as an award-worthy movie?
I’m of two minds on this. Either they’re simply lying to us and this movie is going to be terrible just like all of these remakes I just mentioned (and presumably a million other awful remake movies). Or, maybe, just maybe, this movie is actually going to be good. I find myself leaning toward this second one, and it’s for a few reasons.
The first reason is that it simply looks good. It looks good in a variety of ways, so this first reason (singular) is really just an umbrella for all of the following small reasons. Okay, you get it. Proceeding. The trailer makes the movie feel compelling and high in quality. I think Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga are both capable of good or great acting. I think that they believe that this movie could be award-worthy, and are therefore really trying their best. This isn’t a movie in which an actor who has shown great talent (Bruce Willis) turns in a terrible performance for the paycheck (Death Wish). The supporting cast also looks great. Based on the trailer, both Sam Elliot and Dave Chappelle are prominent supporting actors. I am a big fan of both of these men, and I believe that they are both very talented and will only add to the film.
The second reason is that it’s directed by Cooper himself. This will be his very first directing job, which probably means that he’s been working really hard not to mess this up. If this is a total flop, the man will not be directing much else and presumably, he wants to move from acting as the main part of his career to directing. So Cooper has a lot riding on this.
Third, it’s a music movie. Everyone loves movies in which music plays a large role. They always seem to be really compelling and engaging and they have a killer soundtrack. Almost Famous, Walk the Line, Ray, Straight Outta Compton, 8 Mile, Amadeus, and Inside Llewyn Davis (I would argue) are all well-received and well-respected films about music. This film is about music. Ipso facto—a point in its favor.
Fourth, while remakes are usually bad, they aren’t always bad. In fact, sometimes they are absolutely amazing. They are amazing because they star great people, someone high up is putting a lot of work into them, and because they are about something compelling. They are amazing for the three reasons I just spent three paragraphs discussing. But let’s look at some examples. There are movies like The Thing and The Fly, which many people believe are fantastic movies (myself included). But, a lot of people haven’t seen those movies or movies like them. There are movies like The Jungle Book or Freaky Friday or Casino Royale. But maybe those movies are too popular. Sure, they’re good and well-liked, but they aren’t great movies. They didn’t win any awards. To which I submit to you The Departed and True Grit. While I think that the original movie that spawned The Departed, Infernal Affairs, is a better movie, it’s remake did win an Academy Award. And while this Academy Award is commonly looked upon with regret, there it remains. And it is a great movie. True Grit did not win an award, but it was nominated (and snubbed). But it is a remake, and it’s a great movie.
While the previous A Star is Born movies may not have been the best or most long standing films that have ever been created, I do believe that there are compelling reasons not to count this one out yet.
Featured Image by Warner Bros. Pictures