A Star Is Born Review Roundup: Do Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga Shine?

What the critics think of the new reboot

By Melanie Camacho Oct 04, 2018 3:00 PMTags
Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born Neal Preston/Warner Bros.

Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga are joining forces for the fourth reboot  of A Star Is Born, and the dynamic duo are already generating plenty of Oscar buzz. 

In the movie, Cooper plays a rock star named Jackson Maine who struggles with addiction. He then meets a woman named Ally (Gaga) who, despite her talents, has given up her dream of becoming a singer. After seeing her perform, Jackson agrees to mentor her and the two form a romantic connection. But as Ally's star rises, their relationship becomes more complicated.

The movie is a major milestone for both Gaga and Cooper. Not only does it mark her first lead role in a film, but it's also Cooper's directorial debut.  

"The thing that I was very aware of from the beginning, and I cherish even to this day, is how much we both had at stake because it was a first for both of us," Cooper told E! News. "We knew that going into it, we were really going to have to rely on each other, because it's scary putting yourself out there to this degree."

While the film doesn't premiere until Oct. 5, the initial reviews are already in. To read the critics' viewpoints, check out the comments below:

A Star Is Born Through the Years

• "Passionate, emotional and fearless, the gangbusters A Star Is Born is poised to become the movie of the moment—the one everyone has to see right now. But aside from the incandescent, white-hot performances by stars Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, the best thing about this film is how unreservedly it embraces and enhances its old school Hollywood legacy," The Los Angeles Times' Kenneth Turan writes. "But more than that, Star succeeds as well as it does because it's made by people—starting with director and co-writer Cooper—who are unapologetic about their belief in these traditional movie stories. This is a team that understands the emotional satisfactions that skillfully contrived fantasies can convey, and who are damned good at putting them up on the screen."

Clay Enos/Warner Bros.

• "Cooper's performance is enhanced by his surprisingly credible singing. There are times when Jackson's lyrics still get through to him, as in, 'Maybe it's time to let the old ways die,'" Rolling Stones' Peter Travers writes. "Of course, the crowd goes wild. Gaga is a lightning bolt of emotions—and one hell of an actress. Born Stefani Germanotta, Gaga constructed herself as a one-woman visual extravaganza (remember that meat dress?). But not in this movie. To play Ally, she strips herself of all artifice. There's nothing to hide behind. And while Jackson shrinks from the spotlight, she inhales it like oxygen. It helps immeasurably that the songs Cooper and Gaga wrote in tandem with other musicians, including Mark Ronson, Jason Isbell and Lukas Nelson 
(Willie's talented son), give a real-deal urgency to this tragic love story. You get pulled into a force field, thanks to Cooper's behind-the-camera chops and Gaga's sound and fury. By the time the end credits roll, you realize that, in fact, two stars have been born."

Warner Bros. Pictures

• "Together, they form an electrifying duo in one of the best movies of 2018 and the finest musical since 2002's Chicago," USA Today's Brian Truitt writes. "The first hour of a A Star Is Born is especially satisfying, with Ally becoming a viral hit and each acting as the other's muse. But the downward spiral strikes like a dissonant chord: Jack struggles with alcoholism and hearing loss from tinnitus, while Ally quickly finds A-list fame as a mainstream pop star (she pretty much becomes Lady Gaga), disappointing musical purist Jack and driving a wedge between them. A Star Is Born, a no-brainer for a best picture nomination with strong Oscar contenders for best actor and actress, is most noteworthy for its two stars reborn. Stripped down and vulnerable, Gaga proves she's as much an acting powerhouse as she is a musical standout. Meanwhile, Cooper turns in his best performance ever as a growling, flawed superstar who's the beating heart of the film. (Plus, while Gaga is obviously a great singer, Cooper's brawny vocals are a revelation)."

• "With equal parts glitz and grit, Cooper has successfully navigated the most perilous shoals of making a classic narrative his own, managing to create one of its best iterations to date." The Washington Post's Ann Hornaday writes. "As a study in artifice and authenticity, A Star is Born offers a suitably jaundiced glimpse of starmaking machinery at its most cynical, but also its most thrilling and gratifying. In many ways, it's a paean to the frisson of discovering talent in its rawest, wildest state. And it's a reminder that self-preservation is crucial to stewarding that untamed force."

Warner Bros

• "This is A Star Is Born that takes the characters seriously, in their passions and pathologies, their addictions and ambitions. And in an age where Mamma Mia! and The Greatest Showman pass as hit musicals, it's an exciting reminder of what the genre can be," The Wrap writer Alonso Duralde says. "Cooper and Lady Gaga are dynamite together; this is a story that lives and dies by the central relationship and the instant chemistry that must blossom between them, and these two have it in spades."

• "The big question that's been hovering in the air for months is, Can Lady Gaga act? It's a ridiculous question. Singers often make fabulous actors. They're primed for it: All singing is acting. But what's surprising about Gaga is how charismatic she is without her usual extreme stage makeup, outlandish wigs and inventive costumes. It's such a pleasure to look at her face, unadorned, with that extraordinary, face-defining nose—it's like discovering a new country," Time's writer Stephanie Zacharek. She also claims Cooper "keeps the filmmaking straightforward and unvarnished."

"It's wonderful to see a first-time filmmaker who's more interested in effective storytelling than in impressing us; telling a story effectively is hard enough," she adds.