Bradley Cooper was once expected to clean up at this year’s Oscars. Picture: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
Bradley Cooper was once expected to clean up at this year’s Oscars. Picture: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

How star went from golden boy to loser

OPINION

Five months ago, it would have been a practical move to redub the Oscars the Bradleys.

A Star Is Born, Bradley Cooper's freshman directorial effort, scored smashing reviews out of the Venice and Toronto International Film Festivals, with critics (myself included) lauding his assured aesthetic and natural storytelling ability.

Suddenly, he was the frontrunner for the Best Director Oscar.

Oh, and like Clint Eastwood with a guitar, Cooper did double duty as the male lead - Jackson Maine, a troubled rocker who discovers Lady Gaga's Ally.

 

Cooper and Lady Gaga played lovers in the movie. Picture: Warner Bros. via AP, File
Cooper and Lady Gaga played lovers in the movie. Picture: Warner Bros. via AP, File

That performance was the best acting of his career so far, albeit a career that included three Hangover films and TV's Alias. With A Star Is Born, Cooper became a major Best Actor contender.

A headline on the well-regarded awards prognostication website GoldDerby read: "Bradley Cooper will be 9th Director, Actor Oscar nominee for same film". Not "might be". Not "could be". Will be.

Well, save for a swag bag at this year's Academy Awards, Cooper went home empty-handed (although he sang the winning song Shallow, he was not part of its writing or producing team). He didn't even score a nod for Best Director, with Poland's Paweł Pawlikowski (Cold War) taking the coveted fifth slot.

What happened? If you ask me, hype, time and 'tude.

First, hype. Recently, an anonymous Oscar voter told The Hollywood Reporter, "A Star Is Born is a fourth remake with nothing new to say - it was massively overhyped." That's because the movie debuted amid low expectations.

Lady Gaga had never done any serious acting before, and Cooper hadn't directed so much as an episode of Law and Order: SVU. It could've easily been a disaster. But the film turned out to be excellent on all fronts - performances, camera work, singing - and the resulting excitement was greater than any other Best Picture nominee.

Which brings me to time: Enthusiasm like that is hard to sustain for five months. By the time the Gaga-loving Golden Globes came around, and A Star Is Born shockingly lost Best Drama, Best Director and Best Actress, it became clear the spark was gone.

And then there's 'tude. The underrated Christopher Guest comedy For Your Consideration is a great cautionary tale for Cooper. It's about a small-time actress named Marilyn (Catherine O'Hara) who generates a teensy bit of Oscar buzz while making an indie film called Home for Purim. Immediately, she becomes a paranoid diva, getting plastic surgery, turning rude and self-obsessed. A Hollywood monster.

On the day the Oscar nominations are announced, Marilyn is shut-out.

How does this connect to Cooper? Days after A Star Is Born premiered, an interview was published in the New York Times that was headlined "Bradley Cooper is not really into this profile".

The interviewer felt slighted by the first-time director who was acting like a veteran auteur. His awards season competitors Alfonso Cuaron and Spike Lee are warm and chatty. Formerly well-liked in Hollywood, Cooper's turned into a goober.

His was the biggest fall of this Oscars season, and one that was partly avoidable.

 

This story originally appeared on the NY Post and was reproduced with permission


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