A Star is Born: 

4 versions, 80 years, 25 Oscar nominations!

written by Ioannis Makro

The 91st Academy Awards ceremony takes place this Sunday so let’s begin with a short “survival guide”.

  • “Roma” is the big favourite for the most prestigious categories of Best Picture and Directing.

  • The “Green Book”, popular to wider audiences, seems to be the only movie that could make the surprise and win Best Picture instead.

  • Spike Lee’s “Blackkklansman” is a masterpiece which perhaps deserved more recognition - but still has great chances for several “big” categories, including Best Adapted Screenplay.

  • Yorgos’ Lanthimos “The Favourite” is also bound to win several awards (including Film Editing for Yorgos’ Mavropsaridis).

  • Many other excellent films are also in contention and the blockbusters Black Panther and Bohemian Rhapsody are also present.

A Star is Born for more than 80 years!

The four posters of the “Stars”!

One film which seems to be forgotten however is Bradley Cooper’s “A Star is Born”, featuring Lady Gaga, which will probably end up winning only the Original Song award.

The movie started the awards season as a big favourite, which can be explained by many factors and especially its reach background and history.

1937, 1954, 1976 and 2018, four versions, all very successful with 25 Oscar nominations overall. Each time this love story gets with a new remake in cinema theatres, it becomes a box office hit and the accumulative box office earnings combined, taking into account inflation, are approximately 850 million dollars!

The theme today seems a bit too familiar. A love story of an actress (in 1937) or a musical actress (in 1954) or a singer (in 1976 & 2018) who becomes a “Star” after getting discovered by a decaying male film (or music) star who is addicted to alcohol and drugs. 

A Star is Born - 2018

The 2018 version stars Bradley Cooper (who also directs the film) and Lady Gaga. Highly praised by many, with an amazing 90% approval on the highly respected Rotten Tomatoes reviews aggregator, with 8 Oscar nominations and with Sean Penn praising it as one of the best films of all times and saying that “‘A Star is Born’ is simply everything that movies should be.”

Although the story is considered today much more cliche than in the past, the script is adapted to a wonderful modern version. The characters have depth and the performances are remarkable. Out of many solid and impressive scenes, two are excellent examples of what could explain Sean Penn’s enthusiasm. The parking lot scene, so simple and sincere and the “Shallow” song in concert scene, both displayed below. 

A Star is Born - 1976

The 1976 version of the film starred Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. It was the first time that the main characters weren’t studio actors but singers. Without doubt, it manage to pass through that seventies rock concert feeling, with Kris Kristofferson getting on a motorcycle and ready to jump off stage with it!

A Star is Born - 1954

The 1954 version, was much closer to a traditional musical, starring James Mason and Judy Garland (if you think she looks a lot like Lisa Minelli, it’s normal, she was her mother!).

The movie has many identical scenes with the 1937 version, however it is 60 minutes longer due to the numerous musical acts. 

A Star is Born - 1937

The 1937 version, is personally my favourite along with the 2018 version. It has extremely powerful supporting characters and Janet Gaynor is one of the best actresses of that period, with Ray Milland co-staring. One interesting technique is on the very beginning of the movie, where we are presented with a shot of the script and from there we have a transition scene being shot. The reverse effect is the one ending the film. Really worthwhile to watch!