The nominees for the 91st Academy Awards were announced bright and early this morning. And as is the case every year, there is a lot to discuss. Just like every other year, a lot of that discussion will be around who got snubbed. Snubs are a natural product of awards, where only a certain number of people can be recognized. This is an evaluation of art, not a mathematical measurement, it is subjective and imperfect and susceptible to multiple forces that have nothing to do with the art itself. That means that fair or unfair, like it or not, someone inevitably always gets left out.
Still, Bradley Cooper deserved an Oscar nomination for Best Director for A Star is Born.
When the five nominees for Best Director were read off, Bradley Cooper's name was glaring in its absence. The category consists of Spike Lee for BlacKkKlansman, Alfonso Cuarón for Roma, Pawel Pawlikowski for Cold War, Yorgos Lanthimos for The Favourite and Adam McKay for Vice. It is a fine list of deserving candidates, but Bradley Cooper deserved to be among them. More than that, he was expected to be.
There is no such thing as a sure thing, especially when it comes to Oscar prognostication. But Bradley Cooper getting a Best Director nod for A Star is Born seemed about as much a lock as anything else this year. This wasn't a case of everyone hoping he would get in against all odds and despite evidence to the contrary. Bradley Cooper has been a mainstay of awards season, and that led us to believe that he would be recognized with a nomination for the industry's highest honor.
Bradley Cooper netted a Best Director nomination at the Golden Globes, and although the award wound up going to Alfonso Cuarón for Roma, at least Cooper was among the nominees. Bradley Cooper also received a record 5 nominations for the BAFTA Award, including for Best Director. The Directors Guild of America nominations are usually a pretty good indicator of the eventual Oscar nominees and Bradley Cooper received a DGA nomination for Best Director there too.
This is not to mention the many nominations that A Star is Born itself has garnered throughout awards season. The point is that there were plenty of reasons and historical indicators to think that Bradley Cooper was a shoe-in for a Best Director nomination. And with good reason, because what he did with A Star is Born is nothing short of incredible.
With A Star is Born, Bradley Cooper took a story told multiple times before and remade it for modern audiences. And in doing so, he crafted an emotional musical epic. This is a deftly directed film that is both hugely entertaining and has a deeply human core. Bradley Cooper makes smart choices that have a huge impact and help this film to say something.
Everything from the concert that opens the film, to the calamitous awards ceremony, to the heartbreaking end, and all the quiet moments in between are crafted with skill-- conveying meaning and expanding his characters. The romance between Bradley Cooper's Jackson Maine and Lady Gaga's Ally is positively electrifying and the first 45 minutes of A Star is Born alone are deserving of a Best Director nomination.
Bradley Cooper not only directed A Star is Born, but he co-wrote the script, starred in it and sang his own songs, some of which he helped write. He also directed his co-star Lady Gaga, who is relatively new and inexperienced in acting, to an Academy Award nominated performance (to be fair Alfonso Cuarón did the same with Yalitza Aparicio). He also got a stellar (no surprise) performance out of Sam Elliott, netting him his first nomination. Bradley Cooper brought the best out in himself and in his cast and that is one of the primary jobs of a director.
What makes the achievement all the more impressive is that this was Bradley Cooper's directorial debut; he did all of this his first time out. That shouldn't be an excuse for him not receiving a nomination either, because Robert Redford, Kevin Costner and Sam Mendes as well as a few others all won Best Director statues their first time out. This precedent disproves any sentiment that a director has to pay their dues and shouldn't be nominated or even win for their first film.
In addition to being one of the best-reviewed movies of 2018 A Star is Born was also a smash hit at the box office, earning more than $400 million worldwide. A Star is Born checks every box the Academy could want in a film: it's artistic, critically-acclaimed, it's about the entertainment industry, and it was commercially successful and that wouldn't have happened without Bradley Cooper.
A Star is Born was nominated for 8 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Original Song, Best Sound Mixing and Best Adapted Screenplay. There is often the question of how a film can be nominated for Best Picture if the director, the person most responsible for the final film, isn't nominated for Best Director and Bradley Cooper's snub demands that question be answered.
Bradley Cooper wasn't some hired gun; he was intimately involved in the creation of this film beyond just directing. So how could A Star is Born be deserving of all these nominations and Bradley Cooper not be? This is a snub akin to Ben Affleck's Best Director snub in 2013 for Argo.
I'm not saying that any of the nominees don't deserve the honor and I'm not sure who I would take out to give Bradley Cooper the spot, but I do know that he deserved a nomination. Ultimately the Best Director Oscar is probably Alfonso Cuarón's to lose, but the cliché is true, it is an honor just to be nominated and Bradley Cooper deserved that honor for A Star is Born.
The 91st Academy Awards air on February 24 on ABC. Check out our 2019 Release Schedule to see all the big movies looking to make a splash at next year's ceremony.