Director: Bradley Cooper
Stars: Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Andrew Dice Clay, Dave Chappelle, Sam Elliott

Let me start off by saying I am a sucker for a good, over-the-top, barely believable love story. The Notebook? Love it. Titanic? Saw it seven times in theaters. Pearl Harbor? Team Rafe. Casablanca? The airport scene. Needless to say, I was counting down the days until I could sit in a theater and fawn over Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper falling madly in love.

A Star Is Born has every making of a Hollywood blockbuster: an A-list cast, a big budget‚ and a soundtrack so fantastic it can stand alone. But this film goes beyond those general hallmarks. It’s a film with depth and heart. A Star is Born centers around a deeply loving but oftentimes tumultuous relationship between an already famous (and addicted) bad boy singer (Cooper) and an aspiring musician (Lady Gaga). The storylines showcase not only their love for one another but also the multiple layers of addiction, the pressures of an unrelenting music industry, fucked-up family dynamics, and the delicate line one walks while trying to maintain individuality in a codependent relationship.

Both Cooper and Gaga deliver stellar performances, but it’s Cooper’s portrayal of troubled rock ‘n’ roll singer Jackson Maine that truly stands out (and deserves all the Oscars). He is completely believable—there is pain and darkness lying beneath his eyes. His body language is somber and sluggish, reflecting years of silent (and not-so-silent) struggles. He delivers his lines in a deep, raspy voice, and speaking of his voice, the man can sing. Cooper took 18 months of vocal lessons, and it shows; his solo tracks, as well as his duets with Gaga, are music to our eyes (and ears). All aforementioned elements come together to create a complex, dynamic character you find yourself rooting for.

In a time of comic book cinema, constant Disney remakes, and Netflix-produced series, A Star Is Born is the most us hopeless romantic blockbuster lovers have been given in a minute. In the words of Jackson Maine, “Take it in.” —Katherine Calvert