A Star Is Born

Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper in “A Star Is Born”

Continuing from last week’s top 10 films and best picture (“Green Book”) of 2018, here’s my take for the best individual performances of the year that was:

Best Actor in a Leading Role. Viggo Mortensen in “Green Book” wins over Christian Bale in “Vice,” Bradley Cooper in “A Star is Born,” Rami Malek in “Bohemian Rhapsody” and John David Washington in “Blackkklansman.”

As newly hired white driver and personal security guard Tony “Lip” Vallelonga, Viggo Mortensen embarks on Dr. Don Shirley’s piano concert tour to run interference on any complications that may arise. Most of the events are confined to blatant racial hostilities and discrimination against the black musical prodigy. Mortensen packed on 50-pounds for his role as the rough, but fair, Vallelonga. A two-time Academy Award nominee, Mortensen just might have won his first Oscar with this gem.

Best Actress in a Leading Role. Lady Gaga in “A Star Is Born” is my favorite this year over Elsie Fisher in “Eighth Grade,” Nicole Kidman in “Destroyer,” Julia Roberts in “Ben is Back” and Charlize Theron in “Tully.”

Lady Gaga is sensational in this third remake of the 1937 original “A Star Is Born.” Forty-two years after the Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson rock and roll hit version of 1976 is Bradley Cooper’s romantic musical vision co-starring the six-time Grammy winner and Billboard’s “Artist of the Year.” As Ally, an unknown singer-songwriter, Lady Gaga completely shapes this movie from start to finish as her songs gain more and more listeners.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role. Mahershala Ali in “Green Book” deserves the win over Timothee Chalamet in “Beautiful Boy,” Adam Driver in “Blackkklansman,” Sam Elliot in “A Star Is Born” and Richard E. Grant in “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

Academy Award winner Mahershala Ali (“Moonlight”) masterfully portrays the affluent Dr. Shirley while Viggo Mortensen (“Captain Fantastic”) shines as the New Yorker and bouncer by trade Tony Vallelonga. Their special bond develops over time from kindness, respect and loyalty. Each man’s acceptance of the other’s flaws and imperfections illuminates their own shortcomings and need for change. The strongest ensemble on film this year, Ali and Mortensen give powerful performances that keep viewers both laughing and on edge.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role. Regina King should be the big winner this year for her performance in “If Beale Street Could Talk.” Other actresses worth mentioning include Emily Blunt in “A Quiet Place,” Linda Cardellini in “Green Book,” Elizabeth Debicki in “Widows” and Michelle Yeoh in “Crazy Rich Asians.”

“If Beale Street Could Talk” tightly frames romance, innocence and family into steel-forged relationships. No screen role more impressive than that of Regina King as Sharon Rivers, the mother to 19-year-old pregnant wife Tish, who watches as Tish’s husband faces baseless charges and racially charged incarceration. King’s career performance in this story encapsulates the heartfelt pain felt by all. An innocent life cut short. A tenacious spouse willing to keep the faith through it all.

Best Director. The big winner should be Bradley Cooper for his amazing take on “A Star Is Born,” though other impressive directors last year included Peter Farrelly for “Green Book,” Barry Jenkins for “If Beale Street Could Talk,” John Krasinski for “A Quiet Place” and Bryan Singer for “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Making his stunning directorial debut in “A Star Is Born,” Bradley Cooper delivers a backstage pass to romance, discovery and heartbreak. The up-close and personal behind-the-scenes look at Bradley and co-star Lady Gaga’s romance carries the film. Their dynamic relationship incredibly penned to lyrics while struggling to withstand family and music industry pressures. Who knew that Cooper has serious singing chops? But he really does. Cooper not only directs, stars and sings in this film but also co-wrote the screenplay.

Patrick King is a resident of Tucson and writer for the Reel Brief movie blog at reelbrief.com. Email him at reelbriefmoviereviews@mail.com.

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