So Is Lady Gaga Winning the Oscar or What?

A Star Is Born had a very, very good Venice Film Festival premiere.

Yes, there was the media frenzy, from the press conference to the red carpet. Yes, there were the rave reviews for Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut, which will surely keep the third remake of the long-beloved film about fame in the awards conversation for months. There was even the phenomenon of the premiere being struck by lightning, and nonetheless pressing forward. The show must go on, after all.

But what made the premiere such an event, to be frank, was Lady Gaga. She proved herself a goddamn movie star at the premiere: her initial arrival at the festival, her red carpet look, and her emotional response to the film receiving an eight-minute standing ovation.

So, is Lady Gaga gonna win the Oscar or not?

It feels somewhat silly to be talking about this already, when arguably the only real Best Actress threats we’ve seen are A Star Is Born, Glenn Close’s The Wife, and Toni Collette’s Hereditary. (Nicole Kidman’s thriller Destroyer just screened, and looks to be getting strong reviews as well, but it’s early days for that film.) Viola Davis could sweep in with Widows or Emily Blunt with Mary Poppins Returns and blow us all away, rendering all of this moot. But we are gay, which means we like speculating about the Oscars, especially when it involves actresses. So let’s take a flight of fancy.

Here’s what we know: Movie star performances, both on and off the screen, are the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ shit. They love it. Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side? Julia Roberts in Erin Brockovich? Both were strong performances, but were buoyed by an unmistakable blend of charisma and nerve. (RuPaul is shook.)

From the looks of this, it sounds like Gaga is serving a similar vibe. If no one really rises up to challenge her — and admittedly, word on her strongest competition so far, Close, is that she’s good but her movie’s not as good as her — she may be able to just traipse through awards season picking up every televised honor in sight.

However, a couple of Venice critics — Variety‘s Guy Lodge and  New York magazine’s Emily Yoshida — are insistent that Gaga isn’t the Oscar player at all; it’s Cooper. Directing himself to an Academy Award would certainly be a feat, but it’s entirely possible on what would be his fourth acting nomination.

While Best Actor/Best Actress pairs have been successful at the Oscars before, multiple acting films for one win, especially when both nominations are leads, are becoming much rarer. Usually, the situation is more like last year’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, from which Frances McDormand won Best Actress and Sam Rockwell won Best Supporting Actor. The reason for this, quite simply, is campaigning: Distributors have to back certain horses in the race, and don’t have infinite funds to support everyone. If Cooper is looking like the stronger bet in the acting categories, Warner Bros. may put their chips on him.

Of course, Best Actress isn’t Gaga’s only shot at an Oscar this year. As was confirmed by the soundtrack track list, Gaga co-wrote several songs for A Star Is Born, and would be a nominee for Best Original Song if one or two got nominated. She’d be up against steep competition in that category, though: Kendrick Lamar for his contributions to the Black Panther soundtrack.

Gun to head, I’d say Gaga loses Best Original Song and wins Best Actress at this point. My reasoning goes back to those images of Gaga from the premiere: She doesn’t look like a pop star. She looks like a movie star. She’s hauling out this old-school glamour that makes her feel a piece with the icons of the golden age of cinema. If she wins for songwriting, it will feel somewhat discordant with her current image.

We still have plenty of time to go in this race, and we’ll surely get tired of this question eventually. But for now, watching Lady Gaga be showered with praise, it’s fun to consider what Academy Award Winner Stefani Germanotta would be like to see.

Image via Getty


 

Kevin O'KeeffeKevin O'Keeffe

Kevin O'Keeffe is a writer and 'RuPaul's Drag Race' herstorian. He covers film and TV for INTO, and writes the movie review column "But How Gay Is It?" every Friday.

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