One of the most glaring omissions from today’s Oscar nominations was that of A Star Is Born‘s director Bradley Cooper from the Best Director category. The Warner Bros. film is nominated eight times including getting noms for Sam Elliott for Best Supporting Actor (surprisingly his first) and Lady Gaga for Best Actress (also a first). This was a film that Cooper and producer Billy Gerber breathed life into: Gerber had it in development for nine years, and Cooper worked on it four years.
Cooper was nominated for Best Actor and for co-scripting the along with Eric Roth and Will Fetters but was not nominated as a director on the film. As producer Lynette Howell Taylor said today: “It was his movie, his vision and his passion” that resulted in getting this made.”
Howell Taylor worked on the film alongside Gerber and Cooper for several years. The slight is reminiscent of 2013, when Argo garnered seven nominations but not for its director Ben Affleck (who also starred). In that case, Argo went onto win three Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
The producer noted that Cooper’s contribution to A Star Is Born was “everything,” saying: “We are all here because of him. The reality is: he’s all over this,” she said of Cooper. “It’s an incredible achievement for him. The truth is that he himself is nominated three times, and he is represented in all eight nominations. Three actors including him got a nomination. I think it would be a miss not too look at it that way. I hope that he doesn’t feel it was a slight. I hope he recognizes how many lives and careers he’s changed because of this movie. It’s an unbelievable achievement.”
Indeed it was. It was the fourth remake of a movie with an actress who had never acted in a feature before, a man who had never directed before who was also writing, acting and planning to sing live. Very ambitious.
“We had 42 days — that’s all we could afford — to shoot an incredible ambitious screenplay with an actor who was singing live and also directed,” she said. “To me, it was unbelievable that he could pull this off. He had to convince the studio about Lady Gaga and also to make the movie. Once he got them on board, they were incredibly supportive. But Bradley had to work very hard to get this movie greenlighted.”
She said that Cooper had to call friends and pull in favors and even with having Lady Gaga on board it was not “a slam dunk” by any means. “Bradley had to shoot a test of Lady Gaga for the studio. He had to call his friends and pull in favors. It so amazing that the studio wanted to take a risk at all. It wasn’t obvious in the beginning even though they were excited about Bradley.”
She also gave high praise to Sam Elliott, who is enjoying his first Oscar nom in a long career of acting. She called him “an unbelievable collaborator.” Elliott was nominated for his portrayal of Cooper’s brother. He has been acting since 1967 and is a highly respected artist. He told Deadline today that the nomination after 50 years of acting was “a wonderful gift.”
A Star Is Born still in about 300 theaters. In the end, the producer said that the film truly had “an independent spirit about it and we had to approach this as an independent movie.”