We predict yes – but not the one you think…
2019 is going to be Lady Gaga’s Oscar year. Whether or not she walks away with a statuette or two, on 24th February 2019, the Dolby Theatre will belong to one woman only.
We knew it precisely one minute and 46 seconds into the first A Star Is Born trailer, when she hit us with that primal howl from Shallow, the wailing AHH AH-HA-AAH-AH AAA that sets the song’s final chorus on fire and then plays on infinite loop in your head (until you try to recreate it at 3am, when it proves entirely elusive).
We knew it when she arrived at the Venice Film Festival, reclining on a water taxi in Marilyn Monroe cos-play to announce herself as a Proper Film Star. When she sat at a press conference with a name tag bearing the legend ‘L. Gaga.’
And we knew it every interminable time she re-hashed her favourite anecdote, the one about how there might be 100 people in a room but she only needs one person (in this instance, her director and co-star, Bradley Cooper) to believe in her: if that’s not generic Oscar speech fodder, then what is? Did we mention that the scream in Shallow might be the greatest sound of all time?
WATCH: A Star Is Born (2018) trailer
When you throw into the mix the wave of positive reviews, the film’s staggering box office takings and, erm, the cottage industry of memes that the film has birthed (sorry), a clutch of Oscar nominations for Gaga seem inevitable. Surely, it’s what she deserves. But which categories can she expect to receive a nod in? Will she actually win? And who is providing the main competition?
Cast your bets now: do not be surprised to hear Gaga’s (stage) name among the five Best Actress hopefuls read out when the Academy Award nominations are announced on 23rd January. Not only has she received overwhelmingly positive reviews for her performance as Ally, she’s also (unlike her character at the start of the film) a massive star.
For better or worse, the Academy has a history of being enthralled by sheer star power: it’s the reason that Meryl Streep can always count on a nomination, whatever the calibre of the film (Into The Woods, anyone? Thought not), and goes a long way in explaining why singers-turned-actors have historically done well at the Awards (see also: Cher and Jennifer Hudson).
The fact that Gaga is already an Oscar nominee, albeit in the Best Original Song category (in 2016, she was nominated for Til It Happens To You, which appeared in campus rape documentary The Hunting Ground), and so is already very much on the Academy’s radar, won’t hurt her chances with Oscar voters, either.
So confident are Warner Brothers, the studio behind A Star Is Born, in Gaga’s awards appeal that they’ve reportedly decided to put her performance forward in the Best Actress – Drama category at the 2019 Golden Globes. Opting for the less crowded Comedy / Musical category would have arguably been an easier shot at success (Emma Stone, for example, took the Best Actress in a Comedy / Musical trophy at the Golden Globes for La La Land, a stepping stone for her to then win Best Actress overall at the Oscars), so this move reads like an affirmation for Gaga’s chances – particularly given her potential competition…
Who will she be competing against?
At this stage, we’re merely speculating, but expect to see major competition from Glen Close, who is slated to pick up her seventh nomination for The Wife, Olivia Colman, who has picked up rave reviews for an unhinged turn as Queen Anne in The Favourite, and from 2017’s Best Supporting Actress winner Viola Davis, for Steve McQueen’s Widows. Other potentials include Melissa McCarthy (for biopic-slash-black-comedy Can You Ever Forgive Me?), Nicole Kidman (doing the classic Nicole-wants-an-Oscar makeunder in Destroyer), newcomer Yalitza Aparicio, star of Alfonso Cuaron’s festival hit Roma and Kiki Layne for If Beale Street Could Talk, the Moonlight follow-up from Barry Jenkins.
So… will she actually win an Oscar?
At this stage, things are never clear cut. We’ve still got a long way to go before awards season gets started in earnest, but it seems like it’ll be a close call (apologies in advance) between Close, Gaga and Colman. Close has history on her side: six nominations in, it seems pretty plausible that the Academy will want to celebrate her remarkable career – and if she loses, she’ll be the least successful Best Actress nominee in Oscar history, hardly a tag that the Academy will want to place against such a venerable star. Plus, Gaga will inevitably have to rail against some ingrained snobbery: some voters might still see her as a singer playing a character suspiciously similar to herself…
If Gaga does win, though, she’d be making Oscar history. A Star Is Born might well end up taking a Best Actress win and a Best Picture statuette – something that hasn’t happened for 14 years, since Hilary Swank’s win for Million Dollar Baby. Crunching the Oscar numbers finds that while the Best Actor and Best Picture awards have matched up 27 times, Best Actress has synched with Best Picture just 11 times. Though disappointing, this is hardly a shock: historically, female-focused stories haven’t held much sway with Oscar voters, and a Best Actress nomination will, more often than not, be the only nod which a film will receive.
What about the Best Original Song Oscar?
Now we’re talking. If Gaga is a lock for an Oscar win, it’s in this category – and not just because we’ve decreed that Shallow is The Best Song of All Time. Warner Bros have now officially submitted three songs from the movie – Shallow (of course), Always Remember Us This Way and finale tearjerker I’ll Never Love Again – for Best Original Song consideration, and Gaga has a songwriting credit on all three. The Oscars limit final nominations to two songs per film, but it’s very likely that Gaga will receive the maximum number of nods. What with the film’s awards momentum, and the soundtrack’s chart success, A Star Is Born looks set to pull a La La Land (the 2016 film put forward three songs, received two nominations and won for City of Stars). It’s surely only a matter of time before we can start referring to Shallow as ‘the Academy Award-winning Shallow’… Get practising that howl.
Words: Katie Rosseinsky
Photos: Getty Images, Supplied
This article originally appeared on Grazia.