The Oscars preview: Could Lady Gaga and Glenn Close tie?

Will “A Star is Born” break its award show curse or will predictability reign supreme at the 91st Academy Awards?


(Mr. Gary/Flickr)

Julia Donohue, Writer

In the year without a host, the 91st iteration of the Academy Awards could teeter into the realm of predictability. ABC will air The Oscars live on Feb. 24th at 8 p.m. A full list of nominees can be found here.

As always, there are certain awards that will follow Oscar trends. It is likely that the Best Actor trophy will go to a complete imitation of a real life individual, either Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody” or Christian Bale as former Vice President Dick Cheney in “Vice.” Alfonso Cuarón is the front runner for Best Director, an award he has previously run, and for another time in Oscar’s history there is no host. (Although some speculate that  Whoopi Goldberg may be hosting.)

Director Alfonso Cauron, nominated for “Roma” (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

So what makes the ceremony interesting? Why are people obsessed with the outcome?

It could be “Roma” potentially becoming the first foreign language film to win Best Picture, which has won some version of the award at 19 ceremonies from the BAFTAs to the Venice Film Festival. Maybe people want to express contempt for their favorites being snubbed or to be shocked by anything outside the norm. Yet with sundry predictors and even a mathematical rhythm discovered by Ben Zauzmer of the “Hollywood Reporter,” there is some magic lost in these ceremonies. Magic lost, except for “A Star is Born” (2018).

The obvious focus of this year’s Oscar ceremony is Lady Gaga. While many film critics hope Olivia Colman will reap the Best Actress Award for her well timed performance in “The Favourite,” the general public and previous awards shows of this season indicate this is a battle between Glenn Close and Lady Gaga. Close stars in “The Wife,” a film for which she is the sole nominee. At the Critics Choice Awards, Close and Gaga tied. Close won the Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Awards for this performance but is yet to win an Oscar despite a plethora of nominations.

A narrative around the contest between Gaga and Close does what the Oscars have done best; repeat history. Gaga is the center of a story that has been thrice retold by Hollywood; 1937, 1954, 1976 and now 2018. “A Star is Born” shows the progression of an ingenue plucked out of obscurity by a well established but fading star of the entertainment industry. Focusing on how artistic and romantic relationships blend, this is a story Hollywood has fallen in love with. Yet, as of now, the film has a sole Oscar to its name, Barbra Streisand for Best Original Song in 1977.

“Jack talk about how music is essentially 12 notes between any octave? 12 notes and the octave repeats. It’s the same story told over and over, forever. All any artist can offer the world is how they see those 12 notes. That’s it.”- Bobby Maine as played by Sam Elliott in “A Star is Born” (2018).

Based on wins at the Critics Choice Awards and Golden Globes, it is more than likely Gaga will follow Streisand and snag another Best Original Song award for the franchise. In a perfect storm, Gaga could replicate Streisand’s first Oscars win, the one where she tied with Katharine Hepburn in 1969.

Lady Gaga at the Toronto International Film Festival, 2018 (John Bauld/Flickr)
Barbra Streisand from “My Name Is Barbara” (1965 CBS Television/Wikimedia Commons)

Although 50 years apart, there are various parallels between the contests of Hepburn and Streisand, and Gaga and Close, respectively. Close and Hepburn are industry professionals who represent a longevity many actresses do not see due to the sexism and ageism of Hollywood. Hepburn received four Academy Awards in her lifetime. However, Close has been nominated seven times with no award, including the controversial loss for “Fatal Attraction” (1987) to Cher in the romantic comedy “Moonstruck” (1987).

Between Gaga and Streisand, the parallels are infinitely deeper. Throughout her career, Gaga has emulated Streisand. Both star in a version of the film for which Gaga is currently nominated. “A Star is Born” saw Streisand and now Gaga both nominated for their acting and songwriting abilities. When Streisand won for “Funny Girl” in 1969, she was in a similar place to where Gaga is now. It was her first feature film, her starring vehicle but she wasn’t an unknown. Both artists had multiple Grammys, TV specials and other levels of  industry success before they were offered a feature film.

If Gaga and Close did tie, it would be remarkable. They would have to receive the exact same number of votes. In 1967, Gregory Peck, actor and then-Academy president, wanted to change the voting body that selects Oscar winners. He wanted to make the body “increasingly responsive to contemporary attitudes and to the ideas of a new generation of film professionals.” At the time, lifetime membership allowed older voters to have a vast say in who won awards. Peck offered Streisand membership despite not fitting qualifications. This allowed her to vote and thus clenched her win.

Gaga is not a member of the Academy and Close has staying power that may influence voters but there’s some sort of magic in Gaga’s rise and “A Star is Born.” In cynicism, one may regard the relationship between Gaga and her director and co-star, Bradley Cooper, as a tastefully exacted promotion to result in a  media love fest and accolades. Yet, there seems to be something genuine behind their connection. It is a true admiration from one artist to another, mirroring that of their film.

If there is anything to take away from a clumsy, inconsistent awards season it is not who reaps the awards. Countless classic films have been snubbed by the Academy and there are a myriad of well regarded actors who have never held a golden statue between their palms. Instead, remember the magic felt when lights come up after a pungent immersion into a dynamic and lovely story.

It is “A Star is Born”(2018). It is “Goodfellas” (1990). It is “Synecdoche, New York”(2008). It is “Good Will Hunting”(1998). It is a sensational feeling that cannot be defined by Academy voters. In the perfect storm of self contained catharsis, a film soars.


Best Picture: “Roma”

Best Director: Yorgos Lanthimos, “The Favourite”

Best Actor: Christian Bale, “Vice”

Best Actress: Olivia Colman, “The Favourite”

Best Supporting Actor: Richard E. Grant, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

Best Supporting Actress: Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk”

Best Animated Film: “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”

Cinematography: Alfonso Cuarón, “Roma”

Editing: Hank Corwin, “Vice”

Best Original Screenplay: Paul Schrader, “First Reformed”

Best Adapted Screenplay: Eric Roth and Bradley Cooper & Will Fetters, “A Star is Born”

Original Score: Ludwig Goransson, “Black Panther”

Sound Mixing: Steve Boeddeker, Brandon Proctor, and Peter Devlin, “Black Panther”

Original Song: “Shallow” Music and Lyrics by Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando, and Andrew Wyatt, “A Star is Born”


Best Picture: “Roma”

Best Director: Alfonso Cuarón, “Roma”

Best Actor: Rami Malek, “Bohemian Rhapsody”

Best Actress: Glenn Close, “The Wife”

Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali, “Greenbook”

Best Supporting Actress: Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk”

Best Animated Film: “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”

Cinematography: Alfonso Cuarón, “Roma”

Editing: Hank Corwin, “Vice”

Best Original Screenplay: Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara, “The Favourite”

Best Adapted Screenplay: Charlie Wachtel & David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmott & Spike Lee, “BlacKkKlansman”

Original Score: Ludwig Goransson, “Black Panther”

Sound Mixing: Paul Massey, Tim Cavagin, and John Casali, “Bohemian Rhapsody”

Original Song: “Shallow” Music and Lyrics by Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando, and Andrew Wyatt, “A Star is Born”

Email Julia at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @toomanyjulias.

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