The title itself has a history of Hollywood love. William Wellman’s 1937 original gathered seven Academy Award nominations while 1954’s Judy Garland-fronted remake clocked up a further six. Cut to 1976 and A Star Was Born was at it again, with Barbra Streisand’s revisit grabbing four more nods and once again taking centre stage during awards season. With such a strong legacy of industry recognition, it probably wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to imagine 2018’s edition working out pretty nicely for actor/director Cooper and star Lady Ga Ga. That said, it does bring to the forefront a trend that’s keeps reappearing: Why does Hollywood seem to be overly impressed by its own reflection?
Is it because this very industry-specific sub-genre is as engaging and worthy of adulation as Hollywood would have us believe or are those who make these stories (and more importantly, vote on their worth) as vain as bored budgies in a cage? You only have to look back as far as Damien Chazelle’s ode to the musicals of old La La Land in 2017 to see Hollywood once again celebrating its all-singing, all-dancing industry bread and butter. Before that, there was Michel Hazanavicius’s highly lauded flash-in-the-pan feature The Artist getting Movie Land’s tastemakers all hot and bothered with a nostalgia hit. Both were critically praised upon release and both went on to secure not just the approval of their peers but also of audiences and the academy.
However is all this self congratulatory back-slapping healthy for a sustainable industry? Features like La La Land, The Artist and A Star Is Born undoubtedly serve a purpose to some - reinstating those core values that we as audiences inherently seek out from big screen stories. Underdog endurance, hard work rewarded, challenges giving way to glory - they’re all present - however their continued success (actual or implied by critics) surely stifles the types of stories that get produced and ultimately digested by the very people the industry aims to serve. Is the message of A Star Is Born so compelling that we really need to be served it three separate times? Why be like yesterday when you can be like today? Or better yet - tomorrow.
Do you think Hollywood needs to celebrate something other than itself? Let me know in the comments section below...